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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 12, Issue 2, 2012

Ana Gavran Miloš
Pages 239-256

Epicurus on the Origin and Formation of Preconceptions

The paper deals with one of the key notions in Epicurean epistemology, preconception. Together with perceptions, preconceptions are the second criterion of truth. The aim of the paper is to explore their epistemological status on the basis of their origin and formation. I argue that the process of formation of preconception is purely empirical, since they are produced through repeated perceptions of individual instances of a particular type of thing. Given the way they are formed, I claim that preconceptions are the means by which we recognize types of object and as such are fundamental to Epicurus’ account of how we gain knowledge of things. Exactly this gives them a distinctive criterial role, since preconceptions––unlike perceptions––enable us to engage in the process of interpretation of perceptual content.

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