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Empiricism And Rationalism

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

Written by Ezgi Cakirgoz


Empiricism is the view suggesting that knowledge can be gained through sensations and experience. According to the empiricist view, there is no innate knowledge in the human mind and, thus, the human mind is like a blank slate. This view is known as a tabula rasa and was put forward by the empiricist philosopher John Locke who is known as one of the front-runner representatives of empiricism in the 17th and 18th centuries along with philosophers such as Huma, Hobbes, Berkeley, and more. Furthermore, Democritus and Epicurus also represented empiricism in the Ancient Age.


Another view on philosophy is rationalism which is the theory of believing that the accuracy of knowledge relies on thought and mind, not on sensation and experience. According to this view, certain and universal knowledge can only be reached through the mind. Mathematical knowledge is the best example of this view. The father of rationalism is the philosopher René Descartes, who wrote the famous philosophical saying “I Think Therefore I Am.” Some of the other representatives of this view are Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Farabi, and Hegel.


To clarify, rationalism argues that real knowledge can only be found via the mind. Therefore, rationalism is the opposite of empiricism, which states that knowledge can be gained through experience. Empiricism is the negation of rationalism. These terms have always been used in defiance of each other. There is essentially a distinct difference between rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism believes in intuition while empiricism does not. Rationalism, as abovementioned, is based on facts and knowledge rather than religious belief or even an emotional response, in contrast to empiricism which emphasizes what you have seen or experienced before. Rationalists believe that logic will explain the reality of the world. While empiricists believe that experience and memory develop the person and his morals, rationalists believe that human beings are independent of sensory experience. Empiricists also believe that evidence found by an experiment can reveal the reality of the world rather than a rationale and logic.


References:

1. “Rationalism” From Wikipedia (2022), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalism

2. “Empiricism” From Wikipedia (2022), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism

3. “Rationalism vs. Empiricism” From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2021), https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/

4. “Difference Between Rationalism and Empiricism” From Pediaa (2016), https://pediaa.com/difference-between-rationalism-and-empiricism/

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