I'm a little confused when philosophers speak of truth and knowledge. Is there any meaningful difference between truth and knowledge in epistemology? Or are they really the same thing, since false knowledge cannot be called knowledge, and unknowable truth cannot be called truth?



3 Answers 3


Truth is a concept more narrow than knowledge.

Truth is a property of statements: A statement can be true or false. The statement "Today is a sunny day" is true if and only the sun shines today. Note: The words in quotation marks are the statement. The statement refers to the actual situation given in the final part of the sentence.

Knowledge has a broader scope. It means insight into a domain of investigation, having explanations for several interrelated phenomena. Knowledge is not a technical term in the narrow sense that truth is.

Added due to the comment of @SamIAm123: Note that the meaning of truth in medieval philosophy was quite different. Here the term was used as an ontological predicate. One could speak about the truth of things.

  • This is a very analytic approach to this topic, but good answer nonetheless. It's what most analytical philosophers mean by these terms.
    – SamIAm123
    Mar 21, 2022 at 16:01
  • What do you mean, "knowledge isn't a technical term"? Knowledge is justified true belief.
    – Tanath
    Apr 28, 2022 at 3:22
  • @Tanath I consider knowledge in the broader sense, consisting of more than one single true proposition. In the narrow sense of a single true proposition I agree with your classical definition.
    – Jo Wehler
    Apr 28, 2022 at 5:26

Something can be true and not known.

  • Hmm..but isn't it only possible to make the claim that "A statement is true but not known" if at least one person knows that statement is true, namely the speaker? Otherwise, we would only be speaking about an abstraction of truth, an imaginary situation.
    – John Smith
    Mar 22, 2022 at 0:50
  • That sounds like you're clutching at straws. The past is a good example - even before humans evolved cognitive reasoning capacities, it was still true that gravity was an attractive force acting between bodies with mass.
    – Paul Ross
    Mar 22, 2022 at 7:05

Truth value is a property of a proposition (=piece of knowledge). It describes the relation between the proposition and reality.

A false proposition does not describe reality.

A true proposition is called a truth. A truth describes reality.

There is no truth in reality itself.

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