Georges Bataille's "Nonknowledge" as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of Knowledge

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Lerman, Lindsay
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University of Guelph

This document is an argument that nonknowledge (non-savoir), understood as epistemic expenditure, is part of knowledge-creation. The first chapter examines a particular conversation in virtue epistemology, situating virtue epistemology within epistemology and philosophy in general. The second chapter is an explanation and a discussion of three of nonknowledge’s elements and their various features. The second chapter concludes with the original claim that nonknowledge exists in a “threshold” position in relation to knowledge and un- or a-knowledge. The third chapter examines the most significant element of nonknowledge—expenditure—and introduces a conceptual framework for nonknowledge as a “general” or “open” economy. Throughout the second and third chapters, we return periodically to the virtue epistemology conversation for points of contrast, clarification, and challenge. The fourth chapter is where we focus on the central argument that nonknowledge is a part of knowledge and its creation. In order to do this, the fourth chapter returns to the virtue epistemology conversation to examine why or how the conversation is incomplete as a “restricted” or “closed” economy, and how an “open” economy of knowledge recognizes and makes a particular kind of use of nonknowledge.

Nonknowledge, Bataille, Epistemology, Virtue Epistemology, Knowledge