Explain what rationalism is

Document Type:Article

Subject Area:Philosophy

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Rene Descartes is considered a rationalist because he strives to explain certain phenomena through knowledge and reason. In the article; Meditation One: Concerning those Things that can be called into Doubt, Descartes tries to reason and use doubt to establish knowledge. He rules out aspects of senses and tries to figure out what he knows by doubting what he already knew (Descartes). At the beginning of the article, Descartes states that the task would be impossible if he tried to decipher everything he knew to examine it afresh and figure out what is real and what is not. He, however, decided that the best way to re-establish knowledge that has a base and that is true is by examining the foundations of knowledge and not the whole mass of knowledge that he had at the time.

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He, therefore, disregards the senses or doubts the information they offer and tries to find a way to explain it through reason. Through reasoning, he establishes himself as a rationalist and as the father of modern-day philosophy. What are Descartes’ reasons for rejecting knowledge based on our senses (that is to say, why does he reject empiricism)? Do you agree with his reasons or not, and why? After a careful evaluation of the article, I believe that Descartes main reason for disregarding senses as a form of knowledge and trying to prove that senses may be deceiving. Senses are the basic foundation of empiricism in that empiricists believe that all knowledge is derived from experience that is achieved through the senses.

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Descartes, however, looks at the possibility of this senses being false. whether we have or we do not have senses is an argument that could go on forever but in a moment of existence senses and by that, things we can touch, hear and see should be constituents of knowledge. The use of senses should not be relied upon entirely to offer proof for sense but it should also not be ruled out. There could exist no knowledge without senses. Even scientific research requires particular senses to affirm the reason that they wished to prove. I believe rationalism cannot be achieved without the use of senses as ways to validate the findings or the knowledge. The two that I will discuss are; introspective knowledge and propositional knowledge which I believe satisfy the aspect of being indubitable and incorrigible.

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Introspective knowledge is a source of knowledge that I believe is both indubitable and incorrigible. Introspective knowledge is attained from within. It is based on something that a person knows from within themselves. It is based on the aspect of introspection in that a person evaluates themselves to arrive at something that they wished to find out. The knowledge that is true, has been justified and is believed in cannot be doubted because it has already gone through a process to prove that it is all that. In terms of being corrigible, I believe that this type of knowledge cannot be changed because during the process of inspection to determine whether it is justified, true belief there will have been time to change it.

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