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Extreme Rationalism

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Rationalism is the idea that we can gain knowledge through the processes of mind alone. Empiricism is the idea that we can only gain knowledge through the senses. Empiricism has been adopted by the Western world because it is the foundation of the scientific approach to life that we use. Various popular sayings such as 'seeing is believing' and 'I heard it with my own ears', show that we accept the use of the senses without question. How many times do you hear anyone say anything about certain beliefs based on the mind alone? There are two types of Rationalism which we will call Extreme and Moderate. Extreme Rationalism Reached its peak in the Ancient Greek world with some philosophers entitrely dismissing sensory data. ...read more.


In this way plague has been eradicated from the Western world though if it broke out again it would be easily treated. Believe it or not this way of thinking is the consequence of one person, a Polish astronomer called Copernicus, who observed the night sky through a hole in a piece of wood (there were no telescopes then). He discovered that the Earth was not the centre of the universe and that the Earth revolved around the Sun. This directly challenged the teachings of the Church whose justification of religion was based on the idea that the Earth was at the centre of the universe. Copernicus did not dare to publish his findings because the Church would probably have had him put to death as an example to others that religious doctrine should not be challenged. ...read more.


In a scientific system the volcano would be studied by observation on the premise that its activity could be explained in natural terms. The Church resisted the new ideas even though logic was on the side of science. The church defended its world view and dismissed the new ideas as heresy. Hence there were two systems of thought which were incompatible with each other. This led to two major schools of philosophy, Rationalism and Empiricism. These pages are concerned with rationalism which was revived by Rene Descartes who was concerned to place knowledge on firmer foundations than religious explanations. He did not want the new way of thinking to contain the same problems of falliability as religious explanations. He had two possible epistemological approaches to this task based on the potential sources of 'true' knowledge. Either knowledge came through the senses or it came from another source. ...read more.

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