Assess the view that the knowledge must have its origin outside of sense experience.


In epistemology, Rationalism holds the claim that the criterion of the truth is not sensory but both intellectual and deductive. In other words, Rationalists such as Descartes argue that experience alone is an unreliable source of knowledge and we should base our ideas on 'a priori' concepts. For Descartes these can either be innate or 'necessary truths'. An example of what Descartes calls an innate concept is our idea of God; as finite beings we could not come up with the concept of an infinite being. He then argues further with an ontological argument that it becomes a 'necessary truth' because God's perfection implied his existence.

Descartes has several reasons to mistrust our senses. He argues that the only way one can truly understand the true nature of a piece of beeswax is by pure reason. He comes to the conclusion that our senses alone would lead us to believe this wax has a set sent, shape and colour when in actual fact this is only temporary and not really what this particular object is like. In fact, very few beliefs can fully be justified by experience alone. Empiricism itself could lead us to a position where we know nothing at all. Rationalists argue this by stating that…


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