Rationalist and Empiricist Positions of Kant

The aspect of rationalist that Kant synthesizes is, data is perceived under the categories of quantity, quality, relation, and modality. Raw, unprocessed data, Kant thought, would be meaningless and unusable. For Kant, our mind becomes reasonable when we examine the role of our mind shaping the sense experience we receive (Mitchell, 2015, p. 257).

In Kant’s aspect of empiricist, we still have to think about what I know and what is actually out there. Cause and effect seems to be how we reason about the world. Kant is sometimes called the great synthesizer because he took the most significant aspects of both rationalism and empiricism and combined them into a unified system. He accepted the empirical proposition that meaningful knowledge must have its basis in sense experience, but he also validated the rationalist emphasis on the mind as crucial to our understanding of the world (Mitchell, 2015, p. 258).
Rationalist vs Empiricist Enlightening Kant Descartes who seems to be a rationalist can only be sure of the contents of his mind. He also believes that we can accept the possibility that certain ideas can be present at birth. Hume, on the other hand, seems to be an empiricist and we find our ideas come from sense impressions and ideas. We can claim our ideas are from something that we have had an impression with first and we correspond with them to form an idea.

Best of Both Worlds Unlike Descartes and Hume who are either rationalist or empiricist, Kant keeps the best of both worlds in his philosophy. I know how reality appears to me but I have little idea what it is really like. Kant showed us what appears about the world around and how it is related to cause and effect. Our shared agreement of this interpretation allows us to reason about the world (Mitchell, 2015, p259). We recognize cause and effect in the world because of the ways our brains are structured to perceive the objects that present themselves to our consciousness is causality.
As a nurse, I recognize cause and effect with patients. There are causes and effects of heart disease. The causes of heart disease, as we recognize it in healthcare, are smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, and obesity to name a few. The effects of heart disease can lead to less activity, depression, depriving other organs of oxygenated blood for healthy organs to sustain life, and death which can occur from a heart attack. When relating Kant’s reasoning to meaningful knowledge in that accepting the empirical proposition that meaningful knowledge must have its basis in sense experience, and accepting rationalist emphasis on the mind is crucial to our understanding of the world creating a unified system (Mitchell, 2015, p. 258-259).

We gain understanding as to what happens in our world through experiences. Even though I do not have heart disease and haven’t experienced the effects it has on the body, I have experience taking care of patients who have heart disease. The patients talk about how their lifestyles have changed after the diagnosis of heart disease or their experience after having a heart attack. This is how I, as a nurse, base my care plan for my patients. I have the knowledge of how heart disease can affect the body and I understand what can ultimately happen to a person with heart disease. This knowledge and understanding assists me when teaching patients about their disease and relates back to the cause and effect. I teach them about diet, weight loss, smoking cessation, smoking cessation programs, activity levels, depression, the possibility of death, and whether or not they want life saving measures. Essence of Reality We are still limited to what we can know.

We know things only as they appear to us, what Kant calls phenomena, but we can never know things as they are in themselves, what Kant calls noumena. The inner essence of reality will remain locked away but it will still make it possible for us to make meaningful statements about the world, as least as it appears to us (Mitchell, 2015, p. 258). As a nurse, I make meaningful statements to patients about health changes. What appears to me to be a health condition is how I plan their care and then I put forth my teaching to them through experiences. These experiences are not necessarily my own personal experiences with the disease, but experiences with those that I have taken care of with the disease.

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