John Locke : Human Knowledge And Ideas

1993 Words Dec 3rd, 2014 8 Pages
In this paper, I want to examine how philosophers, especially John Locke from his book Essay Concerning Human Understanding, understand human knowledge and ideas. We have all had experience of being unsure or mistaken about something: you think it 's Wednesday when it is actually Thursday; you wonder whether he was wearing a red shirt or yellow yesterday. Sceptics argue that it is impossible to be certain about anything, arguing that if we can be deceived about such simple things, who can say that we are not mistaken more often than we think? On the other side of the discussion, various groups of philosophers have tried to prove that certainty is possible. Questions have been raised with regard to what is knowledge and can it be defined? What might have made us doubt our knowledge? Is it possible to justify our knowledge with experience?
Some hold that certain principles and ideas were innate as they are present in all human minds. For instance, Descartes claims that mathematics is “certain and indubitable.” He stated that “whether I am awake or asleep, two plus three makes five, and a square has only four sides. ” The point also holds for other ideas, such as the idea of God that he exists, is good and all-powerful. Yet Descartes ' view is questionable: if mathematical ideas were innate, wouldn 't we already know the answers to complicated sums? Wouldn 't math study be unnecessary, as such knowledge is born with us? If ideas such as "God exists" are innate, why doesn 't…
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