From Ancient Greek ἐπιστήμη (epistḗmē, “science, knowledge”), from ἐπίσταμαι (epístamai, “I know”) + -λογία (-logía, “discourse”), from λέγω (légō, “I speak”). The term was introduced into English by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier (1808-1864).
- (uncountable) The branch of philosophy dealing with the study of knowledge; theory of knowledge, asking such questions as "What is knowledge?", "How is knowledge acquired?", "What do people know?", "How do we know what we know?".
- Some thinkers take the view that, beginning with the work of Descartes, epistemology began to replace metaphysics as the most important area of philosophy.
2014 April 12, Michael Inwood, “Martin Heidegger: the philosopher who fell for Hitler [print version: Hitler's philosopher]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review), London, page R10:
- [P]hilosophers of the time [early 20th century] were primarily concerned with epistemology and the foundations of the sciences; they often spoke as if we were separated from the real world by a screen of "representations" or "sense-data"; they tended to regard our approach to the world as one of disinterested observation.
- (countable) A particular theory of knowledge.
- In his epistemology, Plato maintains that our knowledge of universal concepts is a kind of recollection.