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Category Archives: Rationalism

Rationalism – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: February 2, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Rationalism is a branch of philosophy where the validity of an idea is determined by logic, rather than religious means such as revelations, meditation, emotions or observations.

Rationalist philosophers believe that all knowledge can be understood through a process of reasoning, without any external sources. They do not believe that human beings can understand everything this way, but that it is theoretically possible. Rationalist philosophers attempt to understand ideas like God and the Soul in this manner.

The first people to talk about rationalism were Marin Mersenne and Ren Descartes, in the 17th and 18th centuries. Other philosophers who are seen as rationalist today include Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant. Famous people opposed to this idea were David Hume and John Locke.

Rationalism also influenced natural law. Natural law is a theory that says that there are laws given by nature, valid everywhere. Deism was also influenced by rationalism. According to deism, a supreme being created the universe. This being, and other religious truths can be determined by observing nature, and finding natural laws. This would make religions that are based on revelation unnecessary.

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rationalism | Britannica.com

Posted: January 20, 2016 at 10:44 am

Rationalism,in Western philosophy, the view that regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge. Holding that reality itself has an inherently logical structure, the rationalist asserts that a class of truths exists that the intellect can grasp directly. There are, according to the rationalists, certain rational principlesespecially in logic and mathematics, and even in ethics and metaphysicsthat are so fundamental that to deny them is to fall into contradiction. The rationalists confidence in reason and proof tends, therefore, to detract from their respect for other ways of knowing.

Rationalism has long been the rival of empiricism, the doctrine that all knowledge comes from, and must be tested by, sense experience. As against this doctrine, rationalism holds reason to be a faculty that can lay hold of truths beyond the reach of sense perception, both in certainty and generality. In stressing the existence of a natural light, rationalism has also been the rival of systems claiming esoteric knowledge, whether from mystical experience, revelation, or intuition, and has been opposed to various irrationalisms that tend to stress the biological, the emotional or volitional, the unconscious, or the existential at the expense of the rational.

Rationalism has somewhat different meanings in different fields, depending upon the kind of theory to which it is opposed.

In the psychology of perception, for example, rationalism is in a sense opposed to the genetic psychology of the Swiss scholar Jean Piaget (18961980), who, exploring the development of thought and behaviour in the infant, argued that the categories of the mind develop only through the infants experience in concourse with the world. Similarly, rationalism is opposed to transactionalism, a point of view in psychology according to which human perceptual skills are achievements, accomplished through actions performed in response to an active environment. On this view, the experimental claim is made that perception is conditioned by probability judgments formed on the basis of earlier actions performed in similar situations. As a corrective to these sweeping claims, the rationalist defends a nativism, which holds that certain perceptual and conceptual capacities are innateas suggested in the case of depth perception by experiments with the visual cliff, which, though platformed over with firm glass, the infant perceives as hazardousthough these native capacities may at times lie dormant until the appropriate conditions for their emergence arise.

Chomsky, NoamAPIn the comparative study of languages, a similar nativism was developed in the 1950s by the innovating syntactician Noam Chomsky, who, acknowledging a debt to Ren Descartes (15961650), explicitly accepted the rationalistic doctrine of innate ideas. Though the thousands of languages spoken in the world differ greatly in sounds and symbols, they sufficiently resemble each other in syntax to suggest that there is a schema of universal grammar determined by innate presettings in the human mind itself. These presettings, which have their basis in the brain, set the pattern for all experience, fix the rules for the formation of meaningful sentences, and explain why languages are readily translatable into one another. It should be added that what rationalists have held about innate ideas is not that some ideas are full-fledged at birth but only that the grasp of certain connections and self-evident principles, when it comes, is due to inborn powers of insight rather than to learning by experience.

Common to all forms of speculative rationalism is the belief that the world is a rationally ordered whole, the parts of which are linked by logical necessity and the structure of which is therefore intelligible. Thus, in metaphysics it is opposed to the view that reality is a disjointed aggregate of incoherent bits and is thus opaque to reason. In particular, it is opposed to the logical atomisms of such thinkers as David Hume (171176) and the early Ludwig Wittgenstein (18891951), who held that facts are so disconnected that any fact might well have been different from what it is without entailing a change in any other fact. Rationalists have differed, however, with regard to the closeness and completeness with which the facts are bound together. At the lowest level, they have all believed that the law of contradiction A and not-A cannot coexist holds for the real world, which means that every truth is consistent with every other; at the highest level, they have held that all facts go beyond consistency to a positive coherence; i.e., they are so bound up with each other that none could be different without all being different.

