- Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of reason as a way o...
Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of reason as a way of knowing
The discussion of reason in relation to knowledge has been the
focal point of debate ever since the early days of philosophy. The
formulation of the concept "reason" and the enquiries into its
inner workings have changed the way we think of knowledge and the
process of knowing.
Depending on the importance attributed to reason, the scope and
the validity of our knowledge changes. If, on the one hand, we
invest too much into reason, indicating it as the sole site and
guarantor of knowledge, we end up restricting the cognitive field
to analytical tenets. If, on the other, we base learning on
experience bypassing reason altogether, we only achieve a type of
knowledge entirely dependent on contingency and therefore too
vulnerable to confutation. In other words, accepting this second
hypothesis we admit that nothing of what we know is absolutely true
or can claim to be so.
Finally, we can conclude that reason is fundamental in the
process of knowing. Without it, knowledge would amount to a
collection of data to be taken uncritically and accepted on trust
only as in the case of mythological wisdom. Still, reason alone
cannot supply us with knowledge. The tenets that can be processed
through reason alone do nothing for our betterment which is the
main purpose of knowledge. We must therefore reach a compromise
that sees reason as a filter for experience, a refining tool
through which empirical data must go through in order to be
accepted as knowledge.