Epistemology as a true justification knowledge for rational and empirical research. It is not a fallacy that if you are well grounded in the field of epistemology you would often make sense in every inquiry and research.
The concept of epistemology simply means the theory or study of knowledge. It is derived from the combination of two Greek words Episteme which means ‘knowledge’, and ‘logos’ meaning theory. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which investigates the scope, source and limitations of human knowledge. According to Joseph Omoregbe, Epistemology “studies the nature, the origin, the foundation, the method, the validity, the extent and the limits of human knowledge”. This definition encapsulates the entire nature of epistemology including the act of justification of knowledge which is central to epistemology.
“How do we know” and how can we know that we know. Is there certitude in our claims to knowledge? In the works of John Kekes, “Epistemology is more of a theory of justification than that of knowledge”. What this assertion shows is that, when we do epistemology, we are constantly seeking to justify our knowledge claims; and justification is that aspect of knowledge that is indisputable. This fact of justification attests to the numerous theories of justification such as foundationalism, coherentism, contextualism and more recently, the internalist and externalist theories of justifications.
Epistemology tries to discover what knowledge truly is, as different from mere opinion or belief. Aristotle opines that “every man wants to know”, this statement of Aristotle is a pointer to man’s desire to know. As a discipline, Epistemology asks questions such as: What is the nature of human knowledge? What is the relation between knowledge and belief? Is the human mind capable of knowing? What is truth? How do we know, that the physical world exists? What is the relation between knowledge and reality?
There are two traditional orientations as regards our sources of knowledge, they are rationalism and empiricism. The former claims that our knowledge is derived from reason, empiricism on the other hand, says that sense experience is the ultimate source of our knowledge. Based on this, we can ask that if all knowledge is dependent on experience, how can we then achieve the absolute certainty that we claim to have in the realms of mathematics and logic. The distinctions usually made in epistemology include those among knowledge, belief, opinion, a priori, a posteriori, analytic and synthetic proposition, which are concepts in rationalism and empiricism and theories of truth.