What is the meaning of rationalism? Concept and Definition of rationalism

Definition of rationalism: Their meanings, concepts and importance

Definition: rationalism and its importance

The world of living beings in general has as a point in common the existence of what is known as a life cycle, a set of actions that are repeated throughout the life of the subject in different intervals until the time of his death, being the most important power as the way to reach the nutrients and proteins that allow you to satisfy your energy needsfollowed after the interaction with other individuals as with the medium known as relationship and finally the playlist that is the way in which is engrendran new individuals continuing the species, or a lineage in particular.

Substantially, the difference that we have as human beings is precisely this way of relating to the environment as with other subjects, taking a conditioning that exists to follow instinct in animals, humans have the capacity to abstract is making use of reason, and can become themselves through reflection and thus be able to steer the acts.
Surely many will have heard the phrase "I think, therefore I exist" (in latin, Cogito Ergo Sum) being the formulated by René Descartes and is considered as one of the fundamental pillars of the philosophical current that receives the name of rationalism, which as its name suggests it is emphasized primarily the reasoning as how to perceive and cope in the world.
So was based that reasoning could be the perception of the world, approaching its fundamental truths and can even glimpse about details that seemed to us unknown, applying deductive reasoning (well known as deduction) on the basis of two premises, contrasting them and coming to a conclusion.
This current is fundamentally opposed to what is empiricism, being in this case the experimentation and observation form in which we can grasp new concepts and learn us about the features of the world that surrounds us, making use of sensory perception which is criticized just by rationalism, as sugestionada by a large number of personal views and subjective criteria.
Thus, it is basically subject to the reason as a way to resolve various conflicts, establishing paradigms and basically to apply scientific methodologies resulting in conclusions that speak out statements or laws on the way of seeing the world, explanation of its phenomena or any kind of event.

Concept: rationalism and what is

Referred to as rationalism to the philosophical current that born by the 17TH century in France, of which René Descartes was their main representative, genius and figure and that synthesizes its raison d ' être in the reason as the main source for the acquisition of knowledge.
Rationalism, certainly, is the counterpart of the empiricism that argued that only through the implementation of the sense of perception and experience human beings could learn things. Because the rationalism is really a stream that had great prominence during the 17TH century, as well stated and that once over the years, historians, given the impact and the counterpart that generated, divided in two antagonistic positions, rationalism vs. Empiricism.
Descartes, among other issues, promoting only the reason could discover those universal truths and that this occurred because these truths were innate, and not derived from any previous experience.
In addition, for, geometry was to be ideal and the mother of the rest of the sciences and of course, well, philosophy. Some other thinkers who followed the tenets of Descartes were Baruch Espinoza Dutch and German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.
The main features with which we can summarize the Rationalist proposal, which, along with empiricism, were the foundations of the movement known as illustration, include: mechanism of the universe, revaluation of those classic doctrines such as fatalism, gnoseologic Platonism and atomism, among others, critique and Scholastic revisionism, nomination and supremacy of innate ideas, absolute and total confidence in the cognitive power of reason and the use of the mathematical method to explain the reasoning.

Meaning: rationalism and its uses

1. [Philosophy] philosophical doctrine which defends the omnipotence and independence of reason on any human powers: the philosophy of Descartes is the maximum exponent of the rationalism of the 17TH century.

Empiricism, irrationalism.

(1) [Philosophy]

"Rationalism" and "rational" are two terms that are derived from the same etymological root: the Latin noun ratio, which means "reason". As a result, in its broadest sense, it is often considered a rationalist is someone that gives special emphasis the sound capabilities of the man and who has a faith in the value and the importance of reason and rational arguments.

The general notion of rationalism implies a commitment to the requirements of rationality, commitment that is an essential requirement for any philosophical system and, indeed, for any set of assertions that aspire to be considered true. In this general sense, it is evident that all philosophers without exception are rationalists. But the term "Rationalism" considered in the light of the development of the idea of reason throughout the history of philosophy has been understood in very different ways, which can basically be reduced to four.

In the first place, "Rationalism" is the name of a doctrine for which the only proper or full body of knowledge is the reason, so she is the source of all true knowledge. Speaks in such case of "epistemological rationalism" or "epistemological rationalism", as opposed to empiricism, which considered that the only source of true knowledge is experience.

The second type of rationalism is "metaphysical rationalism", which says that the reality is, ultimately, of a rational nature. In its most general sense, this term refers to all philosophical systems that consider that reality is governed by a principle intelligible, accessible to thought and susceptible of rational evidence, either identifiable with the same thought. According to this we could speak of "Platonic rationalism" (since the reality for him is ranked according to a model of ideal, accessible to reason through the dialectic, and provided by the intelligible world or world of ideas), or "Hegelian rationalism" (reality matches at last end the self-realization of the reason or spirit). The irrationalism or metaphysical voluntarism is placed against this metaphysical rationalism.

