Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims. In other words, epistemology primarily addresses the following questions: "What is knowledge?", "How is knowledge acquired?", and "What do people know?".
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" (Lacey 286). In more technical terms it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive" (Bourke 263). Different degrees of emphasis on this method or theory lead to a range of rationalist standpoints, from the moderate position "that reason has precedence over other ways of acquiring knowledge" to the radical position that reason is "the unique path to knowledge" (Audi 771). Given a pre-modern understanding of reason, "rationalism" is identical to philosophy, the Socratic life of inquiry, or the zetetic interpretation of authority (open to the underlying or essential cause of things as they appear to our sense of certainty). In recent decades, Leo Strauss sought to revive Classical Political Rationalism as a discipline that understands the task of reasoning, not as foundational, but as maieutic.
Wang Yangming (王阳明, 1472–1529) was a Ming ChineseidealistNeo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general. After Zhu Xi, he is commonly regarded as the most important Neo-Confucian thinker, with interpretations of Confucianism that denied the rationalistdualism of the orthodoxphilosophy of Zhu Xi. He was known as Yangming Xiansheng or Yangming Zi (both mean "Brilliant Master Yangming") in literary circles.
Born Wang Shouren (王 守仁) in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, his courtesy name was Bo'an (伯安). His father was an earl and a minister of civil personnel. He earned the "recommended person" degree in 1492 and the "presented scholar" degree in 1499. He served as an executive assistant in various government departments until being banished for offending a eunuch in 1506. However, his professional career was later ensured when he became the Governor of Jiangxi.