Rationalism & Empiricism

Known unknowns and unknown unknowns!

Moderators: AMod, iMod

Post Reply
User avatar
WanderingLands
Posts: 819
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:39 am
Contact:

Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by WanderingLands » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:47 am

After some explorations into both rationalism and empiricism, and doing some thinking and contemplating on those two schools of thought in Epistemology, I've decided to outline a the two's strengths and weaknesses in regards to actualizing the full scope of how and where we get our knowledge, and in general looking at the entire existence through our 'tools' (the mind & senses).

Rationalism is a philosophy that propounds that humans have innate knowledge and concepts that come from the mind, and so it is our thinking, intuition, and reason, that guides us to attaining truth. Rationalist philosophers would include Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel - extending to that, Rationalism deals more with the entire Metaphysics, and is very close with Metaphysics as it takes on and takes on the affirmation of Being, Absolutes, Causality, and Essence. The strengths of Rationalism is that by using various tools of the mind (thinking, intuition, reasoning), is that you can conceptualize and makes sense of the entire macrocosm of the universe, and also by utilizing Causality, find root in the nature of humans, the roots of certain conflicts, forces - anything that you can think of. However, there is an extant to which conceptualization can be utilized, without of course overstepping the boundaries, which is its weakness. Rationalism can at times go too far in conceptualizing existence and being; particularly conceptualizing a 'higher world' and its mechanisms, without realizing the vague and limitless possibilities of such as 'higher world'. For example, many may be fascinated with Plato's Theory of Forms, or Leibniz' theory of Monads, as the origin of where human knowledge comes from. However, given that you are using the Mind and not sensory perception and data, it can be quite an endless game to try an actualize what those Forms are, or what those Monads are, because you can add more parts to these concepts, which may derail the path of looking at Truth in its Absolute form. So though Rationalism may stimulate the human mind and psyche by looking at the larger picture, there is indeed an extent to what is actually part of the larger picture, and what may possibly be a redundant thought or an over-conceptualization.

Empiricism, on the other hand, is a philosophy that states that it's the senses that's the true source of human knowledge, and not the Mind. Empiricist philosophers include Aristotle, Avicenna, Locke, Berkley, Hume, and also even Kant to some degree, and these philosophers propose an a pastori of thinking; that the only thing that is true is within the confines of using the primary senses (see, smell, touch, hear, and taste) to view the world. The strengths of Empiricism is that using the senses to view the world can bring a more grounded perception of the world around us, unlike the more logical extremes of Rationalism. By using doubt and skepticism, as the Empiricists utilize, you can examine more of the yourself and your perception of the world, which may lead to confidence of what's true and what's false; thus, not resorting to a form of dogmatism that the extremes of Rationalism is plagued by. However, much like Rationalism, there is a limit to Empiricism, in utilizing doubt, skepticism, and the senses, which lead to subjectivity, which is not bad in itself but with too much of it can skew your thinking. The limits of the senses is that you can only perceive things in the exact present; the senses themselves cannot think, or make a linkage of causalities of each event, which is what the mind actually does. There is always a form of conceptualization that can never be avoided, as we always use in order to describe and make sense of things, so the senses are not the only means of attaining knowledge. Also, too much subjectivity, skepticism, and doubt, lead to a confused mind; you cannot think clearly or sort out was is fact and what is just mere opinion. So, Empiricists, like that of Berkley and Hume (to the most extent), make mistakes in regards to being, existence, and causality. The extremes of Empiricism would be to deny that humans could have a perception, let alone a good one; or that there is no "true being" - there is only nothingness. So though Empiricism can be good in grounding things to physical reality, the extremes of it would all amount to the thinking that 'nothing exists'.

Overall, I believe that the reasons why there are different ideas in the world, is because we cling on to one insight and stick with it, which is the problem with Philosophy and is exemplified in the 'conflict' between Rationalism and Empiricism. The solution to this would be to not attach to a philosophical school, but to examine all such schools, and to actually think for yourselves, instead of being the satirical 'book philosopher', as Schopenhauer accurately termed in regards to philosophical academia. Rationalism and Empiricism are both right and wrong to certain extents, but are both limiting to the capabilities of the human individual.

Ginkgo
Posts: 2429
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by Ginkgo » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:21 am

WanderingLands wrote:After some explorations into both rationalism and empiricism, and doing some thinking and contemplating on those two schools of thought in Epistemology, I've decided to outline a the two's strengths and weaknesses in regards to actualizing the full scope of how and where we get our knowledge, and in general looking at the entire existence through our 'tools' (the mind & senses).

