You will prepare and submit a term paper on Reason and Experience: A Question of Knowledge. Your paper should be a minimum of 2000 words in length. We cannot, of course, layout the entire history of such a discussion. however, it should supply us with the proper context for asking how such a question might be answered. The question, formulated as “does knowledge originate in the senses or in the mind?”, seems relatively straightforward. Yet, certain concepts, indicated by italics, have been the subject of philosophical debate for thousands of years. Certain terms need to be defined, in preparation—the terms of the question—in order to make progress. this process of definition will require considerable intellectual resources but is necessary to reaching the evaluative conclusions we seek. Once the definitions are in place, the complex question we are supposed to answer will be replaced with one conscious of the context of knowledge acquisition. And the answer to this question shall take us neither to advocate for reason nor to advocate for the experience but to an integration of the two traditions.
Before beginning, however, according to Voltaire, we must define our terms. Knowledge, of course, is the subject of an entire branch of philosophy known as epistemology. the senses are the main topic of a field known as the philosophy of perception, and the nature of the mind has been the subject of intense debate in the philosophy of mind since Socrates. Among these, knowledge is, without a doubt, the most difficult to define properly. Plato seemed to have the correct response by claiming it to be “justified true belief”, according to his dialogue the Theaetetus in which Socrates contends that belief is dissimilar to knowledge because of justification (Plato). However, this misinterpretation of Plato, who thought knowledge was actually a matter of recollection, became all but abandoned after a paper named “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” was published by philosopher Edmund Gettier. In it, Gettier proposed two counterexamples to “justified true belief”, one of which will concern us here. Consider that person X has applied for a position at a company, but actually (1) holds a justified belief that “person Y will get the job”, and (2) holds a justified belief that person Y has ten coins in her pocket. Thus, Person X validly concludes that “the person who will get the job has ten coins in his or her pocket”.