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Philosophy- Rationalism and Empiricism Essay

Immanuel Kant found the way to put subjective and objective perspectives together as part of the human transcendental structure. The idea of subjective truth comes from Rene Descartes and his vision on rationalism based on innate ideas that allow people to appreciate what they see in order to reach a conclusion. Secondly, we have John Locke’s idea of objective truth based on a blank state of mind and a phenomenon that allows people to appreciate their reality by relying on experiences with any object, human, place or something else.

Descartes and Locke rejected the possibility of bringing these two elements together for a better understanding. Since both focused on what people see through their eyes and their mind process, without considering the importance of the physical nature, Kant argued that they both should work together in order to understand the physical nature of different things. Kant focused on the conscious mental state which explains the importance of both of these elements together.

Thomas Nagel highlighted Kant’s perspective and argued that subjective phenomenon’s are linked to single points of view that the objective theory will never be able to abandon. If a person separates them from each other there will be no idea of how something could be true. Since we live in a society with different perspectives, truth is what everyone looks for in order to draw their own conclusions. Nagel argued that having personal experience is enough to have the necessary material for imagination.

For example, Nagel offered a metaphor about a bat, in which he suggest the use of imagination to ask ourselves what would be like for us to behave as the bat behaves. It’s clear that Nagel relies on Aristotle’s vision of reality because his realism on subjectivity creates a belief in the existence of facts over the concepts that we create as humans. Although there are facts that people will never comprehend, there is a possibility that through a combination of both people can find the truth of things that they can’t understand.

According to Nagel, there is no difference between mental and physical events because there are experiences in which people process things to reach a conclusion. People have the ability to perceive and behave and they both come along together. On the other side, Donald Davidson argued that mental events have physical causes and that we have reason to believe this even though people don’t know if there is a general psychophysical theory. But, what about non-intentional events?

Nagel argued that his argument only applies to intentional mental events without considering that as humans have reasons to believe that sensations are physical processes as well. Physical processes don’t have the necessity to look for answers of how something happened. Finally, Kant’s theory argues that our experiences are significant since they can’t be the same because people’s different states of mind, but as human beings it’s important to be subjective to appreciate different phenomenon’s around them. Kant’s made these two perspectives dependent from each other, without leaving any gap in which they both could separate by any chance.


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