ADVANTAGES

Nonetheless, an important debate properly described as‘Rationalism vs. Empiricism’ is joined whenever the claimsfor each view are formulated to cover the same subject. What isperhaps the most interesting form of the debate occurs when we takethe relevant subject to be truths about the external world, the worldbeyond our own minds. A full-fledged rationalist with regard to ourknowledge of the external world holds that some external world truthscan and must be known a priori, that some of the ideasrequired for that knowledge are and must be innate, and that thisknowledge is superior to any that experience could ever provide. Thefull-fledged empiricist about our knowledge of the external worldreplies that, when it comes to the nature of the world beyond our ownminds, experience is our sole source of information. Reason mightinform us of the relations among our ideas, but those ideas themselvescan only be gained, and any truths about the external reality theyrepresent can only be known, on the basis of sense experience. Thisdebate concerning our knowledge of the external world will generallybe our main focus in what follows.

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