Request: epistemology for newbies?

I feel there’s a hole in my book-larnin’. I’ve never really read any formal epistemology, just picked bits and pieces up as I go along. Can anyone recommend any web- (or uni website-) available, chapter/article-length introduction to general principles and issues in epistemology, preferably not written from a pompous-wingnut-git point of view?


Categories: education


3 replies

  1. My knowledge base on this is way out of date, but I have always been partial to William Perry, Carol Gilligan and Mary Belenky. Perry’s work in particular struck me, as I can indentify examples of his nine stages of development in my own students. A quick cut and paste from Wikipedia”

    Fundamental to the Perry scheme is a student’s nine-stage progression from dualist to relativist epistemologies. Learners move from viewing truth in absolute terms of Right and Wrong (obtained from “Good” or “Bad” Authorities) to recognizing multiple, conflicting versions of “truth” representing legitimate alternatives. Significantly, the intent of the original research was “a purely descriptive formulation of students’ experience,” rather than a “prescriptive program intended to “get’ students to develop” (Perry, 1981, p. 107). The Perry scheme of epistemic development becomes prescriptive when teaching and curriculum are “optimally designed to invite, encourage, challenge, and support students in such development” (Perry, 1981, p. 107). The nine positions of the Perry scheme can be grouped into three broader categories, which Perry (1981) identified as: 1) dualism modified (or dualism multiplicity), 2) relativism discovered, and 3) commitments in relativism developed.

    Belenky drew heavily on Perry’s work and Gilligan’s work in her book “Women’s Ways Of Knowing.” She and her collaborators did in-depth interviews with 135 (?) women of very diverse backgrounds. (Perry’s work was done at Harvard, I believe, when it was all male, and drew his subjects from that cohort.) They analyzed the “interviews that asked women about their gender, their relationships, their ways of knowing and moral dilemmas. From their research, they formulated a theory consisting of five types of knowing from which women perceive themselves and approach the world. They saw that the way that women think about education and learning also affects their self-perception.” <a href="</a&gt;.
    All three of these researchers had things to say that stuck with me through the years. I don’t know who the hot new researchers are, or how Perry’s, Gilligan’s and Belenky’s work has held up through the years, but they may be worth seeking out.

  2. Many thanks, Vicki! I’ve read a bit of Gilligan, but have noted the other two and will have a poke around at the library.

  3. Woody Allen: “Is knowledge knowable? If not, how do we know this?”

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