Blog 3 Epistemology

Kris Castaneda

Mr. Sears

Philosophy 100

Blog Number 3

We as humans have a natural sense of curiosity and we have desires to know and want to know. Aristotle’s metaphysics had the desire to want to know the ultimate cause of all things. He believed that reality is more complex than what Pre-Socratic’s had in mind. This topic relates to Module number 5 Metaphysics in that, Plato and Aristotle’s core metaphysics, theology of gaining wisdom, knowledge and the desire to know changed and expanded the theology of metaphysics. Instead of being focused on the fundamental materials in which the world is made out of, they both emphasized the idea of being and becoming and incorporating that theology to ask why. Metaphysics expanded the foundation of logic and critical thinking to focus more on the importance of gaining knowledge on why the universe was formed or why are we here in the first place. All in all the concepts of metaphysics is painting a clearer picture. This module content is important because it is serving its importance to formulate an underlying structure for concept of epistemology to expand on answering the ultimate question and also make sense of the nature of existence and the universe.

The concept of epistemology defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that it is the “investigation of nature, scope and quality of human knowledge.” First of all what is knowledge. Knowledge according to Merriam-Webster is defined as an “awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.” Epistemology according to Module 7, questioned the validity of that knowledge to form normative criteria for what counts as knowledge (Module 7 Pg.2). There are two ways to make normative sense and differential whether certain claims are opinions or a knowledgeable claim (Module 7 Pg.2). The two ways are Rationalism and Empiricism.

           Epistemology is about analyzing various different ways to approach knowledge (Module 7 Pg.3). The rationalist way in approaching knowledge is through our minds and ideas. Rationalism according to Module 7, favors reasoning and intuitions to approach differentiating opinions from knowledge. The rationalist goal is to find certainty and definite knowledge because they believe that the best way to avoid mistakes and bias for knowledge is to use rationality rather than using the five senses to gain knowledge (Module 7 Pg.3). A famous French philosopher by the name of Rene Descartes used a rationalist approach in order to search for truth.

            Rene Descartes had a desire to find truth and he used a mathematical method in doing so. According to Module 7, he wanted to base philosophical theories on knowledge by using mathematical theories and approach such as axioms and postulates to find truth (Module 7 Pg.3). In his search of finding truth according to Module 7, Descartes used a method of doubt. The method of doubt according to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that it is a method in which “beliefs, ideas, thoughts, and matter in doubt” (Web). In this method Descartes examined one area and if doubt arises he discards the entire area and makes it a base line for knowledge so he can move on to the next area (Module 7 Pg.5). Empiricists, however sees this approach of gaining and differentiating knowledge from opinion to not hold true because the mind can be lead into confusion.

            Empiricists according to Module 7, believed that the only way to verify knowledge or if something is knowledgeable one must verify it by the senses. Empiricism according to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is defined as a “theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience.” Empiricists believed more on gaining knowledge through experience and using all five senses over reasoning because by using reasoning one may be lead astray or into confusion. For example, an individual who uses subjective reasoning to fantasize something that may not be real, the subjective reasoning of fantasies are only pigments of an individual’s imagination. One cannot physically feel, smell, taste, hear and or see imaginative fantasies. Empiricists according to Module 7, Epistemology, believe that “the mind is not an active entity that generates ideas on its own, rather, it is purely passive…The mind is simply a receptacle for sense data, then it processes that data…Empiricists say that the brain is a computer with no software installed. This computer relies on a user-external reality-to input data.” Basically stating that the mind can’t receive data or in this case knowledge without the help of the five human senses. Both views that make up epistemology do exercise the core of the concept.

            Epistemology is about investigating the nature and the quality of human knowledge. By using both views of the empiricists and the rationalists it analysis different ways to approach knowledge. Knowledge comes in many different ways; in capacity or in validity. Knowledge is also subjective in a way that however ways it may be gained it is reached differently, varying by the approach an individual may take. The journey an individual takes to seek knowledge may be different but the destination is the same. Whether an individual takes the empiricists view to gain and see knowledge or the rationalists view, in the end knowledge is still gained. Both approaches are important for epistemology to be what it is. Epistemology is an important core concept to philosophy because it expands answers formed by other core concepts of the nature of existence and the universe. Knowledge affects decision making and decisions we make affects our general way of being and becoming. Ethical values and beliefs are formed through epistemology. However way we might have gained our established knowledge about the world does have an immediate effect on how we live our lives and the decisions we choose make.



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