Thirdly there is a rationalism called "psychological rationalism", that is the theory according to which reason, equated with the thought or the thinking faculty, is superior to emotion and will. This psychological rationalism is often resist psychological voluntarism and emotivism, and is sometimes identified with intellectualism.

Finally, he has also spoken of a "religious rationalism" when rational requirements has rejected the possibility of any revelation of divinity or a purely rational interpretation is given to people considered supernatural or miraculous phenomena considered. This type of rationalism is which characterizes the deists thesis, that identify the truths revealed with the dictates of reason. Thus, throughout the centuries XVII and XVIII, was frequently used the Rationalist term to refer to freethinkers who were anti-clerical and anti-religious opinions, and describe a vision of the world in which there is no place for the supernatural. In the 19th century, religious rationalism acquired a special tinge and particularly appointed one way to interpret the Christian Scriptures, especially the life of Jesus as it appears in the Gospels, in a purely natural. This religious rationalism would be exponents many works titled life of Jesus, as Hegel, Strauss, Renan...

These aforementioned meanings have been frequently combined: some authors have admitted rationalism psychological and epistemological by having previously sustained a metaphysical rationalism; others have departed from the epistemological rationalism and they have extracted from it a rationalism metaphysical and psychological; others have taken the psychological rationalism as a starting point to derive from it a metaphysical and epistemological rationalism. Religious rationalism has always been a consequence of any of the other rationalizations. It is possible, however, to admit a kind of rationalism without therefore adhere to any of the other, and it is possible to hold a form of rationalism without opposing some of the trends that can be held contrary. Such is the case with empiricists modern, such as Locke or Hume, which although they combat the continental rationalism of Descartes and Leibniz this do not do rationalist philosophies.

It is true that the impetus given to the rational knowledge by Descartes and the great influence exerted by Cartesian philosophy during the modern era have led some historians to identify modern philosophy with rationalism, but there are many elements that are added to the rationalism in modern philosophy. On the one hand, the confidence in the reason for those authors who are usually qualified empiricists, such as Locke and Hume. In addition, you can not forget the great work done by these in order to examine the function of not strictly rational elements in the knowledge and the known reality. Finally, must take into account the theory of reason produced by many modern authors, rationalists are declared or not, it is usually more complex than that developed by ancient and medieval philosophies, so that you can say is that if modern philosophy has dominated rationalism has been because previously the possibilities of reason have been extended.

Esto pointed out, must distinguish several forms of rationalism in modern and contemporary philosophy. On the one hand, between the 17th century and 18th century rationalism. While the rationalism of the 17TH century was the expression of a metaphysical and religious at the same time, so-called by which is made of God the Supreme guarantee of the rational truths and the support of a universe conceived as intelligible, the rationalism of the 18th century understood the reason as an instrument by which man could dissolve the darkness surrounding it; the rationalism of the 18th century understood the reason as an epistemological attitude which integrates the experience and as a standard for moral and social action. On the other hand, this distinction between the rationalism of the XVII and XVII, it should add to the peculiar way that rationalism took over in the 19th century, Hegel and several evolutionary trends, trying to broaden the scope of the reason to include the explanation of evolution and history. Is when there is a turning point in the history of modern thought: the Rationalist principles are abandoned and replaced by new historicist and dialectical guidelines that will give way to the idealist philosophy and the first outbreaks of the characteristic of contemporary thought irrationalism.

But, as noted by Ferrater Mora, during the 19th and 20th century there have been many misunderstandings about the meaning of the term "Rationalism". There have been philosophers who declaring decidedly empiricists and positivists, have praised the rationalism, understanding it as a trend opposite to the irrationality, the rights or the mere faith. Other authors, who have fought the classical rationalism on behalf of the irrational, of the historical, concrete, not dropped, however, which has been the Rationalist tradition, but that they have tried to integrate the reason with elements usually considered opposite to it, like life, history, concrete, etc. Ultimately, the two most important reasons for which contemporary philosophy has been rejected classical rationalism have been its naturalistic and Objectivist, character who forgets the spirit itself and by Yes (Husserl) and its static character or statist, which does not consider the dynamic and functional factors of reality.

In historical opposition to the classical rationalism, have therefore agreed to contemporary trends, such as the irrationalism, Historicism, Existentialism (all of them openly opposed to modern rationalism), and empiricism, positivism and analytic philosophy, which consider themselves faithful to the Rationalist tradition.

Characteristics of the modern rationalism.

According to a more restricted and more precise from a historical point of view meaning rationalism is identified with the philosophical current developed in Europe in the 17TH century, opposed to empiricism, and whose most representative exponents were r. W. Leibniz, Descartes, N. Malebranche and B. Spinoza.

