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Strengths of Empiricism Essay

Empiricism is the claim that sense experience is the sole source of our knowledge about the world. (Lawhead, 55) According to Empiricists, such as John Locke, all knowledge comes from direct sense experience. Locke’s concept of knowledge comes from his belief that the mind is a “blank slate or tabula rosa” at birth, and our experiences are written upon the slate. Therefore, there are no innate experiences. The three strengths of empiricism that will be explained in this paper are: it proves a theory, gives reasoning, and inspires others to explore probabilities in science as an example.

The first strength of empiricism is it proves a theory. Empiricists believe that only real knowledge is empirical. We learn from experiment and observation, and the direct knowledge we gain from them is empirical. The best way to know something is to have seen it with our own eyes and to be able to prove it with repeatable observations or experiments. In fact a real scientist, or someone interested in gathering knowledge in a scientific mode of thought, will come up with ideas for observations and experiments to prove his hypotheses or to answer his questions.

He will always seek empirical evidence first, and trust in it most. An example of this is if a scientist said the earth is round, we could go up in space and look at the earth, take pictures and come back to a conclusion that proves the earth is round. They could even go to the extent and measure the earth mathematically. But in the end, the conclusion would still be that the earth is round. The second strength of empiricism is it gives experimental reasoning. Experimental reasoning as well as past experiences and observations are the sources of knowledge for empiricism.

However, the experimental reasoning, which is based upon cause and effect reasoning, is not absolutely and concretely true. All can be subject to revision, just as all is subject to some doubt when predicting what would happen in an experiment. Hume states “That the sun will not rise tomorrow is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction, than the affirmation that it will rise tomorrow” (Aune 43) for the past is not necessarily a direct causation of a future event.

Because of this, science, an empirical tool used by mankind to explore the world around him and to learn more about himself, is only work in probability. It is safe, based upon a posteriori knowledge, that the sun will rise tomorrow, for it has for millennia upon millennia, and there has been no event to show that it might not rise tomorrow. Without this experimental reasoning however, Empiricism is reduced to past experiences, and yet with it, one is able to make statements such as “The sun will rise tomorrow” with a great degree of certainty. The third strength of empiricism is it inspires others to explore probabilities in science as an example.

The exploration of the unknown has always lured the curious. Exploring ways to improve our way of living has been a passion of the modern world. So knowing that we could learn a trait that could be used to uncover the unknown is a curiosity that is hard to resist. Empiricism gave the world a direction towards understanding everything around us… it even gave us the curiosity to the unknown and expanded our views, even when it seemed improbable. In our modern views, we have used rational thinking and theoretical ideas to ignite empiricist methods to direct us to solutions, like in the television show Star Trek.

Scientists and inventors watched this popular television shows and after seeing various technologies they went and attempted and succeeded in creating technologies which we take for advantage today. Works Cited Lawhead, William F. The Philosophical Journey: an Interactive Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print. Aune, Bruce. Rationalism, Empiricism, and Pragmatism: an Introduction. Random House, 1970. Print. Markie, Peter, “Rationalism vs. Empiricism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed. ), URL = .


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