Philosophy Index

Sources of Knowledge

In epistemology, a common concern with respect to knowledge is what sources of information are capable of giving knowledge.

The following are some of the major sources of knowledge:

  1. Perception — that which can be perceived through the experiences of the senses. The view that experience is the primary source of knowledge is called empiricism.
  2. Reason — Reason can be considered a source of knowledge, either by deducing truths from existing knowledge, or by learning things a priori, discovering necessary truths (such as mathematical truths) through pure reason. The view that reason is the primary source of knowledge is called rationalism
  3. Introspection — knowledge of one’s self that can be found through internal self-evalution. This is generally considered to be a sort of perception. (For example, I know I am hungry or tired.)
  4. Memory — Memory is the storage of knowledge that was learned in the past — whether it be past events or current information.
  5. Testimony — Testimony relies on others to acquire knowledge and communicate it to us. Some deny that testimony can be a source of knowledge, and insist that beliefs gained through testimony must be verified in order to be knowledge.