Locke vs. Knowledge Innatism

1224 WordsMay 3, 20115 Pages
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…show more content…
So, while this knowledge may be universal, it does not neccessarily mean that such knowledge is innate, but rather just the capacity to come to know these certain truths. Since Locke is an empiricist, he states that the ability of the mind to know certain truth is only innate through the senses. It is through use of sensory experience that one learns things about nature, our environment, or ourselves. I agree with Locke’s view, because while I may never experience enough to know all there is to know, I am able to come to the understanding that everything that I know has come from experience of some kind. Even ideas that are not tangible, such as the concept of a human “soul”, are feasible to me because even though I have never actually seen a “soul”, I can confidently describe what it means because I have learned about its definition through texts, conversation, and my own reasoning based on common definitions – this is my experience of what a “soul” is, and hence, knowledge is gained. However, the problem for me is the examples of the infant or mentally handicapped. A precocious child may learn mathematical truths well before they are able to speak; one can imagine a child playing with things such as pennies and being able to count, add, and subtract them. The mentally handicapped example is a bit weaker but it works as well. The retard may have a sense of what is right & wrong, but they may not be able to

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