THE TABULA RASA
Where Do Ideas Come From?
- Most of our ideas are about everyday objects. Therefore, surely our ideas must originate in those objects?
- If we could trace the causal origin of ideas we would know how our ideas are about the things that they are.
- Our senses construct the experiences we have - presented to us in sensation.
- We also rely on reflection (operations and functions of the mind) which provide us with an internal experience such as reason and emotions.
- An idea must be tied to an experience so that it 'stands' for it. Without the corrosponding idea words would be meaningless noise. An obscure idea that has no corrosponding impression (experience) is nothing but SOPHISTRY AND ILLUSION.
- If there's no link between impressions and the world then our ideas cannot constitute knowledge of the world. Sense experience is the ultimate knowledge of the world and accounts for all ideas.
Locke and Hume on Ideas
- Locke said that the mind is "white paper" or tabula rasa. How does it come to be 'furnished'? Reason and knowledge comes from experience.
- Hume said that ideas are copies of original sense impressions. Ideas of snow are faded copies of sensing snow. My initial experience of snow was forceful and vivid and impressed on me a copy.
- Hume used the idea that "a blind man can form no idea of colour" to illustrate this. If we restore the sense of sight we open an inlet for sensation and therefore an inlet for ideas.
- Ideas depend on sense impressions. We therefore only have an idea if we have experienced the corrosponding sense impression.
- The Golden Mountain also argues that because we have experienced gold and a mountain, we can combine these two simple ideas to form the complex 'golden mountain' idea. We need the sense impressions to give our ideas clarity and preciscion.
Hume - sense impressions are "not…