And if everything is determined by “epistemic regimes” or epistemes to borrow from Foucault, then we must examine – or reexamine in our case – the subject of epistemology. But before we proceed with our examination of the subject of epistemology, readers might be interested in an elucidation of what we mean by “epistemic regime” or episteme and thus readers might be interested in knowing what such an expression or term stands for. It has been written that an “epistemic regime” or episteme amounts to “the condition of possibility of discourse in a given period; it is an a priori set of rules of formation that allow discourses to function, that allow different objects and different themes to be spoken at one time but not at another.”
In turn, our “epistemic regime” or episteme amidst what is now an approximately 200-year period of Anglo-American global hegemony is markedly different than all others which existed in previous epochs of world history, in the sense that our analysis of knowledge and knowing and thus the epistemology of our time, as well as the prevalent discourse of our “epistemic regime” is different than those of any other “epistemic regime” or episteme which has existed in the course of human history. In a traditional sense, it is the human soul which knows or acquires knowledge of everything, whereas research and learning amount to “recollection” of such knowledge, as Plato argued.
Epistemology also pertains to arriving at the “best beliefs” which one could possibly find, given that the “suspension of belief” would make us the same as plants or a rock. In large part, there are no set rules which can get us to these “best beliefs.” Edmund Husserl argued that “all unconditionally and universally valid” forms of knowledge come from phenomenology, which in turn gravitates the focus towards individual data and experience. Language, then, has a creative use, in the sense that language has to reflect ‘mental processes’ which we know very little about, as Noam Chomsky highlighted.
It has also been argued that the “best beliefs” which we are seeking as well as the “ultimate knowledge” which would elevate our epistemological status above all others “lies in the very substance of human intelligence which was made to know the Absolute.” The idea is that: “If the Divine is a mystery, it is so because of an obstacle which cannot be surmounted in principle.” There is, essentially, a “hierarchy” of human faculties through which one traverses and in turn reaches a certain level of intellect that would ultimately unveil for us divine mysteries, according to traditional intellectual and spiritual traditions. Because something is “incomprehensible” does not mean that it is “unknowable” as René Guénon argued.
As a result, agnosticism, cynicism, and skepticism relate largely to incomprehensibility rather than having any relation with the inability to know. At the center of the inability to know is the break between reason and the “revealed truth” which is “the highest source of knowledge when compared to reason, the sentiments and the senses which for the vast majority of men constitute their only sources of knowledge.” Knowledge, then, traverses the “hierarchy” of faculties until it catapults the individual to the apex or peak of such a hierarchy, namely, the “Divine Intellect” which in turn is the highest state of being and is “the supreme raison d’être of all things” to borrow from Guénon, given that knowledge reflects one’s state of being. In short, there is a nexus between faith and knowledge which cannot be broken, and in turn this unbreakable nexus carries both significance and weight of an epistemological nature that ironically determines everything else.