Difference Between Epistemology and Metaphysics

In contrast to metaphysics, which is concerned with what comes "after physics” (the Greek word "metaphysika"), epistemology (from the Greek "episteme," meaning "knowledge," and the suffix "ology," meaning "the science of," or "the study of") is concerned with the study of the extent to which knowledge and justified belief are possible.

Metaphysics seeks to gain a complete understanding of the nature of reality, including abstract concepts (identity, time, space, being, knowing), while epistemology examines how we know what the actual reality or truth is and whether there are limits to this knowledge specifically in terms of its validity, scope, and methods.

What is Epistemology?

Epistemology comes from the Greek words episteme and logos. Knowledge, or episteme, and logic, or logos, or account. The study of how we come to know what we know is called "epistemology," a subfield of philosophy. Logic, reason, justification, and faith all play a role in its foundation.

This subfield of philosophy is concerned with topics like cognitive science (the study of how the mind works) and cultural studies (the study of how "culture" influences people's everyday lives, social structures, and power dynamics).

Branches of Epistemology

Following are the branches of Epistemology −

  • Agnotology − It is the study of ignorance, sceptical situations or doubt, particularly the publication of imprecise or deceptive scientific data.

  • Alethiology − It is a branch of logic that involves the study of the truth and evidence

  • Formal epistemology − It makes use of formal methodologies (knowledge and reasoning) from probability theory, logic, and computability theory to elucidate traditional epistemic issues.

  • Meta-epistemology − It is the branch of epistemology which involves the study of methodologies and objectives of epistemology, matter, subject, (the study of first-order epistemological questions) and of approaches to understanding and structuring our knowledge of knowledge itself.

  • Social epistemology − It is the philosophical study that construes knowledge about social dimensions of human knowledge as a collective achievement.

What is Metaphysics?

Metaphysics, sometimes known as "first philosophy" or "knowledge," serves as the basis for other branches of thought. It includes everything, even the basic fabric of existence. In their quest for perfect truth, metaphysicians look for a basic principles or irreducible foundation of reality.

Branches of Metaphysics

  • Ontology − It is the philosophical study of the nature of being. It includes studies concepts and categories that directly associate to being, in particular existence, reality, and the domain that exhibits properties of being and the relations between them.

  • Theology − Religious beliefs of the nature of God. It is constituted by a triple aspect: what does God teach, teachings of God and leads to God. Types of theology include; Moral theology (Christian ethics and casuistry), Ecclesiology, Pastoral theology, and Missiology.

  • Universal science − It is the study of first principles of reasoning and logic, such as the law of noncontradiction – contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time.

Differences: Epistemology and Metaphysics

The following table highlights the major differences between Epistemology and Metaphysics −





Knowledge theory, philosophy of nature, and philosophy of knowledge are all subfields of epistemology.

Belief rationality, veracity, and justification are also significant themes.

Methods of knowledge generation and sceptical perspectives on authoritative assertions are also discussed.

Questions such as, "What is knowledge?" and "Are we part of knowledge?" and "How is it acquired?" and "What do people know?" are all explored in this subfield of philosophy. Positivism and interpretivism are the two primary approaches to knowledge in epistemology.

Time and eternity, existence and nothingness, time hood and personhood, space and time, freedom and determinism, the mind and the body, thinghood and personhood, a supreme being and nature, and so on are all central to this philosophical school.

All that is, everything that has ever been thought, and everything that will ever be thought, are all included.

Conservative thought

Man/Individual is able to discern truth and reality through his tendency and capacity to reason

Individual/Man is good.

Liberal thought

Individual/Man is disqualified from being able to discern reality or truth

Individual/Man is good.


Epistemology and metaphysics are two important branches of philosophy that examine different aspects of the human experience. Epistemology is concerned with knowledge and how it is acquired, while metaphysics is concerned with reality and the ultimate nature of things.

Although these two fields overlap in certain areas, they have distinct approaches to the exploration of the world and the human experience, and they provide different perspectives on the nature of reality and our understanding of it.

Updated on: 18-Apr-2023


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