John Locke's Theory Of Knowledge Essay

1555 words - 6 pages

John Locke was an empiricist who believed that people could acquire
knowledge from experience. Ideas acted as raw materials and by knowing
the relation of the ideas, we got knowledge. All ideas are based on
experience but knowledge can also be justified by intuition and
demonstration. By sensation and reflection, we get sensitive,
intuitive and demonstrative knowledge with different degrees of
certainty and ways of evidence. In investigating the two main sources
of ideas of Locke, we then will explain the two kinds of knowledge
which based on reasoning by using suitable examples. The existence of
external objects by sensation will also be proved. At last, we will
introduce the dream arguments which challenge Locke certainty of
experience and explain how Locke rejected it.

Locke suggested sensation and reflection as two sources of ideas.
Sensation is a kind of external sense which is a process of external
objects convey into the mind and formed perceptions. Our sense come
across sensible objects and several distinct perceptions of the
objects convey into our mind through various sense organs. Thus, we
have ideas of hot, cold, black, white, soft and hard, which we call
them sensible qualities. This source of idea depends wholly upon our
senses and gives us sensitive knowledge. On the other hand, reflection
is the internal sense, which is operation of the perception of our own
mind. The soul comes to reflect and consider the ideas it receives
from sensation by operation. By perception, thinking, doubting,
reasoning, willing and all other different kinds of operations in our
mind, we can understand the incoming sensible ideas. By reflection, we
can acquire intuitive and demonstrative knowledge. The external
material things acted as the sensible objects of sensation and the
operations of our own minds as the objects of reflection. Sensation
and reflection are the only origins that our ideas take their

Intuitive knowledge is of greatest certainty by immediate perception
of the mind without others intervention. In intuitive knowledge, the
mind understand or know something immediately without needing to think
about it, learn it or discover it by using reason. The mind identifies
the truth without having to prove or examine ideas. By direct
reasoning, it perceives that human is different from a dog, a circle
is not a triangle, three are more than two. The mind identifies the
agreement or disagreement of two ideas by their own immediately,
exclusive of others’ interference. Intuitive knowledge is the clearest
and of most certainty, with no double nor hesitation. It is
irresistible and immediately perceived by the mind. The certainty of
intuition is so great that one cannot conceive. As a result, a greater
certainty is not needed. The existence of ourselves is also an

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