Understanding Epistemology

2009 Words8 Pages
Understanding Epistemology Introduction Epistemology is the study of knowledge and how we understand and come to "know" things. Its focus has evolved over the course of time, as cultures have changed and societal perspectives have shifted. For instance, in classical times, Plato focused on the relationship between philosophy and socio-political change, using the character of Socrates in his Dialogues to promote a vision of truth and servitude. Throughout the middle ages in Europe, philosophers and theologians focused on the connection between faith and reason, with Aquinas penning the ultimate field guide to this relationship in the Summa. In modern times, faith-based knowledge has been supplanted by empiricism and skepticism, with philosophers attempting to understand how they "know" and even whether they can "know" reality/truth, which is where much of epistemology focuses today. This paper will answer several questions concerning problems faced by epistemologists today. What can humans know for certain and how can they justify that they actually know what they think they know? Plato (Jowett, trans., 1952) contends that humans know by means of the intellect, as he shows in both Meno and Phaedo, stating that "all inquiry and all learning is but recollection" (p. 81). Implicit in the assertion is that we know by intuition. Plato calls it the act of recollecting knowledge that was imprinted on the soul. In Phaedo, Socrates asserts that truth is something written on the
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