Philosophy of knowledge (epistemology) is the branch of philosophy that investigates the nature, extent and limits, sources, foundations and justification of human knowledge/knowing. It investigates the activity and phenomenon of human knowing and responds to historical doubts about the possibility of knowledge arising from scepticism and relativism. The course is designed to provide familiarity with the basic questions and positions concerning knowledge. (These include questions about the nature of knowledge, the justification of knowledge claims, foundationalism, naturalised epistemology and feminist epistemology).
Epistemology is presented (a) as a normative discipline which aims to develop standards or criteria by which we accept or reject or justify a knowledge claim and (b) as a method of personally appropriating the dynamic structures of human consciousness which provide the concrete foundations of cognitional activity (here attention will be drawn to the pre-conceptual aspects of human knowing). To round off the course the social and cultural contexts of knowledge will be examined. This will allow questions concerning knowledge in an African context to be examined from the point of view of sociology of knowledge, critical theory and, in particular, hermeneutics.
Figures treated may include Plato and Aristotle, Sextus Empiricus, Aquinas, Descartes and Leibnitz, Locke and Hume, Kant, Hegel, James and Peirce, Russell, Ayer, Wittgenstein, Quine, Gettier, Davidson and Dummett, Alston, Putman and Rorty, Gadamer and Heidegger. The thought of Derrida and other post-modern thinkers will be mentioned. The cognitional theory of Lonergan will also be examined. While all positions cannot be treated in equal depth the aim of the course will be to communicate the diversity of approaches