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Encyclopedia > Rationalism

In epistemology and in its broadest sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" (Lacey 286). In more technical terms it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive" (Bourke 263). Different degrees of emphasis on this method or theory lead to a range of rationalist standpoints, from the moderate position "that reason has precedence over other ways of acquiring knowledge" to the radical position that reason is "the unique path to knowledge" (Audi 771). It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ... It has been suggested that reasoning be merged into this article or section. ... Deductive reasoning is the process of reaching a conclusion that is guaranteed to follow, if the evidence provided is true and the reasoning used to reach the conclusion is correct. ...


In various contexts, the appeal to reason is contrasted with revelation, as in religion, or with emotion and feeling, as in ethics. In philosophy, however, reason is more often contrasted with the senses, including introspection but not intuition (Lacey 286). Revelation is an uncovering or disclosure via communication from the divine of something that has been partially or wholly hidden or unknown. ... For other uses, see Emotion (disambiguation). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Ethics (from the Ancient Greek Ä“thikos, the adjective of Ä“thos custom, habit), a major branch of philosophy, including genetics is the study of values and customs of a person or group. ... Senses Senses are a UK based alternative rock band from Coventry. ... This article is about the psychological process of introspecting. ... Intuition is an unconscious form of knowledge. ...


Within the Western philosophical tradition, "rationalism begins with the Eleatics, Pythagoreans, and Plato, whose theory of the self-sufficiency of reason became the leitmotif of Neoplatonism and idealism" (Runes 263). Since the Enlightenment, rationalism is usually associated with the introduction of mathematical methods into philosophy, as in Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza (Bourke 263). This is commonly called continental rationalism, because it was predominant in the continental schools of Europe, whereas in Britain empiricism dominated. Western philosophy is a term that refers to philosophical thinking in the Western or Occidental world, as opposed to the various kinds of Eastern or Oriental philosophy and also in distinction to varieties of Indigenous philosophies. ... The Eleatics were a school of pre-Socratic philosophers at Elea, a Greek colony in Lucania, Italy. ... The Pythagoreans were a Hellenic organization of astronomers, musicians, mathematicians, and philosophers who believed that all things are, essentially, numeric. ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this section may require cleanup. ... ... René Descartes René Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. ... Gottfried Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (July 1, 1646 in Leipzig - November 14, 1716 in Hannover) was a German philosopher, scientist, mathematician, diplomat, librarian, and lawyer of Sorb descent. ... Baruch Spinoza Benedictus de Spinoza (November 24, 1632 - February 21, 1677), named Baruch Spinoza by his synagogue elders and known as Bento de Spinoza or Bento dEspiñoza in the community in which he grew up. ... In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas. ...


Rationalism is often contrasted with empiricism. Taken very broadly these views are not mutually exclusive, since a philosopher can be both rationalist and empiricist (Lacey 286–287). Taken to extremes the empiricist view holds that all ideas come to us through experience, either through the five external senses or through such inner sensations as pain and pleasure, and thus that knowledge is essentially based on or derived from experience. At issue is the fundamental source of human knowledge, and the proper techniques for verifying what we think we know (see Epistemology). In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas. ... It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ...


Proponents of some varieties of rationalism argue that, starting with foundational basic principles, like the axioms of geometry, one could deductively derive the rest of all possible knowledge. The philosophers who held this view most clearly were Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, whose attempts to grapple with the epistemological and metaphysical problems raised by Descartes led to a development of the fundamental approach of rationalism. Both Spinoza and Leibniz asserted that, in principle, all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, could be gained through the use of reason alone, though they both observed that this was not possible in practice for human beings except in specific areas such as mathematics. On the other hand, Leibniz admitted that "we are all mere Empirics in three fourths of our actions" (Monadology § 28, cited in Audi 772). Calabi-Yau manifold Geometry (Greek γεωμετρία; geo = earth, metria = measure) is a part of mathematics concerned with questions of size, shape, and relative position of figures and with properties of space. ... Deductive reasoning is the kind of reasoning in which the conclusion is necessitated by, or reached from, previously known facts (the premises). ... Benedictus de Spinoza or Baruch de Spinoza (Hebrew: ברוך שפינוזה) (lived November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ... Asclepiades (c. ... The Monadology (Monadologie, 1714) is one of Leibniz’s works that best define his philosophy. ...

