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2023年5月 1日 (月)

Wataru Kuroda's "Epistemology"

 This article is based on the article "Ninshikiron / Epistemology" in Heibonsha World Encyclopedia, 2nd edition (1999).

 When I happened to take a look at this article, I was so impressed by its excellent contents that I wondered who was in charge of this article, and upon checking the author of the article, I was convinced that it was the late Wataru Kuroda (philosopher, October 21, 1928 - May 31, 1989).

  No wonder, it gives a concise overview of the history of Western philosophy, covers some interesting topics, and concludes by presenting the contemporary significance/issues of "epistemology". One word: excellent writing.

Since this article has a copyright holder and is only partially published (unsigned) on the Internet, it would be illegal to post the full text, even privately, on this blog. However, it would be a shame for this brilliant finding to be buried in an encyclopedia entry. Therefore, as a fan of Wataru Kuroda, I have decided to (secretly) post it on this blog until I receive a request from the copyright holder to remove it.

◆My evaluation points

  I found the following points interesting and important when I read "Wataru Kuroda's Structure of 'Epistemology'".

(1) From the beginning, there have been two different approaches to "epistemology" that originated in ancient Greece: Plato and Aristotle. However, in terms of their influence on the Western world in later times, Plato, who set the problem of "cognition" as a problem of "knowledge," was the main influence, while Aristotle was the secondary influence. The difference between the two is then reframed as a difference between the later "rationalistic" and "empiricistic" conditions for the truthfulness of knowledge.

* [Blogger's comment 1].
It was Aristotle who actually produced the encyclopedia of "knowledge as quid facti," and Plato, like his teacher Socrates, can only laugh at his continued betrayal of reality by wielding the foolish "knowledge as quid juris," which is not even a question of right. One can only laugh at his continued betrayal by reality.

(2) Kant limited the object of his epistemology to "empirically possible" knowledge, and explored the "quid juris" of the establishment of the latest "mathematical worldview" of the time.

(3) In the sense that this composition of Kant's "epistemology" has been followed by the modern neo-Kantians and Husserl's transcendental phenomenology, etc., no theory has yet emerged that can largely overcome Kant's views.

(4) In English-speaking countries, epistemology and scientific theory by the method of linguistic analysis are overwhelmingly dominant, but the construction of the subject as a linguistic framework for talking about facts rather than scientific facts has led to a sterile division between "factual issues quid facti" and "rights issues quid juris," as in traditional epistemology.

*[Blogger's comment 2] If Mr. Kuroda's point above is correct, contemporary Anglo-American philosophy of the post "linguistic turn" may also be in orbital motion in the "Kantian corridor," or may form a Strange Attractor that never arrives and never leaves. I am not being sarcastic, but I would like to say thank you for your efforts.

(5) The future of "epistemology" is suggested by Husserl's "phenomenology of the living world" in his later years and Wittgenstein's shift to "language games in living forms".


Here is a quote.


Epistemology (Ningshikiron) / Heibonsha World Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition (1999) / Wataru Kuroda, Author


Epistemology is the philosophical study or theory of the nature, origin, basis, and limits of knowledge. The English and French words translated as "epistemology" are derived from the Greek words epistēmē (knowledge, cognition) and logos (theory). Although these terms did not come into wide use until the mid-19th century, the philosophical consideration of knowledge is of course much older than that, for example, the relativist view of truth espoused by the Sophists in Classical Greece already included quite advanced epistemological considerations, and Socrates, in his dialogues with the philosophers, was also a philosophical philosopher. Socrates also discussed the nature of knowledge and the methods of acquiring knowledge in his dialogues.

Plato, Aristotle

It was Plato who gave systematic expression to the epistemological issues thus deepened and set the direction for their subsequent development. He divided human intellectual activity into two kinds: "epistēmē" and "doxa". Knowledge is "that which cannot be mistaken," and unlike ideas and beliefs that happen to be true in fact, i.e., "without thought," it must be well-founded and provable. The final form of Plato's definition of "knowledge" was "the true thoughtlessness with logos. Plato left to future generations the task of thoroughly investigating the meaning of this distinction between "knowledge" and "no thought. In ancient Greece, Aristotle, another philosopher who occupied an important position in the history of epistemology, systematized the rules of deductive reasoning and laid the foundation of classical formal logic, and also closely examined various functions of the mind related to cognition, such as sensation, memory, imagination, and thought.

Plato's and Aristotle's views on cognition are quite different, and the differences and contrasts between them are similar to those between rationalism and empiricism in the post-modern period.


New Developments and Background since the Early Modern Period

For Western Christian thinkers, an important ideological task is to clarify the boundaries and interrelationships between the grasp of supernatural truths based on revelation and the knowledge obtained through the exercise of reason. Epistemological research in the Middle Ages was fundamentally framed by the question of how faith and reason could be reconciled. In the post-modern period, the remarkable development of science broke the inertial stability of traditional thought and became the driving force behind the transformation of worldviews. Many epistemological problems were born out of the tension between science and philosophy, and the development of epistemology from the early modern period to the present cannot be described without reference to this relationship.

 In the meantime, however, philosophical inquiry into knowledge has developed along the trajectory laid out by Plato. The basic direction was to replace the question of what it means to know with the question of what grounds make the claims of knowledge valid and on what grounds our thoughts and beliefs become genuine knowledge, and to approach the essence of "knowledge" from the context of justification. In Kant’s "Critique of Pure Reason," he stated that he was concerned with the "quid juris" of cognition and not with the "quid facti". which succinctly describes the basic trend of epistemological research in the West. This succinctly describes the basic trend of epistemological research in the West. For example, Locke's "The Theory of Human Intellect," published at the end of the 17th century, is a classic representing early modern epistemology. As its introduction indicates, this work aimed to investigate the origin of certainty and evidentiality of "knowledge," to examine the nature and basis of probable "opinions" and "beliefs," and to clarify the boundary between the two. This work, which largely oriented post-modern philosophy as epistemological philosophy, also inherited the Platonic philosophy of knowledge and centered its examination of "knowledge" on the question of grounds.

 It is customary to divide early modern epistemology into two major currents, rationalism and empiricism, but the conflict between these two positions reflects the mentality of the early modern period. At that time, empirical and inductive methods, which were not bound by existing conceptual systems or categories of existence, and which sought empirical laws solely through observation and experimentation, were beginning to produce results in various fields of natural research. In addition, the "method of analysis and synthesis" (G. Galilei), which decomposed phenomena into simple factors and reconstructed them as functional relations among various factors, presented a new image of the dynamical world and demonstrated the effectiveness of the hypothetico-deductive method, and mathematical analysis developed remarkably accordingly. In response to these developments, rationalists emphasized a priori methods of cognition that deduce logical consequences from a few evidential principles and regarded mathematics as the epitome of certain knowledge. Descartes, Merle Blanche, Spinoza, and Leibniz are well-known philosophers who structured their epistemology in this way. On the other hand, the empiricist epistemology (British empiricism) developed mainly by British philosophers such as Locke, G. Berkley, and D. Hume emphasized a posteriori methods such as observation, experiment, and inductive generalization to interpret belief and knowledge. In principle, they sought the corroboration of sensory evidences for statements that pertain to the real world.



Kant deeply examined the issues at stake in rationalism and empiricism, and developed a close theoretical system that can be regarded as the definitive interpretation of epistemology in the early modern period. The fundamental question of Kant's epistemology is summed up in the question, "How is inborn comprehensive judgment possible(synthetisches Urteil a priori)"? Put simply, Kant's fundamental question was how universal and inevitable judgments that are somehow related to experience and reality and that deserve the name of "knowledge" can be established, and how their objective validity, that is, their compatibility with reality, can be proved. His position is connected to empiricist thought in that he limited the establishment of knowledge to the range of the empirical possible and rejected many of the propositions of traditional metaphysics. However, Kant was also the heir of early modern rationalism in that he analyzed the fundamental knowledge and its conditions underlying the mathematics and Newtonian mechanics of the time and reconstructed the basic structure of "possible experience" with them as the core of his theoretical work.

