First, some history: Rationalisms and Empiricism
The study of knowledge and its origins
Divided reality into 2 parts:
Idea (or Ideal
) – this is the ultimate reality, permanent, eternal, and spiritual.
(e.g., the triangle and Pythagorean Theorem; scientific laws such as E=mc²).
– manifestation of the ideal; objects of our sensations and
perceptions (i.e., physical stimulus in our environment such as day-to-day
triangular objects to even broader entities such as matter, time, and space). The
phenomenal world strives to become ideal, perfect, and complete – using the ideal
as a benchmark.
As a result, he did not believe in learning the truth through observation (since
what we observe is a mere imitation of the truth), but rather through introspection,
reasoning through deduction.
– believe in "self-evident truths" (universal; we all agree). Although this
may be true for some (e.g., "You can't be in two places at once," "something either is or it
isn't"), it is not necessarily true for all (e.g., "God exists"; "The universe had to have a
beginning"; "All men are created equal"). The latter typically depend on one's point of
view, personal attitudes or beliefs, in which case they are manufactured by us – just put in
place to "sound good" or establish comforting rules or codes of conduct, political and
economic systems, etc. We, thus, refer to the latter "truths" as "tautological").
: "Men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is
mortal." (if x, then y. x. therefore, y.) –
: "If you are human, then you are mortal. You are not mortal.
Therefore, you are not human." –
Denial of the antecedent:
"If you are human, then you are mortal. You are not
human. Therefore, you are not mortal."; If God would show himself to me
personally, that would prove the truth of religion. But, he hasn't done so.
Therefore, religion is false."
Affirmation of the consequence
: If you are human, then you are mortal. You are
mortal. Therefore, you are human."; If God created the universe, we would see
order in nature. We do in fact see order in the universe – the laws of nature –
therefore, God must have created the universe."
The most magnificent example of rationalism is
"God exists." B/c by
"God", he actually meant the entire universe (physical and spiritual). So, everything that