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Are you an Empiricist or a Rationalist?

This was the great dividing point in Philosophy in past centuries – the debate over where knowledge came from.

Empiricism holds that all humans are born with a complete empty mind – a “tabula rasa” – and everything we know comes from experience or is developed based on past experiences. Well-known Empiricists included John Locke and David Hume.

Rationalism does not deny the power of experience, but maintains that certain concepts are innate and do not have to be learned. These include, for example, mathematical truths that can be coaxed out by asking the right questions. The human brain always “knew” that one thing was bigger than another because the concept of relative size was baked into the brain from birth. Prominent Rationalists included Gottfried Leibniz and Rene Descartes (pictured).

So which school of thought do you feel more drawn towards?

  • Which school of thought makes more sense to you?

    • Empiricism
    • Rationalism

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What do you think?

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  1. I tend to lean toward Empiricism. However, I am a believer in the experience of past lives and reincarnation so I also in a way believe that when we are born somewhere in the back of our minds we have certain memories about what came way before and at some point in our lives we remember things that we do not understand right away.

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