Seven Basic Epistemological Perspectives

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* Article: Seven Perspectives. C. George Boeree.

Available at

Online essay outlining seven basic epistemological perspectives, i.e. 'ways of seeing / interpreting the world'


From the reading notes of Michel Bauwens, 2004:

1. Autistic Perspective

Infants, autistic children, several psychotic adults, everyone when we engage in automatic, instinctive, defensive behaviour

  • our own personal subjective perspective is the only one, "everyone sees reality the same way"
  • symptoms: belief in magical efficacy, animism

2. Authoritarian perspective

Most children, adults in highly structured traditional societies

  • There are other perspectives, but only one social reality, and those that do not accept it are wrong and have to be made to conform

3. Rationalistic Perspective

Children in the 2nd half of elementary school

  • truth is objective, and be uncovered by the mind commonalities amongst various perspectives are sought
  • symptoms: idealism, argumentation

4. Mechanistic Perspective

Adolescents and young adults now; scientists

  • seeks universal laws, but not in the mind through logic, but in nature and matter, through empiricism and quantitative laws

5. The Cybernetic Perspective

finally accepts both material and non-material realities, both reason and empiricism, but recognizes that the observer influences the observed. Centers around information and modelling rather than cause and effect.

6. The Epistemic Perspective

ultimate reality cannot be other than the sum of all perspectives, plus much that is unperceived. Sometime called intersubjective, or 'phenomenological'. Full accepts relativity and uncertainty

7. The Transcendental Perspective

Attemtps to deconstruct perspectives, mind and self

Overview of subjective/objective stages

  • 1. autististic and 2. authoritarian = SUBJECTIVE
  • 3. rationalistic and 4. mechanistic and 5. cybernetic: OBJECTIVE
  • 6. epistemic and 7. transcendental: SUBJECTIVE-OBJECTIVE

Overview of moral stages

  1. Piaget: pre-operational ; Kohlberg: pre-conventional; Bronfenbenner: self-oriented
  2. Piaget: concrete operations ; Kohlberg: conventional; B: other-oriented
  3. Piaget: formal operations ; K: stage of universal principle
  4. Kohlberg: post-conventional ; K:stage of social contract
  5. Bronfenbenner: objectively oriented
  6. Perry: idea of commitment