Epistemological Theories:
Sources and Justifications of Knowledge


1. Rationalism. One begins with propositions that are self-evident.

2.
Empiricism. Knowledge is a posteriori -- based on experience.

3.
Scientific Method. A combination of rationalism and empiricism.

4.
Analytic Philosophy. Philosophical problems are really linguistic problems.

5.
Authoritarianism. Knowledge is possessed by someone or something outside the individual. This stresses the source of knowledge rather than the method by which knowledge is attained.

a. Culture and Tradition -- socialization fits here.
b.
Majority Opinion -- democratic assumption: reliable knowledge comes from a group opinion.
c.
Prestige and Expert Opinion -- pro-homine argument
d.
Charismatic Authority -- Truth and right are combined in the person of the leader (Gandhi, Jesus, Hitler, etc.). Knowledge is attained by surrendering to the authority.


6.
Intuition/Mysticism. There is an immediate awareness of truth.

7.
Revelation. True knowledge exists apart from humans.

8.
Existentialism. Knowledge is in some sense created by our actions

9.
19th Century Idealism/Zen Buddhism. True knowledge involves the immediate knowledge of the totality underlying the world. This is a kind of "anti-knowledge" position, in that there is no system, no verification. There is, however, certainty.

10.
Skepticism. This must be mentioned as a theory of knowledge, even though it is the theory that says that knowledge is impossible.