Rationalism is a philosophy that propounds that humans have innate knowledge and concepts that come from the mind, and so it is our thinking, intuition, and reason, that guides us to attaining truth. Rationalist philosophers would include Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel - extending to that, Rationalism deals more with the entire Metaphysics, and is very close with Metaphysics as it takes on and takes on the affirmation of Being, Absolutes, Causality, and Essence. The strengths of Rationalism is that by using various tools of the mind (thinking, intuition, reasoning), is that you can conceptualize and makes sense of the entire macrocosm of the universe, and also by utilizing Causality, find root in the nature of humans, the roots of certain conflicts, forces - anything that you can think of. However, there is an extant to which conceptualization can be utilized, without of course overstepping the boundaries, which is its weakness. Rationalism can at times go too far in conceptualizing existence and being; particularly conceptualizing a 'higher world' and its mechanisms, without realizing the vague and limitless possibilities of such as 'higher world'. For example, many may be fascinated with Plato's Theory of Forms, or Leibniz' theory of Monads, as the origin of where human knowledge comes from. However, given that you are using the Mind and not sensory perception and data, it can be quite an endless game to try an actualize what those Forms are, or what those Monads are, because you can add more parts to these concepts, which may derail the path of looking at Truth in its Absolute form. So though Rationalism may stimulate the human mind and psyche by looking at the larger picture, there is indeed an extent to what is actually part of the larger picture, and what may possibly be a redundant thought or an over-conceptualization.

I think this is a pretty reasonable summary of rationalism.

Kant said the problem with this sort of metaphysics can be found in the belief that it was possible to build a bridge from the "higher world" to this world and maintain any consistency. As Kant points out, all sorts of errors arise undertaking this enterprise.
Wanderinglands wrote:
Empiricism, on the other hand, is a philosophy that states that it's the senses that's the true source of human knowledge, and not the Mind. Empiricist philosophers include Aristotle, Avicenna, Locke, Berkley, Hume, and also even Kant to some degree, and these philosophers propose an a pastori of thinking; that the only thing that is true is within the confines of using the primary senses (see, smell, touch, hear, and taste) to view the world. The strengths of Empiricism is that using the senses to view the world can bring a more grounded perception of the world around us, unlike the more logical extremes of Rationalism. By using doubt and skepticism, as the Empiricists utilize, you can examine more of the yourself and your perception of the world, which may lead to confidence of what's true and what's false; thus, not resorting to a form of dogmatism that the extremes of Rationalism is plagued by. However, much like Rationalism, there is a limit to Empiricism, in utilizing doubt, skepticism, and the senses, which lead to subjectivity, which is not bad in itself but with too much of it can skew your thinking. The limits of the senses is that you can only perceive things in the exact present; the senses themselves cannot think, or make a linkage of causalities of each event, which is what the mind actually does. There is always a form of conceptualization that can never be avoided, as we always use in order to describe and make sense of things, so the senses are not the only means of attaining knowledge. Also, too much subjectivity, skepticism, and doubt, lead to a confused mind; you cannot think clearly or sort out was is fact and what is just mere opinion. So, Empiricists, like that of Berkley and Hume (to the most extent), make mistakes in regards to being, existence, and causality. The extremes of Empiricism would be to deny that humans could have a perception, let alone a good one; or that there is no "true being" - there is only nothingness. So though Empiricism can be good in grounding things to physical reality, the extremes of it would all amount to the thinking that 'nothing exists'.
Just a couple of observations in relation to empiricism.

I think we need to be a little careful when lumping people such as Aristotle and Hume together under the banner of empiricism. Yes, it is possible to proved a general explanation of these two philosophers using that term, but there are some differences.

I am not sure of your term "apastori". In relation to empiricism you probably mean aposteriori rather than apriori.

Interestingly Kant made an attempt to bridge rationalism and empiricism. His attempt is still an ongoing debate in philosophy.

User avatar
WanderingLands
Posts: 819
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:39 am
Contact:

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by WanderingLands » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:32 am

Ginkgo wrote: Just a couple of observations in relation to empiricism.

I think we need to be a little careful when lumping people such as Aristotle and Hume together under the banner of empiricism. Yes, it is possible to proved a general explanation of these two philosophers using that term, but there are some differences.

I am not sure of your term "apastori". In relation to empiricism you probably mean aposteriori rather than apriori.

Interestingly Kant made an attempt to bridge rationalism and empiricism. His attempt is still an ongoing debate in philosophy.
Yes, indeed Aristotle was different from Hume in that he still talked within Metaphysics, though he proposed a more empirical foundation. I mentioned those philosophers as in a broad spectrum of Empiricism, just as with Rationalism there may be varying differences. Kant was indeed onto something as he made good points about both of them; however, I think the issue with him (in my opinion) is that he said that humans may never 'truly know' the thing in itself. It may be true when we recognize the many perspectives of many components of things, but nevertheless there is still a foundation that there is a higher metaphysical aspect to reality that's still present, albeit interpreted differently. I think the issue has to do with that humans naturally just cling on to whatever insight they have, and they don't process it enough to actually organize it. I guess I may be wrong, but I still don't believe in simply doubting it, at least when thinking about the whole of existence.

