By Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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Epistemology is the theory of knowledge, but the word “knowledge” stands either for a disciplinary, essentially social achievement, such as grammar (Aristotle’s favorite example), astronomy, and arithmetic, or for a personal achievement. The study of knowledge as a social achievement belongs in the history of science and the sociology of knowledge. Investigation of it would be, of course, naturalistic, essentially historical and sociological. But epistemologists usually have been interested in knowledge only as a personal achievement.

The self-centered focus on the conditions that my cognition, my heedful thought and talk, must satisfy was broadened as well as deepened by Hegel’s focus on the conditions that our cognition, our heedful thought and talk must satisfy. ” 3 Epistemology-as-Logic Subjective epistemology does not have a subject matter. Naturalistic epistemology does, but its subject matter is human and thus lacks the supreme abstraction and generality characteristic of philosophy. The third variety of epistemology, epistemology-as-logic, has a subject matter that exceeds the bounds of the special sciences.

The examples from Strawson that I have mentioned may be of little intrinsic interest but this cannot be said of those in his major metaphysical work, Individuals, or his book on Kant, The Bounds of Sense. And certainly it cannot be said of the examples in Kant’s own works. Kant defended important but controversial philosophical propositions on the ground that they are presupposed by other propositions that are not controversial. A simple example is the presupposition that the objects of sense perception (“outer sense”) are in space.

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