a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.

Origin of epistemology

1855–60; < Greek epistḗm(ē) knowledge + -o- + -logy
Related formse·pis·te·mo·log·i·cal [ih-pis-tuh-muh-loj-i-kuh l] /ɪˌpɪs tə məˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl/, adjectivee·pis·te·mol·o·gist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for epistemology

Historical Examples of epistemology

  • Moral philosophy was the center of his teaching, and epistemology was only instrumental.

  • Epistemology, or theory of knowledge, did not begin in modern times.

    History of Modern Philosophy

    Alfred William Benn

  • Except in extreme pathological cases (and in epistemology), complete skepticism and aboulia do not occur.

    Creative Intelligence

    John Dewey, Addison W. Moore, Harold Chapman Brown, George H. Mead, Boyd H. Bode, Henry Waldgrave, Stuart James, Hayden Tufts, Horace M. Kallen

  • For what else do we study Sanscrit or medieval history or epistemology?

  • But the doctrine can be met from the standpoint of epistemology itself.

    Social Value

    B. M. Anderson

British Dictionary definitions for epistemology



the theory of knowledge, esp the critical study of its validity, methods, and scope
Derived Formsepistemologist, noun

Word Origin for epistemology

C19: from Greek epistēmē knowledge
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for epistemology

"theory of knowledge," 1856, coined by Scottish philosopher James F. Ferrier (1808-1864) from Greek episteme "knowledge," from Ionic Greek epistasthai "know how to do, understand," literally "overstand," from epi "over, near" (see epi-) + histasthai "to stand," (see histo-).

The scientific (as opposed to philosophical) study of the roots and paths of knowledge is epistemics (1969). Related: Epistemological; epistemologically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

epistemology in Culture



The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and origin of knowledge. Epistemology asks the question “How do we know what we know?”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.