Monday, 23 February 2009

A-priori and Empiricism

Last weeks People and Politics lecture moved away from what I would call "safe territory" and we moved onto full on economic theories and concepts from the 17th and 18th century. I, like I'm sure most of you in our group spent the lecture very very confused trying to grasp on to the few aspects I actually could comprehend.

I didn't get most of it first time round but upon some brief nerding this is what I have come to understand;

Empiricism - A view that you can not believe something until you have experienced it first hand. Empiricism is often contrasted to rationalisation. Refusing to believe before seeing Vs Using common sense to eliminate the latter. I would say that today's society has both empiricist and rationalised values alike but today we lean towards empiricism in my opinion. In 1920's newspaper journalism, a big story about UFO's being spotted and a mediocre photo showing a dark object in the sky which may or may not very well be a UFO... would probably be believed and cause a local uproar. Todays newspaper consumers are much more active whilst reading the news. We have an opinion, we have our own views. We also have grown up in a world where crop circles, bleeding statues and ghosts have been created by hoaxers. It is easy to see why today as a community people choose to believe something is real after they have seen it, touched it, smelt it, sensed it.

John Locke is thought to be the founder of British Empiricism. this is quite useful to explain empiricism furthur... apologies for the cheesy music!

Ok and now the harder concept to grasp of the two. I am actually going to go into this in the most basic terms as it has been a bitch to get my head around.

A-priori - The view that something will be believed to be true without evidence until there is reason to believe otherwise. I would like to suggest that religious people all hold a-priori views. Religious folk all believe in a God being present without evidence. There is no solid reasoning that suggests there is a heaven/hell society after death but if you are Christian I presume you believe regardless of any social doubts... I guess that's why it's called a "faith". But also it seems to me to seem A-PRIORI.

1 comment:

  1. Yes these are difficult ideas - like exercises for the brain, but also to think about what can be believed and what can't believe - important practical skill just as much as say operating a camera. It may be true that religion is a-priori - but so is logic. You are are right to saythat both types of thinking have good practical applications but we did not have time to move on to Kant who systematically attempted to merge the two. We can do that next term when we will return to some of these theme. The you tube clip you selected wouldn't load on my computer.