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Philoshopy - Essay Example

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Rationalism is a "philosophic doctrine that reason alone is a source of knowledge and is independent of experience" (Webster's New World Dictionary). Empiricism is a "philosophic doctrine that all knowledge is derived from sense experience" (Webster's New World Dictionary)…
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Download file to see previous pages Empiricists say that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge.
Rationalists have developed their view in two ways. The first one is that "they argue that there are cases where the content of our concepts or knowledge outstrips the information that sense experience can provide. Second, they constuct accounts of how reason in some form or other provides that additional information about the world" (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/). Empiricists form lines of thought. "First, they develop accounts of how experience provides the information that rationalists cite, insofar as we have it in the first place. (Empiricists will at times opt for skepticism as an alternative to rationalism: if experience cannot provide the concepts or knowledge the rationalists cite, then we don't have them.) Second, empiricists attack the rationalists' accounts of how reason is a source of concepts or knowledge" (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/).
In order to be a rationalist you need to adopt one of three claims. The first one is"The Intuition/Deduction Thesis:" Some propositions in a particular subject area, S, are knowable by us by intuition alone; still others are knowable by being deduced from intuited propositions" The second thesis associated with rationalism is the Innate Knowledge thesis. "The Innate Knowledge Thesis:" We have knowledge of some truths in a particular subject area, S, as part of our rational nature. The third important thesis of rationalism is the Innate Concept thesis. "The Innate Concept Thesis:" We have some of the concepts we employ in a particular subject area, S, as part of our rational nature" (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/ )

In this same context, Descartes would have offered a brief description of his own experience with the proper approach to knowledge. Begin by renouncing any belief that can be doubted, including especially the testimony of the senses; then use the perfect certainty of one's own existence, which survives this doubt, as the foundation for a demonstration of the providential reliability of one's faculties generally. Significant knowledge of the world, Descartes supposed, can be achieved only by following this epistemological method, the rationalism involved in relying on a mathematical model and eliminating the distraction of sensory information in order to pursue the demonstrations of pure reason.

Later sections of the Discourse (along with the supplementary scientific essays with which it was published) trace some of the more significant consequences of following the Cartesian method in philosophy. His entirely mechanistic inclinations would consistently emerge clearly in these sections, with frequent reminders of the success of physical explanations of complex phenomena. Non-human animals, within Descartes's view, are complex organic machines, all of whose actions can be fully explained without any reference to the operation of mind in thinking.

In fact, Descartes declared, most of human behavior, like that of animals, is susceptible to simple mechanistic explanation. Cleverly designed automata could successfully mimic nearly all of what we do. Thus, Descartes argued, it is only the general ability to adapt to widely varying circumstances-and, in particular, the capacity to respond creatively in the use of language-that provides a sure test for the presence of an immaterial ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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