Innate Ideas Essay

Innate Ideas Essay

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Innate Ideas


Throughout the passage of time, philosophers have written and discussed many topics in philosophy. Sometimes, these philosophers agree on ideas or sometimes they make their own assumptions. There are two philosophers who had different ideas concerning where innate ideas come from and how we get these types of ideas. Rene Descartes and John Locke were these two philosophers with the opposing argument on innate ideas. The place where Descartes discusses his views were in the Meditations on First Philosophy and Locke's argument is located in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. By using these sources I will be able to describe the difference between these two arguments on innate ideas.
Rene Descartes was a mathematician and an extremely brilliant man. In mediation three, Descartes is trying to establish God. With the establishing of God the discussion on where ideas come from is brought up. Also, in mediation three Descartes gets to the idea of God and where innate ideas come from by negating ideas. Descartes says you should agree with two things. He has a term called ex mihilio, which means something can't come from nothing. Also he says there must be at least as much reality in the cause as there is in the effect. He realizes that God is a perfect being and to get to the idea of God certain ideas must be looked at. The negating idea is key to his theory. Descartes asks himself where do we get ideas. By using negation he comes to the conclusion that ideas don't come from the world or the imagination, because the world contains material objects and perfection does not exist. He says God can't be imagined because you can't put all the imperfection in the world to make perfection. So Descarte find...


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...received through the senses and experience. Locke makes a statement in Book II about experience, which says, "In that all our Knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives itself."
In conclusion, these two philosophers have different ideas on where innate ideas come from. What are we suppose to believe? Descartes theory that innate ideas come from God, and that God instills these ideas on us at birth. Also, do we think that the idea of God is an innate idea? Or do we take Locke's theory that you aren't born with the idea it's received through your senses and experiences? Your mind furnishes these ideas. I would like to think we weren't all idiots and weren't a blank tablet, but only time will tell. These two extremely different ideas show that this argument is far from over, and maybe Descartes and Locke now know the truth resting in their graves.

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