Coversations with Khuram (III)

Umer: You've done quite a work on rationality. Can you share some thought on the fundamentals of 'rationality', and how it differs from 'empiricism'?

Master K: 'Rationality' is often used in the context of both Rationalism and Empiricism. Rationalism philosophy says that mind is able to discover first principle of reality without the involvement of sensory information. For example, Descartes claims that his first principle "cogito ergo sum" has been discovered without the input of sensory data. After having found first principle in this way, rest of detailed philosophy can be "deduced" out of first principle using deductive logic i.e. Pure reasoning. In this philosophy, construction of detailed philosophy also doesn't need sensory input. So this philosophy of "Rationalism" is considered to be the product of pure "rationality". There is no need of senses in the process of getting knowledge in Ratiönalism. Secondly, it is also supposed that all the reality is knowable using this method.

Master K: [He continues] For example, Parmenides asserts "what is rational is real and what is real is rational." Parmenides didn't believe in material world. According to him, reality was single and static. He denied possibility of motion or movements. Reality could be known using "rationality" and not using "senses". Zeno was puple of Parmenides. Zeno's paradoxes which aim at the denial of movement were because of views of Parmenides. Zeno uses "reason", i.e. "rationality", to prove that sensory world was a deception and only reason could lead to the knowledge of reality, which was static. In modern times, Hegel also adopted same position of "what is rational is real and what is real is rational". According to him all the aspects of reality are knowable using only "rationality" through the "dialective" reasoning process which starts with thesis, then anti-thesis and then synthesis, etc. Again, there is no need of senses in the process of knowing.

Master K: [Now takes on Empiricism] On the other side, Empiricsm is the idea that all knowledge comes only through the channel of senses. John Locke declared newly born human child's mind as a "tabula raza" upon which sense experiences would draw impressions later on. Just like Rationalism denied senses, so Empiricism also started disregarding "rationality" or deductive logic. So importance of deductive logic was openly denied and only inductive methods were favored. This philosophy is still considered the basis of science. Science syllabus even now excludes the study of deductive logic and promotes "statistical" methods which are inductive by nature. In my articles "Nature of Science - Rational or Empirical", "Is laboratory method inductive?", and "Scientific Principles", I have written against this approach!

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