9. Epistemology

Table of contents

Epistemology is that field of philosophy which seeks to solve the various fundamental problems about cognition (Erkenntnis). It is the theory of how the correct knowledge of an object can be obtained. Its goal is to bring to light the origin, method, and development of cognition. The English word epistemology is a combination of the Greek words episteme, which means knowledge, and logia, which means logic. It is said to have been used for the first time by J. F. Ferrier (1808-64). The German word Erkenntnistheorie is said to have been coined by K. L. Reinhold (1758-1823).

Epistemology already existed in ancient and medieval philosophies, but only in the modern period did it emerge as a central topic in philosophy. Unification Thought sees it as part of the call for the restoration of human nature and humankind’s dominion over all things. Epistemology and ontology came to form the two major branches of philosophy.

As already mentioned, Unification Thought advocates the standard which claims to be able to fundamentally solve all actual problems. Today, enthusiasm about the study of epistemology has waned, and attention has instead moved to medical science. Yet, medical science has not given a complete solution to the problems of epistemology.

Undoubtedly, medical science has contributed to solving the problems of epistemology by giving a physiological foundation to the process of cognition. Yet, there are still unsolved problems in the work of medical research as regards cognition. Unification epistemology has solved these problems, as well as many traditional ones.

Epistemology is related to the fundamental problem of ontology, namely, the conflict between idealism and materialism. Cognition, or knowledge, is closely related to one’s practical activities. Therefore, unless we can establish a correct view of epistemology, we can not solve actual problems effectively. Thus, it follows that a new theory of epistemology―one that can solve the problems of all traditional epistemologies―is needed. In order to respond to this call, Unification epistemology is presented here, based on Unification Thought.

I will begin with an outline of traditional epistemologies, pointing out their weaknesses. Then, I will present Unification epistemology, clarifying the following points: (1) Unification epistemology is capable of solving the problems that remain unresolved in traditional epistemologies; and (2) this epistemology is, literally, a Unification epistemology, in the sense that it has the capacity to unify all epistemologies. It should also be clarified that this epistemology was systematized under the instruction of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, in the same way as was done in the other sections of this book.