Epistemology II

Epistemology II

Ancients and Modernists

The majority of philosophical beliefs an individual holds onto are often due to the current philosophical movements and practices in their time. In contemporary times, the recent domination and success of science has resulted in a particularly realistic monist, empirical philosophy, and current epistemic beliefs openly reject the traditional faith from the rise of Christianity and theism. Regardless of the recent rejection of traditional epistemology, the western history of philosophy is imperative for founding modern science and culture.

Plato and Aristotle were dominant figures of flaying Epistemology into shape an Ancient Greece (~200ac – 200bc). The two philosophers agreed that knowledge is prior to senses, and sensory perception is not directly responsible for knowledge. Instead, in classical philosophy, the mind was responsible for recognising knowledge, while the senses were simply a means for the mind to obtain knowledge. The ancients founded the belief of intelligibility and the flux and contingency of the cosmos. Sensory perception was believed that it could not establish knowledge for time causes the objects in the external world to be in a constant state of becoming, rather than being. The mind recognises the intelligibility of objects in their state of being, despite their state of constant becoming.

While the ancients believed that reason, or logos, is the intrinsic method of obtaining knowledge, their epistemic beliefs were essentially based on faith that it is true. A large amount of perceptively unjustified trust was placed in their belief that the world inherently possessed intelligibility (opportunity for knowledge), as well as the idea that the mind evaluated knowledge. This recognition of faith in ancient epistemic values can be rightfully applied to a substantial amount of post-modern realist philosophy.

While post-modern practices (i.e. science) excel in discovering universal truths, its grounds are still based on realist and empirical beliefs. Science and other relative practices largely rely on its trust in empiricism; in a sense, this substantial trust is, to some extent, a faith. The difference between the faithful grounds of Modernity and faithful theism is the fact that the latter is particularly dogmatic. The reason as to why science cannot definitively support its claim is because the method of validating their claim is refuted. For example, one can not give evidence supporting their empirical beliefs because the opposition rejects empirical evidence.

The ancient sceptics, despite being a minority, were also important for the following philosophical and theological movements. The sceptics believed that, if senses can often fool the mind with auditory and visual delirium, then subsequently the mind can result in having a false judgement, despite a supposedly fair sensory account. The sceptics often asked the question;

“If the senses are the only method of understanding the external world, and the external world is intelligible, then how is it possible to have universal knowledge and truth?”


2 thoughts on “Epistemology II

  1. Interesting review. I would challenge the skeptics (mentioned in your final paragraph) with the question, ‘if the senses dictate reason through logic deduction and factual evidence, then it ‘is’ entirely possible for universal knowledge to exist.

    • Thanks for the comments, I do appreciate a second opinion. Your comment is right – it is possible to achieve Universal knowledge, I suppose. Somebody proposed the question to me in a phil. lecture, and it got me thinking.

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