Descartes Rationalism and Me Essay

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Descartes Rationalism

A Rationalist is a person who believes that ideas and thinking is a path to knowledge. Descartes who was the philosopher of early modern period is famous as rationalist due to his concept of "rationalism." Rationalism is a concept or a belief that we can have knowledge without experiencing the real world. An opposing belief or a rejection to rationalism is "empiricism" which gives the idea that knowledge and ideas are based on the real world.

According to Descartes concept of rationalism, there are different ways through which we gain our concepts and knowledge without actually experiencing anything. He did not support empiricism concept that considers our mind to be a blank state for the influx or incursion of sense experience. It was evident that Descartes favors rationalism when he presented his Meditations model and rejected all the knowledge that is gained from experience. He believed "it is the clear and distinct ideas and not the sensation which provide the ultimate foundations of knowledge" (Pereboom 8).

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Descartes theory seems interesting to me because he gave an idea that we can know anything just by thinking about it and without leaving the chair or performing any action. He proved his argument of rationalism by saying his claim 'cogito ergo sum' which means "I think, therefore I am." In the same way, he explained the existence of God that because he can think about God so God exist. His idea seems correct to me to some extent and I agree that there are several things that we perceive, imagine, think and understand without really doing or experiencing. For instance, if someone tells me about a road accident so I can imagine although I was not present at the exact location. Similarly I can imagine, think or plan whatever I want without leaving my place.

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However, this does not mean that knowledge gained from experiences and observations can be denied. In fact I believe that we learn a lot from our observations and experiences. This idea can be further understood by considering a simple example of two identical twins brothers. If both are equally sharp and intelligent but brought up in different environments then there thinking and way of perceiving things will be different. This is due to the reason that both have experienced and observed different situations in life which has affected their level of thinking. If I agree to the Descartes idea of rationalism then why two brothers think in a different way when they are identical twins. This shows that the experience and observations is also a path of knowledge and we learn a lot from what we suffer in our life.

I do not agree with Descartes idea of rejecting all knowledge that is gained from experience. Indeed, I strongly believe that the knowledge that is gained from experiences cannot be learned by just sitting and imagining things. There are several cases in which it was observed that a less educated but experienced person is found to be more intelligent than a highly educated but little work experienced person. This is due to the reason that experiences and observations give us practical lessons that cannot be just learned by reading books or imagining situations in the classroom.

One reason of Descartes favoring rationalism was that he did not like vague and inaccurate results. Indeed he claimed that he loved math because it gives definite conclusions while he despised philosophy because it hardly gives a specific result or conclusion. In order to reach to definite conclusions in philosophy he introduced and used systematic doubt. It is a concept in which all the things that have even the lowest possibility of being false are rejected. He used this approach for finding the accurate answers in the field of philosophy which are always based on the concept of reason and rationality without any empirical evidence.

Descartes believed that observations and experiences do not give accurate knowledge and the results obtained are always vague. Therefore the knowledge or information that is learned by experiencing or observing… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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