Posted: May 26, 2011 12:14 pm
by Sweenith
Cito di Pense wrote:
Hugin wrote: If science is a form of reason, how does this apply to the old rationalism vs empiricism debate? Of those, science surely seems to be closer to empiricism.

It's unreasonable to insist that one exclude observation from one's reasoning. Conversely, those who make observations outside the context of scientific theories are called 'abstract impressionists'.

Agreed, that would indeed be unreasonable (to insist on excluding observation). That's not the traditional rationalist view though. The empiricist says that there is no innate knowledge, and all is observational or derived therefrom; the only difference with the rationalist, is that he says there is innate knowledge.

But rationalism as such makes no exclusions with respect to empirical evidence - it merely affirms that we have both—knowledge which is a priori (known independently from our experience), as well as a posteriori knowledge (attained via exp). (That's not to say that there haven't been particular rationalists who were skeptics with regard to observational knowledge—there have been, but their skepticism was accidental to their being rationalists). So it's not as though one must choose "either knowledge is innate, or its observational" ; rather the issue has traditionally been "either there is innate knowledge (the rationalist camp), or there isn't (the empiricist camp)