Epistemology Political philosophy

It totally bears


Modern Liberalism is firmly rooted in the Continental rationalism vein. ALL people come to know truth or right and wrong through sitting down and thinking about it. Moral truths either don’t exist (Post-Modernism) or are revealed mainly by a person’s independent reasoning. Thought is even what proves existence–as Descartes famously said, I think, therefore, I am.

Empiricists think that is pure fantasy—narcissistic delusion, even. People from different backgrounds and experiences and even languages just aren’t going to have the same thought processes and come to the same conclusions. They believe that reason alone is flawed and unreliable—and it is subject to change, styles, and even decay.

THEREFORE, the way to moral and political truths is through the empirical data of human experience and NOT mainly through mere reason and thought (this is British Empiricism). The issue is not what should be true or what “makes sense,” but what has been actually observed. We need trial and error over long periods of time.  And this makes Conservatives fundamentally skeptical of ALL knowledge claims—even their own. 

This is the difference between a Rationalist theory and an Empirical one (or Leftist vs Rightist): The Rationalist/Leftist sees in politics and morals a realm in which an endless variety of theories compete with one another for social power—without any being rooted in observable experience (or Truth, for that matter). The “measure” is what sounds good and makes sense to you. Today.

Empiricists/Rightists rely less on what should theoretically be true, and more on what has been demonstrated historically to be true. As was famously argued by sir Francis Bacon, we ought not to rely on reason to know tell us how many teeth a horse has–just open the horse’s mouth and count them!

In other words, Conservatives rely mainly on historical empiricism, not mere ratiocination.

Does that solve all problems of knowledge? LOL, no! But it does explain things pretty well.

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