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Which provides us with a more reliable vision of the world: rational or empirical knowledge?

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Introduction

Which provides us with a more reliable vision of the world: rational or empirical knowledge? Human beings are supposed to be rational beings, and that is why we are able to think and to analyze life, the environment, the world, etc. But, where do these thoughts come from? First of all, it is important to mention that Plato's definition of knowledge was 'justified true belief '. We can say that thoughts come from our knowledge as we can not think about something that we do not know or that we have never heard of. We begin to gain knowledge about something when we hear, see, feel or listen about it, in other words, when we discover it. But we also have to think and to process knowledge; we have to be rational. But, how can we trust in our thoughts? How can we determine which way of knowledge is more reliable? The empirical knowledge says that knowledge comes from experiences and senses. ...read more.

Middle

This person will want to experience any information by himself in order to believe in it. But, isn't the empirical knowledge a way of limiting ourselves and our vision of the world? If we just believe in what we experience, how can we expand our knowledge? There is when the rational knowledge comes. As I have previously explained, the empirical knowledge is based on the physical world. On the other hand, the rational knowledge has to do with the internal side of humans; this is the mind and the soul. In this way, the rationalism says that knowledge comes from our intellect and our powers of reason. The rationalism contradicts the empiricism as it says that we can not trust our senses. This is particularly true because many times we are tricked by our senses. So, how can we trust in the empirical knowledge if its base, the senses, is not reliable? Humans have to find logic in the decisions we make and in the knowledge we gain. ...read more.

Conclusion

What would happen to our experiences if we do not use them for the future anymore? What type of use, in terms of knowledge, would our senses provide us if we do not trust anything about them? The questions against each type of knowledge and the opinions in favour of them make me conclude that a combination of both, the empirical and the rational knowledge, provides us with a reliable vision of the world. Even the philosopher Locke, linked with the empiricism, gave importance to the rationalism. On the other hand, Descartes, linked to the rationalism, was more radical, coming with his saying 'I think, therefore I am'. Descartes' adage means that if you think, you exist, as you are only sure of your thoughts. But, obviously, a person that exists has experienced and has used his senses. If you exist, you experience and therefore you think. That is why I think that it is part of our nature to gain knowledge from our exterior and our environment as well as from our reason and logic. This is the perfect combination for us to discover the world and to trust in ourselves. ...read more.

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