Criticism Of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

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The rules of morality need to be proven, so they are not innate.

Locke takes a classic argument from the skeptics, which shows the diversity of morals among the people: child sacrifice practiced by the Greeks or the Romans, the abandonment of the elderly in some tribes, etc..

Trying to reverse our eyes and make the understanding itself the subject of our review.

Perhaps this will allow us to determine “the certainty and extent of human knowledge”.

Locke shows that an idea is innate means that the soul naturally sees this idea is the meaning of this doctrine. In fact, the only thing Locke grants the innateness is the fact that the faculty of understanding is innate.

Chronologically, these are the processes by which ideas are formed in our minds: -Direction we discover the world, and therefore ideas appear in our mind -These, more and more familiar, return to our memory and we give them names -The spirit of other abstract ideas, these ideas brought by the senses: it is the general concepts -Mind reasoning about these concepts and find others.

Locke distinguished in the Essay on Human Understanding two kinds of ideas: ideas simple and complex ideas.

Simple ideas are mixed in the sensible object perceived. He understands that the white and cold snow are distinct qualities simple: “nothing is more obvious to a man that clear and distinct perception he has of those simple ideas.” These are “all the materials of our knowledge.” The mind can combine these simple ideas, and make complex ideas “when the mind has once received these simple ideas, it has the power to repeat, compare, to unite them together with an almost infinite variety , and thereby to form new complex ideas.

To answer this question, Locke uses the famous metaphor of the empty table (or tabula rasa): “Let us suppose that in the beginning, the soul is called a vacuum, void of all characters, without any idea of any kind. […] Where she draws all these materials that are like the back of all reasoning and all knowledge? The answer to Locke, who founded his empire: “To this I answer in one word, from experience: that is the foundation of all knowledge, and that’s where they get their first home “.

This experience is one of the objects of the sensible world, as well as domestic operations of our minds.


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