In the field where its claims are clearestin epistemology, or theory of knowledgerationalism holds that at least some human knowledge is gained through a priori (prior to experience), or rational, insight as distinct from sense experience, which too often provides a confused and merely tentative approach. In the debate between empiricism and rationalism, empiricists hold the simpler and more sweeping position, the Humean claim that all knowledge of fact stems from perception. Rationalists, on the contrary, urge that some, though not all, knowledge arises through direct apprehension by the intellect. What the intellectual faculty apprehends is objects that transcend sense experienceuniversals and their relations. A universal is an abstraction, a characteristic that may reappear in various instances: the number three, for example, or the triangularity that all triangles have in common. Though these cannot be seen, heard, or felt, rationalists point out that humans can plainly think about them and about their relations. This kind of knowledge, which includes the whole of logic and mathematics as well as fragmentary insights in many other fields, is, in the rationalist view, the most important and certain knowledge that the mind can achieve. Such a priori knowledge is both necessary (i.e., it cannot be conceived as otherwise) and universal, in the sense that it admits of no exceptions. In the critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant (17241804), epistemological rationalism finds expression in the claim that the mind imposes its own inherent categories or forms upon incipient experience (see below Epistemological rationalism in modern philosophies).

In ethics, rationalism holds the position that reason, rather than feeling, custom, or authority, is the ultimate court of appeal in judging good and bad, right and wrong. Among major thinkers, the most notable representative of rational ethics is Kant, who held that the way to judge an act is to check its self-consistency as apprehended by the intellect: to note, first, what it is essentially, or in principlea lie, for example, or a theftand then to ask if one can consistently will that the principle be made universal. Is theft, then, right? The answer must be No, because, if theft were generally approved, peoples property would not be their own as opposed to anyone elses, and theft would then become meaningless; the notion, if universalized, would thus destroy itself, as reason by itself is sufficient to show.

In religion, rationalism commonly means that all human knowledge comes through the use of natural faculties, without the aid of supernatural revelation. Reason is here used in a broader sense, referring to human cognitive powers generally, as opposed to supernatural grace or faiththough it is also in sharp contrast to
so-called existential approaches to truth. Reason, for the rationalist, thus stands opposed to many of the religions of the world, including Christianity, which have held that the divine has revealed itself through inspired persons or writings and which have required, at times, that its claims be accepted as infallible, even when they do not accord with natural knowledge. Religious rationalists hold, on the other hand, that if the clear insights of human reason must be set aside in favour of alleged revelation, then human thought is everywhere rendered suspecteven in the reasonings of the theologians themselves. There cannot be two ultimately different ways of warranting truth, they assert; hence rationalism urges that reason, with its standard of consistency, must be the final court of appeal. Religious rationalism can reflect either a traditional piety, when endeavouring to display the alleged sweet reasonableness of religion, or an antiauthoritarian temper, when aiming to supplant religion with the goddess of reason.

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Rationalism | Definition of rationalism by Merriam-Webster

Posted: January 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm

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Definition of Rationalism – kosmicki.com

Posted: at 3:42 pm

Rationalism is the term used to describe writers and philosophers who privilege scientific reason and logical thought over and above everything else. The Rationalists in America were very much influenced by the Enlightenment that was happening in the 18th century in Europe. However, unlike the Enlightenments great thinkers and philosophers, the Founding Fathers of America attempted to put the philosophy of the Enlightenment to actual use. This is most likely directly related to the fact that American Rationalists evolved out of the tradition of Puritanism, not the class structure and Feudalism of Europe.

Rationalism is based on the concepts of logic and scientific reasoning, but the Rationalists themselves were not scientists as we think of the term. Science in the 18th century was not a profession it was a hobby. Wealthier Americans who had gone to the universities went back to their homes and began to categorize the flora and fauna of their home regions. Not because they were biologists, but because somebody had to do it, and it might as well be them.

