Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Epistemology Midterm

These past five units have flown by, I can’t believe I am already writing my midterm assignment! Epistemology, like every other topic we have covered in philosophy, has left me confused. However, this idea of how our knowledge is acquired and where it comes from has really stuck with me, and is something I wanted to learn about more in depth. I struggled to decide if I was more of a rationalist, which is someone who believes that reason is the main source and test of knowledge, or an empiricist, which is someone who believes that knowledge is gained from experience. Knowledge exists everywhere and in everything; it’s various forms and theories about how it is acquired are endless. Knowledge can be direct-which is single pieces acquired through experience, or indirect which is more complex and acquired through reason. Keeping this idea of indirect and direct knowledge in mind, my blog post revolves how all knowledge made of past experiences.

I believe that we as humans are subconsciously or consciously always observing and learning about the world around us. To use the technical terms, I think all we all grow and develop through posteriori knowledge, which is knowledge that is gained after sense experience. Going along with this train of thought, it is self explanatory as to under which conditions it exists, and how we acquire knowledge in our everyday lives. To help further my understanding, I looked into the ideas of Aristotle, who is said to be among the first empiricists of the world. He said that all knowledge starts with sense experience. When we are born, we have no innate knowledge or understanding of the world; everything we learn is acquired though our senses. This idea makes a lot of sense to me, and in fact, was one of the arguments I was having with one of my classmates. To me, this idea is very logical, as we are born with our senses and nothing else. Aristotle also says that your senses cannot deceive you-this only comes when you put forth a conclusion that comes with your own theory. This is a way to rebut against rationalist theories, and was perhaps the tipping point for me to fall into the empiricist side.

I suppose the real question here is how do I know this is the right opinion? Or more so, how do I prove it? Using the example I stated previously about being born with no innate knowledge, think about growing up as a kid: Not only are you gaining knowledge about social skills through encounters with people, but you are gaining ‘book’ knowledge by the physical act of going to school and learning with an adult who is your teacher. Everything starts with that first sensory perception that is crucial to the way we think and the way we gain knowledge. These experiences come in many different forms, and they are something that every single person acquires daily.

To help represent my understanding I have created a logical argument:

Proposition: Knowledge is understood through beliefs we have acquired.

P1: A belief is produced by a reliable means of knowledge.

P2: Knowledge can only be acquired from a past experience.

Conclusion: Beliefs are composed of past experiences.

Beliefs are composed of past experiences-all the experiences we have true beliefs, therefore they are a reliable means of knowledge. Just to focus in on my conclusion, when I say beliefs I am referring to the ideas and knowledge we have about anything and everything-all which is gained through experiences. 

Epistemology is important because it helps us figure out the origins of human knowledge and how to justify what we know. I think this topic can serve as almost a basis for all the other topics we have covered, as it provides us with an understanding about ourself and the mind. From here, we can delve into philosopical inquiry about the world around us, ask questions about reality and how the world was created, and find ways to resonate our thoughts with those of previous philosophers.

Sources:

https://campus.aynrand.org/campus/globals/transcripts/aristotles-epistemology-concepts-explanation-and-the-nature-of-science

 

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