Introduction to the Study of the History of Epistemology

by Andrej Démuth (Author)
©2016 Monographs 154 Pages
Series: Uni Slovakia, Volume 1


The text is structured in chronological and ideological order and presents nine basic types of the classical perception of the problem of knowledge through an analysis of the atomistic theory of perception, Platonism, Aristotle’s doctrine, scepticism, rationalism, sensualism, Kant’s theory, phenomenological-existential, pragmatic, and (post) analytical perceptions. The proposed work aspires to be an introduction (not a complete presentation, neither in the number of types, nor in a full interpretation) and a basis for the reader’s interpretations which is reflected in the structure of the text.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction to the Study of the History of Epistemology
  • Democritus and the Causal Theory of Knowledge
  • Platonic Idealistic Approach
  • Aristotelian-Thomistic Realistic Theory of Knowledge
  • Scepticism
  • Rationalistic Epistemology
  • Epistemology of British Sensualism
  • Kant’s Transcendental Idealistic Theory of Knowledge
  • Phenomenology and Existential-Hermeneutical Analysis of Knowledge
  • Pragmatic Approach to Knowledge
  • Analytical and Post-analytical Epistemology
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Introduction to the Study of the History of Epistemology

Writing about the history of epistemology is somewhat strange and, in a certain way, an unappreciated enterprise. It is difficult in much the same way as writing about the history of thinking and particularly of philosophy itself. There are several aspects to it.

The first aspect is the methodology of the history of philosophy and particularly the history of epistemology.

1/ It seems that one of the most natural approaches to depicting the history of philosophical (epistemological) thinking, is to present a chronological account of the philosophical opinions about the problem of knowledge in the way that these opinions were recorded in the texts of the individual thinkers. Similar to any other histories, this task could be approached by providing a virtual chronological account of the thinking, and highlighting the most important milestones in the development and ← 7 | 8 → formation of individual schools of thought according to their historical relevance. However, problems would arise right from the beginning of such an approach.

1.1/ The first serious problem of the history of philosophy is the fact that it is not clear when and where philosophy as a discipline evolved, or when it actually began. If we look in textbooks, we discover that the authors of various histories have often stated different dates and places (Greek islands vs. ancient China, India, Mesopotamia, or even the territory of ancient Egypt), especially when stating different influences and reasons for the origin of a philosophy and its individual disciplines. Some thinkers discuss the history of philosophy solely in the scope of the etymology of its name and consider it to be a Greek or European endeavour. Other authors are willing to consider its Asian roots (Indian Vedas and Upanishads, Chinese philosophy, etc.). Authors argue not only about the reasons for the origin of philosophy (wonder, hardship, an abundance of free time, social communication, etc.) but also about its first representatives. Determining the place and origins of philosophy are accepted only with limited consensus. The question of the origin of gnoseology or epistemology, the theory of knowledge, noetics, and other similar fields of thinking (terminological, historical, and geographical aspects in: Démuth 2009, 11 – 14) are related to this very question. The process of the emancipation and independence of philosophy from other disciplines happened alongside ← 8 | 9 → the emancipation of separate philosophical disciplines and the formation of a theory of knowledge. For this reason, dating the establishment of separate philosophical disciplines is accompanied by the same polemics, and often by simple consensus. Despite the fact that the time of the establishment of epistemological and gnoseological examinations cannot be determined precisely, it is obvious that the issues of the existence and nature of knowledge constituted a serious problem in the period in classical Greek philosophy explained by both the sophists and Socrates (the anthropological turn towards man was also a turn towards knowledge and its sources) and most of the other philosophers of this period.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (April)
History Philosophy Knowledge Epistemology
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 154 pp.

Biographical notes

Andrej Démuth (Author)

Andrej Démuth is a Professor of philosophy at the Trnava University. His research focuses on modern philosophy, epistemology and cognitive studies.


Title: Introduction to the Study of the History of Epistemology