Most American science was based on figuring out how to do things more efficiently (and profitably). Rationalists used the scientific method of identifying the problem, hypothesizing a solution, and testing the hypotheses until you reach a satisfactory conclusion. Benjamin Franklin became one of Americas great scientists, but almost everything that he invented (bifocals, lightning rods, Franklin stoves, etc) were designed to solve specific problems. He was not just puttering around or doing experiments willy-nilly.

One side effect of rationalism was that it led to questioning of everything. Instead of following tradition simply because it had always been done that way, rationalists questioned the traditions and made the necessary changes based on what they observed. Thus, because of the rationalist worldview, instead of automatically setting up a government like every other government in Europe, the Founding Fathers asked what sort of government made the most logical sense.

One other significant element of rationalism is their view of religion. As is often pointed out in church/state discussions today, the Founding Fathers made reference to God on a regular basis. However, their view of God and religion was NOT the same as the Puritans. The vast majority of the Founding Fathers and other leading Rationalists were Deists. They believed in God, but it was not a God who was involved in human affairs. The metaphor that was commonly used was the God was like a Clockmaker who had made the universe, wound it up, and was letting it wind down. By referencing God, they were referencing the very notion of a rational, planned universe. Mans role was to try to make proper use of what God had created, whether it be in political structures, daily life, or even scientific observation. Studying the world scientifically wasnt in defiance of religion, it was to better understand what God had created.

This is just a very simple beginning explanation of Puritanism. Check out these websites if you want to know more:

http://abcnews.go.com/America/classroom/1.html

http://www.mesquitereview.com/mr28-5.html

http://www.vernonjohns.org/vernjohns/sthfrnkl.html

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Rationalism (international relations) – Wikipedia, the …

Posted: at 3:42 pm

Rationalism in politics is often seen as the midpoint in the three major political viewpoints of realism, rationalism, and internationalism. Whereas Realism and Internationalism are both on ends of the scale, rationalism tends to occupy the middle ground on most issues, and finds compromise between these two conflicting points of view.

Believers of Rationalism believe that multinational and multilateral organizations have their place in the world order, but not that a world government would be feasible. They point to current international organizations, most notably the United Nations, and point out that these organizations leave a lot to be desired and, in some cases, do more harm than good. They believe that this can be achieved through greater international law making procedures and that the use of force can be avoided in resolving disputes.[1]

Rationalists tend to see the rule of law and order as being equally important to states as it helps reduce conflicts. This in turn helps states become more willing to negotiate treaties and agreements where it best suits their interests. However, they see it as wrong for a nation to promote its own national interests, reminiscent of Internationalism, but that there is already a high level of order in the international system without a world government.[1]

Rationalists believe that states have a right to sovereignty, particularly over territory, but that this sovereignty can be violated in exceptional circumstances, such as human rights violations.

In situations such as that of Burma after Cyclone Nargis, rationalists find it acceptable for other states to violate that country’s sovereignty in order to help its people. This would be where an organisation such as the United Nations would come in and decide whether the situation is exceptional enough to warrant a violation of that state’s sovereignty.[1]

Realists believe that states act independently of each other and that states’ sovereignty is effectively sacred. Rationalists agree to a certain extent. However, as stated previously, rationalism includes sovereignty as a vital factor, but not as untouchable and ‘sacred’.

Realists also hold the Treaty of Westphalia and the international system that arose from this as the international system that prevails to this day. Rationalists acknowledge that the treaty has played an important part in shaping international relations and the world order and that certain aspects, such as sovereignty, still exist and play a vital role, but not that it has survived in its entirety. They believe that through the existence of international organisations, such as the European Union and the United Nations, the international system is less anarchic than Realists claim.[2]

Internationalists believe in a world order where an effective world government would govern the world, that sovereignty is an outdated concept and barrier to creating peace, the need for a common humanity and the need for cooperative solutions. Rationalists adhere to these beliefs to some extent. For example, with regards to the need for a common humanity and cooperative solutions, rationalists see this as being achieved without the need to abolish sovereignty and the Westphalian concept of the nation-state. The current system is seen as the example of this, as nation-states still hold their sovereignty and yet international organisations exist that potentially have the power to violate it, for the need to create peace, law and order.[1]

It is believed that the proposals for reform of the United Nations come from rationalist thoughts and points of view. This belief is held because most members of the UN agree that the UN requires reform, in the way of expanding or abolishing the Security Council and granting it more powers to violate sovereignty if necessary.[1]

Some figures who consider themselves as ‘rationalist’ include:

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