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What Is Empiricism?

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  1. Introduction
  2. Problems with empiricism
    1. Eternal world skepticism
    2. Inductive skepticism
  3. Disagreement with the empiricist views
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works cited

Empiricism is a view about where all knowledge comes from. Empiricism is not exclusive to scientific knowledge, but rather knowledge as a whole. This includes knowledge of everyday life. Empiricism states that science and everyday thinking have the same basic principles, and science is just better organized than everyday thinking. Empiricism is the view that all knowledge comes from experience. The slogan of empiricism is that ?The only source of real knowledge about the world is experience.?(pg. 8). Empiricists do not think that experiencing something automatically gives a person knowledge. They realize and admit that logic and reasoning are necessary to understand things, but to them experience is completely necessary for us to understand how we learn about the world. Empiricism includes the ideas of logical positivism (which was later changed to logical empiricism). This view is based on logic, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mathematics. Empiricism also includes the views of sensationalism. Sensationalism is considered to be one of the classical form of empiricism and deals with idea of how the mind functions. ?Sensations appear in the mind and is all that it has access to.? (pg. 19). This states that all of our experiences and thus all knowledge is based purely on our sensations. This idea is not as generally held by philosophers today. Phenomenalism is another part of empiricism that I will explain more fully later.

[...] If this is true, then empiricism is completely false, and experiences are worthless because they do not provide knowledge. If it is true that a person cannot know anything about the world then experiences teach nothing as well as provide no basis of thought for future events. One of the main reasons that I disagree with the empiricist views are that the empiricists choose to ignore or dismiss problems that disprove their theory. Logical positivism (once again this is a form of empiricism) attempted to solve certain problems, but throw others away as meaningless. [...]


[...] We cannot learn about the outside world without experiencing it. The second problem is a problem posed by David Hume is called inductive skepticism. It asks, do we have reason to think that patterns in past experiences will also hold in the future?? (pg. 20). This problem deals with induction and the idea of models or patterns. Induction cannot fully prove anything. Instead of proving something to be absolutely true, induction is a good way of deciding what is likely. [...]

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