Form a single thesis statement that you would like to research from any of the topics on epistemology (knowledge) that you find in this/these chapters. This is where you also want to begin with an introduction that defines the terms you will use.
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Of course, eNotes cannot write this paper for you, but here are some suggestions for getting started and for organizing the steps to a successful essay:
First, "ways of knowing" is a good translation of this difficult abstract task. Besides the standard application of the term (the religious, Bible or Koran interpretation of a so-called sacred text, a "set of rules" by which we can "know" how to act for "salvation") there is the "scientific method" -- a set of steps that leads to a logical or provable or applicable method of "knowing." For instance, we "know" that the Earth revolves around its axis and around the sun because "the scientific principles" of observation, etc. support that conclusion. Your essay might examine the pros and cons of more controversial epistemologies, such as "parental dictate and upbringing," or "intuition (gut feeling)," or "astrology," etc.
In these epistemologies, a personal, individualized "way of knowing" must be argued, and with it the implied assumption that "knowing" is an individual process, not a universal one. There is an interesting rhetorical question asked here "Can you know a thing and be mistaken?" Philosophers have made a very strong argument for the conclusion that "No, you cannot know a thing and be mistaken!" This area of inquiry should get you well on your way to successfully completing this assignment.
An alternative method:
We start with the simplified definition of epistemology: “the study of ways of knowing.” The term “knowing” itself is a good subject for an essay – knowing as opposed to believing. You essay should begin (after a stylized sentence of engagement) with a clear statement of your thesis (remember that “essay” means “to attempt,” to try). You might acknowledge the common misunderstanding that “the scientific method” is the only legitimate, world-wide path to “knowledge.” Then state the “way of knowing” that your essay will support and defend – “parental guidance,” or “Biblical” (or Koran or Confucius) “truth,” or “Intuition,” or “Cultural Upbringing,” or whatever (these are just some “ways of knowing” available to you – the success of your essay probably depends on your unique choice here, together with your argumentative structure (see our Essay Help). After stating your case, tie your work up as the assignment requires – reference to the four-step methodology, citing scholars, etc. The most difficult part, other than forming the thesis statement, might be finding legitimate counter-arguments.
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