Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge

Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge

Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge

Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge


This comprehensive book introduces the concepts and theories central for understanding knowledge. It aims to reach students who have already done an introductory philosophy course.Topics covered include perception and reflection as grounds of knowledge, and the nature, structure, and varieties of knowledge. The character and scope of knowledge in the crucial realms of ethics, science and religion are also considered.Unique features of Epistemology :* Provides a comprehensive survey of basic concepts and major theories* Gives an up-to-date account of important developments in the field* Contains many lucid examples to support ideas* Cites key literature in an annotated bibliography.


This book is a wide-ranging introduction to epistemology, conceived as the theory of knowledge and justification. It presupposes no special background in philosophy and is meant to be fully understandable to any generally educated, careful reader, but for students it is most appropriately studied after completing at least one more general course in philosophy.

The main focus is the body of concepts, theories, and problems central in understanding knowledge and justification. Historically, justification - sometimes under such names as 'reason to believe, ' 'evidence, ' and 'warrant' - has been as important in epistemology as knowledge itself. This is surely so at present. In many parts of the book, justification and knowledge are discussed separately; but they are also interconnected at many points. The book is not historically organized, but it does discuss selected major positions in the history of philosophy, particularly some of those that have greatly influenced human thought. Moreover, even where major philosophers are not mentioned, I try to take their views into account. One of my primary aims is to facilitate the reading of those philosophers, especially their epistemological writings. It would take a very long book to discuss representative contemporary epistemologists or, in any detail, even a few historically important epistemologies, but a shorter one can provide many of the tools needed to understand them. Providing such tools is one of my main purposes.

The use of this book in the study of philosophy is not limited to courses or investigations in epistemology. Epistemological problems and theories are often interconnected with problems and theories in the philosophy of mind; nor are these two fields of philosophy easily separated (a point that may hold, if to a lesser extent, for any two central philosophical fields). There is, then, much discussion of the topics in the philosophy of mind that are crucial for epistemology, for instance the phenomenology of perception, the nature of belief, the role of imagery in memory and introspection, the variety of mental properties figuring in self-knowledge, the nature of inference, and the structure of a person's system of beliefs.

Parts of the book might serve as collateral reading not only in pursuing the philosophy of mind but also in the study of a number of philosophers often discussed in philosophy courses, especially Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and Mill. The book might facilitate the study of moral philosophy, such as Kantian and utilitarian ethics, both discussed in some detail in Chapter 9; and it bears directly on topics in the epistemology of religion, some of which are also discussed in Chapter 9.

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