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continental epistemology

linda alcoff

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


For the purposes of this entry continental epistemology will be denned as the cluster of problems concerning knowledge in French and German philosophy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This time frame can be justified on the grounds that with Hegel a decidedly different orientation to knowledge began to emerge. Problems of knowledge and truth are as central to the continental tradition as they are to the Anglo-American tradition, but because they start from a different place different sorts of questions arise. This different starting point is hegel's perception of the historical dimension of knowledge. Hegel was influenced by K ant's critique of the limits of reason and his recognition of the subjective input into knowledge. But Hegel drew two conclusions from these claims that Kant did not draw: the fundamental limit to reason is its embeddedness in a historical context, which further suggests that the categories of interpretation Kant identified must themselves be understood as historically situated and thus limited. It is this insight into the historical nature of reason, knowledge and even truth that might be said to begin a different trajectory of development in epistemology on the European continent. The claim of historicity follows simply from the fact that there is a subjective component to knowledge and that subjects are historical creatures, incapable of fully ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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