Philosophy of Human Knowledge Analytical Essay by scribbler

Philosophy of Human Knowledge
A review and comparison of the philosophies of Descartes, Leibniz, Hume and Kant on human knowledge and understanding.
# 153231 | 1,475 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on May 08, 2013 in Philosophy (Epistemology)

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The paper outlines Descartes' philosophy on human knowledge in terms of doubt and skepticism and his argument that sensory knowledge cannot be trusted, and then looks at Leibniz's views of human knowledge that he based primarily on the principles of contradiction, predicate-in-notion and sufficient reason. Next, the paper discusses the philosophy of David Hume who divided knowledge into two camps: impressions (like sensations) and ideas (like rational thought) and made the radical point of asserting that all ideas are born from impressions. Finally, the paper examines the views of Kant who was an empirical realist and explains how his theory both mirrors and disputes that of Descartes. The paper concludes by discussing this author's views on human knowledge and how he agrees or disagrees with these philosophers' beliefs.

Gottfried Leibniz
David Hume
Immanuel Kant
Who Wins?

From the Paper:

"Descartes spoke of human knowledge in terms of doubt and skepticism (Audi and al). He set out to determine what is certainly true by first assuming that everything is false. He believed in the reliability of innate knowledge over sensory knowledge (Audi and al). In other words, sensory knowledge should be treated with skepticism (Audi and al). In contrast, innate knowledge is any conclusion or understanding drawn from the inborn use of the mind or rationality - the knowledge derived from thinking about something, apart from using any of the senses or the imagination. Descartes argued that sensory knowledge cannot be trusted because as far as we know, it may be an illusion presented by God, as in a dream. This belief, combined with his certainty that the rational mind is to be trusted, led to Descartes' famous quote: "I am thinking therefore I exist" (Audi and al). Put another way, one must exist in order to think. Also, because Descartes placed such high value on the certainty which can only be gained from introspection, he is said to hold an "internalist" conception of knowledge (Audi and al). As a result of his theories and skepticism about knowledge, Descartes also laid the groundwork for future studies of epistemology."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Audi, Robert and et al. 2010. 02 03 2011 <>.
  • Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. 1772. 02 03 2011 <>.
  • Look, Brandon. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. 2007. 02 03 2011 <>.
  • McCormick, Matt. Immanuel Kant. 2001. 02 03 2011 <>.

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