“Perspectives in Western Philosophy”

Prof.Andrea Baldini

DATE: 20th August 2019
TIME: 10:45-12:30am
LOCATION: Don Orione Foundation, Venice

Ideas, Knowledge, and Perception

How do we acquire knowledge? How do we know something? These and similar questions have not only been central to the interests of Western philosophers, but have also informed practices of modern sciences. In effect, epistemological inquiries, that is, inquiries about the nature of knowledge, have been central to the development – among other things – of the scientific method.


This lecture introduces students to the foundation of Western epistemology by considering a key theme: the role of perceptions and ideas in processes of knowledge acquisition. The history of Western epistemology develops along a contrast between rationalists and empiricists. In general, rationalists such as Descartes endorse the view that knowledge is innate or the object of intellectual intuition. On the contrary, empiricists such as Locke stress the importance of sense experience in the acquisition of knowledge. The lecture concludes by connecting rationalist and empiricist epistemologies with the emergence of the scientific method.

1.Descartes, Meditations 2 and 4

2.Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book 4, sections i-vi