Discourse vs Episteme - What's the difference?

discourse | episteme |

As nouns the difference between discourse and episteme

is that discourse is (uncountable|archaic) verbal exchange, conversation while episteme is episteme (foucaultian philosophy).

As a verb discourse

is to engage in discussion or conversation; to converse.



  • (uncountable, archaic) Verbal exchange, conversation.
  • * 1847 , , (Jane Eyre), Chapter XVIII
  • Two or three of the gentlemen sat near him, and I caught at times scraps of their conversation across the room. At first I could not make much sense of what I heard; for the discourse of Louisa Eshton and Mary Ingram, who sat nearer to me, confused the fragmentary sentences that reached me at intervals.
  • (uncountable) Expression in words, either speech or writing.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2012-03
  • , author= , title=Pixels or Perish , volume=100, issue=2, page=106 , magazine= citation , passage=Drawings and pictures are more than mere ornaments in scientific discourse . Blackboard sketches, geological maps, diagrams of molecular structure, astronomical photographs, MRI images, the many varieties of statistical charts and graphs: These pictorial devices are indispensable tools for presenting evidence, for explaining a theory, for telling a story.}}
  • (countable) A formal lengthy exposition of some subject, either spoken or written.
  • The preacher gave us a long discourse on duty.
  • (countable) Any rational expression, reason.
  • * South
  • difficult, strange, and harsh to the discourses of natural reason
  • * Shakespeare
  • Sure he that made us with such large discourse , / Looking before and after, gave us not / That capability and godlike reason / To rust in us unused.
  • (social sciences, countable) An institutionalized way of thinking, a social boundary defining what can be said about a specific topic (after ).
  • * 2007 , Christine L. Marran, Poison Woman: Figuring Female Transgression in Modern Japanese Culture (page 137)
  • Furthermore, it should be recalled from the previous chapter that criminological discourse of the 1930s deemed every woman a potential criminal, implicitly including the domestic woman.
  • * 2008 , Jane Anna Gordon, Lewis Gordon, A Companion to African-American Studies (page 308)
  • But equally important to the emergence of uniquely African-American queer discourses is the refusal of African-American movements for liberation to address adequately issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • (obsolete) Dealing; transaction.
  • * Beaumont and Fletcher
  • Good Captain Bessus, tell us the discourse / Betwixt Tigranes and our king, and how / We got the victory.


    * (expression in words) communication, expression * (verbal exchange) debate, conversation, discussion, talk * (formal lengthy exposition of some subject) dissertation, lecture, sermon, study, treatise * (rational expression) ratiocination

    Derived terms

    * direct discourse * indirect discourse


  • To engage in discussion or conversation; to converse.
  • To write or speak formally and at length.
  • (obsolete) To debate.
  • To exercise reason; to employ the mind in judging and inferring; to reason.
  • (Dryden)


    * (engage in discussion or conversation) converse, talk * (write or speak formally and at length)

    Derived terms

    * discourser

    See also

    * essay



    Alternative forms

    * *


  • (philosophy) Scientific knowledge; a principled system of understanding; sometimes contrasted with empiricism.
  • (specifically Ancient Greek philosophy) know-how; compare techne.
  • (specifically Foucaultian philosophy) The fundamental body of ideas and collective presuppositions that defines the nature and sets the bounds of what is accepted as true knowledge in a given epistemic epoch.
  • * 1997 : Chris Horrocks, Introducing Foucault , pages 65{1} and 71{2} (Totem Books, Icon Books; ISBN 1840460865)
  • {1} An 'episteme'''''' is the “underground” grid or network which allows thought to organize itself. Each historical period has its own ' episteme . It limits the totality of experience, knowledge and truth, and governs each science in one period.
    {2} Classical representation no longer needs a subject like royalty. It can only be made visible by its invisibility — by appearing in the mirror of representation'. The true subject is never to be found in the table — or painting — as a historical subject of life, labour and language. The classical '''episteme''' did not isolate a specific domain proper to man.
    '''Axiom''': In the classical '
    the subject is bound to escape its own representation.

    Usage notes

    * (term) is not pronounced as “”.

    See also

    * agnoia * (wikipedia "episteme")


    * “ episteme]” listed in the '' [2nd Ed.; 1989
    ??Deriving from (etyl) ; tagged ''Philos.
    ; defined in the general and Foucaultian senses only. * “ Episteme'' and ''Techne''” discussed in the ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (first published Fri Apr 11, 2003; substantive revision Sun Oct 28, 2007; accessed Sun Sep 27, 2009)
    ??Article discusses the Ancient Greek usage only. ----