Rationalism Vs Empiricism

Essay by recklessraveUniversity, Bachelor's October 2004

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In this paper I will discuss the similarities and differences between Rene Descartes and John Locke, David Hume and Plato. They believe in rationalism or empiricism respectively. Rationalist believed that an important group of fundamental concepts are known intuitively through reason, opposite to experience. For rationalist, the knowledge is innate and that it can¡¯t come from sources such as the senses. They are well known as Descartes, Plato. Empiricist argued that all ideas tracer ultimately back to experiences, such as sense perceptions and emotion. ¡°No ideas or concepts without impression or sense.¡± (Hume¡¯s dictum) And our minds begin as blank. For empiricists, knowledge can only process the ideas experience gives us. Knowledge is also founded on contingent truths (those that can be false and true); necessary truths are only good for organizing our ideas, as in mathematics, but that is all. There are no innate ideas in empiricism; all of our ideas are built up from our experience.

They are well known as Hume, Lock and Berkeley. All of them try to find answers to the same metaphysical and epistemological questions. Some of these questions are ¡°What is knowledge?¡± ¡°Is there certainty knowledge?¡± and ¡°Does God exist?¡±

As a rationalist, Descartes believes that reason forms the basis of our knowledge and an important group of fundamental concepts. Descartes says these concepts are innate ideas, the most important of theses including the ideas of oneself, infinite perfection, and causality. In the ¡°Discourse on Method and the Meditations¡±, Descartes says ¡°I must rid my self of all the opinions I had adopted up to then, and begin afresh from the foundation, if I wished to establish something firm and constant in the sciences¡± (Descartes 95). Descartes through a series of doubts to supposes that there is some kind...