Understanding persons and the problem of power


Trending work in social epistemology suggests that those with power actively and passively hinder those without power from interpreting and communicating their experiences of suffering and persecution, thus obstructing their role in the production of knowledge about these experiences. This kind of “epistemic oppression” raises a puzzle about the nature and possibilities of interpersonal understanding, which this chapter calls the problem of power. Put simply, if what counts as “knowledge” is regulated by those with power, then can empowered people ever genuinely understand oppressed people? This essay attempts to answer this question, which in turn leads to a new theory of what it means to understand other persons.

Publication Title

Making Sense of the World: New Essays on the Philosophy of Understanding