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Book I Chapter 1 - § 10

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« on: January 06, 2023, 05:08:54 am »

§ 10. In recent years considerable prominence has been attained by a branch of study known as Epistemology, or the Theory of Knowledge. The Theory of Knowledge, like Logic, is primarily concerned with the question of the conditions upon which the validity of our thinking, as a body of knowledge about reality, depends. It differs from ordinary Logic in not inquiring into the details of the various processes of proof, but confining its attention to the most general and ultimate conditions under which valid thinking is possible, and discussing these general principles more thoroughly and systematically than common Logic usually does. Since the conditions under which truth is obtainable depend, in the last  resort, on the character of that reality which knowledge apprehends, it is clear that the problems of the Theory of Knowledge, so far as they do not come under the scope of ordinary Logic (the theory of the estimation of evidence), are metaphysical in their nature. As actually treated by the writers who give this name to their discussions, the study appears to consist of a mixture of Metaphysics and Logic, the metaphysical element predominating. There is perhaps no serious harm in our giving, if we choose, the name Epistemology or Theory of Knowledge to our discussions of ultimate principles, but the older title Metaphysics seems on the whole preferable for two reasons. The discussion of the implications of knowledge is only one part of the metaphysician's task. The truly real is not only the knowable, it is also that which, if we can obtain it, realises our aspirations and satisfies our emotions. Hence the theory of the real must deal with the ultimate implications of practical conduct and æsthetic feeling as well as those of knowledge. The Good and the Beautiful, no less than the True, are the objects of our study.
 
Again, if the name Theory of Knowledge is understood, as it sometimes has been, to suggest that it is possible to study the nature and capabilities of the knowing faculty apart from the study of the contents of knowledge, it becomes a source of positive and dangerous mistake. The capabilities and limitations of the knowing faculty can be ascertained only by inquiring into the truth of its knowledge, regarded as an apprehension of reality; there is no possible way of severing the faculty, as it were, by abstraction from the results of its exercise, and examining its structure, as we might that of a mechanical appliance, before investigating the value of its achievements. The instrument can be studied only in its work, and we have to judge of its possibilities by the nature of its products. It is therefore advisable to indicate, by our choice of a name for our subject, that the theory of Knowing is necessarily also a theory of Being.
 
Consult further:—F. H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality, Introduction; L. T. Hobhouse, The Theory of Knowledge, Introduction; H. Lotze, Metaphysic, Introduction (Eng. trans., vol. i. pp. 1-30).

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