Difference Between Epistemology and Metaphysics

The terms epistemology and metaphysics are both related to philosophical concepts and without epistemology, the study of metaphysics would never get the weight or authority. These terms are often used interchangeably, which is not right. The term epistemology and metaphysics represents two different concepts. To understand the difference between these two terms, one must first understand the core concepts of these two terms. 

Epistemology vs Metaphysics

The main difference between epistemology and metaphysics is that epistemology is concerned with the knowledge of humans. On the other hand, metaphysics is concerned with the process of knowing what humans know. Epistemology always avoids a ‘self-conscious turn’ in which metaphysics always includes, for instance, processes and powers of the intellect.

Epistemology vs Metaphysics

Epistemology refers to the study of knowledge which focuses on what humans know. The term ‘epistemology is derived from two Greek words- “episteme’ and “logos” which means ‘knowledge’ and ‘science’ or ‘study’ respectively. Epistemologists generally focus on propositional knowledge instead of focusing on an acquaintance or procedural knowledge. Propositional knowledge is the knowledge that is declarative or represents a state of affairs or a fact.

Metaphysics is the study of the process of acquiring knowledge that humans know. The term ‘metaphysics’ is derived from the Greek word “metaphysika” which literally means “after physics”. This branch of philosophy includes the study of reality and truth. It focuses on how humans know what they know and if there are any obstacles, in terms of methods, validity, and scope, to the process of gathering the knowledge.

Comparison Table Between Epistemology and Metaphysics

Parameters of ComparisonEpistemologyMetaphysics
Definition Epistemology refers to the study of what humans know. The epistemologists generally focus on propositional knowledge.    Metaphysics is the study of the process of acquiring knowledge that humans know. 
Derived from The term ‘epistemology is derived from two Greek words- “episteme’ and “logos” which means ‘knowledge’ and ‘science’ or ‘study’ respectively.     The term ‘metaphysics’ is derived from the Greek word “metaphysika” which literally means “after physics”.
Branches The main branches of epistemology are agnotology, formal epistemology, alethiology, social epistemology, and meta-epistemology.     The main branches of metaphysics are theology, ontology, and universal science. 
Conservative thought An individual or man is able to discern reality and truth through his capacity and tendency to reason.     Man or individual is good.
Examples Belief, truth, proof, theory, hypothesis, justification, and law.     Being, existence, causality, relation, purpose, space, time, event, and so on. 

What is Epistemology?

Epistemology refers to the philosophical concept that studies the origin, limits, and nature of human knowledge. The term ‘epistemology is derived from two Greek words- “episteme’ and “logos” which means ‘knowledge’ and ‘science’ or ‘study’ respectively. 

Almost every known historical philosopher has contributed to the study of epistemology questioning what we know. Among the Greek philosophers, Plato in his Republic has distinguished between an inquiry about what exists and inquiry regarding what we know. 

During the early modern period, epistemologists divided up into two groups- rationalists (Baruch Spinoza, Rene Descartes) and empiricists (John Locke, George Berkeley, Francis Bacon, and David Hume). The rationalists believed that a significant portion of knowledge comes from our faculty of reason, on the other hand, empiricists believed that knowledge derives from sensory experience.  

Science is considered to be a formalized, institutionalized, refined, and systematic form of the acquisition and pursuit of empirical knowledge. The philosophy of science may be considered as a foundation of epistemological inquiry or an application of the epistemology principles.

The main branches of epistemology are agnotology (focuses on doubt or ignorance), formal epistemology (focuses on computability theory and probability theory), alethiology (focuses on nature of truth), social epistemology (focuses on the social dimensions of human knowledge), and meta-epistemology (focuses on the subject, matter, and approaches of structuring and understanding our knowledge). 

What is Metaphysics?

Metaphysics is a philosophical concept that studies the first principles of change and identity, being, possibility and necessity, causality, time and space. Metaphysics includes the relationships between matter and mind and the nature of consciousness. The term ‘metaphysics’ is derived from the Greek word “metaphysika” which literally means “after physics”.

The work of Aristotle into the treatise is known as metaphysics.Metaphysics focuses on investing objects and their time and space, effect and cause, possibility, properties, and existence. Along with ethics, logic, and epistemology, metaphysics is considered one of the major branches of philosophy. Metaphysics focuses on investigating the nature and types of existence.

Metaphysics is conducted by using deduction that tries to give a coherent explanation of the world’s structure, like foundational mathematics. Metaphysics defines properties, objects, and concepts in different ways by fundamental science like superstrings and atoms. 

The main branches of metaphysics are theology, ontology, and universal science. In theology the main focus is to identify the nature of God, with triple aspects of teachings of God, what does God teach us, and what are the leads to God. Ontology focuses on categories and concepts which are directly related to being, reality. Universal Science is the study that focuses on the first principles of logic and reasoning.

Main Differences Between Epistemology and Metaphysics

  1. Epistemology refers to the study of what humans know. The epistemologists generally focus on propositional knowledge. On the other hand, metaphysics is the study of the process of acquiring knowledge that humans know. 
  2. The term ‘epistemology is derived from two Greek words- “episteme’ and “logos” which means ‘knowledge’ and ‘science’ or ‘study’ respectively. The term ‘metaphysics’ is derived from the Greek word “metaphysika” which literally means “after physics”.
  3. The main branches of epistemology are agnotology, formal epistemology, alethiology, social epistemology, and meta-epistemology. The main branches of metaphysics are theology, ontology, and universal science.
  4. In epistemology, an individual or man is able to discern reality and truth through his capacity and tendency to reason. In metaphysics, man or individual is good.
  5. Epistemology focuses on belief, truth, proof, theory, hypothesis, justification, and law. Metaphysics focuses on being, existence, causality, relation, purpose, space, time, event, and so on.

Conclusion

Both epistemology and metaphysics are related to the philosophical concept. Without epistemology, the study of metaphysics wouldn’t have any weight or authority. This is because metaphysical concepts and beliefs cannot depend on traditional methods of science to be proven true. Both the terms are derived from ancient Greek words and many major historical philosophers have contributed these concepts.

The main difference between epistemology and metaphysics is that epistemology is concerned with the knowledge of humans. On the other hand, metaphysics is concerned with the process of knowing what humans know. Epistemology always avoids a ‘self-conscious turn’ in which metaphysics always includes, for instance, processes and powers of the intellect.

References

  1. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=epistemology+&btnG=#d=gs_qabs&u=%23p%3DSQOQ4fXFf8MJ
  2. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=metaphysics+&btnG=#d=gs_qabs&u=%23p%3D_SfCSCQEVAYJ
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