Read An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Read An Essay Concerning Human Understanding-73
Book I of the Essay is devoted to an attack on nativism or the doctrine of innate ideas; Locke indeed sought to rebut a prevalent view, of innate ideas, that was vehemently held by philosophers of his time.Locke allowed that some ideas are in the mind from an early age, but argued that such ideas are furnished by the senses starting in the womb: for instance, differences between colours or tastes.

Book I of the Essay is devoted to an attack on nativism or the doctrine of innate ideas; Locke indeed sought to rebut a prevalent view, of innate ideas, that was vehemently held by philosophers of his time.Locke allowed that some ideas are in the mind from an early age, but argued that such ideas are furnished by the senses starting in the womb: for instance, differences between colours or tastes.

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He took the time to argue against a number of propositions that rationalists offer as universally accepted truth, for instance the principle of identity, pointing out that at the very least children and idiots are often unaware of these propositions.

In anticipating a counter-argument, namely the use of reason to comprehend already existent innate ideas, Locke states, "by this means there will be no Difference between the Maxims of the Mathematicians, and Theorems they deduce from them: All must equally allow’d innate, they being all Discoveries made by the use of reason." Whereas Book I is intended to reject the doctrine of innate ideas proposed by Descartes and the rationalists, Book II explains that every idea is derived from experience either by sensation – direct sensory information – or reflection – "the perception of the operations of our own mind within us, as it is employed about the ideas it has got".

Thus he uses a discussion of language to demonstrate sloppy thinking.

Locke followed the Port-Royal Logique (1662) in numbering among the abuses of language those that he calls "affected obscurity" in chapter 10.

A substance consists of ‘bare particulars’ and does not have properties in themselves except the ability to support qualities.

Substances are “nothing but the assumption of an unknown support for a group of qualities that produce simple ideas in us”.

Thus there is a distinction between what an individual might claim to "know", as part of a system of knowledge, and whether or not that claimed knowledge is actual.

Locke writes at the beginning of the fourth chapter, Of the Reality of Knowledge): "I doubt not my Reader by this Time may be apt to think that I have been all this while only building a Castle in the Air; and be ready to say to me, To what purpose all of this stir?

He also offers a theory of personal identity, offering a largely psychological criterion.

Book III is concerned with language, and Book IV with knowledge, including intuition, mathematics, moral philosophy, natural philosophy ("science"), faith, and opinion.

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