The term is derived from the Ancient Greek words gnosis ("knowledge", γνῶσις) and logos ("word" or "discourse", λόγος). Linguistically, one might compare it to epistemology, which is derived from the Greek words episteme ("certain knowledge") and logos.
Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714–1762) introduced the term "gnosiology" in conjunction with his efforts in the field of aesthetics. The term gnosiology is not well known today, though found in Baldwin's (1906) Dictionary of Psychology and Philosophy. The Encyclopædia Britannica (1911) remarks that "The term Gnosiology has not, however, come into general use. (See Philosophy.)".
Eastern Orthodox theology
The term "gnosiology" (Modern Greek: γνωσιολογία) is used more commonly in Greek than in English. As a philosophical concept, gnosiology broadly means the theory of knowledge, which in ancient Greek philosophy was perceived as a combination of sensory perception and intellect and then made into memory (called the mnemonic system). When considered in the context of science, gnosiology takes on a different meaning: the study of knowledge, its origin, processes, and validity. Gnosiology being the study of types of knowledge i.e. memory (abstract knowledge derived from experimentation being "episteme" or teachable knowledge), experience induction (or empiricism), deduction (or rationalism), scientific abductive reasoning, contemplation (theoria), metaphysical and instinctual or intuitive knowledge. Gnosiology is focused on the study of the noesis and noetic components of human ontology.
Within gnosiology, gnosis is derived by noesis. Noesis refers to the experiences or activities of the nous. This makes the study and origin of gnosis and gnosiology the study of the intuitive and or instinctual.
- John Meyendorff Christ in Eastern Christian thought 1975 p77 "The classical book on Eastern Christian gnosiology is by V. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (London: James Clarke, 1957);
- On actions, products and other topics in philosophy 1999 p183 ed. Kazimierz Twardowski, Johannes Brandl, Jan Woleński
- William Warren Philosophical dimensions of personal construct psychology 1998 p24 "This term, gnosiology, is less well known today and a likely source for the description is Baldwin's (1906/1960) Dictionary of Psychology and Philosophy."
- "The Illness and Cure of the Soul", Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.
- "Theology's academic classification among the theoretical sciences or arts began in the 12th century in the west and is due to the shift of theology into metaphysics. Therefore, those in the East who condemn our own theology, demonstrate their Westernization, since they, essentially, condemn and reject a disfigured caricature of what they regard as theology. But what is the noetic function? In the Holy Scriptures there is, already, the distinction between the spirit of man (his nous) and the intellect (the logos or mind). The spirit of man in patristics is called nous to distinguish it from the Holy Spirit. The spirit, the nous, is the eye of the soul (see Matt. 6:226). Within the realm of Greek Orthodox theology and modern Greek usage, the term encompasses the concepts of the created (that which comes from Ex nihilo) and the uncreated (that which transcends the limits of nature and is therefore supernatural). Leading to the study of both God (the uncreated) and Spiritual beings, human beings and the material world (creatures and the created). Since the created world can only be reduced to either force (dunamis) or energy (energeia), the created world in its essence leads to the study of the uncreated, either through the uncreated essence of energies or hypostases or immanence. The study of the createdness or the processes of creation in themselves is called science. Gnosis as intuitive knowledge, it is an activity of the spirit. As such it is considered complementary to other activities of the spirit. Most important of these is faith, which is intuitive truth. The noetic faculty is called the function of the nous within the heart and is the spiritual function of the heart, its parallel function is the heart as the organ that pumps the blood throughout our bodies. This noetic faculty is a mnemonic system that exists with the brain cells. These two are known and are detectab1e from human science, which science cannot, however, conceive of the nous. When man attains illumination by the Holy Spirit and becomes the temple of God, self-love changes to unconditional love and it then becomes possible to buiId real social relations supported upon this unconditional reciprocity (a willingness to sacrifice for our fellow man) rather than a self- interested claim of individual rights according to the spirit of western European society." Rev. Prof. George Metallinos at University of Athens Greece
- Saint Nicodemus the Hagiorite, The Philokalia, Macmillan, 1983, pg 432: "intellection (noīsis): not an abstract concept or a visual image, but the act or function of the intellect. whereby it apprehends spiritual realities in a direct manner."
- Faith And Science In Orthodox Gnosiology and Methodology, Rev. Prof. George Metallinos at University of Athens, Greece