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Theories of Knowledge Essay

Exam 1: Essay Response

Theories of knowledge:

There are three different theories of knowledge:

  1. Skepticism
  2. Empiricism
  3. Rationalism


Skepticism is the denial of genuine knowledge. There are two kinds of skepticism; global and local. Universal or global skepticism offers that no knowledge on any matter is certain or possible while the local skepticism emphasizes on the specific fields of knowledge or the justification techniques. Many philosophers argued upon this branch of knowledge such as Descartes, David Hume etc. but some also followed this theory like Socrates who claimed that he knew one and the only thing that he knew nothing.


Theory of empiricism holds that anything or any knowledge that we can attain, perceive, or justify through our senses is our basis of knowledge. Philosophers who followed this idea included Hume, Berkeley, and John Locke. The idea of empiricism is that whatever we experience forms the basis of our concepts, ideas, and perceptions. The positive point about empiricism is that it is also justified by the natural sciences like physics, chemistry etc., and is related to the world around us. George Berkeley states, “To be is to be perceived.” There are further three theories related to empiricism: naïve realism, indirect realism, and idealism.


Justification of beliefs through pure reason is what rationalism is. It does not deny the genuine knowledge like the theory of skepticism, and neither follows only the perceptions and ideas of our minds like the theory of empiricism. The empiricists believe that a priori reasoning on which the rationalism is based on is of a limited importance and significance. Priori reasoning refers to those statements which do not depend upon the sensual experiences.

My point of view:

The theory of skepticism does not really make any sense to me as following it may lead to the belief that the life has no meaning and nothing is genuine and real. This makes an individual discouraged towards gaining knowledge and wisdom. Why would we go after acquiring information and knowledge about different things if the knowledge we gain does not have reality? No matter how many evidences we have, nothing will be considered as real. Empiricism does make sense to some extent. God has given us the senses through which we identify and realize things around us. We can see things, hear different sounds, taste different items, and can feel the world around us. But what if our senses are false? Additionally, though we all have these senses, our way of perceiving things differ from one another. Now, here the theory of rationalism comes in and solves the problem. Reasoning and the prior knowledge expands our knowledge that we gain from our senses. Senses can deceive us in many ways and in many situations but reasoning guides us to attain the truth by thinking, intuition and reasoning. Through rationalism, we can conceptualize things and makes sense out of them. Both rationalism and empiricism have their strengths and weaknesses, but I believe taking both of them together will lead to a better form of knowledge.



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