In philosophy, empiricism is a theory of knowledge
which asserts that knowledge arises from experience.
Empiricism is one of several competing views about how
we know "things," part of the branch of philosophy
called epistemology, or "the Theory of Knowledge". Em-
piricism emphasizes the role of experience and evid-
ence, especially sensory perception, in the formation of
ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas (ex-
cept in so far as these might be inferred from empirical
reasoning, as in the case of genetic predisposition).
In the philosophy of science, empiricism emphasizes
those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely re-
lated to evidence, especially as discovered in experi-
ments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method
that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against
observations of the natural world, rather than resting
solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.
Hence, science is considered to be methodologically em-
pirical in nature.
The term "empiricism" has a dual etymology. It
comes from the Greek word εμπειρισμός, the Latin trans-
lation of which is experientia, from which we derive the
word experience. It also derives from a more specific
classical Greek and Roman usage of empiric, referring to
a physician whose skill derives from practical experi-
ence as opposed to instruction in theory.
The term "empirical" was originally used to refer to cer-
tain ancient Greek practitioners of medicine who rejec-
ted adherence to the dogmatic doctrines of the day, pre-
ferring instead to rely on the observation of phenomena
as perceived in experience. The notion of tabula rasa
("clean slate" or "blank tablet") dates back to Aristotle,
and was developed into an elaborate theory by
Avicenna and demonstrated as a thought experiment
by Ibn Tufail. The doctrine of empiricism was later ex-
plicitly formulated by John Locke in the 17th century. He
argued that the mind is a tabula rasa (Locke used the
words "white paper") o