Different Viewpoints of Empiricist Philosphers: John Locke, David Hume, George Berkley

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Empiricists are philosophers who argue that knowledge comes from sensory experience. This means that whatever we experience through our senses are the only ideas that can be epistemically justified. John Locke, David Hume, and George Berkley are three of the most influential empiricists in modern philosophical history. Though sharing the same premise about knowledge stemming from sensory experience and having some common ground in certain areas, each philosopher had different views on what we can and cannot know through empirical evidence about the universe. This paper will look at each philosopher’s argument, point out what philosopher does the best at arguing for the empirical state of the world and God, and finally use the best arguments to show everything we can truly know through empirical justification. John Locke's account of knowledge can be summed up in that we can know ideas of modes and not ideas of substances. This will become much clearer as we delve into why and how John Locke comes to this conclusion. To begin with, John Locke throws away the longstanding notion that we can have innate ideas, thus disallowing those ideas to play a part in justified knowledge. Locke's argument is that if innate ideas exist, then they must be in every single human without them being taught. Locke points out that there is no justification of this. If innate ideas existed, then wouldn't infants and those with a lack of intelligent know them as well? Locke states that innate ideas are not in these individuals. Innate idea enthusiasts would state then that they would have to be shown the way to recover these innate ideas. Locke again argues against this by stating that if one has to use reason to know innate ideas, then one couldn’t tell ... ... middle of paper ... ...cal standpoint, has the strongest argument for the existence of God. The conclusion this paper has reached thus far is the Berkley has the best argument for the universe while Hume trumps the other two in his argument for God. However, the ultimate question arises: what do we know with any certainty? In an empirical sense, we can come to the conclusion that the universe is nothing more than ideas in which, in Berkley's terms, spirits (us) perceive and interpret. Due to us not epistemically knowing whether each other exist, then the world consists of whatever ideas we experience in our own mind. We can't know whether the physical world actually exists, whether there is a God, or whether even our bodies exist. This is due to our sensations of ideas being the only thing we can experience which is. as stated before, the baseline argument for what constitutes knowledge.

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