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What is epistemology?

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. It is concerned with what qualifies as knowledge and how we obtain it. The study of epistemology is concerned with questions such as: What is the nature of knowledge? How do we attain knowledge? What are the obstacles to attain knowledge? What can be known? How does knowledge differ from opinion or belief?

Knowledge can be thought of in two broad categories. The first is propositional knowledge, or "knowledge that." This is knowledge of facts; for example, 1+1=2. The second category is personal knowledge, or "knowledge how." This is experiential knowledge or knowledge of how to complete a task; for example, riding a bicycle. Epistemology also addresses statements of belief. One's belief cannot contradict one's knowledge. However, a person can know about a belief without endorsing that belief as true. For example, a person can know what the theory of evolution posits about human origin yet not believe it to be true. Belief is treated as subjective whereas truth is treated as an objective reality. For example, a person might believe he can fly, but that belief has no bearing on whether he actually can fly.

Epistemology also addresses the question of how one knows a thing is true. Many say that in order to know something there needs to be a justifiable reason for believing that thing is true, but this only leads to questions on what qualifies as a justifiable reason. Is it personal experience? Is it logic? Is it empirical evidence? Is it based on tradition? How do we know those things can be trusted and aren't misleading? Some take their philosophy to extreme skepticism, essentially getting to a point where we can never really know anything.

Christians believe the Word of God is true, and that God, who is good and rational, created a universe of order and absolute truth. As such, Christians have a foundation upon which to gain knowledge.


Related Truth:

What is truth?

What is absolute truth? Does absolute truth really exist?

Subjectivism – What is it?

Axiology – What is it?

Faith vs. science. Is there a contradiction between faith in God and science?


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