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Branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge

Epistemology (from Greek ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē, meaning "knowledge", and λόγος, logos, meaning "logical discourse") is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge. Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge, justification and the rationality of belief. Much debate in epistemology centers on four areas: (1) the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief and justification, (2) various problems of skepticism, (3) the sources and scope of knowledge and justified belief, and (4) the criteria for knowledge and justification. Epistemology addresses such questions as: "What makes justified beliefs justified?", "What does it mean to say that we know something?" and fundamentally "How do we know that we know?".


Ayn Rand and Objectivism - Epistemology: The theory of knowledge, Full Context
Summarises the key concepts of objectivist epistemology, contrasting them with other philosophical views
A handful of other philosophies besides Objectivism have defended perceptual realism, the theory that we directly perceive things in the external world. But Objectivism is the first philosophy to identify the connection between the primacy of consciousness and the various false theories of the relation between consciousness and existence, among them: representationalism, phenomenalism, idealism, the 'sense-data' theory, and others.
Related Topic: Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand on Aristotle, by George H. Smith, 4 Mar 2016
Examines Rand's appreciative view of Aristotle based on his epistemological theories while disregarding his comments on slavery, racism and coercive government laws
Aristotle's 'moderate realism' (to use the conventional label) was essentially correct, according to Rand, so it follows that Aristotle's influence must have been good, whereas the irrational epistemology of Plato (and, later, Kant) must have been bad. As Rand wrote in a letter (17 April, 1948), 'the crucial difference between Plato and Aristotle lies in their respective Theories of Knowledge and in their views on the nature of reality. That is the root. Their ethics, politics, etc., are the consequences.'
Epistemology and Politics: Ayn Rand's Cultural Commentary, by David Kelley, Navigator, Dec 2004
Discusses the continued currency of Rand's 1960-1970s writings, citing as examples "Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World", "Racism", "The Age of Envy" and "The Anti-Industrial Revolution"
[R]eason is an objective means of knowledge; it relies on observation and evidence, with observable reality as the ultimate point of reference. So, when people rely on reason they can interact and resolve conflicts by discussion, persuasion, and debate—that is, by voluntary means. "But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge," Rand says, "no persuasion, communication or understanding [are possible]." If people derive their conclusions from ineffable intuitions or by methods that only they know how to apply, then ... [t]hat leaves force as the only method of "persuasion" ...
Herbert Spencer's Theory of Causation, by George H. Smith, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1981
Discusses Spencer's epistemology, his views on causation and how it affects social interactions, concluding with his ethical theory and concept of justice
Time and again Spencer appears to confuse epistemology with psychology. By showing what a person is compelled to believe psychologically, Spencer infers that such beliefs enjoy epistemological validity. This is no oversight or slip ...; it is a deliberate method employed throughout his epistemology ... Given that phenomenal knowledge is not illusory, what is the nature of the correspondence between our ideas and unknowable reality? Since we are denied direct access to the noumenal world, how can we segregate subjective beliefs that are worthy of acceptance from those that are not?
Interview with David Kelley, by David Kelley, Raymie Stata, Full Context, Jun 1993
Topics discussed include: the Institute for Objectivist Studies, ties between IOS and classical liberal institutions, the Objectivism movement, the split with the Ayn Rand Institute, the marketplace of ideas, open questions in philosophy, and psychology
In epistemology, an issue that interests me is ... the contextual nature of certainty ... It's the question that arises when you make a judgement based on your context of knowledge and there seems to be ample evidence to support that conclusion, and yet later, when your context increases further, you learn that you were wrong. Were you in fact wrong, in which case you were certain of something which wasn't true? Or, is truth in some way relative to context, and if so, how is that consistent with the fact that truth means correspondence to facts that are what they are whether you recognize them or not?
The Libertarians' Albatross, by Butler Shaffer, 3 Nov 2004
Recounts Shaffer's introduction to objectivism and provides critical analysis of the philosophy's shortcomings, highlighting Objectivists support of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars and the "war on terror" and disregard of innocent casualties
[Rand's] epistemology–the base of her philosophy–is wholly untenable to anyone with an understanding of how the mind actually functions. While I believe that we live in an objective universe, none of us can ever know the nature of that reality other than through the subjective processes by which our mind organizes its experiences. We do not learn about the world in the mechanistic fashion of a video camera recording sensory impressions. Rather, we interact with our world, organizing our experiences into categories and concepts by which we make comparisons and contrasts.
Popper, Karl (1902-1994), by Jeremy Shearmur, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
Popper's theory of knowledge is distinctive in several respects. He emphasized the criterion of falsification as the distinctive mark of science (although he was prepared to accept certain unfalsifiable ideas as having influenced the development of science). More generally, he developed a unique approach to epistemology, in which he rejected induction as the sole criterion for determining the value of scientific statements and in its place underscored the importance of such statements to resolve problems and survive tests and criticism.
Related Topics: Karl Popper, F. A. Hayek, Society


An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, by John Locke, 1689
Electronic text available at Wikisource; contents: Book I: Neither Principles nor Ideas Are Innate - Book II: Of Ideas - Book III: Of Words - Book IV: Of Knowledge and Probability
Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge, by Étienne Bonnot de Condillac, 1746
Original text available at French Wikisource; partial contents: The materials of our knowledge and especially the operations of the soul - Sensations - Simple and complex ideas - Abtractions - Language and method - Music - Words
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
    by Ayn Rand, 1967
Contents: Cognition and Measurement - Concept-Formation - Abstraction from Abstractions - Concepts of Consciousness - Definitions - Axiomatic Concepts - The Cognitive Role of Concepts - Consciousness and Identity
Principles of Efficient Thinking
    by Barbara Branden, 1979
Ten lecture audio course, partial contents: Focusing and Problem Solving - Automatic Mind Functions - Conceptual Level of Consciousness - Emotions as Tools of Cognition - Common Aberrations in Thinking - The Fallacy of the Stolen Concept

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Epistemology" as of 15 Nov 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.