The Limits of Epistemology
The Limits of Epistemology
Translated by Alex Englander

At the centre of modern epistemology lurks the problem of scepticism: how can we know that the forms of our cognition are compatible with the world? How can we state success conditions for knowledge claims without somehow transcending our discursive and fallible nature as knowers?

By distinguishing different forms of scepticism, Markus Gabriel shows how all objective knowledge relies on shared discourses and how the essential corrigibility of knowledge claims is a crucial condition of their objectivity. We should understand scepticism not so much as posing a threat, but as offering a vital lesson about the fallibility of discursive thinking. By heeding this lesson, we can begin to reintegrate the solipsistic subject of modern epistemology back into the community of actual knowers.

Taking his cue from Hegel, Wittgenstein and Brandom, Gabriel shows how intentionality as such is a public rather than a private phenomenon. He concedes that the sceptic can prove the necessary finitude of objective knowledge, but denies that this has to lead us into an aporia. Instead, it shows us the limits of the modern project of epistemology.

Through an examination of different kinds of sceptical paradoxes, Gabriel not only demonstrates their indispensable role within epistemological theorising, but also argues for the necessary failure of all totalizing knowledge claims. In this way, epistemology, as the discipline that claims knowledge about knowledge, begins to grasp its own fallibility and, as a result, the true nature of its objectivity. 

The Limits of Epistemology will be of great value to students and scholars of philosophy.

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  • January 2020
  • 448 pages
  • 159 x 227 mm / 6 x 9 in
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  • 9781509525669
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Table of Contents
Preface to the English Edition                                       
Part I               The Function of Scepticism                      
Chapter 1 Negative Dogmatism and Methodological Scepticism
Chapter 2 Kant’s Negative Dogmatism             
Chapter 3 Metaphysical Realism and the Naïve Ontology of Individuals
Chapter 4 Conceptual Relativity and the World        
Chapter 5 Direct and Indirect Sceptical Arguments: The Path to Semantic Nihilism                          
Chapter 6 Crispin Wright’s Implosion of Cartesian Scepticism and its Dialectic                                    
Part II              Contextualism and the Finitude of Discourse          

Chapter 7 Pyrrhonian Scepticism as the Agent of Epistemology
Chapter 8 Contextualism, Normativity and the Possibility of Discursive Determinacy                          
Chapter 9 Private Language and Assertoric Content    
Chapter 10 The Diametrical Opposite of Solipsism
Chapter 11 McDowell’s Disjunctivism as an Anti-Sceptical Strategy
Chapter 12 Stage-Setting and Discourse: The Community in Context
Chapter 13 Solipsism’s Representations and Cartesian Scepticism
Chapter 14 The Failure of Liberal Naturalism’s Metatheory  
Chapter 15 A Final Attempt to Recover the World: Brandom with Hegel

About the Author
Markus Gabriel was born in 1980 and studied in Heidelberg, Lisbon and New York. Since 2009 he has held the Chair for Epistemology at the University of Bonn—and with this appointment he became Germany’s youngest philosophy professor. He is also the director of the International Center for Philosophy in Bonn.
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