Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, is a great part of philosophy. Epistemologists have tried to offer an account of what knowledge is and investigate the origin, methods, and limits of knowledge. Epistemology take issue with essence of knowledge, origin, limitation. Make it easier to understand, epistemology is systematic effort that explaining about process and method on human get reliable knowledge.
The title I decided on is ‘Is it possible thataˆˆget knowledge without outside influences?’ That is to say, question about a way to get knowledge. Then, is it possible that people make their own knowledge? Otherwise, is knowledge acquired by someone or something beyond individual or direct personal experience? Those questions do not seem to easy and simple to answer. but Those questions are essential to understanding epistemology.
In this paper, I will look at the two different arguments about a method of acquiring knowledge. Between position which knowledge can get by experience and position which human can get knowledge by irrelevant experience, I am entirely in agreement with empiricist’s positions that human can’t get knowledge without sensory influence from outside. First of all, I will prove my position and idea by using various examples. And, I will check rationalist’s position and objection to it. Finally, I will derive a conclusion that human can’t make knowledge themselves.
1. The two ways to get knowledge
– Empirical knowledge VS A priori knowledge.
In my opinion, epistemology is beginning with question that ‘human is learning a novelty, or just perception that already knew.’ As I mentioned before, Epistemologies have historically tried to tell us something about the kinds of knowledge that there are. Most epistemologists, for example, have drawn a major distinction between empirical knowledge and a priori knowledge. The effort to find answers to these questions have been conducted. A study of perception already existed when Greek or medieval times, but it became priority subject on philosophy, especially Loch age. Opinion of origin of perception has two ways which is rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism developed in Europe, and empiricism delopved in England when modern age. The method of get knowledge, and about the essence of perception is divided in two ways which are idealism that object of perception and realism that actual object.
Empiricism means that stress knowledge from experience of sense. In addition, empiricism is wild spread perspective out of human’s knowledge that known as epistemology. Empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence, especially sensory perception. So, empiricists think that all knowledge is of empirical, and denied the existence of any a priori knowledge.
Unlike empiricism that tried to explain everything on experience, the things beyond the experience, rationalism tried to speak based on existence of me. Rationalism is clear attitude when judge the object. This means that not depend on instinct or sensible feeling, based on rationality, look at the object. In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory “in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive”
Empiricists and rationalists are both agree that knowledge is produced between spirit and experience; however, there is controversy that what is priority emphasis. Moreover, there is a variety of opinion that human recognition category could get out of experience. The Stoic school, the school of Epicurus, Loch are representative position that human can’t get out of experience. On the other hand, Platon, Descartes said that human can get out of experience.
2. Empiricism – ‘Knowledge based on experience’
Empiricists argue that the knowledge of human is able to get through experience. In other words, if we attempt to make empiricists acknowledge that something does exists, he would reply “show me”. As matter of fact, he would try to verify the fact by his own experience. Presume that we have let him know that there is a monster in his house, he would probably ask us back how we have made the conclusion that there is a monster. If we explain our experience of witnessing the existence of the monster in his house, the empiricist would listen to our empirical report. However, he would not accept the situation until he sees the monster himself to verify the accuracy of our explanation.
Locke, who is known to be the father of British empiricism, argued that human mind at birth is like a soft board of wax(tabularasa in Latin). Throughout a man`s life, sensual informations that the man acquires are marked on the board. More and more sensual impressions would be pasted onto the board as we live on. Knowledge is a result of comparison and compounding of the sensual informations. To Locke, mind is a storage where accepts the sensations and knowledge is an outcome of instinctive behavior of human mind which compounds basic sensations stored. In other wards, Locke can only know what originates in sense perception.
Like this, an empiricist wants to get knowledge through accumulate experience rather than rationality reason. According to empiricism that school makes for collect and refutation at the same time. Naturally, it refutation opinion of Descartes who godfather of rationality. empiricism believes that getting more knowledge is impossible through admit of ‘my consideration’. The reason is that another belief except basic belief catch that getting legitimacy process is truth. This is like ‘Reason that grounds for 1+1 =2’. Descartes proof that innate ideas like 1+1=2 is knowledge that before human born. In addition, he said that this is for GOD who infinite truth.
If so, “GOD and infinite truth is existence, it can be another problem in the matter of 2+2=4. Therefore, it seems to answer is 4 through trick. Descartes mentioned this matter that “Getting knowledge through experience can trick through mischief of devil; however, the knowledge through infinite truth cause the GOD who can’t tell a lie. Therefore, infinite truth is true. In my opinion, this is limit of Descartes. It can bring about the consequence that depend on GOD to explain. Also, he closed the getting secure possibility through experience by mention of ‘mischief of devil’. By this case, he closed the possibility of method that explain the phenomenon of the world. I think this is not the problem only for Descartes, matter of limit that getting knowledge method through rationality include whole rationality.
