Ecofeminists interested in epistemology challenge some Western views about knowledge as being objective, that the knower is objective, detached independent & a rational observer; and that nonhuman nature is a passive object of knowledge. By reviewing Kant's Critique of Judgement and specifically the aesthetic theory of Kant, from a feminist perspective provides a route towards understanding western views and developing feminist environmental aesthetics
Sandra Harding (in Warren 2000) argues that the social location of the knower is crucial to understanding and assessing epistemological claims. Whilst Donna Haraway argues for an alternative, pluralistic, context-dependent view of knowledge, what she calls ‘situated knowledges’:
‘situated knowledges require that the object of knowledge be pictured as an actor and agent, not as a screen or a ground or a resource, never finally as slave to the master that closes off the dialectic in his unique agency and his authorship of ‘objective’ knowledge….A corollary of the insistence that ethics and politics covertly or overtly provide the bases for objectivity…..is granting the status of agent/actor to the objects of the world’ (p34 Warren, 2000)
The job of the scientist, philosopher, and theorist is not to try and give accounts that ‘mirror nature’, since mirroring assumes that nature is an unconstructed ‘given’. Their job is to provide knowledge claims and accounts that are relationally ‘situated’ in important social and material contexts.
According to Haraway ‘ecofeminists have perhaps been most insistent on some version of the world as active subject, not as resource to be mapped and appropriated in bourgeois, Marxist or masculinist projects.’
When one acknowledges ‘nature as subject’:
Accounts of a ‘real’ world do not, then, depend on a logic of ‘discovery’ but on a power-charged social relation of ‘conversation’. p35 (Warren, 2000)
The 'conversation' of Haraway can be used to develop feminist environmental aesthetics based on other ways of gaining an understanding of the natural world other than the scientific.