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HZT4U-A

2
Unit

Epistemology

May 4, 2011

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Centre welcomes information that might rectify any errors or omissions. Philosophy HZT4U-A

Unit 2 Introduction, page 1

Introduction
In Unit 1, you considered the views of several philosophers about the question “What is reality?” You may have found one answer or another particularly enlightening, but you would still be justified in asking a further question: “On second thought, how does anyone know for sure what the nature of reality is?”
An excellent follow-up question is, “What does the word
‘know’ mean? And what guarantee do I have that what those philosophers think is true and what I think is true, whether it’s about the nature of reality or some less abstract matter, is actually true knowledge?”
Sometimes, it is tempting to think that there are more questions in philosophy than there are answers. However, philosophers have an answer to what true knowledge is. In fact, there is a branch of philosophy devoted entirely to this question. It is
,
called epistemology, from the Greek words episteme (ε πιστημη), meaning “knowledge,” and logos (λογος), meaning “study” or
“theory.”
If you search for “epistemology” on Google, you will find over
400 000 entries. Clearly, many people are asking the same question. Being “sure,” being “right,” and being “certain” that one’s knowledge is true are all states of mind people want to attain. In this unit, you will study epistemology, the study of the origin, nature, and scope of knowledge.

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Unit 2 Introduction, page 2

Philosophy HZT4U-A

What You Will Learn
By the end of this unit, you will be able to
• examine the approaches epistemologists take to decide if one’s knowledge is true or accurate
• consider the views of ancient and more recent epistemologists
• examine how philosophical perspectives on the definition of knowledge have influenced modern psychology’s views of the nature of perception
• determine how what you “know” is influenced by the information and entertainment media

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HZT4U-A

6
How Can You Know for Sure?

Philosophy HZT4U-A

Lesson 6, page 1

Introduction
In Lesson 6, you will study the approaches philosophers take to decide if one’s knowledge is true or accurate.

What You Will Learn
By the end of this lesson, you will be able to
• demonstrate an understanding of the main philosophical question of epistemology (What is human knowledge?)
• evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the responses given by some of the major schools of epistemology to some of the main epistemological questions
• demonstrate the relevance of philosophical theories of epistemology to concrete problems in everyday life
• formulate your own ideas about some of the main questions of epistemology, and explain and defend those ideas

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Lesson 6, page 2

Philosophy HZT4U-A

Are You Sure?
To begin your study of what knowledge is, it would be useful for you to have some idea of what you currently know with some degree of certainty, and on what basis you can make that claim. Understanding the source of your knowledge is the key to being reasonably certain that your knowledge is true…