Contents

Philosophical usage

The distinction between rationalists and empiricists was drawn at a later period, and would not have been recognized by the philosophers involved. Also, the distinction was not as clear-cut as is sometimes suggested; for example, the three main rationalists were all committed to the importance of empirical science, and in many respects the empiricists were closer to Descartes in their methods and metaphysical theories than were Spinoza and Leibniz.


History of rationalism

Classical Greek rationalists

Socrates (ca 470–399)

Main article: Socrates

Socrates firmly believed that, before anyone can understand the world, they first need to understand themselves. And the only way to accomplish that is with rational thought. Socrates did not publish or write any of his thoughts, but he was constantly in discussion with others. He would usually start by asking a (seemingly answerable) question, to which the other would give an answer. Socrates would then continue to ask questions until all conflicts were resolved, or until the other could do nothing else but admit he didn't know the answer (which was what most of his discussions ended with). Socrates did not claim to know the answers, but that did not take away the ability to critically and rationally approach problems. Socrates (Greek: , invariably anglicized as , Sǒcratēs; circa 470–399 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher who is widely credited for laying the foundation for Western philosophy. ...


Neoplatonism

Main article: Neoplatonism

Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists. Neoplatonists considered themselves simply "Platonists", and the modern distinction is due to the perception that their philosophy contained enough unique interpretations of Plato to make it substantively different from what Plato wrote and believed. Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists. ...


Neoplatonism took definitive shape with the philosopher Plotinus, who claimed to have received his teachings from Ammonius Saccas, a dock worker and philosopher in Alexandria. Plotinus was also influenced by Alexander of Aphrodisias and Numenius. Plotinus's student Porphyry assembled his teachings into the six Enneads.


Subsequent Neoplatonic philosophers included Hypatia of Alexandria, Iamblichus, Proclus, Hierocles of Alexandria, Simplicius of Cilicia, and Damascius, who wrote On First Principles. Born in Damascus, he was the last teacher of Neoplatonism at Athens. Neoplatonism strongly influenced Christian thinkers (such as Augustine, Boethius, Pseudo-Dionysius, John Scotus Eriugena, and Bonaventura). Neoplatonism was also present in medieval Islamic and Jewish thinkers such as al-Farabi and Maimonides, and experienced a revival in the Renaissance with the acquisition and translation of Greek and Arabic Neoplatonic texts.


René Descartes (1596–1650)

Main article: René Descartes

Descartes thought that only knowledge of eternal truths – including the truths of mathematics, and the epistemological and metaphysical foundations of the sciences – could be attained by reason alone; other knowledge required experience of the world, aided by the scientific method. He also argued that although dreams appear as real as sense experience, these dreams cannot provide persons with knowledge. Also, since conscious sense experience can be the cause of illusions, then sense experience itself can be doubtable. As a result, Descartes deduced that a rational pursuit of truth should doubt every belief about reality. He elaborated these beliefs in such works as Discourse on Method, Meditations on First Philosophy, and Principles of Philosophy. Descartes developed a method to attain truths according to which nothing that cannot be recognized by the intellect (or reason) can be classified as knowledge. These truths are gained "without any sensory experience", according to Descartes. Truths that are attained by reason are to be broken down into elements which intuition can grasp, which, through a purely deductive process, will result in clear truths about reality. René Descartes (March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Renatus Cartesius (latinized form), was a highly influential French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. ... It has been suggested that reasoning be merged into this article or section. ...


Descartes therefore argued, as a result of his method, that reason alone determined knowledge, and that this could be done independently of the senses. For instance, his famous dictum, cogito ergo sum, is a conclusion reached a priori and not through an inference from experience. This was, for Descartes, an irrefutable principle upon which to ground all forms of other knowledge. Descartes posited a metaphysical dualism, distinguishing between the substances of the human body ("res extensa") and the mind or soul ("res cogitans") . This crucial distinction would be left unresolved and lead to what is known as the mind-body problem, since the two substances in the Cartesian system are independent of each other and irreducible. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The terms a priori and a posteriori are used in philosophy to distinguish between two different types of propositional knowledge. ... Cartesian dualism was Descartess principle of the separation of mind and matter and mind and body. ... For other uses, see Mind (disambiguation). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ...


Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677)

Main article: Baruch Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza, a key precursor to the Age of Enlightenment, offered both a solution to the mind-body problem and determined the relationship between God as an infinite substance with the finite substance of the world. As a corollary of this, God is the only being that exists, of necessity, and the empirical world is just modifications of the infinite attributes of God, of which we are aware by thought and reason. God, as infinite substance and as made up of infinite attributes, necessarily exists, and is the whole of nature, or deus sive natura (God or nature). Benedictus de Spinoza or Baruch de Spinoza (Hebrew: ברוך שפינוזה) (lived November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. ... // The Age of Enlightenment (French: ; German: ; Polish: ) was an eighteenth-century movement in European and American philosophy, or the longer period including the Age of Reason. ... Look up substance in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is about the law definition of necessity. ...


In opposition to Descartes, Spinoza argued that there is only one substance, and that this is God when conceived under the attribute of thought, natura naturans, and Nature when conceived under the attribute of extension, natura naturata. Natura naturans is the eternal aspect of Spinoza's system, and natura naturata is the infinite modifications of God's attributes. This God is non-personal, and has no will; Spinoza's universe is deterministic. Therefore, every human mind is part of God under the attribute of thought. Leibniz disagreed harshly with Spinoza in Leibniz's own published Refutation of Spinoza. Look up will in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition, decision and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. ...


Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716)

Main article: Gottfried Leibniz

Leibniz was the last of the great Rationalists, who contributed heavily to other fields such as mathematics. His system however was not developed independently of these advances. Leibniz rejected Cartesian dualism, and denied the existence of a material world. In Leibniz's view there are infinitely many simple substances, which he called "monads" (possibly taking the term from the work of Anne Conway). It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ... In the writings of the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, monads are atomistic mental objects which experience the world from a particular point of view. ... Anne Conway, Viscountess Conway and Killultagh (14 December 1631–1679) was an English philosopher whose work, in the tradition of the Cambridge Platonists, was an influence on Leibniz. ...


Leibniz developed his theory of monads in response to both Descartes and Spinoza. In rejecting this response he was forced to arrive at his own solution. Monads are the fundamental unit of reality, according to Leibniz, constituting both inanimate and animate things. These units of reality represent the universe, though they are not subject to the laws of causality or space (which he called "well-founded phenomena"). Leibniz therefore introduced his principle of pre-established harmony, in order to account for apparent causality in the world. Well-founded phenomena (Latin: phenomena bene fundata), in the philosophy of Gottfried Leibniz, are ways in which the world falsely appears to us, but which are grounded in the way the world actually is (as opposed to dreams or hallucinations, which are false appearances that are not thus grounded). ... Gottfried Leibnizs theory of pre-established harmony is a philosophical theory about causation under which every substance only affects itself, but all the substances (both bodies and minds) in the world nevertheless seem to causally interact with each other because they have been programmed by God in advance to...


Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)

Main article: Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant started as a traditional rationalist, having studied the rationalists Leibniz and Wolff, but after studying David Hume's works, which "awoke [him] from [his] dogmatic slumbers", he developed a distinctive and very influential rationalism of his own which attempted to synthesise the traditional rationalist and empiricist traditions. Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804), was a German philosopher from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). ... Christian Wolff (less correctly Wolf) (January 24, 1679 - April 9, 1754) was a German philosopher. ... David Hume (April 26, 1711 – August 25, 1776)[1] was a Scottish philosopher, economist, and historian. ...


References

Primary sources

René Descartes (March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Renatus Cartesius (latinized form), was a highly influential French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. ... The Discourse on Method is a philosophical and mathematical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. ... Benedictus de Spinoza or Baruch de Spinoza (Hebrew: ברוך שפינוזה) (lived November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. ... Ethics is a philosophical book written by Baruch Spinoza. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... The Monadology (Monadologie, 1714) is one of Leibniz’s works that best define his philosophy. ... Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804), was a German philosopher from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). ... Title page of the 1781 edition. ...

Secondary sources

  • Audi, Robert (ed., 1999), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1995. 2nd edition, 1999.
  • Blackburn, Simon (1996), The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 1994. Paperback edition with new Chronology, 1996.
  • Bourke, Vernon J. (1962), "Rationalism", p. 263 in Runes (1962).
  • Lacey, A.R. (1996), A Dictionary of Philosophy, 1st edition, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976. 2nd edition, 1986. 3rd edition, Routledge, London, UK, 1996.
  • Runes, Dagobert D. (ed., 1962), Dictionary of Philosophy, Littlefield, Adams, and Company, Totowa, NJ.

Robert Audi (born November 1941) is a philosopher working on ethics, especially intuitionism, at the University of Notre Dame, where he holds a joint appointment in the philosophy department and in business ethics. ... Simon Blackburn (born 1944) is a British academic philosopher also known for his efforts to popularise philosophy. ...

See also

// Cartesian Linguistics Introduction Noam Chomskys Cartesian Linguistics: A Chapter in the History of Rationalist Thought, published in 1966, has the purpose of deepening “our understanding of the nature of language and the mental processes and structures that underlies its use and acquisition” (ix). ... In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas. ... Innatism is a philosophical doctrine introduced by Plato in the socratic dialogue Meno which holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a tabula rasa at birth. ... Irrationalist is a wide term. ... The nature versus nurture debates concern the relative importance of an individuals innate qualities (nature) versus personal experiences (nurture) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. ... In philosophy, nominalism is the theory that abstract terms, general terms, or universals do not represent objective real existents, but are merely names, words, or vocal utterances (flatus vocis). ... Self efficacy is an individuals estimate or personal judgment of his or her own ability to succeed in reaching a specific goal, e. ... Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science and logical principles and not be comprised by authority, tradition, or any other dogma. ... Freedom of thought (also called freedom of conscience and freedom of ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, regardless of anyone elses view. ... Higher criticism, also known as historical criticism, is a branch of literary analysis that attempts to investigate the origins of a text, especially the text of the Bible. ... The Golden Age of Freethought is a term sometimes used to describe the freethought boom of the late 19th century. ... In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas. ... Cynicism (Greek ) was originally the philosophy of a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics, founded by Antisthenes. ... This section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... An infidel (literally, one without faith) is one who doubts or rejects central tenets of a religion, especially those regarding its deities. ... Platonism is a philosophical term usually used to refer to the idea of realism regarding the existence of universals after the Greek philosopher Plato who lived between c. ... The poverty of the stimulus (POTS) argument is an argument in favour of linguistic nativism, which is the claim that humans are born with a specific adaptation for language that both funds and limits their competence to acquire specific types of natural languages over the course of their cognitive development... In the field of psychology, nativism is the view that certain skills or abilities are native or hard wired into the brain at birth. ... Rationalist International is an organization that defends rationalist ideas and positions of world-wide concern. ... Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief in and allegiance to a reality that exists independently of observers. ... Tabula rasa (Latin: scraped tablet or clean slate) refers to the epistemological thesis that individual human beings are born with no innate or built-in mental content, in a word, blank, and that their entire resource of knowledge is built up gradually from their experiences and sensory perceptions of the... 17th-century Western philosophy is conventionally seen as being dominated by the coming of symbolic mathematics and rationalism to philosophy, many of the most noted philosophers were also mathematicians. ... Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature, known in Latin as philosophia naturalis, is a term applied to the objective study of nature and the physical universe that was regnant before the development of modern science. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher and prominent classic-liberal political theorist. ... Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (25 January 1627 – 30 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor, and early gentleman scientist, noted for his work in physics and chemistry. ... Upper: Steel-plate engraving of Ruskin as a young man, made circa 1845, scanned from print made circa 1895. ... An intellectual is a person who uses his or her intellect to study, reflect, and speculate on a variety of different ideas. ... Anti-intellectualism describes a sentiment of hostility towards, or mistrust of, intellectuals and intellectual pursuits. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Rationality (399 words)
Rationality is the habit of acting by reason, which means in accordance with the facts of reality.
A second consequence to acting irrationally is that it undermines one's ability to act rationally in the future.
Rationality is in your self interest because the only way to achieve desired outcomes is to act according to reality.
Rationality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (779 words)
However, rationality is a much broader term than logic, as it includes "uncertain but sensible" arguments based on probability, expectation, personal experience and the like, whereas logic deals principally with provable facts and demonstrably valid relations between them.
Others think that any kind of rationality along the lines of rational choice theory is a useless concept for understanding human behavior; the term homo economicus (economic man: the imaginary logically consistent but amoral being assumed in economic models) was coined largely in honor of this view.
Rationality is a central principle in artificial intelligence, where a rational agent is specifically defined as an agent which always chooses the action which maximises its expected performance, given all of the knowledge it currently possesses.
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