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While there are at least 17,820,925 documented major branches of philosophy among Terragens (and likely quadrillions more unknown among the higher toposophics), many modosophonts continue to classify philosophical thought according to the five major 'Old Earth' branches: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, and aesthetics. During the first and second millennia AT, however, modosophonts began to engage seriously with new speculative modes within these five branches, often courtesy of enigmatic transapient pronouncements; metaphysics had exontics and the automethodologies, logic had (heavily modified) translogic, ethics had megethics, and aesthetics had sprath, with its various schools on the Perfect Arts. Epistemology had the alternepistemes, which - as of this writing - constitute at least 50,934,213,821 possible other ways of knowing besides the scientific (the scientific method) and the religious (mysticism and fideism). Scholars of the alternepistemes might consider the possibility of new knowledge through, for example, constructing elaborate towel sculptures, whistling while riding gargantuan reptiles, covering their bodies in dozens of small foods until only their elbows (or elbow-analogues) remained free, and - a notable Puppis Democracy interest - 'emoti-mechanical ovoid generation'.

As with exontics and the automethodologies, the alternepistemes are now a fixture in much of Terragen space. Occasionally, they arouse concern, as with 'GT5&V3' (Pistil Heart classification scheme: 'Nurl++dc3.1') - the so-called 'Astatine Lick Alternepisteme'. GT5&V3 claimed that it was possible to acquire new and unique knowledge through either licking, chewing, swallowing, or even defecating bars of astatine. Curious modosophonts would irradiate themselves almost to the point of death, requiring assistance from friendly AI to regain optimal health. When asked what they had learned, adherents of GT5&V3 would share things that meant little to others - as is often the case with alternepistemes. As such, critics of alternepistemes claim that they are just novel mysticisms, while supporters counter that knowledge currently has no 'hard limits' - and might not be equally distributed. Critics might then say that alternepistemes are fads for the bored (a popular rejoinder), while supporters might retort with the latest report from the Reality Intertextualization Project - which they would believe validates their claims. Pleas from either side to transapient wisdom almost invariably result in statements incomprehensible to the modosophonts.

Regardless of their much-contested validity in ril, alternepistemes have achieved a strong influence in certain Terragen virchworlds. In these virchworlds, dwellers construct realities which make the effects of alternepistemes more tangible. There are vigorous debates over the authenticity of these speculative knowledges, as well as their applicability to R/L. This is especially the case when alternepistemes are combined with exontics and/or automethodologies, megethics, and sprath [EAMS or AAMS] to make profoundly exotic virch scenarios - some of which are claimed to give even the Superiors pause.

Many xenomodosophonts in Terragen space appear to have native analogues to alternepistemes. When asked to proffer an opinion on alternepistemes, however, the Meistersingers have characterized them as (approximate translations) 'conscientiously petite', 'gossamer!', and 'lovingly plain'. It is hoped that the Meistersingers will one day elaborate on their statements.
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Development Notes
Text by Frogworld5
Initially published on 29 January 2019.