Free «Innate Ideas vs. Tabula Rasa» Essay Sample


Most philosophers believe that experience is a key factor and plays a big role in cognition. Locke takes the empirical approach while defending his position. In this dimension, a man's mind is like a blank sheet when he is born. Descartes on the other hand uses the rational approach in his arguments. Descartes' process all through the contemplation eliminates the modes of the knowledge (Rodgers 345).  Locke believes that there are no innate ideas and that human beings inherit nature that all together is autonomy. Descartes persuades people to follow his example, as his approach is not so scientific like that of Locke. For the issue of idea to be categorized in identity, then its definition must be found, and conscious reasoning is one of the processes of thinking.

There are some ideas which can never be experienced. Some of these include goodness, beauty and truth. Epistemology is one of the most important branches in Philosophy. There have been several attempts that have been done by various philosophers to find out the knowledge source. Most people tend to be satisfied with the information that they have and think that they know almost everything. There are some things which people hang on thinking that they are facts only to find out that they are dubious and not true. Knowledge is the relationship that exists between the world and the people. There are some philosophers whoever who do not agree with the philosophy. The disagreement is that, most people have impose their own believes. A good example is that of Galileo Galilei. People used to believe that the sun used to revolve around the earth only to be challenged that it is the earth that was revolving around the sun.

Empiricism vs. Rationalism

The knowledge theories are divided historically, theoretically and naturally. These are in the schools of empiricism and rationalism. The whole issue rotates around knowledge and more so the empirical knowledge. Rationalism believes that, the ideas are often independent and any truth found is for a reason. It is incorporated with priori which is a very important knowledge and depends on experience for it to exist. An example is when people say that a black cat is always black. The statement is very broad and it has been denied a lot of aspects making it tautology. The sentence by itself looks self contradicted.  Empiricism believes that some ideas are independent and do not need any background for it to be dependable (Soccio 356).  When it is said that desks are brown, the statement becomes more of synthetic than analytical. This is because, not all desks are brown. There are more chances of referring the matter to experience more as compared to the first statement.

Rationalism comprises genuine knowledge as opposed to empiricism. Knowledge has either two options, either it can exist immediately one is born or it can be acquired through experience. Locke who supports Empiricism suggests that, human knowledge is acquired through experience. His argument is that, when one is born, his brain is plain like a blank sheet of paper. It is only after exposure or experience is when one is able to acquire knowledge. The sources of the ideas that come from experience are too sensational and are reflection. Reflection is using the ideas used previously to give some sense. Locke seems to be basing his discussion more on the learned experience. He explains that, if you have an object and keenly studies its quality, these qualities can be reproduced as ideas in someone's minds. This approach distinguishes between realities and appearances.

Nature vs. Nurture

Nature represents the genetics while nurture represents the environment. There have been more questions about, which between the two is more influential than the other? It is believed that knowledge is acquired naturally but nurtured through experience. Analyzing from an evolutionary point of view, there are some information that we know about the world that are inborn. They are just normally modified by education, religion and society. An example is the case of identical twins. The twins are studied and as much as people think that they are alike, there are some differences that are realized. These determine the human traits.

Many philosophers have contributed a lot in this discussion including Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Their discussions whoever lacked an empirical evidence. There have been so many theories that have come up to explain the human behaviors and why human beings behave in a certain manner. These theories have been derived from both the physiological and the sociological explanations. These explanations whoever has never ever been compatible with each other.

The human psychological development in Feral Children

This case of Feral Children was documented by Betty Topper. A six years child was chained together with other animals in a closed room and left there for five years. When she was later recovered by the police, the child had learned different experience. She could not really fit with other children of the same age like hers. She could not talk fluently like other children of her age. She had developed a mental and social disability (Rodgers 97). She felt like an outsider when she as introduced back to other children. This long distance and lack of communication had really affected her social and mental fitness making her feel like a freak and an outsider. Betty who had lost her daughter also was mentally disturbed. She had learned to live without the child. The language of the child had also been affected. This language factor has been for a long time been considered as a fascination. Language is one of the major factors that are considered in the development of a human being. It has been considered in the debate of nature vs. nurture.

Many theories have been developed by psychologists and linguists about this question of language. It is believed that language is acquired either through exposure or through individual experience. The fact that two people stay together and have the same background does not limit their language. It is evident that one child can have interest in being a multilingual; and the other child does not have any interest (Ellis 231). Exposure is the main factor here for one to be fluent in a certain language. Lenneberg formed a hypothesis that suggested that language is innate. There has been evidence whoever that brain is acquiescent up to a certain time. A study like that of feral children supports the study of Lenneberg.

