John Locke, a renowned English philosopher in the seventeenth century, argued against the
pre-existing prevalent belief of innate knowledge, such as those led by Descartes. Many of
Locke’s arguments begin with criticisms on philosophers’ opinion on innate knowledge,
notably Descartes. Therefore, many of Locke’s arguments are direct rebuttals of Descartes
and other philosophers’ beliefs about the existence of innate knowledge. To arrive at the
conclusion that innate knowledge is impossible, Locke comes with various premises and
rebuttals that add weight to his arguments.
First, Locke emphasizes that knowledge and ideas are learned through experience, not
innately. He argues that people’s minds at birth are ‘blank slate’ that is later filled through
experience. Here, the ‘senses’ play an important role because ‘the knowledge of some truths,
as Locke confesses, is very in the mind; but in a way that shows them not to be innate’. By
this, Locke argues that some ideas are actually in the mind from an early age but these ideas
are furnished by the senses starting in the womb. For example, the color blue and the
‘blueness’ of something is not that which is learned innately but is some is learned through
exposures to a blue object or thing. So if we do have a universal understanding of ‘blueness’,
it is because we are exposed to blue objects ever since we were young. The blue sky is what
many would acquaint with blue easily and at a young age.
Second, Locke argues that people have no innate principles. Locke contended that innate
principles rely upon innate ideas within people but such innate ideas do not exist. He says
this on the basis that there is no ‘universal consent’ that everyone agrees upon. Locke quotes
that ‘There is nothing more commonly taken for granted that there are certain principles
universally agreed upon by all mankind, but there are none to... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2010, 12). John Lock'Es View on Innate Knowledge. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 12, 2010, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/John-Lock-Es-View-On-Innate-Knowledge-509558.html
"John Lock'Es View on Innate Knowledge" StudyMode.com. 12 2010. 12 2010 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/John-Lock-Es-View-On-Innate-Knowledge-509558.html>.
"John Lock'Es View on Innate Knowledge." StudyMode.com. 12, 2010. Accessed 12, 2010. http://www.studymode.com/essays/John-Lock-Es-View-On-Innate-Knowledge-509558.html.