epistemology

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epistemology

(ĭpĭs'təmŏl`əjē) [Gr.,=knowledge or science], the branch of philosophy that is directed toward theories of the sources, nature, and limits of knowledge. Since the 17th cent. epistemology has been one of the fundamental themes of philosophers, who were necessarily obliged to coordinate the theory of knowledge with developing scientific thought. Réné DescartesDescartes, René
, Lat. Renatus Cartesius, 1596–1650, French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist, b. La Haye. Descartes' methodology was a major influence in the transition from medieval science and philosophy to the modern era.
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 and other philosophers (e.g., Baruch Spinoza, G. W. Leibniz, and Blaise Pascal) sought to retain the belief in the existence of innate (a priori) ideas together with an acceptance of the values of data and ideas derived from experience (a posteriori). This position was basically that of rationalismrationalism
[Lat.,=belonging to reason], in philosophy, a theory that holds that reason alone, unaided by experience, can arrive at basic truth regarding the world. Associated with rationalism is the doctrine of innate ideas and the method of logically deducing truths about the
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. Opposed to it later was empiricismempiricism
[Gr.,=experience], philosophical doctrine that all knowledge is derived from experience. For most empiricists, experience includes inner experience—reflection upon the mind and its operations—as well as sense perception.
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, notably as expounded by John Locke, David Hume, and John Stuart Mill, which denied the existence of innate ideas altogether. The impressive critical philosophy of Immanuel KantKant, Immanuel
, 1724–1804, German metaphysician, one of the greatest figures in philosophy, b. Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Early Life and Works
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 had immense effects in an attempt to combine the two views. In later theories the split was reflected in idealism and materialism. The causal theory of knowledge, advanced by Alfred North WhiteheadWhitehead, Alfred North,
1861–1947, English mathematician and philosopher, grad. Trinity College, Cambridge, 1884. There he was a lecturer in mathematics until 1911. At the Univ.
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 and others, stressed the role of the nervous system as intermediary between an object and the perception of it. The methods of perceiving, obtaining, and validating data derived from sense experience has been central to pragmatismpragmatism
, method of philosophy in which the truth of a proposition is measured by its correspondence with experimental results and by its practical outcome. Thought is considered as simply an instrument for supporting the life aims of the human organism and has no real
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, with the teachings of C. S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Sir Karl PopperPopper, Sir Karl Raimund,
1902–94, Anglo-Austrian philosopher, b. Vienna. He became familiar with the Vienna circle of logical positivists (see logical positivism) while a student at the Univ. of Vienna (Ph.D., 1928). He taught at Canterbury Univ.
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 developed the view that scientific knowledge rests on hypotheses that, while they cannot be positively verified, can be proven false and have withstood repeated attempts to show that they are. Philosophers in the 20th cent. have criticized and revised the traditional view that knowledge is justified true belief. A springboard for their research has been the thesis that all knowledge is theory-laden.

Bibliography

See A. D. Woozley, Theory of Knowledge (1949, repr. 1966); J. Dancy, Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology (1985); A. J. Ayer, The Problem of Knowledge (1956, repr. 1988).

epistemology

(from the Greek episteme, knowledge) the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory (or theories) of knowledge, which seeks to inform us how we can know the world. Epistemology shares with ONTOLOGY, which is concerned to establish the kinds of things which exist, the claim to be the bedrock of all philosophical thinking and all knowledge.

An important division in epistemology is that between EMPIRICISM and RATIONALISM or IDEALISM. Whilst empiricists make our direct experience of the world the basis of all knowledge, rationalists and idealists argue that our knowledge of the world is governed by fixed and a priori concepts or CATEGORIES (e.g. conceptions of'S ubstance’, ‘causality’) which structure our every thought and argument and therefore our experience or perception of reality (see also KANT).

In most forms of epistemology, the pure thought of the individual thinking ‘ego’, the philosopher, has been taken as providing the route to the ultimate understanding of knowledge and the bedrock on which the epistemological theory advanced is based (see DESCARTES). Recently, however, more sociological forms of epistemology have emerged which have sought to ‘decentre’ the role played by the traditional individual 'S ubject’ in philosophy (see SUBJECT AND OBJECT, SUBJECT, STRUCTURALISM, DECONSTRUCTION), emphasizing instead the way in which knowledge is shaped by social structure, FORMS OF LIFE, etc. Thus the way is now open for much of the ground previously occupied by philosophy to be taken over by sociological accounts of knowledge and of science (see SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE, SOCIOLOGY OF SCIENCE, KUHN, FEYERABEND).

Since any theory of knowledge must of necessity refer also to itself, it would be wrong to suggest that sociological theories of knowledge can any more avoid the element of circularity that must attend any theory of knowledge than could traditional philosophy. What such a sociological theory can however achieve is to dispense with the tendency to dogmatic closure in epistemological thinking of a kind which so often have been apparent in more traditional theories, with their claims to have reached bedrock. Once knowledge, including scientific knowledge, is seen clearly as a socially constructed phenomenon, the expectation of any final doctrines about the nature of knowledge can be seen as misplaced. See also SCIENCE.

epistemology

the theory of knowledge, esp the critical study of its validity, methods, and scope
http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/EPISTEMI.html
References in periodicals archive ?
Here the author emphasizes the call for "the replacement of monological focus of Western knowledge production with various epistemological discourses, both in the classrooms and in the discussion of a sustainable future".
It can remind us that when it comes to the broad field of our epistemological relationships with the world, we might do well to take both knowing and not-knowing seriously, to still our addiction to the accumulation of knowledge, and to ask: what is optimal here?
In short, the folk-epistemic argument attempts to show that, despite all of the important respects in which we are deeply divided at the level of our moral convictions, we nonetheless share a set of epistemological norms that are robust enough to provide an independent and compelling case for sustaining our democratic commitments, even when democracy produces collective decisions that we must regard as seriously morally flawed.
Thus, we see the following aspects as critical to the epistemological underpinnings of research: reflexivity, articulation of the relationship between researchers and participants, explicit framing of the work in theory, and a conscious and integrated use of a tradition of inquiry or research paradigm.
Knowing full well" requires appropriate conditions for the exercise of our competences, an environment not "epistemicaily polluted," for example, by evil demons, fake barns, bad lighting, and the other frightful Lastrygonians of epistemological thought experimentation.
Active recognition of alterity, however, is an epistemological prerequisite for countering inequitable social practices.
Chapter 2, "Practical Knowledge and the Poetics of Geometry," demonstrates the surprisingly deep connections between mechanical and liberal arts, at the level of university curriculum, of shared epistemological assumptions, and of social networks of intellectual exchange and collaboration between humanists and workmen in trades that put geometry into practice.
Through the lens of their original theory--explanatory legitimacy--the authors differentiate descriptive from explanatory theories and analyze the purposive, epistemological, and value base in six major theoretical domains.
Several previous efforts have explored the epistemological beliefs of pre-service and practicing classroom teachers.
Personal epistemological beliefs, what individuals believe about the nature of knowledge, have been known to influence many aspects of learning.
For example, the main entry on Islam, which is supposedly providing a history of Islam, its specific views on nature, the epistemological basis of the legal framework regarding nature, the Qura'anic perspective on nature and its relationship with God and humanity, and many other aspects of Islam and nature, is restricted to four pages--whereas an entry entitled "Dogs in the Islamic Tradition" is spread over almost half that space.
But this is not even half the story despite the novel's brevity; and the rest of it is told with a macabre wit, a breezy romanticism, and a casual yet blatant rejection of not just racial and sexual boundaries, but also epistemological ones.