Empiricism and Experience

Topics: Empiricism, George Berkeley, Epistemology Pages: 4 (1568 words) Published: December 11, 2004
Empiricism by nature is the belief that there is no knowledge without experience. How can one know what something tastes like if they have never tasted it? For example, would someone know that an apple is red if they have never actually have seen one. Someone can tell you an apple is red, but, if you never have seen one, can you really be sure? Empiricists use three anchor points in which they derive their opinions from. The first of these points is; the only source of genuine knowledge is sense experience. An easier way to understand this is to compare the mind to a clean sponge. As the sponge touches things, it takes with it, a piece of everything it touches. Without this, the sponge would remain clean and be void of anything other than its own material. With this conclusion, empiricist believes we must be content with the knowledge we have at hand, rather than things we have not yet been privy to. The second anchor point is; Reason is an unreliable and inadequate route to knowledge unless it is grounded in the solid bedrock of sense experience. Empiricists believe that all of our words meanings are derived from our experiences. Everything can be traced back to a single moment in our lives. Empiricists understand that reason is necessary in helping us make our experience intelligible, but reason alone cannot provide knowledge. The third anchor point is; there is no evidence of innate Ideas within the mind that are known apart from experience. What this means is the mind does not possess ideas that are not backed by experience. In no case are there a priori truths that can both tell about the world and are known apart from experience. When asked the three epistemological questions the three empiricists all have different answers. The first of these questions is; is knowledge possible? John Locke (1632-1704) states "Knowledge, however, is not something lying out there in the grass; it is located in our minds. So to understand knowledge we...

References: Lawhead, William F., The Philosophical Journey: An Interactive Approach, Second Edition. McGraw-Hill, 2003.
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