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All ideas are derived from sense experience which they copy Discuss:

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?All ideas are derived from sense experience which they copy? Discuss: An empiricist would believe that all ideas are derived from sense experience, and that we are all born with a ?tabula rasa? or ?blank slate?, meaning we are born without any innate ideas or knowledge. On the other hand rationalists believe that our minds are not a tabula rasa or a blank slate, but we are actually born with innate knowledge. In this fierce battle between empiricism and rationalism, philosopher David Hume backs the empiricist?s side and the statement in the title is describing Hume?s empiricist theory of ideas. Hume?s empiricist theory of ideas suggests that all of our ideas come from impressions. Impressions are experiences we acquire through our sense, for example if I saw a table, then I would gain an impression of the table simply through my sense of sight. However, Hume believes that all our ideas are fainter versions of our impressions. ...read more.


A child is never born just knowing what snow is, they formulate different ideas in their mind, by ?combining, separating, augmenting and diminishing? various impressions. Furthermore, people who lack certain senses, for example a blind person, lack all the ideas corresponding to their sense. So for example a blind person wouldn?t be able to understand what colour is, because even though they might know the name of a colour, they are unable to associate it with something that is that colour because they have never experienced it before. Also, in favour of Hume?s position, it is quite hard to come up with a genuine counterexample. The idea of God has been proposed as a counter example, but this too can be broken down into simple impressions. If we think of a person with a particular quality that is associated with God, for example a powerful man, then if we augment that power infinitely, we get to the omnipotence of God. ...read more.


In a particular picture, some people see a rabbit at first, whereas other people see a duck. This illusion shows that our mind does have an active role in cognition, but for Hume?s empiricism the mind is just a passive receiver. Although there are some reasonable arguments against Hume?s view of empiricism, the stark truth is that, it is difficult to come up with a good counter argument against the statement that ?All ideas are derived from sense experience which they copy?. If we had any innate concepts then surely a blind person can have the idea of colour or shapes, however they don?t. Arguable the most complex idea known to man, the idea of God, falls as it is just various impressions ?combined, separated, augmented and diminished?. Also, Leibniz?s theory that we are all born knowing absolutely everything is not very plausible either as humans don?t have the capacity to know absolutely everything. Therefore I agree with Hume that all ideas are derived from sense experience which they copy. ...read more.

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