Empiricism and rationalism

Rationalism and empiricism are schools of thought that seek the meaning of our existence. Each of these philosophies seeks the truth of our life by promoting skepticism, or doubt that the other ideas are true. Fundamentally, these two philosophies are essentially opposite. Next we will show you all the differences about them.



DefinitionEmpiricism is a theory based on the claim that experience is the source of knowledge.Rationalism is a theory based on the claim that reason is the source of knowledge.
IntuitionEmpiricism does not believe in intuitionRationalism believes in intuition
Innate knowledgeEmpiricism claims that people have no innate knowledgeRationalism affirms that people have innate knowledge or concepts
Knowledge methodExperimental science is the paradigm of knowledge.Mathematics is the paradigm of knowledge.
AssuranceExperimental science cannot produce certainty.Genuine knowledge is true because it is rational, not empirical.

Philosophers who value rationalism or empiricism maintain an ongoing discussion about the meaning of our existence by making claims that attempt to refute the beliefs of the other philosophy on the basis of their skepticism of opposing views. A key similarity between these philosophies is that many philosophers of both schools of thought believe in God ; however, God’s responsibility for how humans discover the truth about their existence is fundamentally different.

What is rationalism?

Rationalism works on three key principles that work to find the truth:

  • Deduction: deduction is the application of concrete principles to reach a conclusion. Mathematical principles are an example of deduction. For example, finding the square footage of a room is always done the same way, multiplying the width and length.
  • Innate Ideas: Innate ideas are the concept that we are born with fundamental truths or experiences left over from another life we ​​are born with. These ideas can also come from God. Innate ideas can explain why some people are so much more talented at some things than others who have exactly the same exposure to them.
  • Reason: Reason uses logic to determine a conclusion. Logic can use multiple methods to determine truth, and the emphasis is on finding the truth, not the method.

What is empiricism?

Empiricism, on the other hand in its school of thought, works with principles that use skepticism to reject the principles of rationalism.

  • Sensory experience: Empiricists believe that our ideas come solely from sensory experience. These ideas are simple or complex and make use of the five senses (touch, taste, smell, sound and sight). Simple ideas are those that use only one of the five senses to establish perception. For example, sugar is sweet. Complex ideas use more than one of the five senses to gain more detailed insight. Sugar is sweet, white, and grainy, for example.
  • Innate Ideas: Empiricists reject the notion of innate ideas. A popular term associated with this came from John Locke, who believed that the mind was a blank slate.
  • Induction: Induction is the most crucial principle for empiricism, similar to the crucial reason for rationalists. Induction is the belief that very little can be conclusively proven, especially without experience. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? This is an example of the empirical perspective of induction. Since there is no one in the forest who experiences the sound of a tree falling, then it cannot be determined as true that it makes a sound.

What is induction?

Induction is a significant difference between rationalism and empiricism . Induction promotes the belief that the only thing we can be sure of is the experiences we have. This is called solipsism . Everything we experience is a projection of the mind, which means that we can only really know that we exist and everything else is just the projection of the mind. Interestingly, a rationalistic belief that is similar to solipsism is Rene Descartes’s “statement,” I think; then I exist.

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