Epistemic Humility

Ellen Fridland, a philosopher at King’s College London, reflects on recent upheavals in the philosophy blogosphere in this brief “Plea for Humility“.

…in times of upheaval, in times when the social norms change, there will be many people, many good-­‐intentioned and good-­‐willed people for whom the injustices of the status quo remain invisible, who don’t really understand why this change is necessary, or, perhaps just what kind of change is necessary and they find themselves confused and disoriented: partly because the whole thing seems so strange—because as they see it, we need therapy and not surgery. But also, because without a political awakening, the new norms seem so radical and bizarre and one doesn’t know what they are or how to stay within the lines—and why are there so many lines and why are they so constraining anyway? The whole thing must be confusing, frustrating, and even infuriating, especially to those who don’t grasp the new norms but believe themselves to be open and liberal and on the right side of things. And so many philosophers in power do see themselves as on the right side of things.

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Anonymous Suggester
Anonymous Suggester
10 years ago

I think this choice of illustrative passage may be somewhat misleading, as out of context it suggests Fridland may be pleading for humility on the part of those calling for change, when if I understand correctly, those she is pleading for humility from are those who oppose change.

10 years ago

I agree with your characterization of Fridland’s plea, AS. One of the things I liked about the piece, though, was how it showed a sensitivity towards the perspective of those whom she would like to have more humility, which is why I chose the quote I did. There are a number of choice passages in the essay. If you’d like to draw attention to another one, be my guest.