When Rationalism And Empiricism Collide: The Best Of Both Worlds

1346 words - 5 pages

For a lengthy period of time, philosophers have been fiercely debating the classification of philosophical epistemology into two categories: rationalism and empiricism. Empiricism is the idea that knowledge can only be gained through obtaining facts via observation or experimentation, while rationalism is obtaining knowledge through logical reasoning . Though rationalism and empiricism are very viable methods of thought in philosophy on their own, these philosophical schools’ arguments become much stronger when used in conjunction. This is mainly due to the fact that by following empiricism, we gain knowledge through observation that we will be able to interpret using rationalism. Using these two methods in tandem would allow philosophical thinkers to approach many questions in a more holistic manner. This way of thought is very reminiscent of the scientific method , and this method has proven itself time and time again throughout history. If the scientific method was not an effective way of solving scientific problems, then scientists using it would have invented a new way to gather information. However, this method is still strong, and a combination of empiricism and rationalism would prove to be just as effective.
Additionally, these two methods of thought complement each other quite nicely. For example, scientists often ponder the origins of the universe. Most of them fall back upon the Big Bang Theory, which is commonly explained as a “violent event” that was caused by the expansion of a “single point in space” (Big Bang). However, no one knows what happened before the Big Bang occurred because there is no evidence supporting anything existing beforehand. At this point, a rational approach must be taken to infer the original cause of the universe. Thomas Aquinas presented the world with five ways, or arguments, in his work Summa Theologica in which God exists. The first way provides a possible explanation for which the Big Bang occurred. According to the first way, everything in the universe can either move or be moved. New motions in the universe are continually caused by preceding motions. However, all motion had to have a single source because these motions cannot be caused by something that does not have the ability to move itself in the first place . Therefore, the first mover, according to Aquinas, is God because only God has the power to move Himself (Aquinas 445). Because no one was alive to witness the Big Bang, there is no conclusive evidence as to how the universe was created. Scientists today may only make observations based on how the universe appears presently. As a result, empirical data is severely limited. In order to help facilitate for this lack of concrete evidence, scientists try to piece together what they already know into a working conclusion .
Empiricism and rationalism must coexist in this world because one without the other results in only half of an answer. Without any sort of observations or facts present...

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