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Knowledge Essay

1198 words - 5 pages

Angelina McDay
Philosophy 1010
On The Fence
There are many different theories out there on the topic of knowledge and what it is. These theories fall under two different categories; rationalism and empiricism. When asked which theory I feel answers the question of what knowledge is, I find that I cannot commit to just one. Rather I feel that a combination of Descartes and Locke’s theory of knowledge fits with my own beliefs. Since I cannot commit to strictly one theory I am on the fence about it, but for good reason.
Parts of Descartes’s and Locke’s theories fit but not either of them completely. That being said my beliefs seem to fit in with dualism more completely than anything ...view middle of the document...

This part of his theory struck me because like his theory, I have also wondered if everything is just a dream. If my whole life and the experiences I am having in a waking consciousness are only a dream and if so the one doing the dreaming must hold certain knowledge. However, we can only access that knowledge when the body dies and the soul/mind is freed, “Descartes conclusion is not that one should keep wondering whether one is dreaming, but that there is no philosophical proof that at any given moment one is not dreaming” (Palmer 59).
Unlike Descartes however, I do not believe that sensory data and the senses in which that data is collected are deceivers. Instead I think that perception is reality. What I mean by this is that certain knowledge is different for each individual because their perception of everything is different than anyone else’s. Consider a simple table:
It follows that if several people are looking at the table at the same moment, no two of them will see exactly the same distribution of colors, because no two can see it from exactly the same point of view, and any change in the point of view makes some change in the way the light is reflected (“Appearance and Reality”).
That being said, the experiences collected from the senses could only be considered as deceiving because they are not the same as the person next to us. This makes me think that certain knowledge is tailored to the individual because no two minds see or think alike. These bits of Descartes’s theory flow into the bits of Locke’s theory of knowledge that make more sense to me.
John Locke’s theory of knowledge is basically this; we are born without knowledge and the only certain knowledge we possess is our experiences which are gained through sensory data. He argues against Descartes’s theory by suggesting that at birth, we posses only a “blank state” of mind (Palmer 76). This “blank state” of mind as Locke would say, certain knowledge is gained through sensory experience that becomes a mosaic on the blank mind. This is the main point of Locke’s theory and one that fits into my beliefs from the pieces mentioned above from Descartes’s theory. I think that certain knowledge is gained from our experiences and more importantly, our perception of those experiences. Similar to a dream, we have all of our senses;...

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