Empiricism vs. rationalism

I learned one important thing a few years ago.

It doesn’t matter if something sounds convincing, or if it makes sense.

It doesn’t matter whether something sounds weird, improbable or tenuous.

It doesn’t matter whether something dovetails nicely with the currently held beliefs.

It doesn’t matter whether there is sufficient reasoning behind something.

The only thing that matters is whether it’s actually true.

Let’s take an example of a platypus and a unicorn. Platypus is a monotremate mammal that lays eggs like a snake and has a duck-like beak. However unlikely or improbable it sounds, it’s real because it actually exists. Unicorn, however, sounds quite reasonable and plausible – a horse with one horn. There’s no reason why it couldn’t exist, but it doesn’t. It’s completely fictional. A platypus exists because it exists, and unicorn doesn’t exist because it doesn’t exist. There’s nothing else to it, no Platonic or Aristotelian issues, and reason doesn’t even play a role. The only thing that plays a role is existence of an actual being and evidence of that existence.

I don’t believe in things because they are reasonable or they make sense. I believe in things because I am presented with evidence of their existence. Reason and sense are something I use in order to arrange evidence of things that exist in some order that doesn’t drive me crazy, but the part where I use reason in order to make sense of things is actually most likely to be false and revised. That’s because reason is mostly glue that fills the parts of the puzzle of reality from which the actual parts of the puzzle are missing, and I need something to hold it all together and present it in a meaningful way.

That’s the main problem of rationalism vs. empiricism; rationalism assumes that things that are true will make more sense than the things that are false, but empiricism is primarily interested in evidence, and only when the evidence is there can it afford to ask about meaning.

It makes sense for me to speculate why a platypus exists, because it exists. I don’t give a single fuck about unicorns. Yes, weird and apparently improbable things sometimes exist, and sensible and probable things sometimes don’t. That tells you more about poor applicability of mind for establishing reality, than anything else.