Ramisa HassanIntroduction to Philosophy Descartes’ Rationalism vs Empiricism Rationalism claims that there are significant ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of our senses or our experiences. Rene Descartes calls into question which parts of life may be deceiving him. This contrasts the ideas of Aristotle, who placed a heavy focus on the testimony of the senses, ultimately suggesting that all knowledge comes from the senses. There is a distinct difference between rationalism and empiricism; in fact, they are the direct opposite of each other. Rationalism is the belief in reason, deduction, and innate ideas. Empiricism is the belief in induction, stating that there are actually no innate ideas and knowledge must come from experience. According to empiricism, everything known revolves around things that can be experienced, and that all things that are certain or justifiable are only knowable through experience. However this can be disproved by much of Descartes’ arguments. Thus, rationalism is a more correct perspective on knowledge than empiricism is. Descartes argues the possibility that he is currently dreaming, being deceived by an evil demon, or that he is simply crazy. Each of these give him reasons to be skeptical of all his beliefs. He presents the possibility that nothing of the world is real; he essentially disbelieves everything that can possibly exist and calls his entire existence into question. He says: Descartes is saying that he can’t doubt that he is thinking because doubting itself is a kind of thinking. He is thinking, therefore he is alive and exists. This idea solidifies rationalism because Descartes is defining his knowledge though innate ideas, reason, and deduction, rather than through his senses. Descartes dream argument suggests that senses may not be reliable by presenting the possibility of universal dreaming. Descartes says: Descartes revelation that he is a thing which doubts and understands further adds to his previous claims. Denial, will, and refusal are not senses, but still provided him with knowledge of his existence. This ability to think may even be definitive of his existence and his knowledge of himself, which is evident in many of Descartes arguments. According to Descartes suggestions, there are many things that can explain our perceptions. If one were to see an object, the obvious assumption is that they are seeing the object simply because the object is there. It is also possible, however, that they are hallucinating or dreaming the object. In essence, these are all logical possibilities and there is no certainty to which explanation is most correct. This is essentially what Descartes is trying to say through his previously mentioned analogies; he states that all doubts are probable and that it is possible that our senses are deceiving us. This suggests another potential problem that empiricism must address: how to explain mathematics and logic. This is because empiricism says that all knowledge is based on experience. Thus, empiricism must explain how it is possible to explain mathematical knowledge through common sense experiences. This means that, since mathematical knowledge is thought to be certain knowledge, empiricism must explain how it is possible to derive certain knowledge through a process of using senses and experiences. Moreover, empiricism must also explain how it is possible to prove mathematical statements through experience.To preserve mathematical truths as absolute truths, it can be argued that some perceptions, and the ideas that represent these perceptions, can be more certain than others. An example is deriving numbers by counting things that are seen. When doing so, a sense experience is being used to derive a mathematical concept. When reason operates on experience, the ideas, and the associations between ideas, that it produces results in certain knowledge. However, it is not uncommon for one to make mistakes while counting, or while attempting any other sort of mathematical calculation; this shows that using experiences to hold mathematical truths as absolute truths may not be so certain. It is difficult to demonstrate how it is possible to derive mathematics and logic through experience. Even were it possible to reduce mathematics to experience, it would need to answer the questions: (1) whether experiences can produce mathematical knowledge and (2) how would it be possible to prove mathematical statements through experience. A possible solution is to argue that there is no certainty in mathematics to begin with; all other empirical statements and mathematical statements only express probabilities. However, the disadvantage to this saying this is one must give up all claims to absolute truth in mathematics, which then goes against the nature of mathematics itself. Therefore, Descartes’ rationalism is more correct that empiricism. It is important to raise the question of how we can claim to know with certainty anything about the world around us, especially just through our senses. The idea is not that these doubts are probable, but that their possibility can never be entirely ruled out. And if we can never be certain, how can we claim to know anything? This is an important step away from empiricism and reliance on the senses.