Abstract

Theories of knowledge, certainty, and skepticism in philosophy are of particular importance to learning, as these theories quite literally explain how we are able to perceive the world around us. Two specific theories have been identified as strong arguments in philosophy, the first is termed “Empiricism” and the second “Rationalism”. Using both materials provided in this course, as well as some external arguments that have been considered by Max Hocutt, Tom Stoneham, John Turri and Wesley Buckwalter, the arguments of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume in regard to anti-skepticism, and Descartes’ skeptical, rationalist argument will be compared and contrasted. In this paper, I will consider the three empiricist conceptions on knowledge posed in Locke’s “Representational Theory of Perception”, Berkeley’s “Idealist Theory of Knowledge”, and Hume’s “Problem of Induction”, and how these perspectives relate and differ to one another, then I will consider Descartes’ rationalist approach illustrated in his Meditations. In addition, I will conclude by stating my opinion of these different theories and whether I believe Rationalism or Empiricism to be better, as well as why I consider one theory to be stronger than the others.

Department

Philosophy

Faculty Advisor

Jenna Woodrow

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Empiricism Versus Rationalism: Understanding the Acquisition of Knowledge

Theories of knowledge, certainty, and skepticism in philosophy are of particular importance to learning, as these theories quite literally explain how we are able to perceive the world around us. Two specific theories have been identified as strong arguments in philosophy, the first is termed “Empiricism” and the second “Rationalism”. Using both materials provided in this course, as well as some external arguments that have been considered by Max Hocutt, Tom Stoneham, John Turri and Wesley Buckwalter, the arguments of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume in regard to anti-skepticism, and Descartes’ skeptical, rationalist argument will be compared and contrasted. In this paper, I will consider the three empiricist conceptions on knowledge posed in Locke’s “Representational Theory of Perception”, Berkeley’s “Idealist Theory of Knowledge”, and Hume’s “Problem of Induction”, and how these perspectives relate and differ to one another, then I will consider Descartes’ rationalist approach illustrated in his Meditations. In addition, I will conclude by stating my opinion of these different theories and whether I believe Rationalism or Empiricism to be better, as well as why I consider one theory to be stronger than the others.

 

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