Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

Living Edition
| Editors: Jay Lebow, Anthony Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Epistemology in Family Systems Theory

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_264-1

Name of Concept

Epistemology in Family Therapy.


Epistemology, or the study of how we know what we know (the process of knowing), was first introduced into family therapy ideas and literature by anthropologist Gregory Bateson. Epistemology involves “...certain propositions about the nature of knowing and the nature of the universe in which we live and how we know about it” (Bateson 1972, p. 478). This concept is closely related to and cannot be separated from ontology, the study of what we know (the content of knowing), and often the term epistemology is used to discuss both aspects of knowing (Bateson 1972). Often, the term epistemology is used to indicate a lens, ideology, worldview, perspective, or framework that informs how someone thinks, the perceptions they have, and the meanings they make that influence how they interact in the world and with others. In turn, recursively, the premises and beliefs they hold about the world inform and reinforce or alter their...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California Lutheran UniversityThousand OaksUSA
  2. 2.University of Louisiana at MonroeMonroeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Kearns
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.Iowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA