Reply to Doing Indigenous Epistemology: Internal Debates About Inside Knowledge in Māori Society’, by Toon Van Meilj
journal contributionposted on 10.05.2020, 09:59 by Jeffrey Sissons
Van Meijl is right to insist that epistemology must be about active, socially contested ‘ways of knowing’ and that understanding the relationship between such ways and their products is as much an ethnographic problem as it is a philosophical one. Ways of knowing, as social practices, are also, more generally, ways of being or becoming and so are not, in my view, radically distinct from the ontologies they produce and reproduce. Phillipe Descola argues strongly that his four ‘ontologies’ are also schemas of practice, fundamental ways that people know, experience and inhabit the world. I think Van Meijl is mistaken, therefore, when he characterises the ontological turn in anthropology as being about different relations between mind and matter. For me, it is most significantly about the different ways that personhood or subjectivity can be understood and embodied.