What are the disadvantages of rationalism

Advantages and disadvantages of rationalism and empiricism

Rationalism and empiricism are two schools of philosophy that try to understand the world around us. They are often juxtaposed because their approaches to knowledge are completely different. The empiricists believe that we learn something about the world through past experiences, while for rationalists reason is the basis for understanding something. Both views can help someone gain knowledge, but have certain drawbacks.

Scientists use experiments to see if a phenomenon repeats itself (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Advantages of empiricism

An empiricist would say that the laws of electrical conductivity depend on human observations. This is because we have seen electricity flow through pieces of metal rather than wood so many times that we have recorded the fact that the metal is a conductor and the wood is not. Our senses do not lie - under normal circumstances - and experience can show whether a phenomenon is repetitive and therefore obeys certain laws or happens accidentally. For example, scientists use experiments to test whether a theory is valid or not through observation.

Disadvantages of empiricism

Perception is not universal: what one person perceives as true may be wrong for another. For example, a book can be red for a man, but it can be green for a color blind person. Does that mean the book is green because one of many color blind people perceives the book as such? In addition, perception is also influenced by external factors: the same experiment under different conditions (e.g. temperature) can lead to different results that will not be noticed by a careless researcher.

Advantages of rationalism

Rationalists believe that there is a reason for every object or phenomenon. An object returns to the ground when it is thrown up, not because millions of people have watched it, but because there is a reason for it: the law of gravity. In addition, metal is a conductor because, unlike wood, it contains mobile electrical charges. Rationalism seeks to find the pre-existing general principles (which man did not create) behind every phenomenon that are independent of the individual's perception of what knowledge is. The result is undisputed theories that explain the laws of the world around us.

Disadvantages of rationalism

Rationalism suggests that people are born with innate ideas and truths about a particular subject (such as mathematical concepts) that are part of our rational nature and we just need to bring them to the surface. However, as the philosopher John Locke suggests, there are "idiots" who do not know simple ideas and cannot understand what goes against the universality of innate ideas. Furthermore, the laws or logic that describe the world are not infallible, since they can be based on human delusions; Otherwise, scientists would not conduct experiments and would only rely on logical arguments.