Rationalism, Empiricism, and Transcendental Idealism
Readings and Resources
The required readings included in this topic will provide you with resources that are necessary for examining philosophical argumentation on theories of knowledge.
Chaffee, J. (2013).The philosopher’s way: Thinking critically about profound ideas. (4th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
Kant, I. (1956). The critique of pure reason. N. Kemp Smith. (Trans.). New York: NY: St Martin’s Press. (Original work published 1781).
1. Chaffee, J. (2013).
Chapter 5 (sections on epistemology)
Chapter 6: What is real? What is true?
2. eReserves: http://ereserves.regis.edu/ares/. For information on how to login to eReserves, see eReserves: How to Access.
Harding, S. “Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology: What is ‘Strong Objectivity’?”
Activity 1: Paper: Rationalism, Empiricism, and Transcendental Idealism
How is it possible for human beings to know themselves and the world? Rationalism and empiricism offer opposing theories for describing how human beings apprehend the world. On the one hand, rationalists, such as Descartes and Plato, maintain that the senses cannot be trusted to convey accurate knowledge of the world; rather, knowledge is the result of reflective and logical thought. On the other hand, empiricists, such as Locke and Hume, argue that the senses are the vehicle by which human beings apprehend the world. Knowledge results from sensory perceptions. Kant’s transcendental idealism is an attempt to carve out a middle path between rationalism and empiricism. He argues that while the senses provide knowledge, the boundaries in which the senses operate are not knowable through reason. Thus, both intuition and the categories of understanding are necessary for knowledge acquisition. He famously said, “…without sensibility [intuition] no object would be given to us; and without understanding no object would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind” (Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason, p. 93). This learning activity will allow you to engage these theories, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and determine your own position on the knowledge acquisition.
After completing the required readings, research and report your findings in a four- to five-page research paper that follows the following format.
3. Pick one of the following subjects to research:
President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
The 1969 Apollomoon landing.
The Lizzy Borden case.
The Jack the Ripper case.
An alternative topic approved by your facilitator.
4. Research to find competing accounts on the event you selected. For example, while the Warren Commission determined that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy, many alternative accounts have been proposed.
5. Examine at least two of these accounts. What reasons and evidence are given to support the competing positions? Are the reasons cited and the evidence given credible? Why/why not?
6. Evaluate each of the accounts from the perspective of Descartes (rationalism), Hume (empiricism), and Kant (transcendental idealism). How would they assess the evidence given in the competing accounts?
7. Which analysis (i.e., Descartes, Hume, or Kant) do you find more compelling and why?
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