Poetry from 12/2014

14 December 2014

Rationalism Vs Empiricism


What is it possible to know?

We should never lose sight of the fact that all our beliefs must be grounded if they are to have any meaning or significance and consequently they must rest upon some verifiable statement.

Rationalism, is the view that regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge.

Rationalism is any view appealing to intellectual and deductive reason (as opposed to sensory experience or any religious teachings) as the source of knowledge or justification. Thus, it holds that some propositions are knowable by us by intuition alone, while others are knowable by being deduced through valid arguments from intuited propositions. It relies on the idea that reality has a rational structure in that all aspects of it can be grasped through mathematical and logical principles, and not simply through sensory experience.

Reasoning deductively means beginning with a known set of possibilities then ruling-out those that are not applicable until reaching the best solution nearest the truth. Sherlock Holmes used a form of deductive reasoning when working on murder cases.

Rationalists believe that without reason we could not organize and interpret our sense experience in any way. Our mind is constituted in such a way that what we see is seen in an organised, three dimensional way through a framework of understanding. Depth perception is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions (3D) and the distance of an object.

Empiricism is the idea that all knowledge is obtained through observation and experience. But everything we see is largely our own subjective interpretation.   We never see anything directly or as it is, rather we see it as we are. Ludwig Wittgenstein commented that instead of things the world is composed of facts. He further commented that it is not how the things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists at all. 

Logical positivism (also called logical empiricism and neo-positivism) is a school of philosophy that combines empiricism – the idea that observational evidence is indispensable for knowledge of the world – with a version of rationalism incorporating mathematical and logico-linguistic constructs and deductions. Logical positivism grew from the discussions of a group called the "First Vienna Circle" which gathered at the Café Central before World War I.



7 December 2014

The Relationship of Philosophy to the Arts

And what is Life? An hour-glass on the run,
A mist retreating from the morning sun,
A busy, bustling, still-repeated dream.
Its length? A minute's pause, a moment's thought.
And Happiness? A bubble on the stream,
That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought.
John Clare

“What is Life?” every genuine and successful work of art answers this question in its own way, but all the arts speak in the language of perception rather than in an abstract sense; their answer is thus a fleeting image, not a permanent universal knowledge.  Thus for perception every work of art answers that question, every painting, every stature, every poem, every scene on the stage.  Music also answers it, more profoundly than do all the others, in a language intelligible with absolute directness.  Thus all the other arts together hold before the questioner an image or picture of perception and say: “Look here; this is life!”  However correct their answer may be, it will always afford only a temporary, not a complete and final satisfaction. For they always give only a fragment, an example instead of the rule, not the whole which can be given only in the universality of the concept.  Therefore it is the task of philosophy to give for the concept a reply which is permanent for all time. Moreover we see here on what the relationship between philosophy and the fine arts rests, and can conclude from this to what extent the capacity for the two, though very different in its tendency and in secondary matters, is yet radically the same.
Accordingly, every work of art really endeavours to show life and things as they are in reality; but these cannot be grasped directly by everyone through the mist of objective and subjective contingencies consequently, art provides an implicit means of understanding.
The works of poets, writers, sculptors and pictorial and graphic artists generally contain an acknowledged treasure of profound wisdom, just because the wisdom of the nature of things themselves speaks from them. They interpret the utterances of things merely by elucidation and purer repetition.  Therefore everyone who reads the poem or contemplates the work of art must contribute from his own resources towards bringing that wisdom to light.  It follows from all this that wisdom is certainly contained in the works of the pictorial and graphic artists yet only implicitly.  Philosophy on the other hand, endeavours to provide the same wisdom explicitly; in this sense philosophy is related to the arts as wine is to grapes. What it promises to supply is a clear gain already realised, a universal law, whereas that which comes from the achievements of the arts is only one that is always to be produced afresh.  However philosophy makes severe demands, hard to fulfil not merely for those who are to produce its works, but also for those who are to enjoy them. Consequently the numbers of those interested in philosophy are small, while the audience for the arts is large.