Reply To: Empiricism

  • Encyclios

    May 10, 2023 at 12:45 PM

    Modern Empirism

    John Locke is the initiator of the English branch of Empiricism. In his “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” (1689), the reader is warned that the author’s intent is to proceed with a “simple descriptive method” to establish the conditions, limits, and possibilities of knowledge, to ascertain which truths can be known with certainty and which are the object of probability and of conjectures, because if the claim to know everything is unreasonable, so is renouncing in the name of absolute skepticism knowledge that is instead accessible to man. its position is therefore that of refusing dogmatism, scholastic metaphysics, and the principle of authority. Therefore, Locke refutes the belief that innate and absolutely certain ideas exist, without needing to be examined. This belief causes intolerance and fanaticism. Reference points are the inductive method and the hypothesis testing procedures typical of the experimental method.

    On the other hand, another important contribution was that of David Hume‘s skepticism. For the Scottish philosopher, the causal connections and the principle of uniformity of nature, which is based on them, cannot be derived either from reason or directly from experience: their origin should rather be sought in a sort of natural instinct, which is the task of the “anatomist of human nature” to analyze, reconstructing the psychological mechanisms that operate on the imagination through procedures that Hume defines with terms such as “custom”, “habit”, “belief”. Hume’s thought is part of an attempt to extend the procedures of new experimental physics to the study of human nature.

    To Immanuel Kant, however, the thesis of the only sensitive origin of knowledge seemed untenable, not so much because of the difficulty of deriving complex contents of knowledge from simple and immediate sensitive data, but rather because at least a part of the propositions of which our knowledge consists (above all scientific knowledge) has characteristics of universality and necessity, which the constancy of certain relationships between sensations is not sufficient to justify. He, therefore, defined experience as the organization of sensations, operated by certain a priori functions