Gnoseology: History, What Studies, Characteristics and Problems

The gnoseology or theory of knowledge It is a branch of philosophy that studies general knowledge. It contemplates the study of nature, as well as the origins of knowledge. Gnoseology does not analyze only one specific area, but focuses on how man is able to acquire knowledge and the consequences of it.

According to the postulates of gnoseology, the human being uses a series of sources, which bring him closer to reality and truth. These sources are perception, representation, concept, judgments, meaning, interpretation and deduction.

Gnoseology or theory of knowledge

It is worth noting that gnoseology should not be confused with epistemology, because epistemology focuses particularly on studying scientific knowledge, the use of hypotheses and the regiment of laws and principles, unlike gnoseology, which focuses on the origin of knowledge.


  • 1 History
  • 2 What study?
  • 3 characteristics
  • 4 Gnoseology problems
    • 4.1 Possibility
    • 4.2 Origin
    • 4.3 Essence
    • 4.4 Justification
  • 5 Types of knowledge
  • 6 References


-The first studies related to gnoseology start from ancient Greece thanks to the dialogues of Theaetetus, who proposed an analysis and classification of the studies.

- Aristotle He also made a series of contributions on the subject, by explaining that knowledge was obtained empirically (or through the senses). He also made the first explorations about metaphysics.

-The Middle Ages It was an interesting time for the study of knowledge. St. Augustine stated that knowledge was achieved thanks to divine intervention, and St. Thomas Aquinas collected the first postulates of Aristotle to establish the bases of the theory of knowledge; this showed a deep rejection towards the realistic and nominalist vision.

-Thanks to the progress made during the Renaissance , gave way to a series of advances in knowledge thanks to the invention of instruments that gave greater rigor to science and other studies. This also served as a prelude to Modernity.

-During the s. XVII characters like John Locke and Francis Bacon defended empiricism as the main source of knowledge. There was a deepening of the studies of the matter and its relationship with man.

-In 1637 and 1642 Rene Descartes published the Speech of the method and the Metaphysical meditations , respectively, and introduced methodical doubt as a resource for obtaining secure knowledge. Thanks to him came the rationalist current.

-The empiricism and rationalism became the prevailing currents of the time. Immanuel Kant proposed the so-called transcendental idealism, which indicated that man was not a passive entity but was part of a progressive process in terms of obtaining knowledge.

Kant established two types of knowledge: one of character a priori , which is of the type that does not need proof since it is universal; and other a posteriori , Which is the one that needs a series of tools to check its validity. At this point another sub-branch of epistemology was uncovered: German idealism.

-In the S. XX manifested phenomenology, a current of knowledge theory that is considered a midpoint between theory and experimentation. Take into account aspects of a logical nature because it depends on the intuition of the scientist.

-In contrast, in the Anglo-Saxon School (United States, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia) developed a type of current called analytical philosophy, which rescues empiricism and scientific research to understand the meaning of reality.

-In 1963, the so-called Fitch Paradox was introduced, an approach from the postulate"if all truth could be known, then all truth would be known". However, it must be taken into account that the concept of truth is broad and, at times, subjective.

What study?

The gnoseología is centered in the study of the nature, origin, obtaining and relation of the knowledge in the human being, without taking into account areas of particular study.

That is, it is limited to determining how man is able to know the truth and reality from the interaction of the subject and the object.

According to the etymology of the word, this derives from the Greek terms gnosis , which means"faculty of knowing"; Y logos which refers to doctrine or reasoning.


- Study the types of knowledge, its origin and the nature of things.

- Study the nature of knowledge in general, not particular knowledge, for example in mathematics, chemistry or biology.

-Suele differentiate between three types of knowledge: the direct, the propositional and the practical.

-For gnoseology there are two ways to acquire knowledge: reason and meanings.

-It starts in Ancient Greece, with the Platonic dialogue Theaetetus.

-One of its main problems is justification, that is, under what circumstances a belief could be called knowledge.

Gnoseology problems

Gnoseology considers the different problems of knowledge, which are:


Philosophers question the possibility of knowledge of the object of study.


It raises whether the knowledge was obtained by experience or by reason.


It is related to the interaction of the subject and the object, at the same time as asking which of them has the true importance.


What is the difference between belief and knowledge? Something would be true and knowledge if its reasons / justifications are reliable, valid and well founded. Otherwise, it would be an opinion, conviction, belief or faith.

Types of knowledge

Due to the problems posed by gnoseology, there are different possibilities or types of knowledge


It assumes that we can all acquire safe and universal knowledge, so there is no problem of knowledge.


Man can reach the truth thanks to reality. Errors are seen as events that happen with little probability. Predominates"the being of things".


Unlike dogmatism, skepticism indicates that not all knowledge is safe.


Defended by Kant, he states that it is possible to approach the absolute truth while we find ourselves with provisional assumptions that, in some way, will lead us to the final goal. Question the origin of knowledge.


Knowledge is obtained from experience and from what is perceived through the senses. Currently it is considered one of the main branches in terms of processes of obtaining knowledge.


Defended by René Descartes, indicates that man is born with ideas and that reason is the means to obtain the truth.


Developed by Immanuel Kant, this doctrine emerges as a criticism of rationalism and empiricism, in order to defend the fact that the subject is not a passive entity but is also capable of interacting with the object.


The subject reaches the knowledge of the truth and constructs it by means of the rationing following the interaction with the object.


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