Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The branch of philosophy dealing with the study of knowledge; theory of knowledge, asking such questions as "What is knowledge?", "How is knowledge acquired?", "What do people know?", "How do we know what we know?".
  • n. A particular theory of knowledge.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The theory or science of the method or grounds of knowledge.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The theory of cognition; that branch of logic which undertakes to explain how knowledge is possible. Probably first used by Ferrier.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the philosophical theory of knowledge

Etymologies

Greek epistēmē, knowledge (from epistasthai, epistē-, to understand : epi-, epi- + histasthai, middle voice of histanai, to place, determine; see stā- in Indo-European roots) + -logy.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ἐπιστήμη (epistēmē, "science, knowledge"), from ἐπίσταμαι (epistamai, "I know") + -λογία (logia, "discourse"), from λέγω (legō, "I speak"). The term was introduced into English by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier (1808-1864). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • What they recognized was that embedded in epistemology is a fundamental metaphysical component whose ultimate function is to provide a framework and strategies for creating well-being in society.

    Societies, Religion, and History: Central East Tanzanians and the World They Created, c. 200 BCE to 1800 CE

  • What seems to be happening in "The Paper" is that Sunstein and Vermeule are confusing the term epistemology with "belief system" which is a subject similar to "ideology" and is way beyond the scope of epistemology.

    The Agonist - thoughtful, global, timely

  • For this reason, it seems desirable to abandon the old distinction between formal and material, to designate as logic what was formerly called formal logic, and to reserve the term epistemology for that portion of philosophy which, while inquiring into the value of human knowledge in general, covers the ground which was the domain of material logic.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 9: Laprade-Mass Liturgy

  • Only the revolution of Descartes in epistemology and the revolution of Nietzsche in ethics might be thought to rival that of Kant in being radical.

    Introducing Kant

  • But for that reason I know there were various Dinosaurs and Things books before, one of which gave me my first lesson in epistemology (rather, my father did), which eventually was useful.

    Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » No Politics Thread

  • The central concept of stupidist epistemology is that of a situated knower, and hence of situated knowledge: knowledge that reflects the particular perspectives of the subject.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • If you'd like to say that epistemology is unsolved, I will agree.

    Bunny and a Book

  • Let me just say that it's a * major* question in epistemology whether you have to have reasons for believing that certain things in exist.

    Again, there is absolutely no teleology involved

  • Judge Posner and I do not think that pragmatist epistemology is up to the jobs that Misak and Westbrook think it can perform.

    Matthew Yglesias » Linker Replies Again

  • In practice, the weight of the entire theory threatens to undermine its political purpose. 31 Other notable “restrictionists,” such as Richard Rorty, show evidence of expansive moves under the philosophical pressure of recent work in epistemology (Rorty 2003; Wolterstorff 2003).

    Matthew Yglesias » Before There Was Early Rawls…

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