Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Compelling Knowledge: A Feminist Proposal for an Epistemology of the Cross

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Compelling Knowledge: A Feminist Proposal for an Epistemology of the Cross

Article excerpt

Compelling Knowledge: A Feminist Proposal for an Epistemology of the Cross. By Mary M. Solberg. Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1997. xv + 226 pp. $57.50 (cloth); $18.95 (paper).

Mary Solberg's work a4th the Church in El Salvador during its civil war led her to reflect on the interrelation of such factors as power and privilege, experience, objectivity, and accountability. Such reflection served as the impetus for this book's argument for the epistemological importance of "lived experience" (i.e., experience that is "situated," "particular," "concrete," amd "not easily generalizable"). This argument is one she shares with thinkers like Michael Polanyi and Richard Rorty, but what makes her thesis distinctive is that she appropriates both feminist theory and Luther's theology of the cross to make the point.

At the heart of her argument is the proposal for an -epistemology of the cross," which she presents as a framework for asking and responding to the question: What sorts and sources of knowledge should ,ve consider compelling as we seek to live responsible lives? From feminist theory, she appropriates a focus on the "embodied" knowledge derived from experiences of "exclusion, erasure, or exposure to abuse." Not only does such knowledge reconstruct what is "objective," but it draws attention to the way all reflection is "accountable," both epistemologically and morally. Solberg then correlates this feminist theory with Luther's theolog-y of the cross because it too is interested in an "accountability- rooted in the "instabilities, incoherences, and particularities" of human experience. Like feminist theory, Luther's theology of the cross also concerns itself with the interrelation of embodied knowledge, what constitutes "objectivity," and moral accountability. As a critique of all forms of human pretension to God-ness-all pretensions to saving ourselves-Luther's theology of the cross also deals with "how we know" and "name" reality. Further, it is not only a critique but also an account of God's loving intention for humanity, an intention that equips persons "to use reality rightly," a "use" that begins, at least, by "calling things by their right names. …

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