Discuss rationalism as a theory regarding the source of knowledge.

Rationalism is a theory that tries to provide undoubtable knowledge using mathematical practices to analyze thought. It sets a high standard for knowledge in that it will not accept anything not totally provable outside of the senses. Critics of rationalism argue that senses and feelings are important to the human experience, and as such should not be discounted.

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Rationalism, in its various forms, claims to provide us with an infallible foundation for knowledge. Rationalist thinkers such as Leibniz, Descartes, and Spinoza differed radically in some of the precise details of their philosophical systems. They all held to the basic notion that reason, rather than sense experience, provides us with infallible knowledge about the world of space and time.

A simple thought experiment can help us illustrate the point. According to our senses, a stick appears bent in the water. That we know that it is straight is due to...

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