Posted in Articles Annotated, Ways of Knowing

The Western Structure of Knowledge

An Annotated Article: Grosfoguel, R. (2013). The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Genocides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century. Human Architecture: Journal Of The Sociology Of Self-Knowledge11(1), 73-90. Retrieved from:

It is the position of this post that the western structure of knowledge centres on the impact of Rene Descartes’s writings in the early 1600’s. This is an article summary, see the article URL link below to review the article and it’s reference. This article discusses that the mid-17th century Cartesian “I think, therefore I am” (ego cogito) and the 150 years of “I conquer, therefor I am” (ego conquiro) is merged by the genocide/epistemicide of the “I exterminate, therefore I am” (ego extermino). The ‘I exterminate’ is the socio-historical structural mediation between the ‘I conquer’ and the ‘I think’: as in

“I conquer, therefore I am” leads to, “I exterminate, therefore I am” leads to “I think, and therefore I am like God”.

How Descartes Influenced Western Ways of Knowing:
Descartes ‘I think, therefor I am’, creates a separation between the mind and body; a dualism. It is universal in its knowing, like the God-Eye of post-Roman Christianity. The ‘I think, therefor I am’ learns certitude in truth by conducting an internal dialogue within oneself, to ask questions and come up with answers in an internal monologue with self. (Grosfoguel 76) The fact this internal monologue does not occur in a social relation with others is the initial beginning of the Western Ways of Knowing being detached from the environment of others, viewing them as inferior. Objectivity is interpreted to mean neutrality, whereas Subjectivity infers biased, invalid, irrelevant, unserious, that is, inferior knowledge. (Grosfoguel 76)

How Male European Elite Dominate Western Thought:
The Imperial Mind approach is based on 150 years of conquering and colonial expansion beginning in 1492. The segway between the “I Conquer, Therefore I Am” and the “I Think, Therefore I Am” required one more connector to link the two from “I am Master of All I See” to “I Am Like God”. That is what led to the extermination and genocide of non-Europeans and Women. It is this “I Exterminate, Therefore I Am” that is the causal link from an all-conquering male European elite to an all knowing God-like male European elite and the forefathers of our modern Western Ways of Knowing and Western Academic leadership.

Thus, modern Descartian male ego centered perspectives continue to dominate the Ways of Knowing, extinguishing as inferior any perspective outside the limited historical perspective of the racist/sexist Western Academic world view. (Grosfoguel 88).  Grosfoguel recommends breaking with the male european based epistemologies, as they are based on racist and sexist genocidal practices: that universal conformism is inherently corrupted due to its corrupted source.

This recommendation supports the breakdown of modern academic ways of knowing by embracing other world views and diversifying epistemological understandings of ways of knowing to include non-Europeans and Woman as having equal ways of knowing just as certain as others.