question of what it means to speak for an-other. I explore that question in relation to philosophers like Linda Alcoff, Iris Marion Young, and Gayatri Spivak, and. ; revised and reprinted in Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity edited by Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman, University of Illinois Press, ; and . The Problem of Speaking for Others. Author(s): Linda Alcoff. Source: Cultural Critique, No. 20 (Winter, ), pp. Published by: University of.
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The claim here that “truth is connected to politics” follows necessarily from Premise 1.
On the Problem of Speaking for Others – Hook & Eye
Now let us look at the second premise. And they would be right that acknowledging the effect of location on meaning and even on whether something is taken as true within a particular discursive context does not entail that the “actual” truth of the claim is contingent upon its context. Ultimately, the question of speaking for others bears crucially on the possibility of political effectivity. Thanks so much for this amazing reflection! The “ritual of speaking” as defined above in which an utterance is located always bears on meaning and truth such that there is no possibility of rendering positionality, location, or context irrelevant to content.
The feminist movement in the U.
In some cases, the motivation is perhaps not so much to avoid criticism as to avoid errors, and the person believes that the only way to avoid errors is to avoid all speaking for others. This seems to be a running theme in what are sometimes called “minority discourses” these days: I will attempt to make these issues clear before turning to discuss some of the possible responses to the problem and advancing a provisional, procedural solution of my own.
We must ask further questions about its effects, questions which amount to the following: Some of us have been taught that by right of having the dominant gender, class, race, letters after our name, or some other criterion, we are more likely to have the truth.
A very radical revision of what we mean by truth is in order, but if we ignore the ways in which our discourses appeal to some version of truth for their persuasiveness we are in danger of remaining blind to the operations of legitimation that function within our own texts. The unspoken premise here is simply that a speaker’s location is epistemically salient.
Our ability to assess the effects of a given discursive event is limited; our ability to predict these effects is even more difficult. When the president of the United States stands before the world passing judgement on a Third World government, and criticizing it on the basis of corruption and a lack of democracy, the immediate effect of this statement, as opposed to the Opposition’s, is to reenforce the prominent Anglo view that Latin American corruption is the primary cause of the region’s poverty and lack of democracy, that the U.
The Problem of Speaking For Others
Both collective action and coalitions would seem to require the possibility of speaking for. This created an impetus to reconfigure the ontology of truth, from a locus outside human interpretation to one within it.
To the extent that location is not a fixed essence, and to the extent that there is an uneasy, underdetermined, and contested relationship between location on the one hand and meaning and truth on the other, we cannot reduce evaluation of meaning and truth to a simple identification of the speaker’s location.
To our disappointment, he introduces his lecture by explaining that he can not cover the assigned topic, because as a white male he does not feel that he can speak for the feminist and post-colonial perspectives which have launched the critical interrogation of postmodernism’s politics. Such a concept would require truth to be independent of the speakers’ or listeners’ embodied and perspectival location. The criterion of group identity leaves many unanswered questions for a person such as myself, since I have membership in many conflicting groups but my membership in all of them is problematic.
On the Problem of Speaking for Others
These associations have an effect, an effect of producing distrust on the part of some Third World nationalists, an effect of othdrs semi-conscious imperialist attitudes on the part of some first world feminists. Now let me turn to the example of George Bush.
In anthropology there is similar discussion about whether foor is possible to speak for others either adequately or justifiably. But this does not tell us how groups themselves should be delimited. I hope that this analysis will contribute toward rather than diminish the important discussion going on today about how to develop strategies for a more equitable, just distribution of the ability to speak and be heard.
Still, we can know some of the effects our speech generates: Rituals of speaking are politically constituted by power relations of domination, exploitation, and subordination. In her important paper, “Dyke Methods,” Joyce Trebilcot offers a philosophical articulation of this view.
Linda Martin Alcoff, The problem of speaking for others – PhilPapers
This may be the intention of my speech, and even its meaning if we take that to be the formal entailments of the sentences, but it will not be the effect of the speech, and therefore cannot capture the speech in its reality as a discursive practice. This simply follows from the fact that the evaluations will be based on the specific elements of historical discursive context, location of speakers and hearers, and so forth.
I agree, then, that we should strive to create wherever possible the conditions for dialogue and the practice of speaking with and to rather than speaking for others. Thus, the attempt to avoid the problematic of speaking for by retreating into an individualist realm is based on an illusion, well supported in the individualist ideology of the West, that a self is not constituted by multiple intersecting discourses but consists in a unified whole capable of autonomy from others.
Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: Moreover, the concept of groups assumes specious notions about clear-cut boundaries and “pure” identities.