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. A key Empiricist is John Locke. Each theory, however, has a problem of knowledge because you can never solely have empirical or rational knowledge. This essay will explore the arguments for each theory in turn.

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The fundamental idea of Empiricism is that we can only be sure of something once it has been tested, proven and experienced. An Empiricist would argue that we ought to only make decisions once a person has got the information needed in order to make fact, usually by using the five senses. Empiricism has been used to explain aspects in philosophy and science. Empiricism in philosophy focuses on  the roles of experience and evidence and the use of humans’ sensory awareness. In science, empiricism is associated with the knowledge that is based upon evidence, which has been gained through ...

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