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210 pp 6x9
Ninth Annual Frederic W. Ness Book Award, Association of American Colleges, 1990
"[A]n honest, personal, and compelling account of contemporary efforts to transform the curriculum to include gender, race, and class."
Transforming Knowledge suggests that education can serve neither the quest for knowledge nor the promise of a genuinely democratic system until some very basic intellectual errors are uncovered and corrected. Examining the heritage of a tradition created primarily by white Euro-American men who considered themselves the norm and the ideal for all humankind, Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich identifies these errors, characterizes them, and demonstrates how they work to distort and limit our knowledge. She cites work primarily by feminist scholars and activists, but also from ethnic, peace, and ecological studies, and argues that a reorientation of education and thus thinking and thus knowledge makes sense.
This book is the result of more than twenty years of work in higher education during which the author talked with thousands of faculty members, administrators, students, and community people about the necessity to transform the curriculum in this country. Drawing also on her years of work with Hannah Arendt and on Dewey, Kant, Plato, and Socrates, Minnich confronts the "dominant meaning system" that perpetuates errors in thinking, particularly faulty generalization and universalization, circular reasoning, mystified concepts, and partial knowledge.
In light of the heated debate in which such critics as William Bennett and Allen Bloom charge that a return to "the classics" is the only acceptable route for education, Transforming Knowledge offers a philosophical analysis of the cultural, intellectual, political tradition behind our curriculum. Minnich warns that it is in and through education that a culture, and polity, not only tries to perpetuate but enacts the kinds of thinking it welcomes, and discards and/or discredits the kinds it fears.
Excerpt available at www.temple.edu/tempress
"A valuable addition to the current critique of the 'canon' in academia."
"A brilliant book which feminists will find exceedingly useful in our daily struggle with traditionalists, and as a tool for the freeing of our own minds."
Gerda Lerner, Women's Review of Books
"The great value of this work is the striving for critical synthesis that it presents. Minnich is drawing upon and drawing together threads of criticism spun by writers of many views and disciplines. Her book is rather like Hume's handbook of philosophical fallacies, except that 'false universalization' (one of Hume's fallacies, too) is here shown to be false on grounds that Hume never dreamt of."
Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Wesleyan University, and author of Anna Freud: A Biography
Preface and Acknowledgments
A Note on Sources
A Note on Usage
"We" "Black"/"white" Scare Quotes
1. A View of Beginnings
Starting at the Center
More Personal Beginnings
The Voices of (Too Few) Others
Why Focus on the Curriculum?
2. Contextual Approaches: Thinking About
Access to the Curriculum: Some Background
Contemporary Movements for Equality
Scholarship vs. Politics? The Disciplines "Lost Women" "Add Women and Stir"
Critique and Reflexive Thinking
Thinking With and Without the Tradition Effects of Exclusion
3. Conceptual Approaches: Thinking Through
Conceptual Errors: The Root Problem
Some Examples from the Curriculum
Conceptual Context: The Traditional Story
Paideia Novus Ordo Seclorum: Ideals and Practices in the ‘New’ World
4. Errors Basic to the Dominant Tradition
Hierarchically Invidious Monism: Difference Articulating the Hierarchy: Sex/Gender, Class, Race Further Complications "Reverse Discrimination" Taking the Few to Represent All Invisibility
Faulty Standards False Claims to Neutrality Closet Platonism Circular Definitions of Fields Prejudice From Classroom to Country
Excellence Judgment Equality Rationality, Intelligence-and Good Papers Liberal Arts Woman Sex Man War Gender
Undoing Traditional Authority Objective Knowledge Epistemology and Power The Personal The Threat of Relativism? Continuing Resistance to Transformation
5. Back to Basics
Thought and Action
From Errors to Visions
Another View of Beginnings
Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich is Core Professor at the Graduate College for Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, The Union Institute and University. She has spoken and consulted on developing more inclusive curricula at colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. She has served as Chair of the North Carolina Humanities Council, on the Executive Committee of the Society for the Study of Women Philosophers, and the Committee on the Status of Women, both associated with The American Philosophical Association. In addition, she is the coeditor of Reconstructing the Academy: Women's Education and Women's Studies.
Philosophy and Ethics
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