Unit 4: Epistemology

Knowing what we know

How do we know when we know something, rather than just think it?  I might think that the moon is made of cheese, or that there are unicorns in the Sahara, but these beliefs couldn't be called knowledge.  To know something means to know what is real, or what actually exists.  In order to understand what it means to know, and how we can have confidence in what we know, we need to consider some related, but often confused, terms: knowledge, belief, certainty, opinion, preference, and so on.  Simply put, knowledge is the personal understanding of reality.  But reality presents itself in many different ways, and so knowledge and knowledge gathering must be understood in different ways too.

Explore Epistemology


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Wittgenstein & Anscombe

Read more about Wittgenstein and Anscombe here > and here >

Ludwig Wittgenstein and his student, G.E.M, Anscombe are considered two of the most important philosophers and theorists of language. 

It is thanks to Wittgenstein that we have workable theories of language and the way in which language operates.  Among these theories are the concepts of language games and forms of life, and the impossibility of "private language."

Anscombe continued to develop Wittgenstein's theories, and along with her translations of his work, Anscombe has contributed to the question of language and knowledge in many of her own writings and insights.  Among some of her insisghts are that the first person, "I", is not a name I call myself, nor is it an indication of something I can point to.  Additionally, things are not caused mechanistically in the way that some philosophers, such as Hume, had argued.

Further Reading: Wittgenstein & Anscombe

PDF files of works by Wittgenstein & Anscombe



Use the tools and links to the right to deepen your knowledge, understanding, and application of epistemology and research.

This eText will introduce you to the basic principles of research and research methodologies.  Use this guide to perfect your abaility to research and find knowledge!
Take this Psych General Knowledge quiz to test you general knowledge prowess!  Knowing general knowledge is not the ultimate sign of knowledge, but it does provide context for our awarenewss of the world around us.
Use this guide to address common errors in writing (and reading), such as "circular reasoning" and other fallacies of thinking which affect the way in which we draw conclusions.