What are the Sources and Criteria of Information?

What are the Sources and Criteria of Information?

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

One of the problems of the philosophy of knowledge is the problem of the source and criteria of knowledge. “Is the mind more active in acquiring information, or the data that the mind receives from outside?” Such questions are one of the questions of the theory of knowledge about source and criterion.

In the process of acquiring knowledge, in general, a person tries to reach the goal based on his 2 basic characteristics. These features are; It is the ability of the human mind to think and to perceive and observe the senses. At this point, epistemology is the answer to “Which of these has more role in knowledge?” is asking the question.

When we look at the history of philosophy, it is possible to see that the answers given to these questions are spread over a wide range, from the fact that the mind acquires knowledge by itself, to the fact that information can be obtained only through the senses. In addition to all these, there are also opinions that find the senses and mind equally valuable in acquiring information, see both of them as misleading, reject the correct information, and argue that information cannot be reached.


Those who see reasoning and thought as the main source of knowledge are called “rationalists (rationalists)”, and those who focus on sense, observation or experiments are called “experimenters (empiricists)”. The names of these movements are called “rationalism (rationalism)” and “experimentalism (empiricism)”. Some of the rational philosophers are Plato, Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz; Some of the empiricist philosophers are names such as Epicurus, Locke, Hume, Condillac and Comte.

Investigation of how information is obtained is about how to be sure of the accuracy and certainty of information as much as the possibility of information. The focus of the discussions on the source of knowledge is the view of what ability or feature a person has to knowledge. Considering human abilities and features, mind, sense and intuition come to the fore. Being aware of this, dogmatic philosophers tried to express their thoughts based on these abilities and features.

Some of these philosophers see reason as the main source of knowledge. The fact that the most basic feature that distinguishes humans from other living things is the mind, confirms them. However, the mind alone may not be competent in creating knowledge. How can information be obtained if the eye does not see, the ear does not hear, that is, if the sense organs do not work? As a matter of fact, some philosophers have put forward the sense before the mind, arguing that the source of information is the senses. In philosophy, there have also been people who claimed that the mind and sense alone could not be sufficient to explain the source of knowledge, and that they could be a source of knowledge together.

There are also those who seek resources other than mind and sense. These thinkers argued that since it is not possible to explain the innate information with the mind and sense, they acted and argued that human beings create knowledge with intuition. Could there be other possibilities? In fact, a source that has never been said or thought about before can be put forward.

Rationalism (Rationality): The knowledge that cannot be doubted can be reached with the mind. As a source of knowledge, reason brings some knowledge and abilities from birth. For example, knowledge of mathematics is formed not as a result of the senses, but by the ability of the mind.
Empiricism (Experimentalism): The human mind is like a blank slate (tabula rasa) from birth, and the human mind begins to be filled with knowledge thanks to its experience. Knowledge is created through the senses. For example, the knowledge of the taste, smell and color of apples is information formed through the senses.
Criticism: Neither a rational view nor an experiential view can be sufficient in the formation of knowledge. Knowledge requires both experience and reason. All human knowledge begins from experience, but this does not infer that experience is the only source of knowledge. Without the forms of the mind, it is impossible for experience to become meaningful. For example, the knowledge of the evaporation of boiling water is knowledge that begins with the senses and occurs in the forms of the mind.
Intuitionism: It is the creation of knowledge beyond human reason and experience and without the need for any proof. The basis of this information, which is revealed without an intermediary, is based on intuition. While it is not denied that reason and experience create knowledge, knowledge from intuition is considered more valuable. For example, the instinct of protection in the face of danger or the information born to the heart are intuitive.

The problem of the source of knowledge was initially seen as part of psychological investigations into the factual formations of our concepts, judgments, and thoughts in general. There was a contrast between the concepts we encounter in the mind of an adult human being, with the alternatives that there are innate thoughts and concepts, or that the concepts and thoughts we have are entirely formed by experimentation. In this contrast, those who believe in the existence of innate thoughts are called genetic rationalists or innateists; Those who disagree with this are called genetic empiricists.

According to inneists, our minds are what our senses and introspection provide them.