Vol. 6 No. 2 (2023): July-December [Edit closure: 31/07/2023]
Suggested quote (APA, seventh edition)
arcía-Zahoul, J. E., Carhuas-Peña, L. I., Gonzales-Paco, E., & Barrios-Navarro, C. del R.(2023). Importance of Gnoseology and Epistemology in the Research Process. Delectus, 6(2),77-85. https://doi.org/10.36996/delectus.v6i2.213
Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza National University of Amazonas, Peru
Higher Institute of Research for the Teaching Profession, Guadalajara, Mexico
This essay is a descriptive documentary research, whose objective is to analyze the importance of gnoseology and epistemology in the research process. It is important to emphasize that the emergence of sciences within the field of philosophy has led to the use of similar terminology for different purposes, such as gnoseology and epistemology. Etymologically, gnoseology refers to the "treatise on knowledge" or "theory of knowledge" that addresses the problems of knowledge and the relations between subject and object in a universal and abstract sense. On the other hand, epistemology is defined as the "treatise on science" that studies the elements that contribute to the acquisition of knowledge, investigating its foundations, limitations, procedures and validity. In addition, it deals with the principles and methods of all sciences. Ultimately, epistemology allows the unification of science, philosophy and humanities, which allows focusing any reflection on a particular area or discipline.
Keywords: gnoseology; epistemology; subject; object; knowledge; relations; research.
Tamayo and Tamayo (2011) point out that research is a procedure that uses the scientific method and aims to obtain relevant and truthful information to understand, verify and improve or apply knowledge. They consider that the first stage is to conduct the research and the second is to present the results of this research process. For their part, Vélez & Pérez (2019) explain that throughout the history of mankind there has been a concern to understand natural phenomena and social events, which has led to the development of various ways of approaching the knowledge of these events.
Additionally, Tamayo and Tamayo (2011) conclude that research implies discovering in reality what no one else has found, and that there are currently several methodologies used in research. Table 1 presents some concepts about scientific research that distinguish its teaching and practice in different universities. It also explains that research requires gathering knowledge and information from primary sources and organizing it to obtain new knowledge. Demonstrating what is already accredited, documented or researched does not constitute research in itself. Regarding Research Methodology, Buendía (2004) points out that both method and methodology are not fixed and established notions, but depend on the type of research. Aristotle refers to the research process as "inquiry" and Plato describes it as "speculation" and "knowledge", while for Aristotle it is "a procedure by which new knowledge is acquired".Table 1
|Best (1970)||He explains it considering research as the most formal method to apply the scientific method, since it includes a systematic structure, which concludes in a serious report of what has been investigated, as well as the report of the results and/or conclusions.|
|Webester's International Dictionary (1996)||Research is a meticulous analysis that seeks to understand the circumstances and principles of a phenomenon. It consists of inquiring in detail in order to obtain a deeper knowledge about a specific subject.|
|Ander-Egg (1971)||Research is an introspective, methodical and rigorous process that involves an exhaustive and extensively examined exploration. Its objective is to discover new foundations, data, correlations or postulates in all areas of human knowledge.|
|Arias-Galicia (1975)||Research can be defined as a succession of procedures designed to resolve situations that require logical analysis and the obtaining of answers based on objective data.|
|Dictionary of Education (1997)||Research is a meticulous and objective process that seeks to resolve a specific situation, based on verifiable facts. It involves making balanced differentiations, providing explanations and, in some cases, making generalizations based on the evidence collected.|
|Monroe (1974)||In educational research, the main objective is to discover fundamentals and develop methods that can be applied in the educational context. This implies arriving at conclusions that will make it possible to establish appropriate standards and techniques to improve educational practice. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the advancement and quality of education through the generation of knowledge and the implementation of effective approaches in education.|
Romero (2020) points out that Descartes, in his work "Discourse on Method", explains that his objective is not to instruct on the method that everyone should use, but rather to show how he has tried to guide his own reasoning historically, using examples that could be useful for some people. On the other hand, Velez (2014) exposes that traditions in research have been the foundation of the research method. Those who do not integrate or are unaware of the tradition, unfortunately do not establish the basis of the method that will guide them in obtaining scientific knowledge (p. 32).
Vélez (2014) also argues that, although the scientific method is based on empiricism and knowledge founded on observation, it is recognized that observation benefits and improves through theorization. This implies the need to verify the proposals posed as problems and suggests some procedure of comparison, in order to seek the truth of the facts. For his part, Buendía (2004) explains that methodology is the analysis of the fundamentals that guide us on how to carry out quality research in any field of knowledge (science). In addition, it helps us to determine whether a statement (generally known as a hypothesis) is accepted or rejected as part of knowledge.
