Difference Between Ontology and Epistemology (With Table)

Ontology and Epistemology both the terms are related to philosophical studies. Both Ontology and Epistemology are two different lines of study in philosophical studies. Both studies are different as well as kind of similar.

Ontology can be stated as the field that studies the nature of reality and all other different kinds of subdivisions and categories made under this nature of reality. The studies in Ontology shows us what exactly reality and this is mainly based on the activities and thinking of the human brain.

Epistemology, on the other hand, is related to the field of knowledge. The gaining of knowledge and the way its depicted in the human brain. This kind of study also is related to human brain activity. Epistemology describes what the human brain thinks of reality.

Ontology vs Epistemology

The difference between Ontology and Epistemology is that one studies the reality of nature while another is related to knowledge. The ontology includes everything about the consciousness of reality and Epistemology includes all the knowledge about that reality in our human brain.

Ontology is all about ‘being’, which is seen to focus on the logical and realistic categories of the reality of being. Both the term Ontology and Epistemology are divided through a thin line as well in a few spots. When a mind’s thinking is pointed out to the reality of the universe, it falls under the branch of Ontology. This branch questions the reality of being and existence.

Epistemology is all about the knowledge of that ‘being’, which focuses on the knowledge which is present in the human brain regarding this being. This branch of Epistemology deals with the reasons which come over experience or over time. This section of philosophy is always under continuous construction, which builds our reasoning and knowledge of different things we come across.

Comparison Table Between Ontology and Epistemology

Parameters of Comparison OntologyEpistemology
Questions asked What is existence? Or What is the nature of existence?What do you know? or How do you know it?
Some theories Ontological monism, pluralism, dualism, etc.relativism, rationalism, realism, etc.
Levels Levels: Top-level, domain level, task level, application/ realist, absolutist, multiplist, evaluativist Realist, absolutist, multiplist, evaluativist
Models or conditions General Trajectory domain model, domain knowledge or semantic model and temporal domain model Truth, belief and justification
Branches Agnotology, Alethiology, Formal epistemology Realism, idealism. Materialism

What is Ontology?

Ontology is a term that came from Greek roots. According to many researchers, the word Ontology was derived from a participle ὤν (on) of the Greek verb “to be” (inf. εἶ ναι, einai). The field of study is related to reality. Ontology can be defined as the ‘study of reality or things that comprise reality.

The questions that are asked in this study are ‘how things are in reality?’ or ‘how things work’, which gives quite an idea of what this study is looking for. Ontology studies the structure of the reality of nature or the reality of the existence of the universe or nature in the first place.

Ontology studies not just reality about human existence but even further. It studies beings that exist as self-contained or, as we call it, independent of human influence. This study focuses on what exists in reality. It is all about understanding what we see in the world which came into existence.

Ontology doesn’t deal with the knowledge theories rather is the things about which we know. This studies works are concerned about the nature of the world and reality. Each being Ontology has its knowledge which is Epistemology. In this way, we can also form a connection. 

What is Epistemology?

Epistemology is a term that came from Greek roots as well. The word Epistemology from ἐπιστήμη (episteme) which means knowledge which gives us the idea of its theme of study. This field of study is related to the knowledge we know. Epistemology can be defined ‘as the study of human cognition.

The question that is asked in the studies of Epistemology is‘ What does it mean to know something or a thing?’ or ‘What exactly is knowledge and knowing ?’. Epistemology studies the structure of human knowledge and what exactly is proper knowledge accepted in the world.

Epistemology mainly discusses the assumptions about knowledge. It talks about theories that can explain the knowledge we have and how we gain it. This studies how the human brain process knowledge and process it and even discuss it with fellow human beings. It studies how humans can talk about things that are stored in the form of knowledge.

Epistemology is mainly limited to human thinking. This is all about knowing what reality is rather than just studying reality. This studies the knowledge and what we can know. This field studies how we know reality and even store it as a form of knowledge. 

Main Differences Between Ontology and Epistemology

  1. Ontology and Epistemology are two main branches of Philosophy that make it different in the first place, and as well as it both deals with different aspects of things and knowledge.
  2. Ontology and Epistemology are both related to things, but Ontology studies the reality of things while Epistemology studies the knowledge about these things.
  3. Ontology shows a subjective view and objective views, which are two main parts, while on the other hand, Epistemology shows or studies the relation of research and researcher.
  4. Ontology studies relativism and realism, which Epistemology studies how we get knowledge or how we get to know things. 
  5. Ontology addresses the question “What is reality?” on the other hand, Epistemology asks, “how we can examine reality?”


Ontology and Epistemology are two different big branches of philosophy. Ontology gives us the study about reality, while Epistemology gives us how we know that things or the knowledge about them. We can take a thing under the studies of Ontology, but the knowledge under it and about it falls in the perimeters of Epistemology. 

Ontology gives us the facts about reality. While learning these facts, we understand the process of Epistemology. Both of these studies are connected if we want to connect them, or else we can also differentiate them. It is a branch of the tree of philosophy that tells us that they are connected but being different branches also tells us that they are different.


  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0539018412437108
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=AJc3DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA177&dq=Difference+Between+Ontology+and+Epistemology&ots=lCnPIyYnak&sig=_zJVTDQT2ee2bak97-5uMZB2Wl8
  3. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9780203201619/breaking-liz-stanley-sue-wise
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