Exploring the dynamics between ontology and epistemology


  • Silvia De Bianchi
  • Lorenzo Giovannetti



The notions of reality and knowledge are among the main topics of philosophical reflection since its Greek inception. It has become a topos in the history of Western philosophy that some sort of crucial change occurred in the early modernity and that this change marked a fundamental shift from ancient and medieval conceptions. This special issue deals with two interrelated questions. First, it addresses some aspects of how early modern thinkers are inspired by ancient sources or distance themselves from ancient conceptions. Second, it provides some insights into how the relation between ontology and epistemology dramatically changed, by giving new impulse to relevant subjects, such as the ontology of relations or of mathematics, innatism, and so forth. In order to provide a conceptual framework to these insights, we define the dynamics between reality and knowledge in terms of cohesion and rupture. A relation of cohesion between reality and knowledge implies that knowing what reality is in itself is a condition for defining knowledge in general. On the contrary, to assume a rupture between reality and knowledge means defining knowledge independently of what reality is in itself. These two stances, we argue, are represented by Plato and Kant, respectively. Thus, the two philosophers provide the boundaries of the present investigation, but our conceptual framework can be applied even beyond Kant in order to provide a guideline in our continuous dialogue with ancient philosophers.