Epistemology

Epistemology from the Greek words episteme (knowledge) and logos (word/speech) is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature, origin and scope of knowledge.

  • "Thinking is another attribute of the soul; and here I discover what properly belongs to myself. This alone is inseparable from me. I am--I exist: this is certain"
  • "Cogito, ergo sum." (trans.: "I think, therefore I am.")
  • "The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."
  • "The genius of culture is to create an ontological system so compelling that what is inside and outside of a person are viewed as of a piece, no seams and patches noticable."
    • Richard Shweder, "Cultural psyschology-What is it?" Cultural Psychology (1990)
  • "Wisdom is knowing how little we know."
  • "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
  • "True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us."
  • "To find yourself, think for yourself."
  • "I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance."
  • "I was afraid that by observing objects with my eyes and trying to comprehend them with each of my other senses, I might blind my soul altogether."
  • "I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think."
  • "The psychologists and the metaphysicians wrangle endlessly over the nature of the thinking process in man, but no matter how violently they differ otherwise they all agree that it has little to do with logic and is not much conditioned by overt facts."
  • "Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous."
  • "Physics is mathematical, not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little: it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover. For the rest our knowledge is negative."
  • "The reciprocal relationship of epistemology and science is of noteworthy kind. They are dependent upon each other. Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without epistemology is -- insofar as it is thinkable at all -- primitive and muddled. However, no sooner has the epistemologist, who is seeking a clear system, fought his way through to such a system, than he is inclined to interpret the thought-content of science in the sense of his system and to reject whatever does not fit into his system. The scientist, however, cannot afford to carry his striving for epistemological systematic that far. He accepts gratefully the epistemological conceptual analysis; but the external conditions, which are set for him by the facts of experience, do not permit him to let himself be too much restricted in the construction of his conceptual world by the adherence to an epistemological system. He therefore must appear to the systematic epistemologist as a type of unscrupulous opportunist: he appears as realist insofar as he seeks to describe a world independent of the acts of perception; as idealist insofar as he looks upon the concepts and theories as the free inventions of the human spirit (not logically derivable from what is empirically given); as positivist insofar as he considers his concepts and theories justified only to the extent to which they furnish a logical representation of relations among sensory experiences. He may even appear as Platonist or Pythagorean insofar as he considers the viewpoint of logical simplicity as an indispensable and effective tool of his research."
  • "Can science ever be immune from experiments conceived out of prejudices and stereotypes, conscious or not? (Which is not to suggest that it cannot in discrete areas identify and locate verifiable phenemonena in nature.) I await the study that says lesbians have a region of the hypothalamus that resembles straight men and I would not be surprised if, at this very moment, some scientist somewhere is studying brains of deceased Asians to see if they have an enlarged "math region" of the brain."
    • Kay Diaz, Z, Dec 1992
  • "Both social and biosocial factors are necessary to interpret crosscultural studies, with the general proviso that one's research interest determines which elements, in what combinations, are significant for the provision of understanding."
    • Gilbert Herdt, "Bisexuality and the Causes of Homosexuality: The Case of the Sambia"

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Last modified on 26 November 2007, at 17:42