Empiricism And Rationalism; Stand Alone Theories?
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April 8, 2015
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Empiricism can be principally defined by saying that sensory experience is the origin of all knowledge, only after confirmation by actual experience can beliefs be accepted and acted upon.
To know something exists we must have experienced it; how can we know that something is the colour green if we have never experienced colour before? How do we know what something tastes like if we’ve never tasted it before? Would you know that a banana is yellow, perhaps someone may have told you that a banana is yellow, but until you have seen it for yourself can you really be sure?
John Locke, widely considered as the first British empiricist said this; “Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters without any ideas; how it comes to be furnished? Whence it comes by that vast store, which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from experience...
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This slate, our mind, vacant to all knowledge and ideas is gradually filled through the experiences of life.
An alternative way of understanding is to view our minds as a clean sponge that progressively grows as it absorbs everything it is exposed to. If the sponge is not exposed to anything, it remains void of substance and does not grow, therefore empiricists believe that we must be content with the knowledge that surrounds us as a pose to knowledge that has not yet become visible to us...
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