ToK Essay - Knowledge through Rationalism and Empiricism

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ToK Essay - Knowledge through Rationalism and Empiricism

What is knowledge? Knowledge is defined in different ways, it is defined as  “the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning” by Princeton or “expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education” by the Oxford English Dictionary. Either way, there are two sectors of philosophy that attempt to undermine knowledge by authority, rationalism and empiricism.

Rationalism is the view that certain knowledge can be discovered through experience and reason alone. Reason may be defined as the process of using known facts to conclude new ones. In this section of philosophy, it is divided into induction, wherein reasoning the hypothesis is always tentative and prone to changes, and deduction, in which the conclusion follows from the general statement. There are problems with each of these. Firstly, the limit to induction is that it’s about the human need to look for patterns in observations over time therefore having to be careful that our need to categorise and classify doesn’t lead us to seeing what isn’t really there. Furthermore, the arguments against deductive logic is that you must have absolute certainty towards your decision as well as having a valid and logical point.

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Empiricism suggests that all knowledge is derived by our senses.  There are various types of senses, our sense of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch are called objective senses whereas our senses from the inner surfaces of our body are called visceral senses. Proprioceptive sensors are those that control our physical coordination and our equilibrium enables us to maintain our balance. Our senses are the contact between the objective world surrounding us and our subjective world of experience however, there are limitations when it comes to our senses. The main criticism of empiricism is that our senses often deceive us ...

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