Comparison and contrast between Locke and Descartes

It is vital first to know the nature of the two theories before discussion their theories of knowledge. Both Locke and Descartes put their discussion on the knowledge theory.  Descartes in his discussion finds his way of approach and finds what is known. He uses the theory of knowledge and beef the discussion up with the truth that he has. Descartes is of the opinion that, substance is that ability to occupy space. He argues that, reason is essential than sense. This is because; reason provides more knowledge as compared to sense. Reason defines to us the essence of something but sense cannot (Soccio 324).

Descartes focuses more on the innate ideas and the existence of God. He believes that it is better if you get to have the proof of something that you cannot see than to have a proof of what you can really see. It makes more sense to find a proof of what you cannot see. He continues to argue that what we see is from God and therefore they exist. If God exists, and he really does not deceive people, then corporeal things are in existence. Locke on the other hand, seeks to determine the limit of human perception. Locke's views focuses on the use of sense. His knowledge theory broadly differs from that of Descartes as he rejects the ideas of innate.


Innate ideas are inborn ideas and do not come from experience. This theory has a belief that human came into existence through cognitive underpinning. Locke believes that a child's mind is like a clean slate that develops slowly through ideas.  The ideas are imposed to the child's mind through the immediate environment that the child lives. Locke challenges the basic believes of the innate theory by saying that small children and idiots do not have thoughts. In defending innate ideas, he says that there is nothing which is universal (Ellis 56). In defending innate ideas, it is easy for one to make conclusions that people can easily have ideas if they use reason as a tool. This is important for the discovery and verifications. Locke believes that the number of reasons is infinite.


He seems to be holding stronger arguments as opposed to Locke. From his arguments, he bring s out three ideas; adventitious, innate and ones self. He holds the religious views and supports them even more. When he says that God really exists, then he is actually being adventitious. This makes his ideas innate as has a clear and wider approach about the existence of God. He believes that he must have been created by God (Lash 67). He believes in what he has not seen and says that it is even better to believe in what you have not seen than believing in what you have already seen. Descartes does not rush into conclusions. He takes the readers gradually into ideas and leave them think for themselves. He allows the readers to make their own meditations while reading the book.

Basing on the psychological studies, I tend to believe that people are born with inherited nature. They also have a sense of right and wrong n their birth. It is to the conclusion that conscience and morality is seen so much in children and not in development. If someone is a real seeker of truth and wants to get facts, then somewhere along the line one must doubt everything in life. The first Cognitive Revolution started way back from Galileo to Kant. In the early years, the rationalists and empiricists theories were really emphasized. Locke's assumptions look more problematic. His take to reasoning tends to contradict with other more aspects in existence. Locke is unable to come up with a framework of all the assumptions and this creates a lot of gaps in his theories.

The cognitive transparency on the issue of assumption was never challenged. The issue of Empiricism seems to be a great ideal for the fusty ideas. In today's world, the issue of blank slates does not really work. The mind of a person cannot be completely blank at any given stage in life. There must be some stuff that is basic to make the mind pick up the complicated stuffs in life. There must be a frame that will be able to hold the new information coming in the mind. If this frame is not available, then there is a high chance that one is not able to grasp the new information (Lash 124).  The information will; simply disappear to the world. It is this content that makes it possible for the mind to load more content. For instance, to be able to learn about color blue, then one must be able to know or have some information about colors.


Broadly, there are two types of reasoning; deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. Under deductive reasoning, the author assumes that already the person has the basic idea about something. In inductive reasoning, the author knows that the reader has no idea of what he is talking about and therefore gives complete information. It is this inductive reasoning that the reader develops some doubts over a topic because he wants to prove if what has been said is a fact. Descartes is seen to be an enigma. He is in a position to come up with his own ideas even when he was confronted by the religious people; he goes on to prove his ideas.  He comes up with his own idea like that of vortices in space (Rodgers 154).  

He does not abandon the religious beliefs despite his scientific focus. He accepts the traditional religious believes that is mostly on immortality. He is for the idea that mind and body are two that cannot be separated. This makes him be on a higher rank as opposed to other psychologists. There are other questions that have not been answered in all the theories. The future predictions have not been given by the philosophers. They also do not tell us the level of knowledge that experience provides when compared to that of the inborn knowledge.


What Our Customers Say

Get 15%OFF   your first custom essay order Order now Prices from $12.99 /page
Click here to chat with us