3. Is it possible thataˆˆget knowledge without outside influences?
– Rationalism’s position and objection to it
As stated above, rationalists insist that the human can get absolute and certain knowledge. Look into ‘Meno’ that written by Platon who origin of rationality, he said that we should find the truth for learning something. Though, we learn that proposition, we can’t tell that is truth or not, if we don’t know the truth already. Furthermore, this is not the truth that we are not learning that we recognize. The reason is that we already knew. According to him, we just recollected that we already knew. In other words, every basic and universal principals already exist in mind of human. Sensible perception means that roles of life up the knowledge to consciousness level that always in the spirit by stimulate memory.
By extension, Descartes’s studies shown us some powerful practical examples about approaching rational method. He looked at knowledge about sense perception. But he has admitted the sense can be deceived. So he decided that sense datum were unbelievable. And he said that If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
There was a story about Descartes. A professor of philosophy has lectured on existential problem. He told his students to read Descartes’s The Meditation. Next day, one student who face was pale and gaunt, started to complain. The student said “Please inform me, do i really exist?” The philosopher thinks about this awhile, then asks “Who is that man inquiring?”
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. He tried to piling up definite knowledge above the absolute truth. Also, he argue that clearheadedly perceived things in human’s mind are all truth.
Rationalists regarded all empirical perceptions as truthless things. Also, they thought that only knowledge of eternal truths could be attained by reason alone. For those position’s case, they said the absolute truths are exist in the world. For instance, it is like ‘a low of identity’ or ‘a mathematical thesis’ ‘1+1=2’ and, also it could be a common sense which likes ‘The straight line is the shortest distance between two points’. However, I think that Mathematics is just a conceptual idea in real world and it also could be existed by our own experience. If we don’t have any experience of world, we wouldn’t find the evidence which can back up mathematical theory like ‘2+5=7’.
As mentioned earlier, we can know that the concepts which are unseen and untouchable are constituent of rational and logical knowledge. Thus, I think that a self-evidence truth and an innate idea exist in everyone’s mind through same influence or an assurance. So, it seems difficult to adapt these ideas with a problem of real world.
Also, rationalism are difficult to explain the fact which knowledge of human are changing very dramatically and very dynamically. We can find examples from history of numerous knowledge has turn to proved almost worthless. For example, before the 17th century, all the people think that earth is the center of our solar system. But, because of advances in science technology, this fact turned out not absolute truth. After the lapse of time, by the end of the 17th century, Copernicus’ theory was widely accepted. He insisted that the Sun was at the center of our solar system and the Earth orbited the Sun. For this case, absolute truth based on rational knowledge cannot exist. I think acquisition of knowledge that totally irrelevant to experience are impossible.
How can people know that have never experienced?
As mentioned earlier, we search for rationalism’s position that human can get knowledge from do one’s own thinking and objection to it. We can find out that question about Human’s awareness can get knowledge without outside influences beyond limit of sensory experience have discussed for long periods of time.
Then, can human know something that unexperienced? I don’t think it’s possible. For example, can human recall color that had never seen? Close your eyes for a moment and think about it. May you can know it couldn’t be done. Human can make mix of color and compound of shape, which never seen before, based on accepted experiences. However, human can’t recall something that human has unexperienced before.
Descartes says, based on Infinite truth, human already have Innate-ideas from God. But, if all conceptions of this world are conferred from God, why don’t blind person by birth realize crimson? (Definitely, color is beyond words.) And why don’t blind person by birth realize exist of figure just like quadrangle or circle things, before teaching them? On this wise, I can’t understand those conception before had experienced. Therefore, I think all knowledge identifiable in the world are that were found through experience.
It is possible that get knowledge without sensory influence from outside by following Plato. But, modern philosophy replace those own perceptions with useless. Therefore, after removal those perceptions, the only thing human can do are sent to the senses such as smell, sight and touch. I think that there is no way to know something except recognized by the sense and have experienced. To know something have unexperienced, human have to experience that. So, there is no knowing what unexperienced thing.
Until now, I briefly talk about the main points only about question on ‘Is it possible thataˆˆget knowledge without sensory influence from outside?’ But, inquire more deeply into a lot of theory about epistemology, those simple account can’t explain everything. Nevertheless, fix upon a plan which most fundamental and preferential on acquiring knowledge, I am entirely in agreement with empiricist’s positions. Human can’t make knowledge themselves andaˆˆcan’t never get knowledge without sensory influence from outside. In other words, knowledge of human can’t free from the sensory influence from outside.