Innate knowledge

rationalism, a priori knowledge, Descartes..


rationalism: the primacy of reason

we discovered the sun is vast and that we rotate through rationalism.

we can understand the world in 'the language in which it is written -the language of mathematics'.

e.g. wax block can change but always the same volume = 'something extended in length, breadth and depth'

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empiricism -a theory that all knowledge is ultimately based on and justified by, experience. it claims everything about world is revealed by introspection(ability for mind to feflect on what sensed tell) of our subjective states of mind.

-the 'scientific method' is central to empirical methodology because observing, experimenting and hypothesis testing are best way to know.

-usually rejects innate, a priori knowledge for a posteriori.

-key philosopher- english 17thC, John Locke

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rené Descartes, main founder of modern philosophy.

  • the wax block - feels, tastes, hard, texture. when heated, looses all qualities, to our senses, has changed.
  • we know its the same wax block through REASONING

17thC innatism - God fives us fundamental ideas of logical, metaphysical and moral nature. Today, modern philosophers call it NATIVISM- 'our understanding of the world is significantly based on our innate mental endowment' -Garratt and barbanell.

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tabula rasa or tablet

theory of anamnesis 'recollection'. tabula rasa awaits sensory stimulation before it can have any experience

how comes the mind to be furnished? when comes it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? to this i answer, in one word, from experience. In that, all our knowledge is founded and from that, it ultimately derives itself' -Locke

'ideas of reflection' what we have when we reflect on our experience, mentally organise into new Ideas

child kept in room without colour, no concept of it.

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Samuel Parker's crit of Innatism

parker -17th century, like locke, crits Innatism.

Innateness itself cannot therefore 'underwrite' a priori knowledge. Locke didn't see that if God had placed something in our minds innately, its falsehood would be unthinkable.

'a field sometimes needs clearing of weeds before new crops can be grown'- parker

*necessary conditions -required to be the case

-sufficient =enough to be the case

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sensory stimulation is necessary not sufficient for the acquisition of knowledge. sense perceptions merely stimulate mind.

certain mathematical propositions such as Euclidean Axioms were purely a priori, therefore innate.

experience 'strikes' the mind like a hammer and comes up against innate concepts which are already within

e.g. Michelangelo 'sees' David in his mind before chose marble.

intuitions about morality proves Leibniz is a stregnth for innate knowlege

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