For some reason I am having a difficult time understanding the definition of this term. I'm currently reading Human Action and this one is being thrown around a lot.
If I understand correctly, the definition of the term, simply put, is human understanding or knowledge. So, when we use the phrase, 'epistemological problems of [fill in the blank]', we are simply saying, the problem with human understanding of [fill in the blank].
Is this correct?
Epistemology is the science of how we come to know stuff.
At the bottom, it's extremely simple. I know my perceptions, sensations, or whatever. I experience a pattern of sounds, 2D images, and so on. I construct my idea of 3D space, other consciousnesses, and everything else out of those. 3D space is simply a particular pattern of 2D images or whatever. And so forth. I mean, that isn't simple (how we move from 2D images to 3D space or whatever), but the epistemology is. It's nothing but the totally obvious point that I don't experience anything but my sensations or whatever. And that's where the epistemology stops. It's just the fact that if you're not talking about one of my perceptions, I don't know what the hell you're talking about. They would just be a bunch of words to me. Point it out, or forever keep it to yourself.
But at the higher levels of analysis, it gets a lot messier. We find deduction, apriorism, methodological individualism, methodological dualism, and so on. Ultimately we see a whole bunch of words that we feel as if we understand, but can't really even begin to reduce to our perceptions. Whatever they mean, it slipped deep into our subconsciousness many years ago. And it takes a lifetime of effort to have any chance of digging them up, and really understand what's going on. So most people stick to the higher level of analysis. And at that level, epistemology is basically just a bunch of rules or something for how to "gain knowledge". Methodological individualism and so on. I'm not really sure how to characterize it exactly.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry. I hardly articulated this very well.
If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.
I wonder if Wikipedia has an article about this epistemology business. Oh wow! They do! Who woulda thunk?
Paul, I have read the article and unfortunately still have a problem understanding it in a full sentence. Must be some sort of mental block. I intended on writing this thread to possibly create discussion on the topic and also for those who might be in the same boat as me. Please don't be an ass. Thank you.
Hope the OP does not mind my butting in; does anyone know of a good book on epistemology by someone like Aristotle or Plato? Cheers
jmorris, the first part of the Wikipedia entry is how I understand the term. Epistemology deals with the nature and scope of knowledge. An epistemological problem is one where the knowledge sought is beyond our reach, for example, understanding the subjective preferences of every person alive on the planet at any moment. It is beyond the scope of our capacity to know. The very nature of this knowledge is so complex and beyond measurement.
Epistemic errors are times when knowledge is claimed, but it cannot be known. Someone claims to have solved a problem which is, due to the nature of the knowledge involved, unsolvable. We can deduce that they are guessing rather than promoting a fact, by the nature of the knowledge they claim to have.
Nassim Taleb deals with the nature and boundaries of knowledge in a lot of his work. He talks about epistemic arrogance, that is the arrogance to claim knowledge of things that the individual does not have, and cannot have. It's similar to epistemic errors, but he infers a sort of confirmation bias, a psychological flaw in humans which leads to these erroneous conclusions.
From his website;
Epistemic arrogance: take a measure of the difference between what someone actually knows and how much he thinks he knows. An excess will imply arrogance, a deficit humility. An epistemocrat is someone of epistemic humility, one who holds his own knowledge in greatest suspicion.
Epistemic opacity: randomness is the result of incomplete information at some level. It is functionally indistinguishable from “true” or “physical” randomness.
Theaeteus by Plato
My Blog: http://www.anarchico.net/
Production is 'anarchistic' - Ludwig von Mises
Liberty Student: Your use of 'epistemological problem' in a sentence set the light bulb off above my head. Thank you sir!
You are right. My sarcasm was uncalled for. When I wrote it, I was just being playful. Also, my Kindle just broke down and so I wasn't especially sensitive. Still bummed about it.
Admittedly, epistemology isn't one of the easiest subjects. I can't get my head around Quine and Putnam; much of it seems pointless and uninteresting to me.
No worries Paul. I appreciate your response and am sorry to hear about your Kindle. Hope you are able to get it fixed.
After reading LS's response, I've been going over some sentences in my head using the word and think I finally have it. To be honest, until picking up HA, I don't think I've ever even heard of the word before!
Isaac "Izzy" Marmolejo:
Theaeteus by Plato
Also Plato's Meno and Phaedo. And for Aristotle, De Anima (On The Soul) and the first book of Metaphysics.
Isaac "Izzy" Marmolejo:
Daniel James Sanchez:
I'm half way through Theaetetus (its much easier than I thought it would be) :)
What are the other branches of philosophy I need to read into and what books ought I read on those - again preferably Plato and Aristotle since they were the 'original philosophers', if you like, plus I can find their texts free on the interwebz and they are both highly comprehensive :) (sorry for the temporary thread hijack, OP)
for political philo. Apology by Plato... The Republic by Plato (That is a definately MUST read if you want to get into Plato )
or Politics by Aristotle
For logic--- Prior Analyrics by Aristotle