Oh, I meant 'a posteriori'. That was a misspelling of mine.

Ginkgo
Posts: 2429
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by Ginkgo » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:38 am

WanderingLands wrote:
Ginkgo wrote: Just a couple of observations in relation to empiricism.

I think we need to be a little careful when lumping people such as Aristotle and Hume together under the banner of empiricism. Yes, it is possible to proved a general explanation of these two philosophers using that term, but there are some differences.

I am not sure of your term "apastori". In relation to empiricism you probably mean aposteriori rather than apriori.

Interestingly Kant made an attempt to bridge rationalism and empiricism. His attempt is still an ongoing debate in philosophy.
Yes, indeed Aristotle was different from Hume in that he still talked within Metaphysics, though he proposed a more empirical foundation. I mentioned those philosophers as in a broad spectrum of Empiricism, just as with Rationalism there may be varying differences. Kant was indeed onto something as he made good points about both of them; however, I think the issue with him (in my opinion) is that he said that humans may never 'truly know' the thing in itself. It may be true when we recognize the many perspectives of many components of things, but nevertheless there is still a foundation that there is a higher metaphysical aspect to reality that's still present, albeit interpreted differently. I think the issue has to do with that humans naturally just cling on to whatever insight they have, and they don't process it enough to actually organize it. I guess I may be wrong, but I still don't believe in simply doubting it, at least when thinking about the whole of existence.

Oh, I meant 'a posteriori'. That was a misspelling of mine.
Yes, I agree with this. I also think you have done a good job overall. Keep up the good work

Wyman
Posts: 934
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:21 pm

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by Wyman » Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:08 pm

Rationalism is a philosophy that propounds that humans have innate knowledge and concepts that come from the mind, and so it is our thinking, intuition, and reason, that guides us to attaining truth. Rationalist philosophers would include Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel
This may be thought of as quibbling to some, but Plato did not think that concepts come from the mind; that was Descartes' contribution, I think. Plato's was a real meat and potatoes type of idealism, where our minds perceive (or somehow grasp) concepts 'out there' just like they perceive objects 'out there.'

Which is the weirder idea, 'innate knowledge' and the solipsism that follows from Descartes, or the theory of Forms whereby our grasp of universal concepts derives from independently existing 'forms?'

User avatar
WanderingLands
Posts: 819
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:39 am
Contact:

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by WanderingLands » Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:42 pm

Wyman wrote: This may be thought of as quibbling to some, but Plato did not think that concepts come from the mind; that was Descartes' contribution, I think. Plato's was a real meat and potatoes type of idealism, where our minds perceive (or somehow grasp) concepts 'out there' just like they perceive objects 'out there.'

Which is the weirder idea, 'innate knowledge' and the solipsism that follows from Descartes, or the theory of Forms whereby our grasp of universal concepts derives from independently existing 'forms?'
I think that the Cartesian system is weird, in that it's contradictory to have 'innate knowledge' and to yet believe in solipsism. The Theory of Forms would make a lot more sense, since it's an extension of the human mind, or is probably the higher mind itself.

That being said, though, Plato still had doubts on the senses, as they perceived changing things only and not the universals. Thus, technically he would count as a Rationalist, because his Theory of Forms are forms that are installed within the mind (the universal mind, that is).

waleeed
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 8:40 am

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by waleeed » Mon Feb 15, 2016 8:43 am

Empiricism, on the other hand, is a philosophy that states that it's the senses that's the true source of human knowledge, and not the Mind. Empiricist philosophers include Aristotle, Avicenna, Locke, Berkley, Hume, and also even Kant to some degree, and these philosophers propose an a pastori of thinking; that the only thing that is true is within the confines of using the primary senses (see, smell, touch, hear, and taste) to view the world. The strengths of Empiricism is that using the senses to view the world can bring a more grounded perception of the world around us, unlike the more logical extremes of Rationalism. By using doubt and skepticism, as the Empiricists utilize, you can examine more of the yourself and your perception of the world, which may lead to confidence of what's true and what's false; thus, not resorting to a form of dogmatism that the extremes of Rationalism is plagued by. However, much like Rationalism, there is a limit to Empiricism, in utilizing doubt, skepticism, and the senses, which lead to subjectivity, which is not bad in itself but with too much of it can skew your thinking. The limits of the senses is that you can only perceive things in the exact present; the senses themselves cannot think, or make a linkage of causalities of each event, which is what the mind actually does. There is always a form of conceptualization that can never be avoided, as we always use in order to describe and make sense of things, so the senses are not the only means of attaining knowledge. Also, too much subjectivity, skepticism, and doubt, lead to a confused mind; you cannot think clearly or sort out was is fact and what is just mere opinion. So, Empiricists, like that of Berkley and Hume (to the most extent), make mistakes in regards to being, existence, and causality. The extremes of Empiricism would be to deny that humans could have a perception, let alone a good one; or that there is no "true being" - there is only nothingness. So though Empiricism can be good in grounding things to physical reality, the extremes of it would all amount to the thinking that 'nothing exists'.

