Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that deals with the study of knowledge. It is derived from the Greek words ‘episteme’ which means knowledge and ‘logos’ which means study or explanation. Therefore, epistemology refers to the study of knowledge and its justification.
What is Knowledge?
Knowledge can be defined as justified true belief. In other words, for something to be considered knowledge, it must be true, believed by the knower, and justified by evidence or reasons.
Types of Knowledge
There are three types of knowledge:
- Declarative knowledge: This type of knowledge involves knowing that something is true. For example, knowing that Paris is the capital city of France.
- Procedural knowledge: This type of knowledge involves knowing how to do something.
For example, knowing how to ride a bicycle.
- Tacit knowledge: This type of knowledge involves knowing something without being able to explain it. For example, knowing how to speak your native language without being able to explain its grammar rules.
Theories of Justification
There are two main theories of justification:
- Foundationalism: This theory suggests that all justified beliefs are grounded on certain basic beliefs (also known as foundational beliefs) that do not require further justification. These basic beliefs are self-evident or incorrigible.
- Coherentism: This theory suggests that all justified beliefs are interconnected in a web-like structure. In other words, a belief is justified if it coheres with other beliefs in the system.
Skepticism is a philosophical position that questions the possibility of knowledge. Skeptics argue that we cannot be certain of anything, and therefore, knowledge is impossible.
Types of Skepticism
- Global skepticism: This type of skepticism claims that we cannot have knowledge about anything at all.
- Local skepticism: This type of skepticism claims that we cannot have knowledge about a specific area or subject matter.
- Mitigated skepticism: This type of skepticism acknowledges the possibility of knowledge but doubts our ability to achieve it.
Epistemology is an important branch of philosophy that helps us understand the nature and limits of knowledge. By studying epistemology, we can gain a better understanding of what we know, how we know it, and whether or not we can be certain about anything at all.