Locke, Hume and the Copy Principle

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  • Created by: A. Person
  • Created on: 13-01-14 15:22

Locke & Hume


The empiricist thesis states that we have no source of knowledge or concepts other than sense experience.

Locke: Our minds are ‘tabula rasa’ from birth.

Hume: Is it possible for someone who is colour-blind from birth to know what red is?


Hume believed that the most 'lively thought' is still inferior to the dullest sensation (experience).


Hume’s  Copy Principle


Hume believed that our minds are constrained by experience. We are incapable of creating ‘new’ concepts with our minds – we can only imagine things which can be traced back to experience.

Simple impressions cause simple ideas; complex impressions cause complex ideas. Simple ideas can be combined to form complex ideas, and complex ideas can be broken down to simple ideas.

For example, we can imagine things that don’t exist by combining two or more ideas, which we have gained as a result of simple


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