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John Locke . Arguments against innate ideas. (1). If there is an idea universally accepted by all human beings, this does not prove that the idea is innate. It may be that common experience accounts for similiarity of ideas.

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Arguments against innate ideas
Arguments against innate ideas

  • (1). If there is an idea universally accepted by all human beings, this does not prove that the idea is innate. It may be that common experience accounts for similiarity of ideas.

  • (2) It is not true that all human beings share even the simplest supposed innate ideas. Young children and “idiots” do not, for instance.


The mind is a blank slate
The mind is a blank slate

  • Locke thinks we have no innate ideas, but that the content of our minds is totally dependent on our experience.

  • Even when we are creative and making things up, we just re-distribute our simple ideas around to make new combinations.


Primary and secondary qualities
Primary and secondary qualities.

  • Primary qualities are in the object and our idea. Solidity, extension, motion are primary qualities

  • Secondary qualities are powers in the objects of sense to produce ideas. Color, smells and tastes as we perceive them do not exist in objects, they are subjective qualities we perceive caused by primary qualities of the objects


Perception is a causal process
Perception is a causal process

  • We are immediately aware of ideas when we perceive something.

  • But these ideas are caused by real objects appart from us

  • Only the primary qualities in our ideas resemble the material object. There is nothing in the object that resembles the secondary qualities.


Primary qualities
Primary qualities

  • Primary qualities are qualities that are inseperable from material things. Smash up a grain of wheat and you still have solidity, extension etc. Same thing with an almond. But you change the smell taste etc.

  • Perceptual relativity applies to secondary qualities, but not to primary qualities.