Reason & Experience



  • Created by: Becky
  • Created on: 02-05-10 13:07

Reason & Experienc


Belief that most knowledge comes from reason

A priori - knowledge without/before experience

Continental rationalist tradition

Most rationalists agree that most propositions are analytic 'All bachelors are unmarried men'

Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Plato, Permenides, Pythagorus

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Belief that most knowledge comes from experience

A posteriori - knowledge with/after experience

British empricist tradition

Most empricists agree that most propositions are synthetic 'Fish in the sea can swim well'

Locke, Hume, Berkeley

Theory of 'Tabula Rasa' - mind like a blank slate

John Locke said we are not born with a priori knowledge - all knowledge comes from experience

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Innate Ideas

Many rationalist philosophers believe we have innate ideas - means we are born with knowledge

Undoubtedly born with certain instincts, e.g. crying when hungry, however does this count as knowledge?

Some philosophers argue that we are born with innate knowledge which goes beyond instinct e.g. mathematics

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Plato's Arguement for Innate Ideas

Argues in his dialogue, Meno, that we are born with knowledge

Through a process of philosophical contemplation we can recollect this knowledge, which is hidden

The main character in this dialogue, Socrates, shows this by asking an uneducated slave boy questions about a geometric puzzle. The boy eventually gets the right idea, This proves that the boy had the knowledge already

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