Experience of Truth
While both Philosophers, Rene Descartes a rationalist and David Hume an empiricist had vastly different views on where the bulk of individual knowledge is gained. Both had the power of persuasiveness of opinion that could become conceivably believable if while reading their writings, a reader does not keep in perspective that it is their (the writer) belief. Descartes believed in a priori knowledge and that ration and experience would aid a person’s ability in seeking truth. He chose not to rely on senses for fear of trickery. Descartes described himself as “a thing that thinks” (30). Hume, years later did not agree. He believed in a posteriori knowledge that senses are based on past experiences and they are more valuable in mind leading conclusions. Hume asked the question on doubt of ideas, “from what impressions is that supposed idea derived” (41)? While both can have ...view middle of the document...
For example, my dog had never eaten table food before. According to Hume she did not know what table food was, only her dog food because that was all she had eaten. Once she was older and received table food, she then experienced a different sensation than what the dog food afforded. Now that she has had the sensation of table food, which came with the sound of plates, pots, microwave chimes, refrigerator door openings and aroma. She now has the memory of taste, sound and other cues that were associated with the table food.
Another point that I agree with is the fact that ideas are not original. Many people believe in “”Big Foot” or the “Yeti”, we make up these monsters from previous images such as bears and polar bears. Children do the same thing using their imagination to create imaginary friends, by putting together attributes of people they know. They have a playmate, teacher, parent and confidant all combined into one “real” person.
From experience a person is able to relate to the difference between “matters of fact” and “relation of ideas”. With relation of ideas, we assume that everything is a constant. Individual’s plan their lives around various times of the day, such as the fact that 5:00pm always comes before 6:00pm.The theory of time can be contradicted because of daylight savings, time zone changes or leap year.
With the idea of matters of fact, one must prove through experience that things are true. There has never been a true sighting of Big Foot, Yeti or UFO’s. This shows because there is no experience of such phenomenon they are not matters of fact, just one’s imagination at work.
Although Descartes’ theory of reasoning is convincing, Hume’s idea of reasoning through experience makes a more compelling argument. Like Neo in the movie “The Matrix”, he chose the red pill over the blue pill opting for the truth in experience and reason opposed to not experiencing the true reality of life with exposure.
Dodson, Kevin and Jon Avery, eds. Ways of Knowing. Second revised edition. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2000. 30, 44
The Matrix [Motion picture]. (2001). Warner Bros. Pictures:.