Epistemology is the study of knowledge and belief, a branch of philosophy that asks, “what is truth, how do we know, and how can we prove it”.
This includes examining what we know, what we can know, how we can know it, how we can prove we know it, what we can’t know, how we can prove we don’t know, what the difference between opinion and fact are, what the difference between empirical and reasoned evidence is, what the difference between truth and belief is, and more.
Some of the most important philosophical works are epistemological, as a theory holds a lot more weight when you can actually prove it by accepted measures. See our page on Hume’s fork and Kant’s a Critique of Pure Reason for a starter kit, or see Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s page on Epistemology for the AP version, or see this article on knowledge, opinion, and fact.
- Knowledge: Objective. Something we know to be true with a high degree of certainty. EX. A well worn scientific theory like F=ma, 1+1=2, a ripe apple taste sweet. Subjective. Something we know, even with conviction, but that is not known with a high degree of certainty. EX. “All humans have a natural a right to life, liberty, and happiness.”
- Truth: Objective. Something that is undoubtedly proven to be so through facts. When we combine our tools of knowledge, belief, reason, and sensory data, along with acceptance, verification, justification, and perspective, the end result will ideally be truth. The key difference between knowledge and truth is that, unlike knowledge, truth exists regardless of our ability to prove it with certainty.
- Belief: Subjective. Broadly, ideas we feel to be true, but can’t fully prove empirically or rationally with facts, but hold a high sense of certainty anyway. We may have faith in our beliefs, and may be able to prove them with reason, but we don’t have objective and certain evidence of their truth. Even a scientific theory can be a belief, after-all, theories are falsifiable despite all the facts pointing to them.
- Opinions: Subjective. Ideas we feel to be true, we can use facts to back them up, but we are using arguments based on our beliefs and emotions, not pure facts.
- Empiricism: Knowledge through empirical evidence (information from the senses). Facts about the world.
- Rationalism: Knowledge through ideas (information originating in our minds). Facts about ideas.
- Skepticism: In this case, being skeptical that rationalism (pure reason) can result in true knowledge about the world. Can be interpreted broadly of skepticism about both empirical and rational knowledge. For instance, Kant suggests fusing the two styles as, “our senses themselves could be tricking us”.
- Justification: Our ability to justify our reasoning using any of the above technologies and more epistemological tools. We can’t just say we know something, we must give a justification.
- Myth: Subjective. Beliefs we are certain about, but are based on misinformation and opinion rather than fact. Common knowledge that isn’t in fact truth.
- Absurdity: Treating belief as fact, or being certain of a belief (but accepting the belief on faith), even going as far as to provide reason-based justification to prove the belief (see Newton’s Arian beliefs for example), when ultimately it is accepted that the belief can never be proven true. It is absurd to accept things within the sphere of belief as truths, treating them like they are in the sphere of fact, and actually basing our lives (ethics, morals, actions) around something of which we can never be certain. The basis for existentialism.
Factoids tagged with "Epistemology"
Trump may have had the largest inaugural crowd in 2017 if you count all sources online, on TV, and in-person, but his in-person turnout was provably smaller than Obama’s.
Identifying a problem is often harder than solving it. Solving a problem requires a proper diagnosis, and that requires asking the right questions.
Alan Turing can be considered “the father of computer science and AI.” Turing made major contributions to computing, codebreaking, and even helped the Allies win WWII.
We can apply the concepts of theory, experimentation, and application to all the arts and sciences. For instance we have theoretical physics, experimental physics, and applied physics.
Cognitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a computer program that can think, learn, and generally mimic human cognition.
Language can be thought of as a system of communication that uses symbols to convey deep meaning. Symbols can be words, images, body language, sounds, etc.
A Factoid is a brief piece of information that appears to be true, but isn’t necessarily factual or verified, yet is repeated as fact anyway.
Blog Posts tagged with "Epistemology"
Truth and facts have a lot in common, but they are not exactly the same. Truth is something that is the case. Facts are true statements. Truth is best described using facts and logical reasoning.
Deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning are three basic reasoning types. In simple terms, deductive reasoning deals with certainty, inductive reasoning with probability, and abductive reasoning with guesswork.
I would argue that most sources of information and any information they contain should not be dismissed due our thoughts on them in general or a portion of their content. Instead, I would argue that any source is capable of presenting good and useful information, even if they typically don’t.
Facts are things that are the case for sure, they are stated plainly and without bias. Opinions meanwhile inject subjectivity and bias. Since most content in any form contains at least some subjectivity and bias, it is rare to find pure facts and common to find opinion.
We explain inductive reasoning, a bottom-up reasoning method that reasons by consistency, comparing particulars and probabilities to find likely truths.
A truth-value is a label that is given to a statement (a proposition) that denotes the relation of the statement to truth.
We present a system of “logical, epistemological, and ontological categories of being and knowledge” (categories to place all empirical and rational concepts into).
We explain the a priori-a posteriori distinction, analytic-synthetic distinction, necessary-contingent distinction and other logic-based terms.
We present a list of types of propaganda, propaganda techniques, and propaganda strategies used to manipulate public opinion in the modern day.
We explain and compare the different types of reasoning methods including deductive, inductive, abductive, analogical, and fallacious reasoning.
We present a basic theory of human knowledge to help illustrate some essentials of “what we can know” and “how we can know it.”
To avoid confusion and clarify semantics, one should speak “in terms of” a subject and “in relation to” another subject, and then explain their position from there.
We explain Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Plato’s Theory of the Forms to help readers understand the essence of Plato’s overarching theory.
We discuss theories that deal with the nature of abstractions and contradictions including, Dialectics and the Golden Mean theory, and offer a “synthesis” of these theories.
All knowledge, all human understanding, can be said to be of four types: physical (empirical), logical (reason), ethical (philosophy in-action), and metaphysical (pure philosophy).
We discuss “giving names to concepts” (defining terms), identifying with terms, be identified by terms, and the implications of this.
Alternative facts describe inconsistent sets of information submitted as plausible evidence for competing sides of a case/debate/argument.
Reason is the application of “pure logic”, empirical evidence, experiment, and skepticism to find truths, facts, and theories (AKA “critical thinking”).
“Hume’s fork” describes how we refer to Kant’s critique of Hume, who separated knowledge into two types: facts based on ideas and facts based on experience.
We explore the nature of truth, the different types of truth, and the different types of entities who report truth to better understand the nature of information.
Collectivism describes ideology (political or otherwise) that favors the collective, like-wise Individualism describes ideology that favors the individual.
Here is a list of the fundamental dualities relating to human nature and the physical and conceptual universe.
The major branches of philosophy can be denoted as: metaphysics (what is), epistemology (what we can know), logic and reason, ethics and morality, and aesthetics (beauty and art).