Sample Psychology Paper on Rationalism and Empiricism Theories

Rationalism relies on reason as the only source of human knowledge, while empiricism relies on human experience, observation, and experiment as the source of human knowledge. The two theories differ in terms of knowledge acquisition, but when studied keenly, one can conclude that they tend to complement each other. However, rationalists and empiricists beg to differ, and each struggles to make their theory more relevant than the other.

Descartes believes that the human mind has access to its content, hence the definition of different desires, hopes, and fears, among other things, regarding human activities. Psychologically it is looked at as an overly deductive way of thinking, which also involves molding reality to suit an individual’s theoretical understanding. The founders reasoned that they were defending rational thought. It relies on intuition such that what humans see is interpreted as true, thus the formation of truth from individual reasoning and analysis (Thomas 43). The theory also supports deduction, which would be drawn from conclusions through valid arguments. Empiricism, on the other hand, is a philosophical doctrine that tends to rely on experience as the only source of knowledge. Its rules of practice are drawn from observation and experiments rather than fromtheories. Empiricists are, therefore, against the idea of gaining knowledge through the superiority of reasoning.

Rationalism dictates that in a mathematical illustration, one does not need observation of the world and its experiences to know that addition gives a certain answer. Instead, it comes from logic, whereby one understands the concept of addition then gets to know that it is true. Empiricism, however, dictates that this is not true since mathematical empirical can only be relied on based on experiences of the world. A similar situation would be a child having one apple and is added another one, which means that he ends up having two. Rationalism, therefore, conforms to mathematical analysis, while empiricism tends to lean more towards experiments and observations.

Both theories contribute to science such that imperialists provide their views through experiments and observations while rationalists contribute through analyzing the data and coming up with logical explanations of the experience. Einstein, for example, was not big with experiments but could take the collected data and analyze it rationally to come up with some of his brilliant theories (Thomas 124). One would assume that the theories of special and general relativity are generated from new experiments while in reality, they come from old ones. The only new addition is the application of a mathematical eye using the data acquired earlier. The two theories, therefore, are similar in the sense that they help to come up with relevant scientific conclusions by complementing each other. Empiricism complements rationalism.

Genetic psychologists believe that the development of thought and behavior in an infant develops through his/her experiences. This belief is in course with the world, thus the more the infant grows, the more he/she experiences the world and gains knowledge, thus development. Leibniz, however, argues that experience is not enough to base human knowledge on (Thomas 102). He believes that the knowledge acquired by people, especially in mathematics, is based on areas they are familiar with hence know that it is true (Thomas 104). We, therefore, gain knowledge by intuition and deduction and morals.Metaphysics and logic are other areas that support rationalism theory, which would nullify the use of experiments and observation as the basis for gaining knowledge.

The theories tend to differ in terms of the rationale behind their functionalities. However, there is a similarity in the sense that one tends to complement the other one, which means, at some point, one would rely on the other for knowledge. A mathematical problem, for example, the amount of change given to an individual could be deduced using the empiricism theory through counting, which is an experiment, rationalism comes in on the reason as to why that particular amount of money has to be given as change. They work together to fulfill human knowledge. Humans learn through both experience and logic.


Work Cited

Thomas, Janice. “The Minds of the Moderns. Rationalism, Empiricism, and Philosophy of Mind”. 2014