Examine the Case for Innate Ideas

Topics: Empiricism, Tabula rasa, John Locke Pages: 3 (927 words) Published: April 17, 2013
Critically examine the case for innate ideas

A fundamental part of a rationalists belief is that we obtain knowledge in thought by just thinking rather than from experience, for these reasons the idea that we are born with innate ideas are crucial to any rationalist. In this essay I will explore the concept of innate ideas and the rationalist’s arguments to support the idea and also the empiricists ideas to argue against the idea. The idea of innate ideas is that from birth we already have ideas in our minds and that we are not a blank sheet, some people believe these ideas are put into our minds by god. Rationalists also believe that we do not need experience to acquire these ideas and we are capable of unlocking these ideas through thinking alone, any empiricist would not be fond of this view. Rationalists have several ideas they believe we are born with and do not gain through experience for example: God, we as humans have never experienced god and yet we still have an idea of god therefore we must have an innate idea of god. However the apparent fact that we all have the same innate idea of supreme being is unjustified as many depictions of god seem to be based on the culture of the society, for example many African religious groups have depicted Jesus as black African, whilst Leonardo da Vinci’s picture of the last supper pictures him as a white man (according to Christianity God, Jesus, and the holy spirit are all one being). Another good example is Maths we have never experienced, for example, the number 3 however we have the idea of 3 in our minds and we understand the concept. A final example is simple logical truths for example we know that it can’t be raining and not raining in the same place at the same time. Another example of innate ideas is Meno’s slave boy. The story goes like this, Socrates asked Meno’s slave boy to double the area of a square the slave boy couldn’t but when Socrates drew a line through the square the slave managed to...
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