Refuting Empiricism – Gordon Clark Quotes (3 Quotes)

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This is a list of Gordon Clark quotes about empiricism. Each of the empiricists in the Table of Contents have separate pages with quotes about them.

The books from which these quotes came are published by the Trinity Foundation. You can purchase the books at these links:

Table of Contents

Wheaton Lectures


Empiricism Fails in Justifying the Perception of a Single Thing

Not only do the Empiricists fail in justifying the classification of things into common nouns, they fail equally and earlier in justifying the perception of a single thing. In Empiricism there is no reason for choosing six or eight sensations out of the fifty or a hundred we have at any one time and combining these six into the perception of a thing. As a matter of fact, we combine the sensation of red, the sensation of round, a certain odor and taste to make an apple, as Berkeley’s illustration goes; but we do not combine the ruddy color, the sound of a phone bell, and the smell of bacon, all occurring at the same time, to make a thingumabob. Experience, therefore, can neither explain nor justify the perception of things.

Gordon H. Clark. “Clark and His Critics.” Apple Books. 64-65

Similarity Cannot Be Deduced from Sensation or Muscular Habits

We need logic. We also need the similarities Nietzsche denied. Every common noun and every verb designate a similarity. Or, as was said earlier, discussions about the general conic show that no epistemology can succeed without something like Platonic Ideas.

However, none of this can be deduced from sensation or from muscular habits. Empiricism is a failure.

Gordon H. Clark. “Clark and His Critics.” Apple Books. 70.

Learning Requires A Priori Equipment

…no construction in philosophy is possible without some sort of presupposition or a priori equipment. This point was defended in the criticism of Aristotelian epistemology. Aristotle denied a priori forms on the ground that they would distort whatever is received by sense. Such Empiricism requires all universal judgments to be conclusions drawn from experience. But experience cannot give universal judgments. As Hume amply showed, our experience is limited in the past and non-existent in the future, with the result that we cannot know that all bread is nourishing, or all arsenic is poisonous, or that all motions require a cause. Not only so, but even the law of contradiction is supposed to be an empirical discovery. That such a discovery is impossible is the lesson to be learned from Nietzsche, Dewey, and Sartre. Learning therefore requires a priori equipment.”

Gordon H. Clark. “Clark and His Critics.” Apple Books. 113-114.

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