The dispute between rationalism and empiricism concerns the extent to which we are dependent upon sense experience in our effort to gain knowledge. Empiricists share the view that there is no such thing as innate knowledge, and that the only way humans gain knowledge is through experience. John Locke, an Empiricist Philosopher, also believed that we are not born with knowledge about anything. His theory of ‘tabula rasa’, meaning blank slate, refers to the epistemological thesis that humans are born with no built in mental content and that their resource of knowledge is built up gradually from their experiences.
Locke asserts that humans are not born with knowledge about anything, and that the only way humans gain knowledge is through their experiences. His theory of human knowledge and the acquisition of that knowledge doesn’t allow for the probability of an individual who possesses a natural ability towards a particular talent, e. g. an artist. David Hume, another Empiricist philosopher argued that humans gain knowledge from experience and that we should be sceptical of all other knowledge.
He explained that we cannot imagine something that we have never actually seen before, our minds are actually transposing impressions that we have formerly perceived and rearranging them in a new way. Hume believed that ideas are simply weaker versions of sense impressions. For instance the idea of the sun isn’t as vivid as actually looking at it. Furthermore, nothing can exist in the mind without either first being experienced or formed through the combination of other experiences.
The primary distinction that most people highlight between the Rationalists and the Empiricists revolves around the justification or foundation of knowledge. Rationalists assert that knowledge is grounded in reason, and Empiricists contend that knowledge is grounded in experience In all truth, this distinction between rationalism and empiricism is not really as simple as that; both outlooks are vital to our understanding of the world.
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