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Epistemology: Definition & Examples

Epistemology is a study of knowledge that requires much attention. Because human beings rely on their thought processes, it’s helpful to understand how they work. This lesson will go over the three factors that contribute to knowledge acquisition.
Defining Epistemology

Epistemology is the study of knowledge acquisition. It involves an awareness of certain aspects of reality, and it seeks to discover what is known and how it is known. Considered as a branch of philosophy, epistemology addresses cognitive sciences, cultural studies and the history of science. Moreover, epistemology explains why our minds relate to reality and how these relationships are either valid or invalid. It is needed in order to distinguish between the truth and falsehood as we obtain knowledge from the world around us.

Epistemology encompasses the construction of concepts, the nature of conditions and the validity of the senses. Because the study of epistemology enables us to think about the way we think, it is a useful method for evaluating the world around us. Accordingly, without epistemology, human beings would have no reason to believe in their thoughts and actions. Teachers would have no reason to give tests or assign class work because there would be no difference between truth and error. We need epistemology in order to accept reality and live our lives in successful pursuit of truth.

One of the major questions that we ask is: where does knowledge come from? Many philosophers have supposed that knowledge comes from reason. Thus, humans have the ability to reason, and, therefore, they have the power to know. Conversely, other philosophers have contended that humans only become knowledgeable when they experience life situations, such as watching a movie or playing an instrument. These philosophers insist that man can only learn when he experiences life through his own senses. Further, there is a theologically-driven concept of knowledge, which suggests that knowledge is a God-given condition. This suggestion pertains to divine revelation and tends to blur the line between belief and knowledge, since there are many different religions.

Examples of Epistemology

There are three main examples or conditions of epistemology: truth, belief and justification….