Sunday, March 27, 2011

Empiricism & Rationalism

In order to understand Kant, we have to know the philosophers before him. Therefore please do research on these two terms: "Empiricism" and "Rationalism".
Key question: their different accounts of knowledge, regarding the relationship between thinking beings (subjects) and existing things (objects). Do you agree with their explanation of knowledge?
Major philosophers: Hume for Empiricism and Leibniz for Rationalism
Methodology: Research on internet or in library


  1. As I found in the Internet Encyclopedya od Philosphy, Empiricists, such as Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, argued that human knowledge originates in our sensations. Hume maintains that we cannot provide a priori or a posteriori justifications for a number of our beliefs like, “Objects and subjects persist identically over time,” or “Every event must have a cause.” In Hume’s hands, it becomes clear that empiricism cannot give us an epistemological justification for the claims about objects, subjects, and causes that we took to be most obvious and certain about the world.
    On the other hand the Rationalists, principally Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, approached the problems of human knowledge from another angle. They hoped to escape the epistemological confines of the mind by constructing knowledge of the external world, the self, the soul, God, ethics, and science out of the simplest, indubitable ideas possessed innately by the mind. Leibniz in particular, thought that the world was knowable a priori, through an analysis of ideas and derivations done through logic.

  2. After completing this assignment and putting together all the notes for this entry, I must say that after “digesting” Kant’s Critique of Reason, I am glad we had to do research on Hume and Leibniz. Hume was not only more interesting but more agreeable. Once again, perhaps this is an example of time eras and our thoughts and views based on the current events and times that we are living in.
    Maybe because he was a sentimentalist, Hume concluded in his works that desire rather than reason govern human behavior as well as the fact that ethics are based on our feelings rather than abstract moral principles. He was also credited as developing the idea that custom has a part in formulating and controlling our mental behavior.
    One the other hand, Leibniz and his rationalized sense of a “natural order to the universe”. Leibniz felt that the human mind can understand this order of the universe. He even came up with the idea of monads and that apparently they are the only genuine soul-like substances that exist in the universe. To be honest, this seemed really abstract to me. After looking up this word in the dictionary, I assumed that this was Leibniz’ idea of an atom. In terms of specifics, he even thought that the mind was the only part of a human body that is an actual substance because it cannot be divided. All in all, Leibniz had a dreary way of concluding that there is harmony amongst substances and this natural order of the worlds.
    Out of all the philosophers we have studying, I will undoubtedly remember Hume because all of this makes so much sense and is written with clarity – perhaps this is why he was noted as pioneering what we know as an essay. While there is room for debate, I would have to say that I am in-line with Hume’s reasoning’s.