Descartes And Locke Innate Ideas

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Ideas are defined as whatever is perceived or understood about something; despite this simple denotation, humankind 's capacity to acquire and understand these complex thoughts remains a controversy in philosophical literature. As major role models in the foundation of modern philosophy, Descartes and Locke feud over the definition of these ideas, the acquisition of these concepts, and the content of these thoughts. Descartes identifies with a rationalistic view where knowledge is based on innate ideas and these ideas are acquired through reason, whereas Locke believes in empirical explanations which state that ideas are formulated from sensory experiences with the outside world. In many of Descartes’ works, he emphasizes the importance of …show more content…
Despite his avid condemnation of their existence, Locke agrees with Descartes on the definition of innate ideas as predisposed truths before birth. Locke differentiates between innate ideas - simple concepts and the basic unit of thought - and innate principles - complex statements formulated from ideas, either those practical or speculative (Locke, On Innate Speculative Principles, 1-2). Through his Argument of Universal Consent, Locke falsifies the innate idea and principle hypothesis presented by Descartes. Locke begins by contemplating that if innate ideas prevail, then there exist universal principles for all humans. However, he argues that sentiments accepted in academia are “far from being accepted by everyone [and] have never even been heard by a great part of mankind” (Locke, On Innate Speculative Principles, 4). Locke refutes the notion that humans are born with complete understanding of the innate principles, as it is evident that not all people can achieve the same complex rationale that is acquired with reason. Children and those mentally disabled cannot have the same understanding as others, though they do have the capacity to obtain ideas and understand these complexities through their sensory experiences with the outside world. Locke believes that children and others utilize reasoning skills before they recognize the innate principles, creating an actualized capacity when children are fully aware of their reasoning. Conclusively, Locke poses the complex that if a human is aware of all innate ideas, then continued introspection and education would be searching for what is already known; thus, he denounces the existence of innate

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