_____________________________
waleeed

Dalek Prime
Posts: 4198
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:48 am

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by Dalek Prime » Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:07 am

I'm afraid to label myself, when I see intersections between even idealism and rationalism. Once labelled, we are assumed to hold certain biases, when we actually do not. I believe the same applies for being labelled anything.

User avatar
The Voice of Time
Posts: 2235
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Trondheim

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by The Voice of Time » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:50 am

WanderingLands wrote:Rationalism is a philosophy that propounds that humans have innate knowledge and concepts that come from the mind...
This is not the rationalism I've learned. Being a rationalist does not mean you have to believe in innate knowledge. The rationalist movement was about the mind eventually being superior to what you merely experience in any moment, and an example of that would be how perceiving an illusion can cause you to believe the illusion is the real thing, whereas your mind may predict that it is going to turn out to be an illusion. Your mind, in other words, can override your experiences through reflection, logic and so forth, which are not some other kind of knowledge, but merely developments from other experiences you've had before. Rationalisms biggest point is however that it required that people put words to things, so being "rational" means not merely to think, but to think in a systematic way where you can study yourself and find errors in your own thoughts. Rationalism forces one to expose thoughts, and opens them up for scrutiny.

If I've misunderstood rationalism, then I care less about what rationalism is, and more about what I should call what I just said above, because when I've been using the words rational and rationalistic and rationalism, this above is what I've meant, and certainly nothing about "innate knowledge".

Systematic
Posts: 179
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 5:29 am

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by Systematic » Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:04 pm

Rationalism and empiricism should be used in tandem for the sake of knowledge. Therefore, comparing them as if you needed one or the other is incorrect. We know that survival of the fittest has had a profound influence on evolution, because we are empiricists. But we know the phrase "every man for himself" doesn't follow from that empirical knowledge, because we are rationalists.

Dalek Prime
Posts: 4198
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:48 am

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by Dalek Prime » Mon Jun 06, 2016 2:32 pm

I dislike the term 'rational'. What is rational may be 'rationalised', and I don't trust rationalisations. Reason, and reasoning; now that I prefer, provided the foundation of the reasoning is solid. Weak premises provide for incorrect conclusions.

yiostheoy
Posts: 419
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2016 5:49 pm
Location: California USSA

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by yiostheoy » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:20 am

I think I lean towards Empiricism the most.

Although I can see that some people are born saints while others are born devils.

But there seems to be a little of both in everybody and therefore it is probably the conditioning that brings out whichever.

wirius
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:33 pm

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by wirius » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:54 pm

Can you have senses without the mind? Science shows us it is our mind that interprets the sensation signals of our body. Therefore everything is within the mind. When we say "mind" what we might mean is the conscious part of ourselves that interprets the sensations which another section of our brain constructs. So argueably, we have sensations, and we interpret sensations. So, you are limited in your interpretations to what you sense, but you are not limited in how you can interpret those sensations.

Impenitent
Posts: 1618
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by Impenitent » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:30 am

dreamer... nothing but a dreamer...

-Imp

Risto
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2015 6:59 am

Re: Rationalism & Empiricism

Post by Risto » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:54 pm

The Voice of Time wrote:
WanderingLands wrote:Rationalism is a philosophy that propounds that humans have innate knowledge and concepts that come from the mind...
This is not the rationalism I've learned. Being a rationalist does not mean you have to believe in innate knowledge. The rationalist movement was about the mind eventually being superior to what you merely experience in any moment, and an example of that would be how perceiving an illusion can cause you to believe the illusion is the real thing, whereas your mind may predict that it is going to turn out to be an illusion. Your mind, in other words, can override your experiences through reflection, logic and so forth, which are not some other kind of knowledge, but merely developments from other experiences you've had before. Rationalisms biggest point is however that it required that people put words to things, so being "rational" means not merely to think, but to think in a systematic way where you can study yourself and find errors in your own thoughts. Rationalism forces one to expose thoughts, and opens them up for scrutiny.

If I've misunderstood rationalism, then I care less about what rationalism is, and more about what I should call what I just said above, because when I've been using the words rational and rationalistic and rationalism, this above is what I've meant, and certainly nothing about "innate knowledge".
Very well put! From what I have read (for example, this summary: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ratio ... mpiricism/) rationalism indeed requires to believe in innate knowledge, at least some type of rationalism. But that kind of rationalism does not compel me either as I'm interested in the kind of rationalism you described.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest