I posed two questions in the syllabus:
How might we think of care not only as an affective practice, but also an intellectual one? How does caring change our ways of thinking/knowing?
To begin thinking about these questions, I want to share a little bit of Vrinda Dalmiya’s Caring to Know, which is available from the library with your CUNY login.
“Caring and knowing are thought to be independent of each other. Indeed, the typical Enlightenment knower is trained to be careful not to care for the object of knowledge. She knows most effectively when she knows non-affectively, dispassionately, and impartially. Subsequently, an analysis of what it is to know is kept separate from an analysis of what it is to care. Going against this trend, the argument of this book is that caring is not the ‘other’ of reason and that our lived experiences of caring and being cared for can be useful resources for truth-seeking. Care, then, lies at the heart of not only ethical relationships but also successful cognitive enquiry.”—Vrinda Dalmiya, Caring to Know, chapter 1
“Of course, existing literature already points to the inevitable entanglement of care with knowing at least in one direction. Whether knowers always need to care or not, carers always need to know. We cannot attend to a person’s needs in caring for her without first grasping what they are. […] A care-based epistemology bridges this conceptual gap between good knowing and good caring. Thus, it is not enough that mothers as caregivers be knowers. Rather, the pristine world of cognitive enquiry must soil itself in the messy world of mothering. Care practices—it is now suggested—are an epistemological resource; good knowing and its analysis are modelled on successful caring and its theorization.”—Vrinda Dalmiya, Caring to Know, chapter 1
Thinking with and through these ideas, I also want to spend some time today talking about the question of attunement. When we spoke in class last week about pacing and about moving at the speed of trust, we spent some time grappling with whether that speed was always slower than the norm, or if sometimes speeding up might be the thing that is needed. We talked about the relational foundations of trust. This is where I think attunement comes in—it is not only about being in relationship with others, but about a sensitive listening, a watchful awareness of an other’s needs.
If that is the case, how can we ascribe value to attunement in an academic setting? In a capitalist setting? And would we want to?
For further reading on this topic, I highly recommend “Attunement in the Cracks: Feminist Collaboration and the University as Broken Machine” by Natalie Loveless and Carrie Smith (who will be co-facilitating the Inkcap discussion on April 5). Which, in retrospect, I probably should have put on the syllabus—maybe we can add it to a future week.