Introduction to Ontology and Epistemology
Ontology and epistemology are two key elements in the philosophy of social science and they should be understood and analyzed in depth. This paper gives definitions and explanations for ontology and epistomology as well as an understanding of empricism as an example of epistomology.
Definition of Ontology
Barry Smith gives a definition of ontology in his paper which states that “Ontology as a branch of philosophy is the science of what is, of the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes and relations in every area of reality” (Smith, 2003). In other words, to put it simply, it can be said that ontology has an aim of decribing things and it tries to find an answer to the question ‘what is it?’. As well as decribing things, ontology is also about the relationship between those things.
Definition of Epistemology
On the other hand, another key element in the philosophy of social science is epistemology and it is about how we think. As it deals with the way we think, it is about how knowledge is acquired. Within epistemology, we see several different approaches that we can choose as a way of understanding and thinking. Empricism is an example for epistemology. According to empricism, it is said that the concepts originate in experience. Heading away from this statement, empricists think that all the concepts and rational beliefs are about the things that we can experience or, for the second case, they can be known if and only if there is the existence of experience.
To conclude, ontology and epistemology are elements in the philosophy of social science. Ontology tries to answer the question of ‘what is it’ and epistemology is about the way we think. Empricism is an example for epistemolgy and it deals with origination of concepts in experience.
Smith, B. (2003). Ontology. Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information, 155-156.