Moledo (2014) highlights that, although the concept of scientific advancement is relatively recent in the history of the world, science does not start there. More than 2,500 years ago, the Greeks already had solid scientific knowledge and clearly understood the benefits of integrating observation and theory. They obtained surprising results, which led to the emergence of the particular sciences. Thales of Miletus (VII-VI B.C.) is recognized as the first philosopher in history, who was an outstanding Greek thinker and whose contributions marked the birth of philosophy as a rational reflection and the principle of similarity. The author also highlights the existence of a thriving science during the Middle Ages. Specifically, in the second half of this period, much time was devoted to reflecting on the configuration of the world and the origin of motion, laying the foundations for the Scientific Revolution. These topics were studied in various schools and there was an extraordinary flowering of thought at that time.
Moledo (2014) also mentions an important expression of intellectual progress: "we see further because we are on the shoulder of a giant", popularized by Isaac Newton. This phrase eloquently explains how scientific thought progresses and how it has evolved from the idea of "primitive turtles swimming in the water that supported the world" to the "standard model of particles" that is sought to be demonstrated with the Hadron Super Accelerator, known as "the God Machine". The concepts presented by Moledo (2014) demonstrate that, throughout the history of mankind, there has been a constant curiosity to understand the phenomena occurring in our environment. This curiosity has evolved over time, giving rise to the current conception of scientific thought.
Comte's positivist philosophy played an important role in providing the foundations for understanding collectivity. In this sense, it is emphasized that the concepts allowed are derived from sensory experience and its contextual analysis. Mardones and Ursúa (2005, p.75) mention that the word "positive" designates the real and marks the distinction between the valid and the invalid. In philosophy, it occupies a central place in our thinking and in our personal development, and shows the conflict between truth and uncertainty. It also indicates the ability of this philosophy to build and develop a harmony in human and spiritual communication, which includes a strong resistance to change.
Positivist theory seeks to capture the eternal spirit of true philosophy by providing an accurate measure related to the nature of events, as well as satisfying our real needs. Kremer-Marietti (2010, p.7) points out that "positive" and "positivist" are terms coined by the French Academy in 1878 to refer to the philosophy of Auguste Comte. For their part, Mardones and Ursúa (2005) emphasize that Comte promotes the use of the word "positive" as opposed to "negative", which reflects the principle of true philosophy and shows that this philosophy and its structure have evolved to organize, rather than destroy. This philosophy plays an important role in the new philosophical approach by attempting to replace the absolute and relative concepts in all things. Through its limited approach, this new philosophy values always more the propositions of greater relevance.
It is important to delve deeper into the application of positivism in science, as Kremer-Marietti (2010, p. 8) points out. While it is true that science is based on observation and knowledge of the general order of things, it is also impossible, according to the history of human thought in all its positive aspects, for any branch of our knowledge to become science only by connecting all things as a basis. For his part, Velez (2014) exposes that there are two basic traditions for research: the Aristotelian, which is based on the inductive method, and the Galilean, which refers to the deductive method. The Aristotelian tradition focuses on causal relationship, while the Galilean tradition focuses on causal explanation. This implies that deductive reasoning is based on knowledge derived from experience, while inductive reasoning starts from observable facts. It is essential to recognize the demarcation of the sciences, since the criteria for identifying them have evolved throughout history. This includes both the concept of science and its classifications (Vélez and Pérez, 2019).
Calderón and Vélez (2018) explain that the emergence of sciences within philosophy has led to the use of the same terms for different purposes, as is the case of Gnoseology and Epistemology. Gnoseology, which comes from the Greek "gnosis" meaning knowledge, and "logos" referring to study, is expressed as the theory of knowledge. On the other hand, Ceberio and Watzlawick (1988) explain that Epistemology, from the Greek "episteme" meaning science, and "logos" referring to treatment, is a branch of philosophy concerned with investigating the foundations, limits, methods and truth of knowledge.
According to Vélez & Pérez (2019), the term "epistemology" has an etymological meaning of "Treatise on science". The study of epistemology has gained great importance during the twentieth century, through the main scientific circles such as the Vienna Circle, the Frankfurt School and the Eranos Circle. These circles have constantly searched for appropriate methods, criteria of validity and premises for scientific work. The main issues addressed by epistemology are paradigm, method and approach to research.
Hoyos (2001) argues that epistemology deals with the problems of knowledge and the correspondence between subject and object. On the other hand, Ñaupas et al. (2015) point out that the term "gnoseology" was coined by Kant and refers to knowledge in general, that is, to the domain of facts. For its part, axiology, ethics or morality is related to the knowledge of aesthetic beauty. In this context, epistemology deals with the study of knowledge in general, from the point of view of its principles, structure and purpose. Epistemology seeks to establish the correspondence between thought and facts, as well as between the human being and his cosmos.
It is important to emphasize that Gnoseology deals with the cognitive aspect, including its principle, characteristics and results. It reveals the relationship between thought and object, as well as the relationship between the human being and his universe. In addition, it seeks to answer the philosophical problem of matter and reason: what is the initial, matter or reason? Is there a universe independent of reason? Is cognition possible? Can a connection between subject and object be established? Under these questions, both materialistic knowledge, which studies matter and then consciousness, and idealistic knowledge, which places consciousness first and then matter, are argued (Ñaupas et al., 2015).
According to Significados (2022), although some authors consider that Gnoseology is similar to epistemology, there are differences. Gnoseology is related to the development of scientific research, focusing on facts, hypotheses, laws and theories that represent the highest level of knowledge and science. On the other hand, Gómez (2017) indicates that theoretical knowledge is part of philosophy and is called epistemology. Various fields of human sciences, such as psychology and neurology, address this area of knowledge in both its structure and function. However, the question of the existence of knowledge is typical of philosophy.
Calderón & Vélez (2018) explain that just as the particular sciences had their origin in Philosophy, Gnoseology was the precursor of Epistemology, arising from moments of genius since ancient Greece. Epistemology goes beyond opinions and isolated data, entering into the forms of knowledge through rational congruence and the identification of the causes of things. On the other hand, Ramirez (2009) points out that Gnoseology is the gateway to the conscious and deliberate apprehension of aspects of the object and the subject. In the process of knowledge, the object of study is fundamental, since information is obtained from it. Epistemology also studies knowledge, but the difference lies in the fact that Gnoseology validates knowledge, that is, it determines its validity.
Kant (1724-1804 AD; cited by Calderón & Vélez, 2018) raised the debate in Gnoseology on whether reality imposes its patterns on the subject (objectivity) or whether it is the subject that imposes its mental models on reality (subjectivity). Calderón & Vélez (2018) explain that in Epistemology they seek to consider the relationship between subject and object, but no longer on a general and abstract plane, but in more concrete and specific situations. Here, people with particular interests seek to know a specific reality.
Likewise, the conduct of research depends to a great extent on Gnoseology and Epistemology, which are fundamental mechanisms in scientific production. According to Ramirez (2009, p. 5), through Gnoseology, hypotheses are formulated, processed with mathematical models to validate them and finally valid and repeatable conclusions are obtained. Hessen (1925) explained that by observing the relationship between the subject and the object, we face the central problem of Gnoseology. Phenomenological representation characterizes the interaction between the object and the subject. However, the question arises as to whether natural consciousness is true. Many important philosophers have defined this relation in a contrary way. Cognizing consciousness not only deals with its object, but is also active and spontaneous. It is important to question which of the two illustrations of the process of knowledge is correct. This question about "the nature of human knowledge" is fundamental.
Ramirez (2009) explains that, during scientific research, Gnoseology is used to support and test the scientific process in the resolution of unknown problems, with the objective of understanding the principles and laws that support the objects and their universe. Gnoseology has its own system that is complemented by statistics and the hypothetico-deductive/inductive method to perform probability calculations. Furthermore, it is emphasized that Gnoseology is a theory of knowledge in the context of scientific research, and its application generates correct answers based on an evolutionary theory. It is important to keep in mind that utility refers to the ability of a resource to address a hypothesis, and many researchers should understand that the beginning of the search for knowledge, called "Gnoseology", should be harnessed with that goal in mind. In short, Gnoseology is "useful" in order to satisfy an informational need in a practical way.
For his part, Salazar (2020, p.22) argues that theories of knowledge are derived from Gnoseology, which become fundamental functions in epistemological discussions. Meanwhile, in Meanings (2022) postulates that Epistemology, as a branch of philosophy that studies the origin, scope and nature of human knowledge, should be an integral part of scientific research. Given these understandings of Gnoseology, and to avoid overlaps with Epistemology, the following quote from Bunge (2002, p.92, cited by Vélez & Pérez, 2019) is taken up: "Gnoseology deals with the elements and programs of each science, this is how the composition of science, philosophy and population should be approached".
