The contemporary Youtube universe (according to the algorithm directing my stream) seems to separate our search for truth (and/or the attempt to avoid falsity) into the contrasting 'methods'/means of skepticism/the scientific method(s) and faith.

Acknowledging that there are various iterations of each, are there any other methods/means via which philosophers have proposed we might come to accurate conclusions which aren't embraced by these approaches?

Each method/means might claim to embrace logic and reason. I understand there are also different (perhaps even infinite) logics and ways of reasoning, so I guess I'm after any 'umbrella' methods/means which might either ignore logic and/or reasoning or utilise them in ways which distinguish them from what is colloquially understood to be either skepticism, science or faith.

EDIT: To address some of David Gudeman's response, it seems a good idea to point out that this very flawed question is trying to address the fact that science & skepticism are means by which we can try to test things like intuition, perception and testimony, and that faith is an alternate means by which to evaluate intuition, perception and testimony. I was wondering if there are any other means by which to do so.

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    What about scientific method? Oct 15, 2022 at 16:24
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    These things aren't really comparable to each other. Scientific method is a form of investigation, skepticism is a form of critique, and faith is a reason for believing evidence that you acquire through other means. Science is a means for finding truth, skepticism is a means for avoiding error, and faith is a way of recognizing truth that has been provided. Oct 15, 2022 at 21:28
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    @armand. Good point. I will edit from 'method' to 'means'. Oct 15, 2022 at 23:57
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    Sounds like you want to "arrive" at all truths, it's worth pointing out first that per Cantor's theorem there's no set of all truths at all. Secondly and more importantly, per Fitch's famous knowability paradox, like the controversial omniscience principle, if all truths are knowable, the set of "all truths" must not include any of the form "something is an unknown truth"; thus there must be no unknown truths already by whatever means, which sounds absurd. Ergo even with all means you're not gonna know all truths there are... Oct 16, 2022 at 1:37
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    Well, seeing you're trying hard to collect an exhaustive means to know any targeted truth prompts me to speculate your epistemic ambition. For your specific concern the means are nothing but the justification process for JTB knowledge or its contemporary epistemic variants, which is classified either as internal reflective access to reasons or qualia facts (even fully deceitful such as Descartes's evil demon justifying the existence of 'I', 'sky', 'trees'), or some external usually reliable scientific belief-forming process stressing sense perception/memory instead of derivation from them... Oct 16, 2022 at 2:38

2 Answers 2


Here is what I claim is an exhaustive list of the ways that an individual may gain new knowledge:

  1. Revelation: some form of information that comes directly from a supernatural source. The Bible allegedly produced by revelation.
  2. Testimony: information that comes from another human (or more generally, another mind that is part of the natural world). Anything you are taught in school falls into this category, as does actual testimony in a trial and also the Bible, because the Bible is testimony about someone else's revelation (and also the implied testimony of the many copyist and translators that the current English form as come to us through, that they copied or translated accurately).
  3. Perception: information that comes to you through your own senses. This includes what you see with your own eyes, not what anyone told you they saw. If someone tells you what they saw, it is testimony.
  4. Intuition: information that is produced by your mind internally, without direct action of the senses and without a process of reasoning. This would include, for example, your knowledge that two parallel lines never intersect, or that if you add another plate, you are going to also need another knife, fork and spoon.
  5. Deduction: information that you derive by necessity from things you already know. For example, if Every human is mortal, and Socrates is a human, then Socrates if mortal.
  6. Induction: all other information that is arrived at by reasoning.

That's it. How do I know this list is exhaustive? Because knowledge comes to you either directly, from your own faculties or indirectly, from someone else. If that someone else is natural, then it's testimony, otherwise it's revelation. If knowledge comes from your own faculties, then it either involves the senses, in which case it is perception, or it doesn't. If it doesn't involve the senses, then it is either the result of a process of reasoning or it isn't. If not, then it's intuition. If it involves a process of reasoning, then the reasoning is either based on necessity or it isn't. If it is, then it's deduction, otherwise it's induction.

There are four primary forms of induction that have been discussed in philosophy (in order of age): Inference from the particular to the universal (Socrates), inference to the best explanation (Bacon), the scientific method (Newton), and probability (Bayes).

Some would claim that inference to the best explanation is part of the scientific method and by modern lights, maybe it is, but Newton's scientific method was significantly different from Bacon's speculations on the topic.

So, where do faith and skepticism fit in? In the broadest sense, faith and skepticism are opposites. Do you have faith in your intuitions about geometry or are you skeptical of them? Do you have faith in the people who wrote, copied, and translated the Bible or are you skeptical of them?

In modern philosophy, faith typically applies to revelation and to testimony about revelation, while skepticism applies to perception, intuition, and induction. Probably this because the default position on revelation is skepticism while the default position on perception, intuition, and induction is faith.

In any cases, of the three things you mentioned, only one is a way of acquiring knowledge. The other two are evaluations of the sources of knowledge.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Oct 16, 2022 at 15:59
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    Late to the party... I would suggest direct perception as being different from skepticism (evaluating a claim) or faith (trusting a claim). We have to start with knowledge of something, which is taking it in for the first time. Nonduality is basically unmediated perception and experience. So, another form of knowledge. I see on rereading that you listed perception. But I think that in general it is regarded as material for supporting a claim rather than an experience of truth directly.
    – Scott Rowe
    Oct 16, 2022 at 23:13
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    @ScottRowe, with perception if you want to express the knowledge, then there is an additional step of converting it to a proposition. Of the other modes, only intuition also has this extra step, because the other modes all come in propositional form to begin with. Is that what you are getting at? Oct 17, 2022 at 4:24
  • Well, perhaps it hinges on what is considered 'knowledge'? If it must be able to be communicated to be knowledge, then nondual perception doesn't fit that. I suppose this is why Nonduality is at the edge of philosophy, or even not part of it? I've been wondering... But if I know something which is very hard to convey, but is testable, repeatable etc, then we have to call it knowledge, right? I mean, dogs can find drugs in luggage by scent and we can't.
    – Scott Rowe
    Oct 17, 2022 at 10:34

I think David Gudeman has given a good list there.

I am wondering if Philosophers or philosophical traditions that reject symbolic reasoning are different.

And looking at:

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them." -from The Kalama Sutra

and wondering how that method deconstructs. It should be noted that the Buddha was addressing a tribe of non-Buddhists, about how to proceed in a 'marketplace of spiritual approaches' where they had all been claiming to be the best and saying every other one was terrible. It has to be noted that cultivating faith in Awakening, which cannot be fully verified except by experiencing it, is at the core of Buddhist practice as one of the Four Noble Truths.

An analogy people sometimes give in Buddhist practice, is that developing meditative skill is like a telescope but to look inward rather than outward. I would say it is not simply part of perception/observation, or about intuition alone, but developing the skill of observing one's own mind as it works.

"Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow." -opening lines of the Dhammapada

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