A perpetual pet peeve is the concept of “different ways of knowing”. All too often, it’s a shorthand for “Don’t take my cherished beliefs away!”
Sometimes it refers to real phenomena. Observation is an important part of collecting information about our world, but our society has a nasty tendency to limit the groups of people we consider to be valid observers. Or we get so focused on rigorous strategies for making observations that we forget that our ideas about what we should observe come from less rigorous, less formal processes. We exclude personal observation, particularly from marginalized groups, instead of understanding it as a first step to more structured observations.
Much of the time, though, what people refer to as “ways of knowing” have nothing to do with epistemology. What we’re talking about isn’t knowing. We aren’t talking about ways to collect information we can rely on, but ways to conceptualize the world. We’re talking about ways to share perspectives or frames of reference with other people. We’re talking about making things make sense, not figuring out what is and what is not.
It’s still busy around here, so I don’t have time to flesh the idea out, but I wanted to throw it out for discussion. How much of the confusion over “ways of knowing” really because we should be differentiating between those and “ways of understanding” or “ways of communicating”.