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Tiffany Lum
Mr. Buescher
Philosophy, Period 1
4 October 2015
Epistemology
Epistemology is simply the study of knowledge, however its not so simple to
understand. There is no definite answer as to the origin of knowledge or if we even have
knowledge, but there are multiple views on this topic, those being; skepticism, rationalism and
empiricism. Skepticism is the claim that we do not have knowledge and that every knowledge
statement or claim is unjustified and subject to doubt. Rationalism is the claim that reason is the
most superior source of knowledge about reality and that beliefs that are based on reason
represent reality as it truly is. Empiricism is the claim that the only source of genuine knowledge
is sense experience. The philosophy that I resonate most with is empiricism because the only
source of genuine knowledge is sense experience, reason is an unreliable and inadequate route to
knowledge unless it is grounded in the solid bedrock of sense experience, and there is no
evidence of inborn ideas that are known apart of experience.
Empiricism is the most justified claim because the only source of genuine knowledge is
sense experience. Without experience, they claim, we would lack not only knowledge of the
specific features of the world, but also the ability even to conceive of qualities. We cannot draw
conclusions from things that weve never experienced. Our mind is a blank tablet at birth, and if
that tablet is not exposed to certain things, then in our minds, we dont have knowledge of the
existence and qualities of those things. Empiricists also believe that We have to be content with
conclusions that are probable rather than absolutely certain, because most reasoning that is based

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on sense experience takes the form of inductive arguments. We can never be completely certain
that something is true, but the closest we can get to actual reality is obtained through
experiences. We must live in our own realities, and our knowledge of our own personal reality, is
gained from experience. John Locke expresses this idea perfectly, he says, the candle that is set
up in us shines bright enough for all our purposes. The discoveries we can make with this ought
to satisfy us. Although this knowledge may not encompass everything we wish to know for
certain, we must be content with the knowledge that allows us to perform efficiently in our own
reality. Some may say that empiricism is an unreliable and inadequate route to knowledge
because your senses can be deceived and your logic cannot, and therefore you must trust your
logic. However, you must trust your experience over your logic because your logic is based on
your experiences. Your logic can be wrong, but your experience cannot. Although your senses
can be deceived, you have knowledge of your own reality, and your logic is merely your
opinion/prediction of the results, which you form from past experiences.
Empiricism seems to be the most accurate claim because reason alone is an unreliable
and inadequate route to knowledge unless it is grounded in the solid bedrock of sense experience.
Empiricists ...believe that the primary role that reason plays in the acquisition of knowledge is
to organize the data of experience and draw conclusions from it. Reason is pulled from
experience, and although that is an important aspect of our existence, it alone cannot exist. It is
true that ...reason without experience is like a potter without clay or a computer without data.
Reason itself, would be completely useless, and wouldnt exist if it had nothing to pull
conclusions from. They work together in harmony, but without experience, the entire system
would fall apart. The mind needs something to reason about and where would it get this but
from experience. Reason comes from experience, but experience can exist independently from

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reason. There are no other areas that reason can be based off of. In response to the empiricists
claims that there are no logically necessary truths about the world, some may claim that that
response itself is an assertion based on logic, and therefore If so, isnt this assertion itself a
claim to have logically necessary knowledge about the nature of the world? If this claim is not a
logically necessary truth, then how could experience ever reveal its truth to us? This is false
because that logic is pulled from experience, and that is then used to make assertions, so
therefore that claim is false and inaccurate because all logical knowledge comes from
experiences.
Empiricism seems to be the most rational and true claim because there is no evidence of
inborn ideas that are known apart of experience. Empiricist would say that universal truths are
either expression of the relations of our ideas or generalizations from experience. All of our
knowledge comes from experience, although that exact experience may differ from person to
person, the overbearing idea or the knowledge gained stays constant. The universal truths are
simply observations of past experiences that then induce conclusions. In no case are there a
priori truths that both tell us about the world and are known apart from experience. Although a
priori knowledge is defined as knowledge that is justified independently of, or prior to,
experience, all a priori knowledge statements are known through some sort of experience. For
example, if one were to say that We can know the truth of definitions and logical truths apart
from experience and use the example that All unicorns are one-horned creatures. This is
known and we have this perception of a mystical creature because of what other people have told
us, and the stories that we have heard or read while growing up. Is this not experience? This
creature may be nonexistent, but the knowledge that we do have of it, comes from experience.
Rather than being an a priori truth, the statement really expresses the empirical claim that, in

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general, whenever something happened, experience has shown us that it had a cause. Our life is
a compilation of cause and effect actions. We do something, and see a result. Our knowledge
comes from observing these, whether its subconscious or if were completely aware, seeing
these actions and results, is the basis of our knowledge. Even if we discover truths that seem to
be universally known and that always hold true, these truths can be explained without positing
innate ideas All truths can be linked back to experience, and therefore, inborn ideas, cannot be
known apart from experience.
Empiricism is the most justified and seemingly true claim on epistemology because the
only source of authentic knowledge is sense experience, which reason alone cannot exist
without, and theres no proof of innate ideas within the mind that are known without experience.
The study of knowledge has no definite answer as to where our knowledge originates, however,
out of the three theories; skepticism, rationalism, and empiricism, empiricism seems to be the
most accurate and unwavering because no knowledge exists outside of sense experience.