Episteme - Episteme in Western Philosophy - Plato and Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle

For Plato and Aristotle episteme was a concept for universal knowledge that is true by necessity. In this sense, the objects of episteme cannot change. For Plato, these objects exists in the world of ideas. For Aristotle, episteme is the result of logical reasoning through syllogism. In contrast to the certain knowledge of episteme, doxa can be true in some cases but false in others. Episteme in this classical sense is often translated into English as ‘‘science’’ or ‘‘scientific knowledge.’’

Aristotle defines episteme like this:

"What science is . . . will be clear from the following argument. We all assume that what we know cannot be otherwise than it is, whereas in the case of things that may be otherwise, when they have passed out of our view we can no longer tell whether they exist or not. Therefore, the object of scientific knowledge is of necessity. Therefore it is eternal . . . Induction introduces us to first principles and universals, while deduction starts from universals . . . Thus scientific knowledge is a demonstrative state, (i.e., a state of mind capable of demonstrating what it knows) . . . i.e., a person has scientific knowledge when his belief is conditioned in a certain way, and the first principles are known to him; because if they are not better known to him than the conclusion drawn from them, he will have knowledge only incidentally. – This may serve as a description of scientific knowledge."

Here episteme is about the production of knowledge which is universal and invariable. The Enlightenment scientific ideal took its cue from episteme in this classical sense.

Read more about this topic:  Episteme, Episteme in Western Philosophy

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