Differences between Rationalism and Empiricism

Mainly, rationalism and empiricism are two philosophical positions that seek to respond to everything related to the acquisition of knowledge, seeking to understand the nature, source and limits of human knowledge from an epistemological point of view.

Thus, there are notable differences between rationalism and empiricism, which will be presented in this article based on their definitions.

Rationalism

In short, rationalism is a philosophical current that developed in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and was formulated by René Descartes, a French philosopher, mathematician and physicist. Rationalism emphasizes the role of reason in the acquisition of knowledge, pointing out that only through reason can certain universal truths be discovered.

For rationalism, reality is known through ideas, therefore, it raises subjectivity as the key to rationalist thought. Likewise, this poses the existence of innate ideas through the principles of the self, infinity, perfection and causality. In addition, it gives special value to intuition and deduction, which is why they consider mathematics to be the model of certain and evident knowledge.

It should be noted that rationalists propose reason as a tool that provides us with additional information about the world and within their model, knowledge is a priori, that is, it is independent of experience and arises from the idea.

Empiricism

We can say that empiricism is a philosophical theory that arises in the modern age and that emphasizes the role of experience, linked to sensory perception in the formation of knowledge. Therefore, it indicates that reality is known through perceptions (impressions and ideas), denying the existence of innate ideas, where our mind is considered to be a tabula rasa (tablet without inscription).

Likewise, for empiricism, knowledge is a posteriori, in which the empiricists consider how our experience provides us with knowledge. In addition to this, empiricism gives special value to induction, which is why it considers physics and experimental science as models of the functioning of the human mind.

In attention to the definitions presented, the following differences between rationalism and empiricism can be distinguished:

Rationalism Empiricism
It is a philosophical current that emphasizes the role of reason in the acquisition of knowledge. It is a philosophical current that emphasizes the role of experience and sensory perception in the formation of knowledge.
To know is to give reasons. Knowing is contrasting with data.
It raises the existence of innate ideas through the principles of the self, infinity, perfection and causality. It denies the existence of innate ideas, indicating that our mind is a tabula rasa (tablet without inscription).
The world is entirely rational. The world is entirely palpable by the senses.
Knowledge is a priori, that is, it arises from the idea. Knowledge is a posteriori, this means that it arises from experience.
They give special value to intuition and deduction, therefore, they consider that mathematics is the model of certain and evident knowledge. It gives special value to induction, therefore, it considers physics and experimental science as models of the functioning of the human mind.

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