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Human Understanding (Links to an external site

The Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Links to an external site.) is considere d the primary source for empiricism in modern philosophy.

Human Understanding (Links to an external site
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Human Understanding (Links to an external site.) is considered the primary source

The Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Links to an external site.) is considere d the primary source for empiricism in modern philosophy. (The link is to Book 1 of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.) What is empiricism, and why would Locke’s text be seen as promoting it?
The essay should have an introduction, body, and conclusion no cover page.

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Locke opens the Essay with an attack on the notion of innate knowledge. He is

particularly keen on demolishing the nativist position because it had recently gained

renewed currency among intellectual circles, partially in response to Rene Descartes’

philosophy. Descartes believed that inborn in our minds are certain mathematical ideas

(such as the ideas of geometrical shapes), metaphysical ideas (such as the idea of God

and of essences), and eternal truths (such as the truth that something cannot come

from nothing).

Locke could not have disagreed more, and he spends the entire first book showing us

why. He begins by attacking the possibility of innate principles, such as the

principle whatever is is. He then moves on to attack the possibility of innate ideas, such

as the idea of God and of infinity. Locke only wages this second attack in order to cover

all of his bases.

The meat of the argument against innate knowledge rests on an argument against

innate principles, since only principles (statements of fact), and not ideas (which are the

building blocks of these statements of fact, the sort of things that have names, such as

“God,” “Man,” “blue,” “existence”), can properly be called “knowledge.” I can know

(conceivably) that God exists, I cannot know that “God.”

 The structure of the argument against innate principles is very simple and can be summed up in three sentences.
(1) If, in fact, there are any innate principles, then everyone would assent to them.
(2) But there are no principles to which everyone assents.
(3)  Therefore, there are no innate principles. Locke, however, takes a long time making this simple argument because he is meticulous in establishing that there are no principles to which everyone would assent.
In conclusion, his proof of this claim takes the form of a dialectic.
He formulates a strong nativist position, objects to it, revises the nativist position,
objects, and so on until the position left to the nativist is so weak as to be utterly trivial.

Empiricist Theory of Ideas

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