Episode 20

20. Two Basic Ways to Know Things - [Rationalism, Empiricism, and the Fragility of Perspective]

How Do We Know Stuff?

Humans have always wondered about how we're able to know stuff. Though we have consciousness, can we have certainty? This episode explores the problem with perspective through rationalism and empiricism; reason and logic versus experience and sensory observation. Certainty is elusive and if we are gonna know anything, rationalism and empiricism might want to work together.


  • The story of Hiroo Onoda.
  • Plato's "Cave Analogy" and the Theory of Forms
  • Rationalism - the mind can know things independently of physical reality.
  • Empiricism - knowledge is gained from sensory experience.
  • Various philosopher's takes on the debate (including pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, Skepticism, Stoicism, Al Kindi, Al Ghazali, Montaigne, Descartes, Hume, Kant, & Thomas Aquinas).
  • Why you need both and that certainty is elusive - because your perspective is limited, finite, and fragile.

About the Podcast

Show artwork for Becoming Human
Becoming Human
Meaningful content to craft how you live. Becoming Human is about education and lifestyle; exploring the world — whether philosophy, psychology, sociology, or any field available — to better live in it. The goal is ethics through learning.

About your host

Profile picture for Tyler Kleeberger

Tyler Kleeberger

Becoming Human

It’s an infinite conversation, really. What does it mean to be alive? How should we live? What is the best, healthiest way to exist and do all of the things that make up life?

There’s a lot to explore.

And even more questions to ask.

But that’s what we are here to do.

I’m Tyler Kleeberger and consider me a curator of these conversations. I am, conveniently, a nerd so I see it as my job to go and discover everything I can about a topic or idea and use any field imaginable — from philosophy to psychology, economics to history, and everything in between — and then share it with you.

I hope you’ll consider going on this journey with me. We’re trying to get smarter and live better. You can find more information at tylerkleeberger.com.

Let’s learn, let’s grow, and let’s become more human.