July 28, 2014 Leave a comment
“A man with an argument is at the mercy of a man with experience.” How many of you are convinced that this statement is true? Now, how many of you are like me and think that more work needs to be done in order to show that this is a valid statement? I think this can be rehashed into a conflict between reason and experience. Ultimately, that is what this debate can be reduced to. In my opinion, this is a statement that assumes much more than can be granted. In order to change this into an argument, we might say: Experience is a greater test for truth. Reason is not as strong experience. Therefore, when experience and reason are in conflict, we may reject reason, and accept experience. Since this statement has been restructured to represent an argument (containing two premises and a conclusion), we may now begin judging the validity and truth value of this claim.
Lest you should think that this is a pointless debate, we must realize that there is a lot at stake here. If we accept this statement as true, we are rendering the laws of logic and our reason as slaves to our experience. In other words, we are saying that we don’t filter our experiences through rational inquiry, but rather that, we write the rules of logic based on what we experience. But, how can this be? For example, who among us, is willing to receive medical care or surgical work from someone who has some experience but doesn’t possess the proper training and certification? Or are you going to fly in a plane operated by someone who has claimed to have flown once or twice, but doesn’t possess a licence? Again if you’re anything like me, you would have answered no to those questions. But, of course, I’m not suggesting that experience has no value at all. Experience is an excellent thing that is really important. My point is that we don’t need to choose between reason and experience. Also, each needs to have its proper place. For example, It does you no good having experience teaching if you’re awful at it. No, we need the kind of experience that is informed by reason, rational, and logical. Another reason why I find such a statement ridiculous and false is that it pretends to be a trump card and that it doesn’t need further evidence or proof.
For those of you who are more interested in furthering your understanding about this debate, consider these comments from my friend, Patrick Cronin, who offered some of his own insight: Empiricists (about epistemic justification anyways) think that reason is a helpful tool which sifts through experience. But, there is no such thing as pure reason which in and of itself (without any experience) delivers either true beliefs or justified beliefs. Rationalists (about epistemic justification anyways) agree with empiricists in thinking that reason sifts through experience. But, in addition to that, rationalists also think that pure reason (unaided by experience) can provide us with true beliefs about the world as well as justified beliefs about the world.
1. Not all experiences are equal.
2. Experiences may be contradictory.
3. There is no rule or standard method given to distinguish true experiences from false ones
4. It makes truth subjective and pluralistic.
Please feel free to participate in this discussion and share your opinions. Philosophy in its purest form must be conducted communally. We are all interested in truth.