Epistemology (from Greek , episteme, meaning "knowledge, understanding", and , logos, meaning "word") is a word first used by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier to describe the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge. It examines the nature of knowledge and how one can acquire it. Much of the debate in this field has focused on the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief, and justification.
The word epistemology is derived from the ancient Greek episteme meaning "scientific knowledge" and logos meaning "speech" or "word", in this context denoting "codified knowledge of". J.F. Ferrier coined epistemology on the model of 'ontology', to designate that branch of philosophy which aims to discover the meaning of knowledge, and called it the 'true beginning' of philosophy. The word is equivalent to the German concept Wissenschaftslehre, which was used by Fichte and Bolzano for different projects before it was taken up again by Husserl. French philosophers then gave the term épistémologie a narrower meaning as 'theory of knowledge [théorie de la connaissance].' E.g., Émile Meyerson opened his Identity and Reality, written in 1908, with the remark that the word 'is becoming current' as equivalent to 'the philosophy of the sciences.'