Reason and Experience - Empiricists

This explains the ideas of the two main empiricists: Locke and Hume.

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  • Reason and Experience
    • John Locke
      • two types of experience, reflection (beliefs, introspection) and sensation (sight, taste)
      • we use them to make simple ideas (colour, size, numerical value) into complex ideas
      • Primary qualities- size, shape, numerical value, part of the object itself.
      • Secondary qualities-colour, smell, taste (not bound to the object)
      • Intuition-Back is not white, i exist-things difficult to doubt due to intuition.most certain
      • Demonstrative-the sun is hot, putting simple ideas together to make complex. it can change.less certain.
    • David Hume
      • Real knowledge is unattainable. The only statements that mankind could make about the world were empirical ones, because those where the closest they could get to the truth.
      • We can also use tautology, but they tell us nothing more than the definition
      • Hume's fork; on one prong were relations of Ideas, things logically necessary. Then there are matters of fact, things contingently true. then nonsense, logical contradictions.
      • Material World: It is un-knowable: sense-data is subject, however sense data is all that exists and the closest we can get.
        • Impressions are the sense data as it happens, like the burn of a hot stove. An idea is the faded recollection.
      • Bundle theory- the self is a compilation of predicates, with no actual thing underneath. you can't imagine anything without its predicates.
      • God does not exist as there is no way to arrive at him empirically.
      • Cause and effect/ The Induction Fallacy: We are habitually conditioned to think that B will always follow A because we have seen it happen so often however there is no empirical evidence, and so to Hume it is not true
    • Criticisms
      • Sense experience is never certain – Leads to scepticism
      • Some knowledge about what exists is known a priori Self/God/EW – Descartes Forms – Plato Causation, self, space - Kant
      • Experience alone is unintelligible
      • Knowledge of relations of ideas is a priori


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