Descartes has been traditionally regarded as the founder of modern rationalism and his philosophy as one that most perfectly embodies the Rationalist ideals; in fact, his influence in the sciences and in the field of culture was most notable. However, the background of this current of thought should seek in most ancient and complex, phenomena related to different aspects of the culture; for example, the rise and consolidation of the bourgeoisie in the economic, administrative and political field in general, and the role that this class played in the new national States of modern Europe, caused a profound revolution in cultural institutions and allowed free schools and the public printing were imposed on the old medieval universities. Since the latter was the stronghold in which preserved the bulk of philosophical knowledge of the era, mainly based on scholastic doctrine, the new situation allowed the particular Sciences charged relevance and to progressively decouple from this type of philosophy.

From a strictly political point of view, Machiavelli and Bodin and T. Moro can be considered precursors of the modern rationalism. Similarly, Hugo Grocio was among the first to apply mathematical demonstration procedure - general model of whole rationalist orientation - the scope of the law and policy, and explicitly identified, in his work De jure belli ac pacis (1625), nature with reason. The identification of the reason with mathematical procedures relates, on the one hand, the commercial and business technique of the bourgeois class, which saw in the mathematical reason a political instrument of anti-feudal affirmation; on the other hand, this identification leads to theoretical development of the mathematical sciences, as well as to the increase of techniques and the use of scientific research (one example Galileo telescope).

Another factor that contributed strongly to the emergence of rationalism was the scientific revolution that took place in the 16th and 17TH centuries and which made possible the birth of modern science. The new scientific mind, represented by characters from the fame of N. Copernicus, J. Kepler and Galileo Galilei, not only addressed fundamental issues of astronomical and cosmological order (which in turn had an influence on the religious and moral topics related to them), but that it quickly spread to other areas of research, such as medicine (at the hands of Harvey) or chemistry (Boyle).

Cartesian rationalism.

The philosophy of Descartes is that plasma representative and systematically the ideal current rationalists on the European continent during this period, in particular, those of the so-called "epistemological rationalism". In his discourse on method (1637), Descartes proposed to rebuild the totality of knowledge on a foundation that is characterized by apparent (clear and distinct) to pure reason, ruling out the possibility of accepting any knowledge that does not submit to our understanding with such evidence as reliable. Therefore, the method to be followed in any investigation should take as a model the mathematical method: get some self-evident truths (axioms) through rational intuition and deduce from them the rest of the theorems of science, since the mathematics, science, universal and necessary, exhibited the characteristics of infallibility that Descartes asserted for the rest of the human knowledge. Evidence as a criterion of truth, analysis, synthesis and enumeration are the rules of the Cartesian method, rules to be imposed as the scheme procedure able to discover the rational order which is hidden behind the apparent disorder with which we show qualitative phenomena.

We find reminiscences of this cultural project on the idea of Hobbes reduce morality to the Euclidean geometric method, as well as in the ethics (1677) of Spinoza that, like the Cartesian metaphysics, is one of the most representative works of the ideals of rationalism.

[Philosophy] Harmonic rationalism

Philosophical doctrine which has its starting point in the thinking of Krause.

[Philosophy] Critical rationalism

The theory of science in Karl Popper is known with the name of "critical rationalism". Basically consists of a critique to the positivist epistemological model, called by Popper "revelation" model, and an epistemological proposal alternative, comprehensive and original.

[Philosophy] Epistemological rationalism

One of the most important types of rationalism; Perhaps, that more properly can be called "Rationalism par excellence". It is the doctrine according to which the only proper or full body of knowledge is the reason, so she is the exclusive source of all true knowledge.


Rationalism is a trend that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century that takes advantage of the emergence of new techniques and new materials of construction (especially concrete) to try to rationally adapt architecture to the needs of capitalist society.

Research of the architects of the modern movement resulted in the transformation of rationalism in the architectural language of capitalist evolution, language acquired a rapid international dissemination. In 1919, with the opening of the Bauhaus, W. Gropius used the relationship between architectural design and industrial production to obtain in his works a rigorous consistency between the form of the same and the needs of industry and society in general. This trend, which is signed by the masters of rationalism Gropius, L. Mies Van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, among others, born conception according to which a rational use of industrialization would liberate the people of social injustice, so the architect becomes one of the essential instruments of this process of liberation.

The diffusion of the movement in Europe made possible largely thanks to the announcement of a series of exhibitions and competitions, involving Mies Van der Rohe, JJP Oud, Schneck, Le Corbusier, Gropius, B. Taut, Poelzig H., P. Behrens, H. Scharoun, etc.

The rationalism found their own official organ at the first International Congress of modern architecture (CIAM), held in Switzerland in 1928. In Germany, joined this movement both architects of previous training, e.g. B. Taut, as younger (L. Hilberseimer or H. Scharoun). In France, as well as Le Corbusier and the members of his architectural firm, stressed R. Mallet-Stevens and A. Lurçat; in Holland, JJP Oud and C. van Eesteren, and in Italy the Gruppo 7, the MIAR and theorist e. Persico.

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