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Views of KnowledgeRationalism Rationalism Rationalism- The belief that reason, without the aid of sensory perception, is capable of arriving at some knowledge, or undeniable truths Rationalism’s Claims We do not rely on sensory experience for some of the fundamental knowledge we have Some of our knowledge depends solely on our mental processes Ex. Mathematicians use only a pencil, paper and reason “A Priori” Knowledge “A priori” knowledgeunderlies our understanding of the universe; knowledge obtained before/without the senses All other knowledge depends on “A priori” knowledge Most rationalists agree that some knowledge is obtained through the senses, but contend that knowledge can also be acquired through reason alone Eastern Philosophy Shankara (788-822) Concept of “sublation”the process of correcting an error about reality when it is contradicted by a different, more correct understanding of reality Mirages, dreams and hallucinations are corrected by the senses Ultimate reality is Brahman Other Rationalists Plato St. Augustine Rene Descartes Anne Conway Benedict Spinoza Gottfried Leibniz George Hegel Descartes: Doubt and Reason Descartes experienced “disillusionment” because of the turbulent times in which he lived (Protestant Revolution, Church beliefs cast into doubt, Copernicus & Galileo challenged religious/scientific truths Descartes: Doubt & Reason He had trouble trusting anything and began to systematically doubt everything The only truth left was that he exists Descartes: All genuine knowledge is derived solely from reason without the aid of the senses Descartes used reason alone to explain the existence of God, the outer world, his own body and other individuals Descartes’ Distinctions We know what things are by “intuition”, or perception of the mind, but our perceptions can either be confused or clear and distinct CLEAR= know the nature/essence so well we can identify it DISTINCT= can distinguish it from other things Innate Ideas How does the mind arrive at knowledge without using the senses? “Innate ideas”-ideas present from birth Examples of innate ideasbasic principles of logic, math & science; both propositions and concepts Propositions/Concepts Proposition The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line Every event has a cause Nothing comes from nothing Concepts Point, line, straight All these cannot be observed, so they must come from the mind! Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) Leibniz-the mind at birth has inclinations, tendencies to form ideas- as people mature, these tendencies turn into fully formed ideas Objections to Rationalism How can we have knowledge in our minds if we are not aware of it? Isn’t to know something to believe it? How can we believe something without being aware of it?