The political foundations of knowledge (II) Lukács revisited

José Luis Moreno Pestaña (FiloLab) continues the discussion on Fernando Broncano’s work ‘Conocimiento expropiado. Espistemología política en una democracia radical” (“Expropriated knowledge. Political epistemology in a radical democracy”) and highlights its importance to understand how our points of view shape our own analyses of reality. I addresses how knowledge in dependent on political relations. The text was originally published in El Rumor de las Multitudes, a blog on Political Philosophy belonging to the Spanish newspaper “El Salto Diario”.

Following on from the dialogue I have established with Fernando Broncano and his latest work, ‘Conocimiento expropiado. Espistemología política en una democracia radical’, I now address an issue of interest to both philosophy and political practice. Fernando Broncano embraces a tradition that allows us to link epistemology with social experience, which leads us to the problem around the standpoint.

Epistemology and the social being

Nancy Hartsock’s work, a Northamerican feminist, has guided Broncano in this field. For the author, taking the point of view of oppressed people means renewing venerable Marxist and Lukacsian tradition that has a three-fold meaning. Firstly, adopting this point of view allows us to look at society from a different place to the hegemonic perspective and ask ourselves different questions. Manuel Sacristán wondered: ‘Why is it that no great thinker remembers the occupation of sweeping or eliminating what has been swept away?’. As Nancy Fraser shows us, the reproduction of the household order helps us to think about the conditions of possibility of the class struggle taking production and consumption into account, but also introducing problems that go beyond an exclusively workerist agenda. Secondly, the knowledge provided by the adoption of this point of view is a guide for possible action and for the elimination of injustice. Thirdly, such knowledge helps to strengthen a resilient subjectivity.

This is a very important question. If I interpret Fernando Broncano correctly, and if I do I agree with him, social position by itself does not enable one to see better, as one needs to work on and distance oneself from one’s own position. Similarly, there is a basic idealist prejudice that is unacceptable: the idea that there are essentially good and bad places to learn about society. The idea that ideas must be qualified or disqualified by the social experience of those who enunciate them is reminiscent of the worst of Stalinism, of the Lysenkoism of the two sciences (bourgeois science and proletarian science).

For me, Broncano’s work is an important solution to the problem. So as to explain it, I need to make a small reconstruction.

You can continue reading the article at the El Rumor de las Multitudes’ blog.

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