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Rationalism. Ali Pinkerton. Rationalism- (Latin- ratio , reason) -a theory of knowledge -Ideas and concepts are INDEPENDENT of experience/emotion -Truth is discovered through ONLY reason -Ball example. Definition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvlnG1923bs.

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Ali Pinkerton



(Latin- ratio, reason)

-a theory of knowledge

-Ideas and concepts are INDEPENDENT of experience/emotion

-Truth is discovered through ONLY reason

-Ball example




Renaissance/ Scientific Revolution

  • Believed in logic and reason, but also supported experimentation and scientific method
  • Rejecting philosophies of Bible and Aristotle

- geocentric universe, etc.

  • Important milestones in rejection and development:

(1543) Copernicus- heliocentric universe

(1572) Brahe- stars not stationary/unchanging

(1609) Kepler- laws of planetary motion

(1638) Galileo- Math. Discourse, X Aristotle

(1687) Newton- Principia, gravity


Renowned Rationalists:

-Rene Descartes

-Benedict Spinoza

-Gottfried Liebniz

rene descartes

Cartesian Method

  • Accept nothing as true which is not clear and distinct.
  • Analyze a problem into parts and discuss it part by part.
  • Arrange thoughts from simple to complex as the order of study.
  • Enumerations must be full and complete and nothing must be omitted.

Applied proofs to philosophy, e.g. to prove existence of God.

Rene Descartes


Philosopher, Mathematician


A priori knowledge

“Prior to” (before experience)

self-evident truths, definitions

4+3= 7, parents have children

  • Innate Knowledge

ideas people have from birth

can exist without proof

Descartes- “God exists.”

  • Logical Necessity

must exist because it could not be otherwise

To walk, you must have legs.

Contrast with empirical necessity (study to pass test)


If you can see out of a house, it has a window.


  • Houses have windows.
  • Criticism

Not all things are either possible or impossible. (God exists.)

Abstract ideas do not always yield actual truths. (island example)

rationalism in crime punishment


-Rational mindset (justifies killing woman, using “paces”)

-Monologues resemble geometric proofs

-“The old woman was only an illness… I was in a hurry to overstep… I didn’t kill a human being, but a principle! I killed the principle, but I didn’t overstep, I stopped on this side… I was only capable of killing.” (275)

  • Marmeladov

-Part I, Chapter II: rationalizing and making justification for his drinking

- By looking at facts and not experience (how his drinking affects his family) he can eschew the problem.

- “I try to find sympathy and feeling in drink. I drink so that I may suffer twice as much.” (14)

  • Dostoevsky

- Many say C&P is his criticism of rationalism

- Showing bad fates of characters whose philosophies and behaviors are based in rationalism.

Rationalism in Crime & Punishment