Philosophy, as Hessen (1925) pointed out, is the self-reflection of the mind on its evaluative, theoretical and practical behavior, and simultaneously, the desire to understand the ultimate connections between things, a rational conception of the universe. Therefore, the research subject must have recourse to both the Gnoseology and the Epistemology of his object of study, so that he can pose a hypothesis and choose a qualitative or quantitative methodology for his study. Significados (2022) points out precisely that the cognizing subject is the one who performs the act of knowledge. Since, when he interacts with reality, he generates knowledge that allows him to act in his social environment through research, which leads, according to constructivism, to the human being constructing his own reality.
According to Vélez & Pérez (2019), the object of Epistemology is the creation of knowledge, and this production is generated from epistemological approaches, which depend on thinking styles. Therefore, such training should encompass the integrity of both aspects, in addition to being open to new appearances. For their part, Padrón and Rivero (2000, cited by Vélez & Pérez, 2019), argue that the thinking styles and convictions of researchers are intimately connected, there being a significant correspondence between them.
Knowledge is considered true when there is a transcendence of the object. How can we know if a knowledge is true? By the criterion of truth. However, phenomenology cannot provide us with this information or has no criteria, since it only implies the presumed existence, but not the real existence. Various disciplines such as ontology, sociology and logic have not been able to resolve the existence; a fourth discipline is needed, Gnoseology, which is the one that philosophically provides the interpretation and explains the phenomenon of knowledge, i.e., it will indicate whether it is really true (Hessen, 1925).
As mentioned by Salinas (2020), research must have a theoretical framework that makes it coherent, based on a conceptual framework that provides consistency, coherence, congruence and foundation. Gnoseology and/or Epistemology are the discourses that explain the subject-object-knowledge relationship. All research starts from a presupposed Gnoseology/Epistemology, and does not require to build it, unless it is on the subject of Gnoseology/Epistemology. Adopting that epistemological paradigm, knowing its concepts and using them to support the research is to make of that Epistemology a theoretical framework, a semantic cloud that provides congruence, coherence and foundation. Given that the Gnoseological stance is already established, let us say, in educational research, this is no longer concerned with showing how knowledge is produced, distributed and consumed, but specifies the process in the educational act. According to Salinas (2022), in this way Gnoseology becomes a theoretical framework.
Vélez & Pérez (2019) explain that, given both Aristotelian and Galilean research traditions, the handling of Epistemological issues has been considered necessary. These imply the conformation of an epistemological package to cement any research, which must contain the paradigm, its approach and method, elements that require a detailed analysis in a study dedicated to these issues. For their part, Calderón and Vélez (2018) indicate that, according to this analysis, a clear trend has been evidenced in the processes of knowledge from the general and abstract -Gnoseology- towards the specific and concrete -Epistemology-, allowing to conclude that the Epistemological discipline is responsible for investigating the processes of knowledge in the field of scientific disciplines.
Gómez (2017) suggests that the logic of scientific research is a set of assumptions and conjectures, never a scientific system that can be established once and for all. While Calderón & Vélez (2018) point out that, when conducting scientific research, the project must have a section where an Epistemological foundation is established. This will provide an explanation of the object of study, of the subject's ability to perceive the relationship between himself and the object in the cognitive process, of the work method, of the validity criteria, scopes and limitations of the results, but always from within a science. Finally, Vélez & Pérez (2019) mention that the most common and practical ideas include the division of the natural sciences, which in another version were considered the exact sciences of logic and mathematics, and the social sciences, which historically were considered the spiritual sciences and later called humanities.
Considering Gnoseology as the starting point of all research is justified by the fact that the purpose of all knowledge processes is the transformation of reality. This implies that knowledge is not an end in itself, it is not knowing for the sake of knowing, but knowing in order to promote this transformation. Epistemology, on the other hand, is in charge of investigating the processes of knowledge in the field of scientific disciplines, dealing simultaneously with the principles and methods of all sciences.
Throughout an investigation, theorization from Gnoseology and Epistemology allows linking any practice to a specific problem, avoiding the proliferation of unrealistic questions. This allows us to overcome the apparent or superficial and find the essential elements that place the facts within a global context or structure. At the same time, it allows us to observe the dynamics of contradictions.
Gnoseology allows the incorporation of other people's knowledge into research, from other times, other peoples and their histories, but not in a mechanical way. It is not a matter of transferring knowledge, but of producing it with the contribution of reflection, aided by other thoughts. This enables a process of abstraction, a deeper and more comprehensive vision of reality, a new critical and creative perspective of practice that develops the ability to question the why and what for of things, but always linked to reality. Because the purpose of any knowledge process is precisely to transform that reality.
Limitations: By addressing a particular situation or problem related to the importance of gnoseology and epistemology in the research process, the results obtained in this essay may not be applicable to other academic contexts or different cognitive situations.
