What do we know, how do we know it, and how do we know that we know it? The big word for that is "epistemology," and Tristram Shandy is getting down with all the epistemological questions. At some points, Tristram Shandy seems to be suggesting that knowledge is ultimately hopeless—that the more we try to understand, the more confused we'll be, and that other people are doomed to be eternally mysterious. But it's clear that Tristram knows a lot. He throws around references and quotations like so many Lady Gaga lyrics. What's clear is that pursuing knowledge is a tricky business—you're always one reference away from absurdity.
Tristram Shandy suggests that true knowledge comes from experience, not from books.
Tristram Shandy suggests that people need a combination of book-learning and life experience to make their way through the world successfully.