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Kant's Synthesis on Rationalism and Empiricism

Kant's Synthesis on Rationalism and Empiricism

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Published by Glenn Rey Anino

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Published by: Glenn Rey Anino on Oct 13, 2010
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KANT’S SYNTHESIS ON RATIONALISM AND EMPIRICISM ____________________ 
A Term Paper Presented to the Facultyof the Department of PhilosophyCollege of Arts and SciencesUniversity of San CarlosCebu City, Philippines ______________________ In Partial Fulfillmentof the Requirements for the CourseEpistemology _________________  byGLENN REY ANINOOctober 2010
 
Introduction
This paper endeavored to present the three methods in approaching the problems of modern philosophy most especially in the field of epistemology. These methods are rationalism,empiricism, and criticism. First, the researcher tried his best to provide an exposition on thetheories of knowledge in both rationalism and empiricism and also on its valuable points andweak points. Each philosopher who belongs in a particular method has been discussed includingtheir theories and criticisms. Rationalism and empiricism have contributed to the demystificationof knowledge through their insightful philosophies. However, each method has its lacuna towhich each of them is criticizing each other. This dispute leads to the third method. The thirdmethod is called criticism which aims to resolve the conflict between rationalism andempiricism.
 
Method of Rationalism
Rationalism is a philosophical outlook on knowledge that considers the perfectibility of human reason. As a school of thought, rationalism argues that the substantial claims about theworld can be grasped by the capacity of 
a priori
reason without the need or reliance on sense-experience. Reason is the only source of truth on matters of knowing the nature of man and of the reality. A rationalist, a person who adheres the tenets
1
of rationalism, is very optimistic on the power of reason and has a great regard on its fate due to his assumption that what he “thinksclearly and distinctly”
2
in his mind did really exist in the reality outside of his mind. Althoughrationalism appeared in different period, this system has its best representatives in its highestachievement during the 17
th
to 18
th
century. In this way, the epistemological standpoint of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Christian Wolff must be elucidated in this paper.
1
Tenets are the doctrines being embraced, followed, and held to be true. In Harper Collins Dictionary of Philosophy, it provides ten tenets or principles hold by the school of rationalism as follows: (
1
) by the process of abstraction and reasoning we can arrive at fundamental undeniable truths, (
2
) reality is knowable independently of observation, (
3
) the mind is capable of knowing some truths about reality that are prior to any experience but are notanalytic truths, (
4
) reason is the principal origin of knowledge, (
5
) truth is not tested by sense- verification procedures, (
6
) there is a rational (deductive, logicomathematical, inferential) method that can be applied to anysubject matter whatsoever and can provide us with adequate explanations, (
7
) absolute certainty about things is theideal of knowledge and is attainable to some extent by finite minds, (
8
) only those necessary and self- evident truthsderived from reason alone can be known as true, real, and certain; all else are subject to falsification, illusion andcertainty, (
9
) the universe ( reality) follows the laws and rationality of logic, and lastly (
10
) once this logic ismastered, all things in the universe can be seen to be deducible from its principles or laws. [Angeles, Peter.
The Harper Collins Dictionary of Philosophy.
Edited by Eugene Ehrlich. (New York: HarperCollins Publisher, 1992),252- 253.]
2
So precise and different from all other objects that it contains within itself nothing but what is clear. Thecomplete text is found in First Part, Principle 43 & 45 of Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy. [Descartes, Rene.
 Key Philosophical Writings.
(Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Edition Limited, 1997), 292-293.]

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