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Epistemic Principles

A Primer for the Theory of Knowledge


Nicholas Rescher

Epistemic Principles: A Primer of the Theory of Knowledge presents a compact account of the basic principles of the theory of knowledge. In doing this, Nicholas Rescher aims to fill the current gap in contemporary philosophical theory of knowledge with a comprehensive analysis of epistemological fundamentals. The book is not a mere inventory of such rules and principles, but rather interweaves them into a continuous exposition of basic issues. Written at a user-friendly and accessible level, Epistemic Principles is an essential addition for both advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in epistemology.
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Chapter 3. Ideas


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Over and above the treatment of ideas in everyday discourse, or the cartoonish treatment of ideas via illuminated light-bulbs, there is a philosophical tradition on the subject going back to Plato. This philosophical conception has it that ideas are mind-accessible cognitive resources distinct from the things of this world, but which these things are related in ways that can establish a conceptual or even ontological linkage between them. It is this view of ideas that the present discussion sets out to examine and explain in greater detail than is usually bestowed upon it.

At the core of these deliberations is a new way of looking at ideas. Its approach is not, strictly speaking, historical (exegital) but rather envisions a conceptual reconstruction—a way of treating the matter both answers to the basic aims and essential conditions of the traditional conception, but also achieves the sort of clarity and precision characteristic of contemporary discussions of cognitive issues. So what is at issue here is not so much a restoration of earlier conceptions of ideas but a renovation which seeks to put new and hopefully palatable wine into old and familiar bottles.

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