If empiricism means that only data that can be verified in the third person are regarded as real then it is a very powerful way for imposing the reality of consensus on the individual consciousness. It automatically precludes any operation of what the ancients knew as the higher intellect which was a source of knowledge that was only meaningful in the first person. We have shut a lot of that out in this culture which is why even though our culture seems very individualistic, in another sense it is one-dimensional exactly because it limits discourse to what anyone can see.
This is a very good point. I think academia is largely to blame for the disdain culture mostly has for what Locke calls reflection, i.e., perception of what goes on in our own minds. There may be various techniques that one can learn to heighten internal perception, but basically reflection is cheap, it just takes the time and bother to carefully observe what is going on there. Going to class is counterproductive here because there is no class in what is unique to one's own self.
Psychology and philosophy could teach us much about our own true natures inasmuch as people are similar in how their emotions, minds, etc., operate, but mostly they fail to the extent they are defined as the consensus of academic disciplines. Because unselfish people value sensitivity greatly, tricking a person into thinking she is something she is not is very useful to those who want both to be selfish and to be unselfishly loved. Deceptive people are very effective at deceiving people as to their natures. It just isn't reasonable to suppose that if philosophy (or psychology) is given by a consensus, it won't mostly be dominated by the largely deceptive assertions that deceptive people find most convenient to make, because these fields study what deceptive people largely find it most convenient and necessary to lie about. What is needed is for philosophy and psychology to become more fractured. For instance, with respect to philosophy, if a philosopher or philosophy department doesn't appreciate a few philosophers while hating the majority, people should see it can't be worth much. Philosophers and their students need to be free to be oblivious and contemptuous to most philosophy, but my guess is that if a philosopher has contempt for most so-called philosophy, he and the department that hired him won't be respected much. The administrators probably won't hire people like that because it will decrease the ratings of their universities. Instead of giving degrees in philosophy, perhaps it would be better to give degrees in particular philosophers.
Empiricism is better because a priori knowledge inherently depends on experience as a prerequisite.
Yeah, well, empiricism also depends on experience as a prerequisite, so what is the point? I mean it is not like empiricism is the study of experience, just those experiences given (or which could be given) by sensation (and not reflection). But what of the same assertion with the word "sensation" replacing "experience" (a clearer way of putting things, in my opinion)? If you take empiricism to be the study of experience, it involves thinking about experiences, and thus is in a sense dependent and posterior to the rational. On the other hand, if you take empiricism to be the mere act of observing things, that's such a particular thing that in itself is a reason to think it not especially great. One could as well argue that studying the input/output controller hub of a computer is more noble than studying a computer because the latter depends on the former.
One of the main things that annoys me about philosophy is its treatment of Locke. Nowadays (e.g., look at the wikipedia entry on empiricism), Locke is blamed as the founder of British empiricism. You'd never know that the main genius of his epistemology comes from noticing that reflection is on the same strong ground as sensation, i.e., that they are both a type of perception. His main goal it seems to me is to invest reflection with the same appeal as sensation by pointing out that people who say sensations especially should be believed because they involve concrete perceptions (seeing is believing) are just ridiculous because so does reflection. Noooo, philosophers act like mostly what he did was to argue that sensation is fundamental to everything. He is portrayed as praising empiricism when in fact that is mostly (by so strongly defending reflection) what in effect he most actively derided. The reason is simple. Most so-called philosophers are academics who don't believe in reflection and are liars or have been deceived by liars. Locke's mistake was allowing himself to be defined as a philosopher. Once studying him was deemed most appropriate as being carried out as a subset of the academic subject of philosophy, discourse about him became destined to be dominated by liars who mostly hate his revolutionary epistemological ideas and don't want would-be Locke lovers to realize they should read An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
and judge Locke on his own merits.