A Critical Epistemology


In 1628 or perhaps a few years earlier, René Descartes (1596 – 1650) began work on a treatise, left unfinished, regarding the correct method for scientific and philosophical thinking, entitled : Regulae ad directionem ingenii, or Rules for the Direction of the Mind.

To honor his effort, this book brings together a hundred rules covering the game of 'true' knowing. This sport, played by scientists and philosophers alike, aims to enlarge conceptual knowledge (synthetic propositions a posteriori valid pro tem). Transcendental logic, theoretical epistemology, and practical epistemology are used to articulate principles, norms, and maxims explaining how knowledge is possible and how it can be produced.

Transcendental Logic concerns the a priori principles of knowledge independent of experience. These are rooted in the factum rationis or fact of reason. Transcendental analysis identifies these a priori principles, which are the groundless ground of knowledge. Deny them and you made use of them. These principles overturn the skepticism that denies true knowledge, or even knowledge itself. Furthermore, all conceptual knowledge, whether analytic (like logic and mathematics) or synthetic (like science and metaphysics), is based on conventions and intersubjective agreements. This highlights the conventionality and fallibility of conceptual knowledge, emphasizing that absolute knowledge cannot be warranted by reason.

Theoretical Epistemology is concerned with the norms of the theory of knowledge, specifically how knowledge is acquired and justified. The distinction between phenomena (what appears) and noumena (what just exists) is crucial in this context, emphasizing that conceptual knowledge cannot grasp these things in themselves (Kant's 'Ding-an-sich'). This distinction informs critical realism and our contemporary scientific understanding. The progress of conceptual knowledge points to its validation and production, avoiding the antinomy between realism and idealism. Facts are theory-dependent (for the mind is active, constructive), and also, so must we believe, theory-independent, somehow representing the noumenon. While we must accept this in a normative theory of knowledge, it could be a collective illusion. Conceptuality cannot step outside the dualism of knower and known. It cannot arbiter itself through a 'God's eye' view.

Practical Epistemology covers maxims, involving 'as if' thinking, practical communication, the research-cell, and judgments a posteriori. These elements suggest a focus on applying and practicing knowledge in real-world contexts, using an opportunistic logic used contextually.

Books and  PDF Ebooks

Regulae can be purchased
as a Print-On-Demand Book and PDF EBOOK
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© 2021 by Wim van den Dungen

301 pages
available in the LULU Bookstore
ISBN : 978-1-365-62160-4

25 $

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© 2023 by Wim van den Dungen

1.85 MB
available in the LULU Bookstore

3.5 $

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