Episteme, Knowledge and Understanding

author: John Greco, Department of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
published: June 21, 2011,   recorded: June 2011,   views: 6519


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The first part of the paper argues that epistemology ought to respect the distinction between knowledge and understanding, as failing to do so creates misunderstanding and confusion. In particular, it has led many philosophers to place conditions on knowledge that are inappropriate. Second, it is argued that the Greek episteme better tracks our contemporary concept of “understanding” than it does our concept of “knowledge,” although it tracks neither perfectly. Finally, the paper reviews some important issues in the contemporary literature on understanding, and argues that an updated Aristotelian view competes well against alternatives.

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