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Empiricism Vs Rationalism

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Empiricism vs. Rationalism Epistemology is the study of knowledge, what knowledge is, what we can know and how we can know it. The two main parts of Epistemology are Empiricism and Rationalism. The disagreement between rationalism and empiricism is the way in which we gain knowledge. Rationalism is a theory that reason is the basis of all certainty of knowledge whereas empiricism is based on the principles that all knowledge comes from experience especially that from our senses and that the knowledge we acquire is the basis of our understanding. Rational knowledge occurs in any situation where we are taught something. Impersonal or propositional knowledge are examples of rational knowledge for the reason that through both logic is used to acquire knowledge. Rational knowledge requires the mind to be active in gaining knowledge whereas experience is downplayed. Decartes is a key rationalist thinker. Empiricists share the view that there is no such thing as innate knowledge, and that instead knowledge is derived from experience either sensed via the five senses or reasoned via the brain or mind. ...read more.


However, Decartes and Plato would reject this argument, arguing that we have innate knowledge of the forms [mathematical objects and concepts], moral concepts [goodness, beauty, virtue and piety] and possibly colour. Decartes believes that the idea of God, or perfection and infinity and knowledge of existence is innate. Empiricists may argue that people are influenced by other factors such as their political outlook, faith, values and social perspective. To use the example of faith, Empiricists would say that people are unable to believe in religious beliefs because they have not be proven. They would argue that there was no hard confirmation to prove anything. It therefore holds no ground. Rationalists have been wrong about their 'innate knowledge'. Some medieval rationalists claimed that the notion of a vacuum was rationally abusurd and therefore it was impossible for one to exist. However, science has proven that it is possible, therefore reason is not the only way to disover the truth about a matter. ...read more.


Rationalist thinkers believe that people come to experience with 'ready-made' tools for creativity. For example, Plato would argue that we are in touch with abstract, immutable realities which provide lots of material with which to create. According to Empiricism, human beings can be controlled and manipulated easily. If humans are nothing other than what the experience then, in theory, they should be able to be made to do what they are taught. Rationalism argues that there is an invariable core, human nature, which refuses to be manipulated, making us unique. It is fair to conclude that both Empiricism and Rationalism have fair points to argue their perspective in ways that human beings gain knowledge. The arguments appear well balanced, it does not give a clear side as superior, therefore it would be fair to believe that a combination of the two would be the best solution in order to understand epistemology. It would be logical to use both theories together in order to gain knowledge most effectively, using both reason and experience to form the best possible view of anything. ...read more.

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