StudentShare solutions
Triangle menu

Rationalism and Empiricism - Essay Example

Extract of sample
Rationalism and Empiricism

It is about the psychological side that Pinker claims, "The past tense is the only case I know in which two great systems of Western thought (rationalism and empiricism) may be tested and compared on a single rich set of data, just like ordinary scientific hypotheses." But Searle argues among other things that the debate about the past tense is not a case in which "two great systems of Western thought (rationalism and empiricism) may be tested and compared on a single rich set of data." Searle argued that the features that make them "great systems of Western thought" are left unaffected by the discussion of the past tense. Their debate also included history, computation and information processing in relation to rationalism and empiricism where both thoughts oppose each other.
The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy which Searle (in Pinker & Searle, 2002) thinks is standard, defines rationalism as the position that reason presides over other ways of acquiring knowledge, or that it is the unique path to knowledge. It is most often encountered as a view in epistemology, where it is traditionally contrasted with empiricism, the view that the senses are primary with respect to knowledge (Audi, 1999). Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that asks the question "How do we know what we know" (Epistemology n.d.). This is a nature/nurture debate then, with Rationalists going for nature and Empiricists going for nurture.
Some scientists think that people behave as they do according to genetic predispositions or even "animal instincts." This is known as the "nature" theory of human behavior. Other scientists believe that people think and behave in certain ways because they are taught to do so. This is known as the "nurture" theory of human behavior (Powell, 2006). Plato and Descartes were famous Rationalists, John Stuart Mill and David Hume were famous Empiricists.
The following can be said to be the levels by which rationalism and empiricism may be differentiated.
Etymology and emphasis. According to Carlo Sini (2004), the name Rationalism obviously derives from the word 'rational' which goes back to the Latin, 'ratio' meaning 'calculation'. This in turn goes back to another Latin word, 'ratus', which is the past participle of 'reor', meaning "think', 'deem', 'judge'. What runs through all of these is the emphasis on mind, an emphasis connected with the word 'rational' as well: rationalise, rationality, and similar terms.
'Empiricism' derives from another English word, 'empiric', meaning, 'derived from experience.' The term "empirical" was originally used to refer to certain ancient Greek practitioners of medicine who rejected adherence to the dogmatic doctrines of the day, preferring instead to rely on the observation of phenomena as perceived in experience (Sini, 2004).
The doctrine of empiricism was first made by John Locke in the 17th century. Locke argued that the mind is a tabula rasa ("clean slate" or "blank tablet"or" white paper") on which experiences leave their marks. To Locke, the mind is like ...Show more


The debate between rationalism and empiricism is still raging and has not ended. Spanning many centuries, the debate can be found almost everywhere from words and meanings, to history, to computation and information processing (Pinker & Searle, 2002), to the cognitive revolution, to the color story, to art, to artificial intelligence and logic, to Linguistics, and to Psychology (Narayan, 2005).
Author : tcrooks
Rationalism and Empiricism essay example
Read Text Preview
Save Your Time for More Important Things
Let us write or edit the essay on your topic
"Rationalism and Empiricism"
with a personal 20% discount.
Grab the best paper

Related Essays

Does Kant Adequatly Address the Problems Evident in the Controversy between Empiricism and Rationalism
According to Ann (1970), conventionally there are two types of Epistemology: rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism on one hand explains that we gain knowledge through reasoning, while on the other hand, empiricism explains that we gain knowledge through sensory experience.
4 pages (1000 words) Essay
Rationalism (Rene Descartes) and Empiricism (David Hume)
The study tells that examining the subject matter that has to do with the existence of God, rationalists and empiricists usuallystand on different sides of the fence. Rationalists claim that God exists and that God created the earth. The empiricist would wonder the reasons that rationalists would hold on to what they cannot feel with their senses as true, and dispute what they can sense.
7 pages (1750 words) Essay
Rationalism and Empiricism
Since an a priori knowledge is essential to rationalists, conceptions of philosophy ought to be formulated in the context of logical rationalization or one that is carried out via deductive cognition. Descartes, hence, substantiates his perspective of rationalism with a series of cognitive exercises as indicated by his program on ‘Meditations’ whereby a rational meditator is claimed to seek truths by intellect in full measure beyond any regard to senses [1].
3 pages (750 words) Essay
Difference between rationalism and empiricism
 Rationalism differentiates between an empirical knowledge and prior knowledge. Empirical knowledge is something which formulates through experience and the priori knowledge is which that exists prior with the help of reasoning. Rationalism is a philosophy which concentrates only on logic and empirical observations. 
3 pages (750 words) Essay
Rationalism (Rene Descartes) and Empiricism (David Hume)
For example, in philosophy, there are two contrastive schools of thought; while one gives premium to reason, the other gives premium to experience. The first school of thought that gives premium to reason is the rationalist school of thought. The
6 pages (1500 words) Essay
Rationalism and Empiricism and Kants assessment of the problem of knowledge
looking into the perception of philosophies on which Kant based his arguments regarding analytic and synthetic nature of causes, it becomes apparent that the tenets presented by the philosopher are the same and champion one cause. Kant explains the principle of conceptual
2 pages (500 words) Essay
Compare and contrast rationalism and empiricism
According to Locke, quality is something in an object that has the power, ability and capacity to create an idea in someone’s mind. An idea, according to him, is something that people perceive in their minds. Locke used the example of a
3 pages (750 words) Essay
In two paragraphs, compare and contrast rationalism and empiricism
The rationalist’s method is the appeal to reason (Maritain 14). This means that the mind could rely on deductive reason in the process of generating knowledge. The belief is that it is possible to access the inner recesses of knowledge only if the
1 pages (250 words) Essay
Rationalism vs. Empiricism
The difference between rationalism and empiricism emanate from the fact that, rationalism embrace a belief in innate concepts. For example, through the theory of forms as explained by Plato, innate ideas explains why some people are considered better in what they do compared to others. In addition, a belief in reason also separates rationalism from empiricism. Rationalists are convinced the five senses only serve the purpose of giving people opinions, but not reason. In relating this to Descartes “wax argument”, the five senses that people rely on can be deceiving.
3 pages (750 words) Essay
Rationalism and empiricism
Commonly, epistemology is referred to as the theory of knowledge. Epistemology focuses on establishing the connection between knowledge and related notions like justification and belief systems. In this case, belief systems involve
3 pages (750 words) Essay
Get a custom paper written
by a pro under your requirements!
Win a special DISCOUNT!
Put in your e-mail and click the button with your lucky finger
Your email
Comments (0)
Rate this paper:
Thank you! Your comment has been sent and will be posted after moderation