Rationalism vs Empiricism

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Michael Nguyen
Paper 2
3/29/2012
Professor Nathan Smith

Rationalism vs Empiricism
Rationalism believes that some ideas or concept are independent of experience and that some truth is known by reason alone. Rationalist support the idea of priori knowledge which means knowledge that comes before experience and independent of experience Philosophers that support that are associated with rationalism are Descartes, Kant, and Leibniz. Empiricism believes that some ideas or concepts are independent of experience and that truth must be established by reference to experience alone. Empiricist support the idea of posteriori which means knowledge that comes after experience or dependent on experience. Locke, Humes, and Berkeley are philosophers that support the idea of Empiricism. Rationalism claims that all known is innate. It claims that we are born with knowledge and find answer to questions by thinking logically. Descartes is a rationalist that strongly supports rationalism. He used skepticism to doubt everything that he knew. He doubted until he found one idea that was beyond a doubt, and the one idea was that he cannot doubt his own existence. He said “I cannot doubt my own existence; I think therefore I must exist. I think therefore I am.” He also claims that he cannot depend on senses because there is a demon manipulating your thoughts. Let’s take a look at Descartes’s statement. He doubts everything else but his own existence. He is thinking, and alive. Therefore, he is alive. By being able to think and knowing his exist, it makes the argument valid and sound. Rationalist tends to believe knowledge is a bit like math. It requires no observations or sense perception. The idea of 2+2=4, we all know it is 4. There are no observations or experience required. Let’s say you have two apples, and you were given two apples, you will then have a total of 4 apples. If you were to take away two apples, you are left with two apples. The logical approach requires no...
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