What Is It?
- Empiricist Argue:
- Epistemology is an area of philosophy that deals with the study of knowledge and different methods of acquiring it.
- It comes from the Greek words episteme (knowledge) and logos (theory).
- Focuses on answering questions such as, "how do we know?", "what is knowledge?" and "how much can we possibly know?" etc.
- It encompasses the nature of concepts, the constructing of concepts, the validity of the senses, logical reasoning, as well as thoughts, ideas, memories, emotions, and all things relating to the mind.
- It is also concerned with how our minds are related to reality, and whether these relationships are valid or invalid.
- Since epistemology tries to explain how the average human mind thinks, it is required in order to be able to determine true from false, by determining a proper method of evaluation.
- It is needed in order to use and obtain knowledge of the world around us.
- Without epistemology, there would be no reason to believe in thinking as productive or correct
- Rationalism: View of many different philosophers such as Descartes, Aquinas and Plato. Things of the world are known through reason and intuition, independent from experience. Rationalists do not deny that the senses are important as well, however they deny that observation and experiment can lead to unreliable knowledge or truth.
- Empiricism: Views of philosophers such as Locke, Hume and Aristotle. It is the belief that knowledge is derived from experience, either by direct observation (sight, hearing, touch, etc) or by experimentation (analyzation). Empiricists generally do not deny that reason exists and does have some importance in reference to the mind. They merely reject the notion that knowledge can be attained only by use of reason.
- Empiricist Argue:
- Rationalism has one more entity that exists: Innate knowledge (mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a 'blank slate' at birth). According to the Empiricist, the innate knowledge is unobservable that is, it does not do anything. Example: How would you know what the color blue looks like if you were born blind? The only way is to experience it with your senses.
- Rationalists claim that innate knowledge provides fundamental truths about reality, but even among rationalists (e.g. Plato, who believes in reincarnation and Forms and Descartes, who does not believe in either but does believe in a soul), there is disagreement about the nature of reality, the self, etc.
- Mathematical and logical truths are true not because of the five senses, but because of reason’s ability to connect ideas.
- Sense of right and wrong are determined through reasoning.
- A three year old may use language in ways that are not explicitly taught. For example, they form original sentences from words that they haven’t heard put together in precisely the same way before. Also, they start to understand grammatical rules before they even know what a noun or a verb is.