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Theories of Knowledge

To help me understand the various topics covered in psychology, please explain to me:

A. Why empiricism is a superior epistemology for arriving at accurate descriptions of phenomena in the real world.

B. Please discuss for me these three Theories of Knowledge:

1. Metaphorism/emotional power/the arts
2. Rationalism/logical consistency/logic & mathematics
3. Empiricism/replication of results/the sciences

B. Please show me why empiricism is better than the other two. That is the main issue I would like to know about.

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A. Why empiricism is a superior epistemology for arriving at accurate descriptions of phenomena in the real world.

EPISTEMOLOGY is the philosophy concerned with theories of knowledge -- i.e., what knowledge is, how it is obtained, how reliable it is, and so on. The basic opposition is between rationalism and empiricism, but there are all sorts of intermediary positions (i.e., metaphorism).Theories of knowledge often fall into columns with classical contrasts of mind and body, sensing and perceiving, thinking and feeling, language and the nonverbal, concrete and abstract, literal and metaphoric. Psychologists make use of different epistemic modes (empiricism, rationalism, and metaphorism) for arriving at accurate descriptions of phenomena in the real world. Although pProponents of each of these disciplines make claims to having the best theory of knowledge and reality, all theories have advantages and disadvantages. Let's look at each of these theory (rationalism, metaphorism and empiricism) a little closer.

1. Rationalism/logical consistency/logic & mathematics

In contrast to empiricism, in rationalism people gain knowledge by exercising the mind e.g., thinking logically and by thinking we are able to draw conclusions. As long as the conclusions are logically consistent, then the knowledge is the truth.

For example, let's look at language. Discourse or discursive rationality is not only a mode of symbol structure internal to symbols; it is also a mode for interpreting communicative symbolisms. Nowhere is its power more evident than in that symbolism we characterize as language. After all, language is the symbolism of choice precisely in those situations in which we want to express a train of limited ideas in a definite order, the instruction manual being the archetypal use of language in which both structure and meaning seem only discursive. Discursivity facilitates an economy of expression which, in combination with rules of grammar and the reification of concepts, seems to make language "logical".

But the ascription of meaning cannot be equated with the act of naming. Meaning implies, at the very least, a congeries of relationships, and not simply an inventory of objects to which a word is appropriately applied. It follows that, while conventional explicit denotations may be catalogued, together they do not comprise literal meaning. One author suggests that a literal meaning is no more than a stylized argument in which the range of factors thought relevant to the discovery of context is conventionally and artificially constrained. A speaker or writer expresses thought through speech or text, and a listener will ascribe a meaning to the sound or printed mark. This author, thus, sees the rationship as imprtant in the meaning making process. The quality of communication between them will depend on their ability to engage in a shared and interactive process of ascribing meaning (see http://collections.ic.gc.ca/tags/bilingualism.html#epistemology).

Similarly, in mathematics, there are literal rules that can be applied to the physical mathematical problem to arrive at a literal truth.

2. Metaphorism/emotional power/the art

In metaphorism, knowledge is obtained through symbolic and intuitive cognitions. Knowledge is very subjective, and in a sense, speculative and rooted in emotional power. The terms metaphor and art are relevant in the discussion of this theory of knowledge.

Generally, a metaphor poetically conveys an impression about something relatively unfamiliar by drawing an analogy between it and something familiar. In the preceding examples, God and love are unfamiliar, but the respective impressions of strong/inviolable/protective and beautiful-but-short-lived/sweet-but-thorny are effectively conveyed. Metaphors are extremely common in visual images: e.g., Ingres' various Odalisque paintings draw comparisons between the intoxication produced by hookah pipes and that produced by women socially constructed first and foremost to be sensual. The familiar thing is sometimes called the vehicle (i.e., the means by which the new impressions are conveyed), while the unfamiliar idea being expressed is sometimes called the tenor (sense 2). Conservative analysis of metaphor used to lead to conclusions about ...

Solution Summary

This solution responds to the questions on the various topics covered in psychology e.g., empiricism, three theories of knowledge and why empiricism is better than the other two theories.

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