Innate Ideas: Rene Descartes And John Locke Essay, Research Paper
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 finds that God does exist. Descartes says, “God demonstrates most evidently that God too exists.” Finally, he must know where did this idea of God come from. He specifically says he didn’t draw it from his senses. He didn’t make the idea of God he says the idea was imprinted on him. He makes the conclusion by stating, “Thus the only option remaining is that this idea is innate in me just as the idea of myself is innate in me.” God imprints the innate idea of Him on us at birth and that is why we know of God. An example of this is how a craftsman imprints his signature on his work. Descartes says he gets innate ideas from God because God instills the idea of himself onto us, which is an innate idea.
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