The Limits of My Knowledge Many of our beliefs are rooted in faith. When we were young, we usually believe what grownups tell us. In earlier times, especially during the time of our great philosophers, most people believe that reality is about God. Nowadays, these beliefs are starting to erode. Today, many are what we can call ‘empiricists’, or those who only believe what their senses tell them. Basically, many of us want to know what ‘reality’ is. This has been the big question that the human mind tries to decipher since the beginning of time. But the bigger question is can we really understand what is ‘real’? Does our knowledge have the capacity to understand ‘reality’? In our Introduction to Philosophy course, we have discussed several philosophical themes to guide us in understanding how our great thinkers tried to make sense of the world, not just the physical world, but the world of meanings as well. These philosophical themes are metaphysics, epistemology, rationalism, and empiricism. Metaphysics is a very abstract form of knowledge because it delves not on the physical world but on the intangible meaning of life and the almost incomprehensible features of the universe. For me, metaphysics is a very difficult form of knowledge because there is no certainty. It analyzes subjects that are in fact unintelligible. For example, how are we going to answer the question why do individuals have free will? Where does our sense of moral responsibility come from? Is it God-given? Essentially, in terms of metaphysics, my knowledge is very limited. Epistemology, just like metaphysics, is interested in knowledge and truth. More specifically, epistemology tries to know whether it is even possible for the human mind to decipher the truth. For me, epistemology is a more practical way of looking at reality than metaphysics. I always believed that true knowledge is one that has a justification. And this justification is not a simple one. it has to go through rigorous debate and analysis. In my personal life, when I am confronted with a new idea, I usually look for the bases of that idea before considering it as true knowledge. I can say that epistemology is one of my strengths. Rationalism, on the other hand, is also an ambitious form of knowledge. It is certain that the elusive nature of reality can be known through innate ideas and reason. But I believe that our rationality has limits. Our reason is limited by our senses: ‘to see is to believe’. And so we arrive to the last form of knowledge, empiricism. An empiricist identifies true knowledge through the senses. Empiricists acknowledge that our knowledge has limitations. I am an empiricist by heart. I believe that ‘reality’ cannot be understood by human reason because ‘reality’ is beyond the comprehension of our senses. We are living in a physical world and so our knowledge is limited to what our senses tell us. Forces outside our physical world are unknowable, and can only be vaguely and uncertainly understood through metaphysical knowledge.
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