John Locke Essay

1676 words - 7 pages

Marques JohnsonApril 13, 2014Essay Concerning Human UnderstandingBook I, Chapter II: "No Innate Principles in the Mind"As the title suggests, the main problem in this chapter of Locke's Essay is whether or not innate principles exist in the mind. The term "innate principles" refers to ideas which are necessarily in the mind by the time of birth. This is what John Locke's Chapter II is all about. The concept from Locke is that these innate ideas are understood either right away at the start of consciousness, or recognized later in life after some relevant experience in the subjects. The key trait which distinguishes innate principles from most ideas is the contention that they are not learned by a mind after birth. But, instead they are always intentionally known or else they guide the development of reason in such a way that makes their discovery foreseeable and absolute.Locke's interpretation had led him to believe that one of the most common sources of error and false pretense in his day was the generally accepted belief in innate ideas. They were also referred to as the "self-evident truths." These truth were the foundation for many of the popular doctrines proclaimed by intellectuals of the time, and were generally accepted as true by the people who chose to blindly follow and not think for themselves. According to Locke, innate ideas don't exist and everything that comes into the mind is from experience. Innate ideas are ideas that are said to be implanted in the human mind without any prior knowledge or experience leading to that idea's origin. Innate ideas originate in the human mind and not from anything external, outside of the mind.The principles that most do agree with by all rational minds are called "universal principles." The Aristotelian logical principles of identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded middle are typically taken to be universal principles. Locke's strongest argument against the necessary existence of innate principles in the mind appeals to empiricist methods of argumentation. He argues that if an account of the means by which all knowledge is learned after birth can be given, then his account will be "sufficient to convince" the reader that innate ideas may as well not exist. While theorized nativists assume that innate ideas and experiences contribute to ideas of a mind, Locke's concept empiricism needs to assume only the contributions of experience. This is the basic structure of Locke's argument against innate ideas. The details of his theory and supporting evidences are briefly discussed in this chapter.In Locke's Book I, Chapter 2, he defines the three objectives of his philosophical project. One is to discover where our ideas come from exactly, and how we are able to determine their origin. The second is to establish what it means to have these ideas and what an idea fundamentally is. Third, and lastly, to examine issues of faith and opinion to determine how we should proceed rationally when our knowledge...

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