Contribution to scientific knowledge: The research provides a general introduction to the concepts of gnoseology and epistemology, which is relevant to understand the philosophical and theoretical bases of scientific knowledge. It also highlights the importance of considering gnoseology and epistemology in the process of scientific research, recognizing that these disciplines provide the theoretical and methodological foundations necessary for the production and validation of knowledge. Finally, it encourages critical reflection on the bases of scientific knowledge and the relationships between the subject and the object of study.
Buendía, L. (2004). Temas fundamentales en la Investigación Educativa [Fundamental Issues in Educational Research]. Editorial La Muralla [La Muralla Publishing House].
Calderón, R., & Vélez, D. (2018). Fundamentos gnoseo-epistemológicos de la Investigación en Ciencias Sociales [Gnoseo-epistemological foundations of Social Science Research]. Trancisión hacia el paradigma emergente [Transition towards the emerging paradigm]. Laripse.
Ceberio, M., & Watzlawick, P. (1988). La construcción del Universo [The construction of the universe]. Conceptos introductorios y reflexiones sobre epistemología, constructivismo y pensamiento sistémico [Introductory concepts and reflections on epistemology, constructivism and systems thinking]. Herder.
Gómez, G. (2017). Tendencias epistemológicas del quehacer de las ciencias [Epistemological trends in the work of science]. CIELAC.
Hessen, J. (1925). Teoría del Conocimiento [Theory of Knowledge]. Instituto Latinoamericano de Ciencia y Artes [Latin American Institute of Science and Arts].
Hoyos, C. (2001). Epistemología y objeto pedagógico [Epistemology and pedagogical object]. Mexico Plaza y Valdez Editores [Mexico Square and Valdez Publishers].
Kremer-Marietti. (2010). El positivism [Positivism}. Cruz O.S.A Publications.
Mardones, J., & Ursua, N. (2003). Filosofía de las ciencias sociales y humanas [Philosophy of the social and human sciences]. Ediciones Coyoacán [Coyoacán Editions].
Moledo, L. (2014). Historia de las ideas científicas: de Tales de Mileto a la máquina de Dios [History of scientific ideas: from Thales of Miletus to the God machine]. Editorial Planeta [Planeta Publishing House].
Ñaupas, H., Valdivia, M. R., Palacios, J. J., & Romero, H. E. (2018). Metodología de la investigación cuantitativa-cualitativa y redacción de la tesis [Quantitative-qualitative research methodology and thesis writing]. U Editions.
Ramírez, A. (2009). La teoría del conocimiento en investigación científica: una visión actual [Theory of knowledge in scientific research: a current view]. Anales de la Facultad de Medicina [Annals of the Faculty of Medicine], 70(3), 217-224. http://www.scielo.org.pe/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1025-55832009000300011&lng=es&tlng=es
Romero, F. (2020). Discurso del método [Discourse of the method]. Descartes. Editorial Losada [Losada Publishing House].
Salazar, S. (2020). Investigación. Ideas emergentes [Research. Emerging ideas]. Fondo Editorial Red de investigadores de la Transcomplejidad [Editorial Fund Transcomplexity Researchers Network].
Salinas, F. (2020). Saber del otro [Knowing the other]. Una epistemología de la liberación. Universidad de Guadalajara [An epistemology of liberation. University of Guadalajara].
Salinas, F. (2022). Importancia de la gnoseología en una investigación [Importance of gnoseology in research]. (C. Barrios Navarro, Interviewer)
Significados (2022). Gnoseología [Gnoseology]. Significados.com: https://www.significados.com/gnoseologia/
Tamayo y Tamayo, M. (2011). El proceso de la investigación científica [The process of scientific research]. Editorial Limusa [Limusa Publishing House].
Vélez, D. (2014). Perspectiva epistemológica para la investigación educativa: aspectos fundamentales, teóricos y metodológicos [Epistemological perspective for educational research: fundamental, theoretical and methodological aspects]. Editorial Éxodo [Exodus Publishing House].
Vélez, D., & Pérez, R. (2019). Filosofía y didáctica en la formación de investigadores [Philosophy and didactics in research training]. Laripse.
Conflicts of interest: The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
García-Zahoul, J E: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Methodology, Research, Methodology, Monitoring, Writing - original draft, Writing: revision and editing; Carhuas-Peña, L I: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Methodology, Visualization, Writing - original draft, Writing: revising and editing; Gonzales-Paco, E: Formal analysis, Research, Methodology, Writing - original draft, Writing: revising and editing; Barrios-Navarro, C R: Research, Writing - original draft, Writing: revising and editing.
Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.
Data availability statement: Not applicable