Empiricism in Geography

Topics: Empiricism, Scientific method, Rationalism Pages: 4 (1301 words) Published: November 20, 2012
For the purpose of this essay I will critically discuss aspects of empiricism and the empirical method and their use in geography. I will discuss these aspects with close reference to a recommended reading for our course by Ward et al (2007). Empiricism is a philosophical idea that experience, which is based on observation and experimentation, is the only source of knowledge. Empiricism believes that the mind is a blank canvas and all knowledge arrives in the mind through the portals that are the 5 senses. It believes that all that we as a race know about the world is what the world wishes to tell us. Empiricism states that only information garnered using ones senses should be decreed as credible when making a decision An essential characteristic of it is its commitment to the position that all knowledge is dependent on experience.. It is directly in opposition with the fundamental ideas and attitudes associated with another philosophical doctrine, Rationalism. Rationalism champions all knowledge which is gathered through reason as opposed to through the senses. Essentially Rationalism vs Empiricism is a battle of reason vs. experience. Empiricism has been largely discredited as a discipline in an academic Geographical context but is still widely used in both human and physical geography. The Empirical Method is defined as a method of using a collection of data to form the basis of a theory and essentially form a scientific conclusion. The word empirical means information gained by experience, observation, or experiment. The central theme in scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical which means it is based on evidence.  There are two prominent men who are credited with the development of modern empiricism. Francis Bacon was termed the ‘father’ of empiricism. He deemed that the human mind gained their knowledge only through the senses and that the development of the ability to free the mind of all biases and consciences that could inhibit the...
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