A great Kashmiri Shiava philosopher or AchArya Somananda who started Pratyabhina school said this:

Ignorance is not an ontological reality but an epistemological phenomenon.

I can understand the meaning of first half- Ignorance here is considering the non self (psycho-physical reality) as self. So he meant Ignorance is not the ontological reality or Ignorance is not our own real self. But I can't exactly understand the meaning of of remaining part - But an epistemological phenomenon. Can anyone explain?

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    epistemological means "relating to knowledge". Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 9:40
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    I think under KS what one thinks she knows is not knowing at all. Too much time is spent trying to know the multitude. But the only important thing to really know is Shiva consciousness.
    – Gordon
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 14:56
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    I think what he means is that ignorance is not forced on us by the nature of knowing or by the nature of the universe, and that it is only ever a contingent state of our own mind or awareness. That is, the universe would be such that we can overcome ignorance, but our 'epistemological state' may nevertheless be one of ignorance. .
    – user20253
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


Assuming that the translation is correct, first write all definitions.

Ignorance: lack of knowledge or information.

Epistemology: the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.

Phenomenon: a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question.

So "ignorance is an epistemological phenomenon" means that lack of knowledge is something that arises from either our own theory of knowledge, or separating justified beliefs from opinions.

The entire quote could be taken in two ways: 1) We already know the truth and questioning only leads to ignorance, or 2) Our lack of knowledge only exists because we try to separate truth from interpretation, i.e., there's no such thing as knowledge separate from perception. Either way, if you already know everything, or if you can't ever know anything, it seems pretty pointless, according to the author, to think about knowledge. The statement is in itself a theory of knowledge, but since it is a declaration and offers no reasons it is consistent within its own epistemology.

  • Thanks. +1. I think in this system or in this particular context ignorance has wider meanings.
    – Mr. Sigma.
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 4:48
  • You say ...'there's no such thing as knowledge separate from perception'. This is not the case, as Descartes makes very clear.
    – user20253
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 14:56
  • @PeterJ I never said I believe this, we are simply trying to analyze the statement. I do think the author intends the former definition. Also, I'm not convinced that Descartes makes anything clear.
    – AndyPBJ
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 12:05
  • Oops. Point taken, A second quibble then. Epistemology is not the attempt to separate justified true belief from opinion. It is the attempt to establish what we know, what we can know and how we know it. A 'justified true belief' is a theory and not knowledge. Only if we know it is justified does it become a known fact. Hence Descartes' axiom. Knowledge is what we know beyond doubt.
    – user20253
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 13:00

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