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.