Rationalism defined as a philosophical view that appeals to reason as a source of knowledge (Ariola, 2014). Rationalist is the one who believed that the route to knowledge is through logical analysis (Sternberg, 2003). Plato is the one who profoundly found the idea of rationalism. Plato stated that reality lives not in the object or perceived by our body senses, but in the idea or abstract thought that an object represent. One of my professors (in philosophy specifically), explained rationalism or being a rationalist in a simple way, he said that rationalist seeks idea or abstract thoughts first before they make an outcome. Rationalism needs critical thinking, logical analysis and deductive reasoning.
Let me share my own experience about this. As a college student, I say that sometimes I used to be a rationalist. Why? Like what Plato’s belief, that you have to think first, analyze everything in a logical and systematic way the things you want to make. One of my hobbies is writing stories, everyone thought that it’s easy, but let me tell you this, it’s not. You may think that this is not related in rationalism, but as I analyze and read the definition of being a “rationalist”, I can say that this experience can also connect for being a rationalist. When you’re writing a story, you have to consider everything. You will think for the character, the setting, and the whole plot of the story. You really have to think and analyze everything before you write. Think how will you start your story, how will it flow when the readers read your story, you need to be skeptical sometimes, and lastly, how will you end it. Because if these steps are not being followed, the story that you made will end up bad or not so good as you want to be. In this simple experience of mine, first, I didn’t know the idea of being a rationalist, I just ignore it. Idea comes into my mind and then I will make an outcome from that idea, as simple as that. Now that I learned what a rationalist is, I think that in every simple thing that I do or did everyday or every time, I choose to be a rationalist without knowing it.
Descartes believed that innate ideas are attributes of the human mind. Without idea or abstract thought, no idea or date could be known men. As a human being, thinking is the one of the reason why we are being called alive or existed, that we are different from the creations that God made. We are using our human mind to learn additional knowledge or idea. Being a rationalist or empiricist is not important, what important is how we learn and gain knowledge, and how will we contribute it to other people. Just like one of Plato’s philosophy: “Ideas are the foundation and justification of scientific knowledge, reality does not changed, for ideas in man are immutable.”