Conceptualising Violence as a Problem of Epistemology

  • Beth M. Titchiner
Part of the Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice book series (CPTRP)


This chapter presents the idea that the underlying cause of violence is a specific type of epistemology which the author terms ‘violent epistemology’. The chapter presents a detailed a conceptual framework for understanding the specific cognitive mechanisms comprising violent epistemology, and how this is made possible by the nature of human consciousness and its agency. This multidisciplinary formulation draws on neuroscience, psychology, learning theory, and philosophy, including phenomenology and early Frankfurt School critical theory. The author explains how this formulation moves away from current relativistic definitions of ‘epistemic violence’ in which different epistemologies are perceived as having equal ‘truth’ (with the violence occurring when one group or individual’s epistemology is afforded primacy over others), presenting instead the argument that some epistemologies can be more or less violent, and produce more or less ‘truth’ than others, with violence occurring when a more violent epistemology is employed. The role of emotions and motivations in the enactment of violent epistemology is also discussed.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Beth M. Titchiner
    • 1
  1. 1.NorwichUK

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