The Continental rationalism reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Continental rationalism

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A separate article deals with a different philosophical position called rationalism.

Continental rationalism is a philosophical creed that human reason is the source of knowledge. It originated with René Descartes and spread during the 17th and 18th centuries, primarily in continental Europe. In contrast, its contemporary rival, British Empiricism held that all knowledge comes to us through experience or through our senses. At issue is the fundamental source of human knowledge, and what the proper techniques are for verifying what we think we know. (See Epistemology.)

Rationalists argued that starting with intuitively-understood basic principles, like axioms of geometry, one could deductively derive what was true. Descartes, with his mathematical background, was naturally drawn toward this method, and famously claimed to derive his own existence from pure reason (cogito, ergo sum). On the heels of his work came continental philosophers such as Spinoza and Leibniz who sought to enlarge and refine the fundamental theory of rationalism.

Immanuel Kant started as a rationalist, but after being exposed to David Hume's works which "awoke [him] from [his] dogmatic slumbers", Kant arguably synthesized the rationalist and empiricist traditions.

The more modern usage of the term "rationalist" refers to the belief that human behaviour and beliefs should be based on reason. See rationalist.