Latter-day Saint Epistemology

Here we explore some concepts is Latter-day Saint epistemology: how we know what we know, and why we believe things we believe.

Epistemology is a set of important choices that we make in a life of faith, and the better we understand the choices available to us, the more mature and defensible our belief system will be.

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What Do We Know, And How? A Look At Orthodox Latter-Day Saint Epistemology

Introduction: Expanding our Categories

Epistemology is the study of knowledge.  In discussions of epistemology, it is common practice to make distinctions between belief, justified belief, and knowledge.  Generally unaware of these distinctions, Latter-Day Saints have sometimes employed binary categories of knowing/not knowing in expressions of personal conviction, and doctrine/not doctrine when discussing boundaries of belief.  We embrace more and better distinctions among these concepts.  Professions of knowledge are appropriate when one possesses experiential or revelatory confirmation of a principle; when one possesses none of those things, professing knowledge out of cultural or other forms of pressure can have the effect of thwarting our spiritual progress, giving us the sense that we have arrived at an important destination when in fact we have barely begun the journey.  Personal knowledge of gospel truths is a lifetime pursuit, and until knowledge is obtained, the decision to exercise hope, belief, trust, or confidence is a perfectly valid form of faith.

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