The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







As distinguished from techne, the Greek word episteme (literally: science) is often translated as knowledge.

Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault used it in his work The Order of Things to mean the regime of truth that underlay all the discourses of a particular epoch, but soon after abandoned the concept. Its use in this sense has however continued.

Foucault's use of episteme has been noted as being very similar to Thomas Kuhn's notion of a paradigm, though there are important differences. For example, whereas Kuhn's paradigm is an all-encompassing collections of beliefs and assumptions which create scientific worldviews and practices, Foucault's episteme is not merely confined to science but to a wider range of discourse (all of science itself would fall under the episteme of the epoch).


  • Paul Stoller. The Taste of Ethnographic Things. 1989. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA.

See also

Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46