Epistemology is the branch of philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

. It addresses the questions:
  • What is knowledge?
  • How is knowledge acquired?
  • How do we know what we know?

Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing
Philosophical analysis
Philosophical analysis is a general term for techniques typically used by philosophers in the analytic tradition that involve "breaking down" philosophical issues. Arguably the most prominent of these techniques is the analysis of concepts...

 the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

, belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

, and justification
Theory of justification
Theory of justification is a part of epistemology that attempts to understand the justification of propositions and beliefs. Epistemologists are concerned with various epistemic features of belief, which include the ideas of justification, warrant, rationality, and probability...

. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims.

The term was introduced by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier
James Frederick Ferrier
James Frederick Ferrier was a Scottish metaphysical writer. He introduced the term epistemology.-Education and early writings:Ferrier was born in Edinburgh, the son of John Ferrier, writer to the signet...


In physics, the concept of epistemology is vital in the modern interpretation of quantum mechanics , and is used by many authors to analyse the works of dominant physicists such as Werner Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory...

, Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr mentored and collaborated with many of the top physicists of the century at his institute in...

, Max Born
Max Born
Max Born was a German-born physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics and supervised the work of a number of notable physicists in the 1920s and 30s...

 and Wolfgang Pauli
Wolfgang Pauli
Wolfgang Ernst Pauli was an Austrian theoretical physicist and one of the pioneers of quantum physics. In 1945, after being nominated by Albert Einstein, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his "decisive contribution through his discovery of a new law of Nature, the exclusion principle or...


In philosophy, epistemology refers to the study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge.