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John Locke, George Berkeley And David Hume

1333 words - 5 pages

John Locke, Berkeley and Hume are all empiricist philosophers. They all have many different believes, but agree on the three anchor points; The only source of genuine knowledge is sense experience, reason is an unreliable and inadequate route to knowledge unless it is grounded in the solid bedrock of sense experience and there is no evidence of innate ideas within the mind that are known from experience. Each of these philosophers developed some of the most fascinating conceptions of the relationships between our thoughts and the world around us. I will argue that Locke, Berkeley and Hume are three empiricists that have different beliefs.

The first philosopher, John Locke, laid the foundations of modern empiricism. Locke is a representational realist who touches reality through feelings. He believes that experience gives us knowledge (ideas) that makes us able to deal with the world external to our minds. His meaning of ideas is "the immediate object of perception, thought, or understanding." Locke's ideas consist of simply ideas which turn into complex ideas. Simple ideas are the thoughts that the mind cannot know an idea that it has not experienced. The two types of simple ideas are; sensation and reflection. Sensation is the idea that we have such qualities as yellow, white, heat, cold, soft, hard, bitter, and sweet. Reflection ideas are gained from our experience of our own mental operations. Complex ideas are combinations of simple ideas that can be handled as joined objects and given their own names. These ideas are manufactured in the human mind by the application of its higher powers. Locke believes in two kinds of qualities that an object must have; primary and secondary. Primary qualities of an object are its properties of solidity, extension, shape, motion or rest, and number. Secondary qualities are properties of color, sound, taste, smell, and texture. If these qualities exist then there is a real world.

Locke also believes that people have innate ideas through experiences. He has three explanations for this idea. Firstly, if we had innate ideas, we would know that we have them, which means that if you have ideas they are conscience and everything you think, you think you think. Secondly, if there were innate truths of reason we would all agree on them. Lastly, our memory cannot recall these innate ideas.

Secondly, George Berkeley, a representational idealist, believes that knowledge comes from experience, but he perceives his thoughts in a different way then Locke. He doesn't believe that things from your senses can be reality. Berkeley believes that if our minds did not produce an idea, then God delivered and perceived his experiences to us, but he also says that empiricism and Christianity cannot be used together. We have a small role to play out and God makes sure that everything gets done. Berkeley was very mind dependent; he had faith that there is no world without a mind. ...

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