The Relationship between Reason and Experience Essay
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The various man-made creations, the formation of different school of thoughts and literature that reflects the varieties of human experiences and the different ideas that govern man’s way of living attest man’s love of wisdom. Man as the highest form of animal is an authentic specie that never stops learning, innovating, creating, and seeking ways to gain more choices in giving his life more meaning. As he continually desire to seek answers in his questions towards his existence, there is a continuous enhancement of man’s intellect.
Reviewing the history and looking around the contemporary world itself will ascertain man’s development towards intellect. But how do knowledge and rationality develop that resulted to man’s creation of many things? People establish knowledge and rationality in different ways. Human beings basically hate uncertainty or skepticism. But skepticism as it resulted to ambiguity and doubt motivates man to seek for answers in fulfilling his wonder. The use of observation from experiences or senses is one of the most important resources in acquiring knowledge.
People can easily believe the idea that mind apprehends truths through the medium of the senses for the reason that people really learned from experience. However, is there something as absolute knowledge by which human beings accumulate truths without having to experience it? This paper will attest that human beings’ innate reasoning and experience are inextricably linked in the acquisition and manipulation of knowledge. Experience that is associated with empiricism and innate reasoning associated with rationalism are interrelated. Over the years, the source and extent of knowledge has been strongly debated in the world of philosophy.
Rationalism and empiricism are the two rival schools of thoughts that gave accounts on the theories of knowledge. Basically the debate between empiricists and rationalists was whether or not knowledge is acquired from the senses or experiences. Empiricism holds the “attitude that beliefs are to be accepted and acted upon only if they first have been confirmed by actual experience” (“Empiricism”). Empiricism emphasizes the role of experience as it gives evidences in the formation of ideas. Just like in science, hypothesis and theories must be tested through observation and experiments to be sure of its factuality.
However some reality or knowledge on empiricism in the context of experimental reasoning is not always credible. All can be subject to revision. “As far as possible, empiricism also try to avoid any reference to abstract entities and to restrict themselves to what is sometimes called a nominalistic language, i. e. , one not containing such references” (Carnap 1997). Empiricism apparently believes that “innate knowledge is unobservable and inefficacious; that is, it does not do anything”. A particular knowledge only works and becomes more meaningful if one experiences it.
For example, how would you know or imagine the richness of color present in a rainbow if you were born blind? Or how can we possibly get the idea of a perfect circle and a perfect square without seeing it? We can possibly describe it in words and description but its full meaning will never be realized without experience. The only way to have a complete idea of a rainbow or on any object is to experience it with the use of senses. “Aristotle was one of the scientists who believe in the concept of empiricism; he felt that it is imperative that we trust our senses, for what else have we to trust? ” (Purvis)
Rationalism on the other hand holds the idea that “reason is the chief source and test of knowledge and that reality itself has an inherently logical structure” (“Rationalism”). Moreover, rationalists believe that there are truths in this world that are beyond the reach of sense perception that can only be explained by reason and logic. Mathematical truths for example (e. g. 0+1=1) are said to be absolutely true or a statement “A nun is a female” or “A priest is a male”. These truths according to rationalists were acquired prior to experience. They will remain true whether an individual experience it or not.
But in creating these mathematical truths are they not already acquired through experience? In favor of empiricism, “mathematics is a good way of showing how both rationalism and empiricism are both important components of knowledge” (Purvis 2008). The creation of numbers is not innate or they are not things on themselves. They are manmade creations that we use “to more conveniently operate and organize our empirical perceptions” (Purvis 2008) Rationalists also hold the concept that humans’ sense of morality with the presence of conscience and guilt and man’s logic are innate.
But we can not rationally prove the rightness and wrongness of morality or logic without empirical evidence. The idea that there is indeed a morality will never be realized without understanding its consequences from experiences. Man was encouraged to create morality for the purpose of making his existence more meaningful. With no raw data from experience then there should be no participation in full metaphysics. Given that there is an innate sense of reasoning, but that will only be fully revealed and realized through experience. Reason and experience for me, are both reliable source of knowledge.
The senses and the mind are both necessary in acquiring knowledge and truth. So the argument should arise in proving the relationship of reason and experience. Experience can sometimes be a less reliable source of knowledge or reality since at any moment new experience may disapprove the old. However we can not be completely dependent upon reasoning to gain knowledge since people naturally need experience to test the truths of logical arguments. We can not imagine a life without experience. The fact the people react or reason means people respond in their environment and their present experience or situation.
Our ability to perceive is an experience in itself. The innate existence of logic and rationality I believed will come into a complete understanding and will transform into life with the use of experience. However there are also things that can never be understood or considered an absolute truth without experiencing it. Some people in order to accept truth backed up it with concrete proofs from past or future experience. Work Cited Page: “Empiricism. ” Encyclop? dia Britannica. 2009. Encyclop? dia Britannica Online. 15 Feb. 2009 <http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/186146/Empiricism>. “Rationalism. ” Encyclop?
dia Britannica. 2009. Encyclop? dia Britannica Online. 15 Feb. 2009 <http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/492034/rationalism>. Carnap, Rudolf. “Empiricism, Semantics and Onthology”. Revue Internationale de Philosophie. Retrived 15 February, 2009. from http://www. ditext. com/carnap/carnap. html Yount, David J. Empiricism V. Rationalism online. Retrieved 15 February 2009 from http://www. mc. maricopa. edu/~yount/text/empm-v-ratm. html Purvis, Dustin. Rationalism Vs. Empiricism. SocyBerty online. 2008, April 17. Retrieved 15 February, 2009 From http://www. socyberty. com/Philosophy/Rationalism-Vs-Empiricism. 110492/1