Philosophy; the Concepts of Ontology and Epistemology

Firstly, this part will explain the concepts of ontology and epistemology. One of the small branches of philosophy is ontology. It describes the reality and studies existing problems as well as elaborates on relationships between the phenomenon (Benton, Ted, and lan Craib, 2007). For example, is there a god? Do people have memories? What is the connection between stone and grass? Epistemology, as its name implies, is the theory of knowledge. In other words, it assists people to know what they want(Street,2012).

Ontology has two aspects one being materialism. It mainly illustrates the idea that things exist independently of our thoughts. No matter what we think, they happen separately. For example, the sun, flowers, grass, among others, they occur naturally without the influence of man. In the same vein, idealism, tells us that the world people see is caused by perception (Brian, 2018). For example, drinking water using cups is a universal truth, that is copied from what the people grew observing the society do. It is an ideology imparted in individuals’ mind. Hence something else can be used to do the same task. In the study of social science, epistemology has two kinds of observable knowledge, illustrated as objective knowledge, and subjective knowledge. Objective knowledge refers to something that already exists and is universally acknowledged, and the results observed by anyone are consistent. Managerial knowledge refers to personal opinions, not a common fact. Observers are usually judged by their own experience or feelings. Ontology studies the real problems, while epistemology is the process of verifying knowledge. Materialism corresponds to objective knowledge, while idealism resembles subjective knowledge(Street,2012).

Ontology deals with the question of what kind of things exists. Broadly speaking three ontological positions exists, namely reality, idealism, and materials.This is contrary to epistemology, that is confined to ways of learning about the nature of the society, hence guided by two main perspectives of positivism and interpretivism (Georgieff & Jeannerod,1998).


Benton, Ted, and Ian Cb. Philosophy of Social Science: The Philosophical Foundations of Social Thought, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Epstein, Brian, “Social Ontology”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),

Georgieff, N., &Jeannerod, M. (1998). Beyond Consciousness of External Reality: A “Who” System for Consciousness of Action and Self-Consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition, 7(3), 465-477. doi:10.1006/ccog.1998.0367

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