<philosophical terminology> reliance on reason as the only reliable source of human knowledge. In the most general application, rationalism offers a naturalistic alternative to appeals to religious accounts of human nature and conduct. More specifically, rationalism is the epistemological theory that significant knowledge of the world can best be achieved by a priori means; it therefore stands in contrast to empiricism. Prominent rationalists of the modern period include Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz. Recommended Reading: The Rationalists (Anchor, 1960); The Rationalists: Critical Essays on Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, ed. by Dirk Pereboom (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999); John Cottingham, Rationalism (St. Augustine Press, 1997); David Miller, Critical Rationalism: A Restatement and Defence (Open Court, 1994); and Laurence Bonjour, In Defense of Pure Reason: A Rationalist Account of A Priori Justification (Cambridge, 1997).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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