Rationalism, Empiricism, Dialectic materialism

Essay by missvanessa December 2003

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Empiricism's definition is knowledge and truth are products of sensory experiences and not of purely mental operations. This word is derived from the Greek word empeiria, meaning "experience. With this definition we can conclude and knowledge of empiricism, we can conclude that empiricism consists of two statements: analytic statements and synthetic statements. Analytic statements are statements that attribute a property to something, and with that, the property is already implicit in the definition of that object or concept. An example of an analytic statement would be if the statement "Smith is a bachelor" was given to you. The sentence "Smith is a bachelor" means that Smith is unmarried. So if anyone were to ask you, what is a bachelor, with that sentence, you would know that it would mean that a bachelor is an unmarried man. Looking at this concept would be considered to not moving "outside" of the box.

But on the other hand, synthetic statements are the exact opposite of analytic statements. They attribute a property to something and that property goes beyond what is contained within the definition of the object of concept involved. A simpler version of this definition would be that synthetic statements add something to the concept at issue. Basically, they move "outside" the box. For example, saying that a page is white, it would be synthetic because if you were to examine a definition of the concept "page," you would not find the idea "white". "Page" suggests "material which can take writing," "flat surface," "part of a book or let," and so on. All these conclusions are what make a statement synthetic.

An empiricist philosopher that would be against rationalism would be John Locke. He is a British Empiricist who rejects the notions that the mind can encounter nonsubstantial, universal essences...