Topic Detail
Theories of Knowledge or Theories of Epistemology

The basic theories of epistemology are:

  • Authoritarianism
  • Skepticism
  • Mysticism
  • Intuitionism
  • Rationalism
  • Empiricism

These theories are discussed as follow:


Briefly authoritarianism asserts that knowledge is granted or validated by author. Since man is naturally suggested and is not in a position to verify all of his so-called “knowledge”, it is not surprising that such a doctrine has been preferred.

Criteria for determining authority:

  1. Ubiquity of opinion: The opinion is found in many instances
  2. Temporal duration: The opinion has been found since long.
  3. Prestige: The opinion is presented by a person having good reputation and respect.


            It devises that there is genuine knowledge. It solves the problems of epistemology by dyeing the problem themselves.

Major arguments for doctrine of skepticism

  1. The historical arguments: In almost every field of knowledge there are to be found divergences of opinion and the experts seem cable of solving the disputes.
  2. The dialectical arguments: The skeptic argues that in the process of knowing we are best with contradiction or continuous with defined solution.
  3. The physiological arguments: We cannot have true knowledge of the real world and even we happen to have such knowledge which should be very unlikely, we could not know that it is true.      


The doctrine of mysticism is a theory of knowledge is one which either devises or relegates to a position of relative significance of the ordinary sources and avenues of knowledge, sensation and discourse. True knowledge, true insight is to be found in a unique experiences which has been called mystical e.g. unity with God or the universe. This insight is gained through a kind of identification of the with this transcendental being, this insight is the mystical experience.


The elements of intuitionism are presented in all theories of knowledge. A doctrine presented by the famous present day French philosopher Henri Bergson. “Knowledge which is conceptual is essentially inaccurate and in sound. What we ordinarily take to be knowledge is discursive, abstract and false. ”. The only way to know reality is through intuitionism which reveals a living, dynamic world of constant change and novelty.

This intuitionism is non-intellectual cognition which is direct and immediate report with objects in which their real nature is revealed. This alone is true knowledge.


17th and 18th century rationalists are Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza and Wolff. It is mentioned that:

The most perfect form of knowledge in the sort which is found in mathematical demonstration (deduction).

  • Starting with premise elf-evident
  • Deducing the consequences of these axioms or truth.

The field of knowledge to be divided into three great segments

  • Rational cosmology
  • Rational psychology
  • Rational theology


            In general, empiricism affirms that the source and validity of knowledge are to be found in the empirical aspects of experience. The reason of man is not provided with innate a prior knowledge. In fact the mind of man is a tabularaca upon which experience writes. Sensation is the beginning of knowledge and all our ideas are ultimately reducible to sensory experience.