Kant's epistemological position is called transcendental idealism or transcendental subjectivism. In his way of thinking, the basic structure of nature, the object of scientific cognition, is determined by the form of subjectivity, that is, by the form of sensibility or enlightenment (time, space, categories, etc.). However, this subjectivity is not a personal or experiential conscious subject, but the essential structure of consciousness that is revealed only through philosophical reflection toward the roots of the empirical ego, the transcendental subjectivity transzendentales Subjekt, which should also be called consciousness in general. Kant's footprints on the history of epistemology are significant in that he almost established the modern philosophical way of thinking, which considers the problem of cognition exclusively from the viewpoint of the subject-object relationship. His thought has been followed by many followers and is regarded as the orthodoxy of epistemology, especially in Germany.

  In terms of scientific cognition, Kant's epistemology was not, of course, free from the limitations of the time. This limitation is manifested in the fact that it focused exclusively on mathematical natural science and gave little consideration to the cognition of history and society. However, no theory has yet emerged that can overcome Kant's views on epistemological problems, philosophy of method, and attitudes toward scientific cognition; the neo-Kantian epistemology of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the transcendental phenomenology of Husserl, which emerged later, occupied the status of leading theories at the time. Both, however, were essentially based on Kant's epistemology.

Epistemology in the Modern Era

Today, however, it is no longer possible to remain with the transcendentalist epistemological philosophy of "the foundation of science. The relative relationship between science and philosophy on the issue of cognition has changed drastically in the last 20 to 30 years. For example, intellectual developments such as cerebral physiology, genetic engineering, computer science, and robotics are rapidly advancing that will greatly affect the interpretation of the subject-object relationship in cognition. At such a time, there is probably not much life left in the autistic philosophy of epistemology, which puts the knowledge brought by these developments in parentheses as belonging to the domain of "factual issues," and focuses solely on the consideration of "rights issues. We should again ask what the significance is of questioning the eternal and unchanging structure of knowledge, while ignoring the historical and social conditions that currently constrain the epistemic process. In English-speaking countries, epistemology and scientific theory based on linguistic analysis dominate, and this analytic epistemology, which originally developed from the methodological and foundational reflections of mathematicians and natural scientists rather than professional philosophers, has generally and relatively well maintained its linkage with scientific inquiry. However, it cannot be overlooked that this school's pretense of focusing on the linguistic framework of facts rather than on scientific facts leads, as in traditional epistemology, to a sterile division between issues of fact and issues of right.

However, it would be shortsighted to conclude the end of epistemology in our time based on the above observations. The dismantling of transcendentalist epistemology and the disappearance of epistemology itself are two different things. The more the specialization of scientific research and the increasing sophistication and enormity of technology become overwhelming circumstances, the more the significance of scientific and technological knowledge for human life must be fundamentally reexamined. As Plato's Dialogues, "Charmides Χαρμίδης," so beautifully describes, the search not for mere "knowledge" but for "knowledge of knowledge" is an activity unique to human beings, and the most conscious and thorough pursuit of this activity is the essential characteristic of the activity of philosophy. Knowledge, or epistemology, which is concerned with intellectual inquiry and its institutions, is the most realistic challenge today. Husserl, who once pursued the ideal of transcendental philosophy, turned his attention to the "phenomenology of the living world" in his later years, and Wittgenstein, who first illuminated the essential structure of the language of cognition with "logical form" as one of its basic concepts, eventually turned to the philosophy of language games with "living form" as its ultimate support. Of course, this is no coincidence. In each of them, the deepest and most earnest recognition of the past and future of epistemology is expressed.
[Wataru Kuroda]
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