The Problem of Cognition in Modern Philosophy
Keywords: rationalism, inativism, empiricism, sensualism, idealism
The question of cognition represents an important piece of philosophical research; however, presumably in no other period has this question been asked as insistently and repeatedly as in the modern period. With a degree of exaggeration, we could consider it an epistemological period par excellence.
The reason is rooted in the historic context of shattering old gnozeological, cosmological, and religious ideas, and in the need for clarification of what is valid or not. At the end of the Middle Ages, the Ptolemaic worldview disintegrated, a new continent was discovered, Aristotelian physics foundered, Constantinople collapsed, Protestantism appeared, and eternal truths were doubted. With the advent of Byzantine thinkers, Plato was rediscovered, Aristotle was revised, and philosophers like F. Bacon or R. Descartes were forced to ← 39 | 40 → reflect on the basis of a new science and safe cognition (Novák, 2012, 229).
The question of cognition in the early modern period may be perceived as a paraphrase of the classic combat between Platonism and Aristotelianism in the modern period. A suitable example demonstrating such reflections is the conflict of Cusanus and Bruno’s Platonism, or of the Florentine Academy and the renaissance thinking of Paracelsus, Telesio, and other renaissance thinkers, as well as Descartes’ methodical doubting of the foundations of all cognition.
Descartes realized that we often believe things which frequently prove to be false later. Therefore, our knowledge should be rooted in something doubtless and certain, something...
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