This course has brought to the light various aspects of life especially those that are related to knowledge. It has been highlighted that the knowledge is the kind of knowledge which gives unity and system to the body of the sciences, and the kind which results from a critical examination of the grounds of our convictions, prejudices and beliefs. In other words, philosophy brings in rich experiences to an individual and reveals many aspects of life. Epistemology is a part of philosophy and refers to the process of investigation into the nature as well as the basis of that knowledge. Studying epistemology has increased the focus on ways of acquiring knowledge along with the way people can distinguish the truth and false. It has also become evident that there is a clear distinction between rationalism and empiricism. That is to examine if knowledge can be learned as priori or posteriori. This paper will provide a clear discussion of what has been learned throughout the course by examining what epistemology is, distinguishing rationalist and empiricist approaches, providing problems in both approaches, the way different scholars can respond and the reasons for such questions in peoples minds.
Generally, empiricism can be defined as acquiring knowledge through ones experience while rationalism is gaining knowledge by application of reason. Looking at empiricism, people can only have the knowledge of things after they have experienced certain events. On the other hand, rationalism approach indicates that there is the possibility to acquire knowledge about things before gaining experience. In other words, the two approaches tend to exhaust major possibilities, hence proving that all people fall in either rationalism or empiricism way of knowledge. Therefore, it is vital to look deep into epistemology by considering the two schools of thought. According to words of philosophy, philosophical examination is vital in any concepts of knowledge. It has been stated that any thinking that concerns the truth of a philosophical belief is philosophical thinking. It may take the form of accepting a belief as a truth and investigating its logical connections with other beliefs… A good illustration is in the real world of both atheists and theists. In that case, atheists are either exclusive or primary empiricists since they concentrate on truth that is supported by evidence that can be examined and studied. On the other hand, theists rely on rationalism and assume that the truth can be achieved by revelations, faith and other forms of beliefs. That can be described as the reason for consistency of atheists by placing primacy on the matter and claim materialism of the universe whilst the theists concentrate on mind existence. Theists argue that the mind of God is spiritual as well as supernatural. In other words, epistemology assists in understanding diverse approaches to knowledge such as rationalism and empiricism.
From the course, it has become clear that rationalism has drawback of uniformity. In other words, some rationalists can argue that certain facts on reality can be determined by pure reasoning and thoughts. A good example provided by category of rationalist is acquiring knowledge in such fields as mathematics, morality or geometry. On another note, they may argue that other truths need experience. Nevertheless, other rationalists go ahead to state that all truths on realities should be determined by reason due to sensory organs that are incapacitated to experience external reality. Empiricists do not suffer the problem of non-uniformity since they all hold that acquiring knowledge should follow experience of events. Experience has been explained to be sensed through the common senses or thought by the brain. Therefore, empiricists hold that there is no innate knowledge. According to all empiricists, innate knowledge is inefficacious and will never be applicable in peoples lives. In other words, there is a clear distinction between the two approaches of acquiring knowledge referring to the concept of uniformity of all members involved. In that case, empiricists stand as the strong approach.
The two approaches suffer from various drawbacks that can be responded by other schools of thoughts. The first drawback of rationalism was experienced in the initial experiment by Gallileo that indicated that physics by Aristotle was incorrect since it assumed that heavier items tend to reach the ground quicker than lighter ones. Therefore, it was deduced that it cannot be inferred that something that seems to require empirical evidence and justified by reason is sufficient to indicate that the reality is justified without experience. It can be argued from a simple perspective of adding one to one to give two. Certainly, it appears that the answer is true, hence difficult to imagine that it can give a different answer. That is due to the fact that one can tell a priori if the intellectual is indeed right indicating that rationalism is facing challenges. Therefore, the greatest problem of rationalism is the fact that it forgets certain facts without considering that reality has complexities that occur in various aspects that should be considered in forming knowledge. The main drawback is where the rationalist should acquire the knowledge in order to explain where the mind gets innate ideas. Empiricism also suffers several problems. One of them is the fact that whilst empiricists acquire extra insights along with knowledge, there is a lack of certitude. It is for a reason that empiricists require dealing with major senses that are unreliable. A good example is that a rationalist can hold that two plus two is four. However, an empiricist needs to accept that knowledge is never certain, but relies on probability. In that case, it is clear that an empiricist lacks real response towards the claim that there is a possibility to doubt the most sensible impressions. That is also due to the fact that it is possible to do that in the absence of any logical contradiction. Another reason that depicts problems of empiricism is the fact that it needs to address mathematics in terms of experience.
Epistemology is a school of thought that responds deeply into the arguments provided by knowledge approaches, rationalism and empiricism. Epistemology will respond to both rationalism and empiricism by considering two categories of thoughts including nature and extent of knowledge. Under the nature of knowledge, there will be the chance to understand what makes knowledge and distinction between different cases. Epistemology will also determine the way to apply reason, senses and testimonies among other resources in order to get knowledge. The school of thought will not focus on procedures and acquaintance of knowledge, but on propositional knowledge. In that case, a proposition can be defined as an element that can be expressed through declaratives and that strives to determine a state or fact. One of the most effective responses offered by epistemologists is encompassing wide range of ideas across all fields pertaining human life. Responding to the arguments is done using the different aspects of propositional knowledge including belief, truth, justification and Gettier problem. Epistemologists also infer that belief is a mental condition whilst belief formation exists as a mental process.
Choosing between the two approaches of knowledge can be a challenging task. However, rationalism seems to be stronger than empiricism in most aspects of knowledge. Rationalism allows an individual to perceive things beyond his or her sensory experience. In other words, one does not need to have or to apply senses in order to acquire knowledge. Moreover, rationalism gives a chance for systematic and precise way of belief organization as well as justifying ideas. Choosing empiricism will bring in difficulties since it relies heavily on experience and may not result into effective decisions. Thus, tt is clear that rationalism approach provides concise conclusions that can be proved by clear thoughts by others, rejected or verified.
Given that all people are getting along effectively across the world, despite the sources of uncertainties of their knowledge, various questions matter due to certain reasons. Such questions matter in the sense that they allow people to answer many factual puzzles in life. That way, a model of knowledge tends to give an inquiry model that can resolve any arguments. It distinguishes truth elements from the false elements concerning knowledge through determination of the most effective way of evaluation. Being able to look into these questions helps to indicate that senses are valid and the most effective way to acquire information is through sense. These questions also assist in determining the best way of acquiring knowledge.
In conclusion, philosophy has been a wide course and plays a vital role in ensuring love for wisdom. Epistemology is a field in philosophy and looks deep into the nature and foundation of knowledge. The two majorly covered approaches to knowledge include rationalism and empiricism. As seen in this paper, rationalism refers to gaining knowledge without experience while empiricism requires experience of events in order to acquire knowledge. However, the two approaches suffer from various drawbacks that make one of them stronger than the other. Rationalism suffers from non-uniformity problem since members of the approach have different assumptions. Empiricism is uniform since all the members of the school of thought assume the same thoughts that knowledge is gained from experience.