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A review of the SEP article of epistemology indicates that there are 5 sources of knowledge: perception, memory, introspection, reason, and testimony. Robert Audi in his Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge cites an almost identical list substituting 'consciousness' for 'introspection'.

It seems to me that those categories are abstractions that are natural kinds, and if one chooses to explore these questions of ontology related to the sources of knowledge, one has only two choices philosophically, the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of psychology.

  1. Is this argument misconceived or is this inference correct, or are there other contributing lines of inquiry to the ontological foundations of epistemology? For instance, is the philosophy of language really distinct from the philosophy of psychology to an extent that it should be on a list?
  2. Do those who argue against Quine's naturalized epistemology or moderate positions thereof reject that the philosophy of psychology and the science proper are an ontological basis, and if so, who and by what lines of attack?
  3. Do phenomenologists have a different approach to establishing the ontological foundations of knowledge given they do not subscribe to the importance of physicalism, and hence the brain, which is taken in the analytical tradition as that upon which the mind supervenes?
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    Natural kinds are controversial to begin with, one has to subscribe to Kripke-Putnam's essentialism, or something like it. Phenomenologists reject the identification of consciousness with introspection, as well as the idea that a meta-study, like epistemology, can be subordinated to the results of positive science. Quine himself had to address concerns about circularity. According to them, his addressing fails. See a phenomenological critique of naturalized epistemology by Rinofner-Kreidl in the Feist volume. – Conifold Oct 9 at 17:56
  • Thanks. Already ordered it. (For others, the essentialism is mentioned in plato.stanford.edu/entries/essential-accidental) – J D Oct 9 at 22:35
  • The Indian school of logicians, the Nyaya school, have a slightly different approach. Chapter 12 here - archive.org/details/IndianPhilosophyACriticalSurvey – Swami Vishwananda Oct 10 at 10:46
  • "For instance, is the philosophy of language really distinct from the philosophy of psychology"; well, depends on what you take for philosophy of psychology. Often it is common to subscribe most of the sciences to neuroscience and psychology, but that is quite controversial. – Yechiam Weiss Oct 13 at 10:37
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1.Is this argument misconceived or is this inference correct, or are there other contributing lines of inquiry to the ontological foundations of epistemology? For instance, is the philosophy of language really distinct from the philosophy of psychology to an extent that it should be on a list?

If ontology means the existence rather than the knowing it's a presupposition. The presupposition is the distinction between knowledge or representation on the one side, and being that is known. Where does the presupposition happen? In an academic circumstance the blind bigotry of a reception out of one's training determining the whole output is in play and a factor not to be underrated in its sheer power.

Psychology means literally the reasoned discussion about the soul. When it becomes experimental psychology it is simply the study of one experimental object that is no different from others in its status as experimental object.

Language can be studied as a matter of signs referring to beings. Thus under a presupposition of knowledge and things. In the German tradition, however, it is not studied in this manner since Husserl's concept of intentionality sets this presupposition aside.

2.Do those who argue against Quine's naturalized epistemology or moderate positions thereof reject that the philosophy of psychology and the science proper are an ontological basis, and if so, who and by what lines of attack?

If one treats logic as ontologically real, one can set everything else aside as mere subjective or psychological error. Thus, the claim that "not being is" has no ontological status, I look and see that something is positively not there, the not being is a positive fact, something is missing, but are the mere product of psychological appearances is only psychologically valid. Nothing is nothing for logical proof. The faith in the ontological reality of logic prevents the need to go to Phenomenology. Ultimately it is unsatisfactory and ever serious student of philosophy arrives at this view, as did Russell, because of the problem of primary intuition which happens prior to any logical neatness, but some still hold "logic" is more promising than abandoning the possibility of "knowledge" (which is no longer knowledge once it is accepted that logic is not a being, but a figure of subjective creation) of a repetitional kind for the dark path of phenomenology.

3.Do phenomenologists have a different approach to establishing the ontological foundations of knowledge given they do not subscribe to the importance of physicalism, and hence the brain, which is taken in the analytical tradition as that upon which the mind supervenes?

Phenomenology is based on radical disregard of a claim to a specific ontological priority. Say of the subject matter of physics. This is possible because of the denial of a project of possible representational knowledge. The knowledge would only consist in direct observation of the transformation of the phenomena. Phenomenology is the result of the Cartesian ultimate doubt without the project of building up from the doubt to a science. One starts with and stays with the doubt. Questions about the brain can still be asked, but judgment about any privileged foundation of phenomena are set aside.

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'I am curious about lines of thinking which look at epistemology through ontological lenses specifically.'

Proposition 5 from Spinoza's "Ethics" Part 2, (below) needs a bit of transliterating, but does predate by over 300 years your assumption that your 'list' includes every ponderable concerning the origin and nature of epistemology in ontology. Spinoza's use of the word 'god' is confusing but it would not be incorrect to describe god as, 'the first metaphysical principle and self-caused origin of the entirety of everything possible'. Sounds like an artificial catch-all phrase but it is not. The capacity to know, to think and to self-reflect mark humans as distinct from anything else in nature. Spinoza recognized that in his capability to reflect on the origin of human thinking he was experiencing not some random happenstance, illusion, dream or phantasm, but was participating in a function of 'universal intelligibility'. No matter how I might express this idea, only you can examine for yourself his philosophy and decide if indeed he is correct. Best of luck.

Prop. V. "The actual being of ideas owns God as its cause, only in so far as he is considered as a thinking thing, not in so far as he is unfolded in any other attribute ; that is, the ideas both of the attributes of God and of particular things do not own as their efficient cause their objects (ideata) or the things perceived, but God himself in so far as he is a thinking thing. Proof.—This proposition is evident from Prop. iii. of this Part. We there drew the conclusion, that God can form the idea of his essence, and of all things which follow necessarily therefrom, solely because he is a thinking thing, and not because he is the object of his own idea. Wherefore the actual being of ideas owns for cause God, in so far as he is a thinking thing. It may be differently proved as follows : the actual being of ideas is (obviously) a mode of thought, that is (Part i., Prop. xxv., Coroll.) a mode which expresses in a certain manner the nature of God, in so far as he is a thinking thing, and therefore (Part i., Prop. x.) involves the conception of no other attribute of God, and consequently (by Part i., Ax. iv.) is not the effect of any attribute save thought. Therefore the actual being of ideas owns God as its cause, in so far as he is considered as a thinking thing, &c. Q.E.D."

All the Best, Charles M Saunders

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