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How I Understand Epistemology from Chinese and Western Philosophy

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Linguistics explain

Analysis of the meaning of the word, usually can give us more inspire. Word "epistemology", it combined of the Greek words "episteme" and "logos".

1, episteme

Episteme refers to our all experience; knowledge and the experience of what we have learned. Initially, Greek people cannot distinguish "aesthesis" and "episteme" very clear. In the book of thinking about causes, Jurgen Mittelstrass said that, Plato's views, Socrates had dedicated himself to the search for the causes of becoming and passing away in his youth, considering problems such as whether animals originate by the cold and the warm turning to dirt, or whether we think with our blood or with air or with fire, or with none of them, but out brain instead (Phaedo 96b). Here we can see Plato start to distinguish the "aesthesis" and "episteme". Then Aristotle make it further, he divided "episteme" into three parts theoretical (like math); practice (like ethnics) and techno (like naval architecture). He also divided "aesthesis" into 3 parts mathematic; physic and theological. Until now episteme become much more meaningful. It means knowledge; intellect and so on. If we get episteme, it means that know the general side of the world. People can definite things and use language to teacher the other. Let it become our spirit property.

2, logos

About the word logos, it means discourse. The meaning of logos also including speech; account; reason; definition; principle; thought and so on. Greek people usually compare logos and mythos. So that to compare analytical account and symbolic narrative. Some religions in Greek even use the word logo as the principle of initiate everything in the universe. Christianize also inherit this point. Nowadays, western languages usually use the word logos to mean knowledge. We can notice it from English words biology; psychology; physiology and so on.

When we combine episteme and logos, then we got the word epistemology. In epistemology is the subject about us. Let we know us better. So it got some main question like "what is episteme?" "How people episteme?" Because of it, we also call it "theory of knowledge".

How I understand it in Chinese story.

Epistemologies remind me a very old Chinese short story. In the annals of spring and autumn and warring states period. Sini go to Tian's home to visit him. Sini got really good mood on that day. During the dinner, Sini invite guest to go the hath pace to enjoy the scenery. Tian looks around; he found that east; west and north side got very good view. Because there is not anything block the beautiful view. Only there is a very big tree on the south block the south view. On that day Tian did not say anything, he do not know what Sini still take him to see the scenery. After they go back home. Sini let chamberlain to cut down the big tree which in the south. When chamberlain use the ax cut the tree three times, Sini change the mind. Chamberlain asks Sini why he changes the mind so fast. Sini sigh and say there is old Chinese proverb say that: "the people, who can see the fish in very deep sea, he will suffer something bad." This proverb want to say do not furtively to get the others secret, otherwise you will suffer something bad. Sini knows that if he cut down the tree, Tian will know Sini is so smart even can read his mind. If like this Sini will not know Tian will do something bad to him. If he does not cut down the tree, nobody will know he can read other people's mind. Nobody will know he is so smart, he save his life in case.

This story is writhed by Hangfeizi. He wants to tell people really smart people know how to keep their life. But I am so interesting about Sini's process of thinking. Cut down the tree or not. It looks so simple. It is Sini's tree and grows in his yard. He want to cut it or not complete depend on him. In nowadays I won't be thinking that much. The tree is mine, cut it or not totally depend on my decision and my will. I won't be thinking other people's will. Here the question seems change to think about other's will or not. In this story Sini actually is thinking about himself. He knows he self, he also knows about other people. From those knowing to protect him. How can he get the right process of knowing? Now I make a parallelism of Sini's mentality. Let us see more clearly about the process of knowing.

1, tree block the view--experience.

One normal visitor, bring an unnormal experience. Master take the guest to hath pace to enjoy the scenery. It is a kind of way to being friendly.



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