Locke vs. Knowledge Innatism

Better Essays
Locke vs. Knowledge Innatism

In this paper, I will explore the topic of knowledge innatism and define what it is and what it isn’t, Locke’s objections to it, and responses to these objections. After raising an objection, I will argue either that 1) this objection is weak or 2) this objection works.
The sort of knowledge that nativists think are innate in the mind are truths that do not have to be learned through experience, such as knowledge of the laws of nature & mathematical truths. Examples of these are: 1) “What goes up must come down” (the law of gravity) & 2) “one plus one is two”. This school of thought is used to explain certain truths that might seem to have universal applicability. Nativists think that certain sorts of knowledge are innate because of 1) its universal applicability or 2) truths that go beyond sensory experience, such as: 1a) moral/ ethical truths such as the concepts of “right” & “wrong” & 2b) the idea of people having a “soul”.
For Locke, his biggest problem with the nativist school of thought is that their ultimate assertion is unclear; he is unsure if nativists are saying A) that everyone is born with knowledge of certain truths and is conscious of them all along, OR if they are saying that B) everyone is born with the innate capacity to come to know certain truths. As Locke understands it; if A), then it is empirically false, because infants and retards have no concept of these truths. For example, if you were to ask an infant, “What is the square root of 4761?” they would not know. For Locke, this negates any notion that there are universal truths accepted by all human beings. He argues that, “No proposition can be said to be in the mind, which it never yet knew which it was never yet conscious of” ( p.23). What he is saying is that it is not plausible to conclude that certain innate truths exist if someone is not consciously aware of them. Now that Locke has successfully refuted A), he continues by negating

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Locke Innate Knowledge

    • 955 Words
    • 4 Pages

    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…

    • 955 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Innate Knowledge Locke

    • 847 Words
    • 4 Pages

    many people, including some religions. John Locke has several arguments against innate knowledge; among these, the argument that states that if we did in fact possess innate ideas, then everybody would agree on at least one idea. There are no principles that everybody aggress on. Therefore, innate ideas cannot possibly exist. Locke uses the logic of this argument for several different situations such as the argument for moral innate knowledge. Locke starts off this argument by saying “No moral…

    • 847 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    John Locke’s Theory of Knowledge Submitted to: Mr. Waseem Hassan Submitted by: Ali Furqan Syed Class: MPhil (1st Semester) LAHORE INSTITUTE OF FUTURE EDUCATION LAHORE John Locke’s Theory of Knowledge John Locke’s Essay Concerning…

    • 869 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Better Essays

    Descartes vs Locke

    • 1175 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Philosophy Essay (Descartes vs. Locke) Socrates once said, “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.” Several philosophers contradicted Socrates’ outlook and believed that true knowledge was in fact attainable. This epistemological view however had several stances to it, as philosophers held different beliefs in regards to the derivation of true knowledge. Rationalists believed that the mind was the source of true knowledge, while in Empiricism, true knowledge derived from the senses. Rene…

    • 1175 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Locke vs Hobbes

    • 1383 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Hobbes vs Locke Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke both developed theories on human nature, the state of nature, how men govern themselves and the dynamics of the social contract. With the passing of time, political views on the philosophy of government steadily changed. In spite of their differences, Hobbes, and Locke, became two of the most influential political theorists in the world. Hobbes believed that man is not by nature a social animal, that society could not exist except by the power of…

    • 1383 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Locke vs. Williams

    • 1141 Words
    • 5 Pages

    John Locke Vs. Bernard Williams In this essay, I will be explaining John Locke’s case of the prince and the cobbler and Bernard Williams’s second description of the A-body person and the B-body person. Bernard Williams has the correct analysis of the situation where the body is part of self-identity since it is inevitable for us to fear future pain. John Locke claims that memory is the key to identity, so “as far [as] someone’s memory goes, is so far the identity of the person.” (Campbell) First…

    • 1141 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Hobbes vs Locke

    • 551 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Hobbes vs. Locke Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were known as Social Contract Theorists, and Natural Law Theorists. The two men both had very strong views on freedom and how a country should be governed. Thomas Hobbes had more of a Pessimistic view while John locke had more of an Optimistic view. Hobbes and Locke believed in a type of Social Contract between the Government and being governed. Hobbes believed in Absolute Monarchs and Locke believed in the will of people being governed. Hobbes opposed…

    • 551 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Descartes vs Locke

    • 1265 Words
    • 6 Pages

    The study of knowledge, or epistemology, contains theoretical methods in which information is learned. Of these methods, there are two that are most widely accepted. Rationalism and empiricism are also the most widely debated methods of knowledge. Rationalism claims that a priori processes and intuition gain knowledge. Rationalism claims that knowledge is innate; but that it varies among humans. At the other end of the spectrum, empiricism claims that knowledge is gained largely by experience, observation…

    • 1265 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Better Essays

    Marx Vs. Locke

    • 1470 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Marx vs. Locke Work is something we do on a regular basis, it’s what gets us through our day and makes us who we are. In class, we discussed two authors who had a viewpoint on the idea of work. Rousseau and Marx express their opinions of the theory of work in their own writings. In Karl Marx’s reading called The Communist Manifesto he explains the differences and similarities between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat people. In Rousseau’s reading called Discourse on the Origins of Inequality mainly…

    • 1470 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Locke Vs Berkley

    • 1491 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Empiricism is the belief that knowledge is gained through experience. Empiricism was a way for philosophers to answer the question of skepticism. Both John Locke and George Berkeley believed the theory of empiricism to a certain extent. Locke believed our knowledge is not inherited but came from our senses and our senses could be split into two group: primary and secondary qualities. The main disagreement Berkeley had with Locke was his view concerning primary and secondary qualities. Berkeley was…

    • 1491 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays