chapter  20
Thinking about Thinking in Family Therapy
ByEdgar H. Auerswald, MD
Pages 15

A dictionary (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1981) definition of epistemology is: “The study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge.” Contemplation in study or theorizing is cognitive, and, too, it is fair to say that the nature and grounds of knowledge are expressed in language, and that language is the expression of cognition. Thus, another way of defining epistemology could be “thinking about thinking.” Yet another, more concrete, but closely related definition of the word was used by Gregory Bateson and has been appearing in many places in recent years. In this definition the word is preceded by a definite or indefinite article: “an epistemology” or “the epistemology.”† Some of us in the family therapy field, mostly those who knew or read Bateson, have used it this way. The definition of this usage could be: “A set of immanent rules used in thought by large groups of people to define reality.” Also, I have used the word “paradigm” to denote a subset of rules used to define a particular segment of reality.