Week 2: Knowledge & Skepticism

Week 2: Knowledge & Skepticism

Oct 06, 2021

           The differences between Rationalism and Empiricism are slight and yet complicated thing to consider. The rationalist believes that all “knowledge” (which by definition is true) can only be gained through thinking, consideration, through deduction and well, reasoning and does not rely on the “physical world” (as it may not be real anyways). Simultaneously, the empiricist believes that there is no knowledge that is not sensory in origin. It is an interesting thing to consider, why should the two things be separate? In empiricism we believe that one is born with a blank slate of a mind, a hard-drive with no data written as yet. That all we can know we will learn through sense and experience, the empiricism believes that all knowledge comes from interacting with the world. The rationalism Descartes believed that all knowledge (truth) could only be gained through rational deduction and reasoning. He believed that the mind was a separate, perhaps some sort of energy being (life-force, soul, “being of light”, etc). He took the position that being able to consider ones one existence was proof of existence, but that nothing more was “written in stone”. The senses were not to be trusted and all knowledge should be checked (doubted) against the supporting ideas (thoughts, beliefs) to insure they were truth. The empiricists feel that you can only know how something will turn out by experiment (as apposed to deducing the outcome), and that nothing that could not be shown to be true is true. The modern “scientific method” is the empiricist’s way of testing ideas to see if they are true. You form a question(s) based of observation (senses) and form a hypothesis that explains your observation or answers your question about it, if the hypothesis fails reexamine and try again, if the data seems to prove the theory try again and see if it is repeatable. If it is, it is true.

            These theories limit themselves by excluding the other to a certain extent. I have always been a huge fan of collecting data (observation, conversation, questions, exploration, and experimentation) but fail to see the value of it if I can not expand and extrapolate the gained information. If it is “true” it will apply to more than just one idea, through rationalist reasoning processes one can cross compare, evaluate, and extrapolate truths about other things (functions of the universe, how any given person will most likely respond to being cheated on). One needs to use these methods together, to gather and collect, to test and prove, to increase our empirical knowledge so that we may also ponder and extrapolate, imagine and wonder, in order to find not only new questions to ask but to find new places to ask them. If we lived and functioned in a purely empirical way, would we consider these things at all? Would we have the capacity to ponder creation, and to wonder at it all if we relied solely upon sense data? What would we be, that is to say what sort or animal would we have become if we did not rely at all on our senses of the external? Would sensitive fingers have developed if the physical signal sent from hand to brain was always ignored? Worse than that, how long could we have survived at all if we did not believe it when our flesh cried out in pain from fire?

            It is rather interesting to me to consider these sorts of questions. Perhaps this is the Matrix, strictly speaking does that matter? Am I awake, asleep, a character in someone else’s dream (heck, am I a side character in someone else’s story and after my part in it I simply continued on)? Again, does it matter (make a significant difference) and if so, how? I believe that all “matter” is condensed energy, science backs that. I believe that all creation Is Goddess (creator/ mother). I know when I die the machine I have ridden these 48 (and counting) years will become dust (ashes actually), but I know that the energy that made me (makes me appear material at any rate) continues on indefinitely. What none can prove (yet) is whether any conscious part of me survives the translation. In the end I have to deal with the mundane and keep this machine running but I also wish to understand. Is reincarnation just energy recycling in the local multiverse? Does the tabula rasa of the mind mean there is no genetic knowledge passed from one generation to the next?

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