What is knowledge? How do we come to have knowledge? What are the different sources of knowledge? How do we know anything at all? The philosophers and theories I will cover here are not concerned with knowledge itself but how we actually gain knowledge. How do we gain knowledge? Are we born with it? How do we know what we’ve learned is real. That is some of the questions these philosophers try to answer with their theories on knowledge. But do we agree or disagree with them? That is the question. Introduction
Before we begin discussing philosophers and their theories we must have a basic understanding of Epistemology which is the branch of philosophy concerned with the study of knowledge and belief. There are two schools of thought in epistemology, rationalism and empiricism. Empiricists like Bertrand Russell and David Hume believe that sense experience is the ultimate starting point for all knowledge and that knowledge is obtained from experience only. But yet rationalist like René Descartes claimed that the ultimate starting point for all knowledge is not the senses but reason and that knowledge can only be obtained through logic and reasoning. Philosophy is not a waste of time! It is a way to open new doors within one’s mind. (Bertrand Russell.) Bertrand Russell’s essay on appearance versus reality attempts to do just that and open one’s mind to considering how things we see are not really as they seem. Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable person could doubt it? Bertrand Russell circa (1872-1970) page. 73-77 & page. 82 - 86. Russell believed that all knowledge is ultimately derived from our sensory perceptions of the world around us. Russell coined the term “sense data” in his attempt to discern the relationship between appearance and reality. Sensory data is how an individual would perceive things based on touch, smell, taste, sight, or auditory stimulation....