Epistemetrics by Nicholas Rescher - ISBN 0521861209 - Cambridge University Press 2006



Importance of epistemology yet lack of quantitative formalism or computational epistemology, ideally directly a dedicated programming framework.

Pre-reading model

Draw a schema (using PmGraphViz or another solution) of the situation of the area in the studied domain before having read the book.


  • 1 Asking for More Than Truth: Duhemís Law of Cognitive Complementarity
    • Security/Definiteness Trade-off : s ◊ d ≤ const (p1)
    • ∫ ydx = c ∫ dx/x ≈ log x (p2)
  • 2 Kantís Conception of Knowledge as Systematized Information
    • "to qualify as authentic, cognitively significant knowledge, informative contentions must be part of a system" (p12)
    • "Kantís line of thought can be carried a step further to the idea that in a well-designed systemic exposition of information, systemic role mirrors cognitive status." (p13)
  • 3 Spencerís Law of Cognitive Development
    • "the developmental process may be of limited applicability in biological evolution, but there can be little question about its holding good in cognitive evolution." (p16)
    • "what may be called Spencerís Law of Cognitive Development: As a body of information on any given topic grows in size the complexity of that body Ė its inner variation and diversification Ė also increases" (p17)
    • compl (I) ≈ ∫ d#I/#I ∝ log #I
      • information (I)
      • the volume of that body of information (#I)
    • "With the expansion of information, its complexity does increase, but only at a decreasing (logarithmic) rate." (p28)
  • 4 Gibbonís Law of Logarithmic Returns
    • K[I] = log #I (p33)
      • K[I] quantity of knowledge inherent in a body of information I of size #I
    • ∫ΔE/E = log E (p35)
      • fresh experience superadds its additional increment ΔE to the preexisting total E
    • mention of Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolution (p35)
    • "In milking additional information for cognitively significant insights it is generally the proportion of the increase that matters: its percentage rather than its brute amount." (p40)
    • "Where compilation increases information by multiplicative leaps and bounds, the increase in knowledge is merely additive." (p40)
    • mention of how a newly opened domain can be rushed in similar to ideas presented by Allen Newell in his Desires and Diversions 1993 talk at CMU
    • "The increase of knowledge over time stands to the increase of information in a proportion fixed by the inverse of the volume of already available information:
      • d/dt K[I] ≈ d/dt log #I ≈ 1/#I * d/dt #I" (p43-44)
  • 5 Adamsís Thesis on Exponential Growth
    • (p45)
  • 6 Quality Retardation
    • Wikipedia:Lotka's law (p64)
    • "importance can just as effectively be estimated in terms of prominence in citation space as by prominence in discussion space." (p71)
  • 7 How Much Can Be Known? A Leibnizian Perspective on the Quantitative Discrepancy Between Linguistic Truth and Objective Fact
    • (p73)
  • 8 On the Limits of Knowledge: A Kantian Perspective on Cognitive Finitude
    • "Geographic exploration can expect eventual completeness; cognitive exploration cannot." (p102)
    • "It has been said insightfully that from the vantage point of a less developed technology, another substantially advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. And exactly the same holds for a more advanced conceptual (rather than physical) technology." (p104)
  • Conclusion
    • Summarize each chapter in few sentences without equations (p105-106)

See also

Overall remarks and questions

  • trace your personal epistemic path
    1. take the list of papers you have read over time
    2. extract category per paper + read date
    3. animate a node over a scientometrics map with the related categories
  • it feels more and more than giving equations is the last century way of be rigorous with ones' ideas
    • it doesn't mean that every software implementation of an idea makes it rigorous though
  • since we have quantities over time, could such principles also be used to measure the speed of advances?
    • eventually the theoretical or average maximum speed of epistemic progresses?


So in the end, it was about X and was based on Y.


Point A, B and C are debatable because of e, f and j.


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Post-reading model

Draw a schema (using PmGraphViz or another solution) of the situation of the area in the studied domain after having read the book. Link it to the pre-reading model and align the two to help easy comparison.


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