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[ih-pis-tuh-mol-uh-jee] /ɪˌpɪs təˈmɒl ə dʒi/
a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.
Origin of epistemology
1855-60; < Greek epistḗm(ē) knowledge + -o- + -logy
Related forms
[ih-pis-tuh-muh-loj-i-kuh l] /ɪˌpɪs tə məˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl/ (Show IPA),
epistemologist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for epistemology
Historical Examples
  • The problems of knowing and the known are treated in the “epistemology or Theory of Knowing.”

  • epistemology, or theory of knowledge, did not begin in modern times.

    History of Modern Philosophy Alfred William Benn
  • Moral philosophy was the center of his teaching, and epistemology was only instrumental.

    The Enchiridion Epictetus
  • Except in extreme pathological cases (and in epistemology), complete skepticism and aboulia do not occur.

    Creative Intelligence John Dewey, Addison W. Moore, Harold Chapman Brown, George H. Mead, Boyd H. Bode, Henry Waldgrave, Stuart James, Hayden Tufts, Horace M. Kallen
  • But the doctrine can be met from the standpoint of epistemology itself.

    Social Value B. M. Anderson
  • For what else do we study Sanscrit or medieval history or epistemology?

  • One reason for the popularity of both is that the centre of interest in their best-known works is not in epistemology.

  • Just as philosophy without statesmanship is—let us say—epistemology, so statesmanship without philosophy is—American politics.

  • As a consequence this outgrowth of the Berkeleyanism epistemology is at present merging into a realistic philosophy of experience.

    The Approach to Philosophy Ralph Barton Perry
  • Schiller says that "Professor Santayana, though a pragmatist in epistemology is a materialist in metaphysics."

    Six Major Prophets Edwin Emery Slosson
British Dictionary definitions for epistemology


the theory of knowledge, esp the critical study of its validity, methods, and scope
Derived Forms
epistemologist, noun
Word Origin
C19: from Greek epistēmē knowledge
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for epistemology

"theory of knowledge," 1856, coined by Scottish philosopher James F. Ferrier (1808-1864) from Greek episteme "knowledge," from Ionic Greek epistasthai "know how to do, understand," literally "overstand," from epi "over, near" (see epi-) + histasthai "to stand," (see histo-).

The scientific (as opposed to philosophical) study of the roots and paths of knowledge is epistemics (1969). Related: Epistemological; epistemologically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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epistemology in Culture
epistemology [(i-pis-tuh-mol-uh-jee)]

The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and origin of knowledge. Epistemology asks the question “How do we know what we know?”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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