• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How convincing is the view that we are born with at some innate knowledge?

Extracts from this document...


'How convincing is the view that we are born with at some innate knowledge? To an extent, the possibility of 'innate knowledge' is highly conceivable for a number of reasons. Ultimately, 'innate knowledge' stems from the proposal that we can possess knowledge from birth, with the requirement of sense experience. The philosophers at the centre of this debate are generally associated with either empiricism or rationalism. The likes of David Hume and John Locke belong to the former catergory,while Plato and Rene Descartes fit into the latter, as they strongly back the possibility of synthetic a prior knowledge. However, the emergence of Immanuel Kant was pivotal in uniting both theories, as he believed that our experiences were derived from our senses, but still felt reason was necessary to make sense of our sense data. For this reason, it is evident, that the possibility of innate knowledge is not without it's flaws. Firstly, empiricist John Locke labelled the mind as a 'blank slate', claiming that all knowledge must be derived from experience. Inevitably, if Locke's assumption is correct, it is highly unlikely that we possess innate knowledge. ...read more.


This doesn't provide much proof to suggest that grammar is indeed 'innate'. Instead we may just have the capacity to acquire the use of a language. However, this doesn't fall into the catergory of knowledge. Therefore, triggers cannot be classified as knowledge, which Locke's baby argument highlights. Nevertheless, rationalists are adamant that innateness is the only viable option to spark knowledge acquisition, as experience alone can only be ineffective. Also, the likes of Descartes would point to the fact that a dog would never be able to pick up the human language, regardless of the amount of time it spent around humans, whereas a baby would. This is a vital point, but the likes of Locke would suggest that we may just be wired differently, and have different attributes, but this does not then mean that 'innate knowledge' must exist. In addition, the presence of propositional knowledge without sufficient sense experience is problematic for the likes of Hume and Locke. The existence of God is often described as 'innate' despite a lack of empirical evidence. Descartes claims that knowledge of God's existence is innate and present within everyone. ...read more.


The inability to explain why infants lack innate principles suggests that we do infact possess a blank slate at birth. This suggests 'innate knowledge' may simply be a 'myth' because by definition it should be present at birth and if it is not, then it cannot exist. Also, the universal grammar debate proposal is disputable, as this appears to be know-how, rather than propositional. Therefore, it is only fair to assume, that there is a possibility of innate knowledge. However, the likelihood of this will vary depending on whether or not the rationalists or empiricists provide the most compelling argument to the perceiver. But which do you find convincing? Answer the question specifically. Junaid O'Balogun There are some good aspects to this essay, it is fluent, answ.rs the question. I think there were a few places that could have received a little more detail such as Descartes argument for God. And it would have been good to see maybe one more argument - maybe from Plato or Kant. But good answer. I did feel that your conclusion could have been more specific to the question whereby you could argue which account you felt was more convincing. Good effort. AO1 = 2, AO2 = 14, AO3 = 6 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Assess Empiricism. In this essay I intend to seek the values of Empiricism ...

    4 star(s)

    it is verifiable. If a proposition isn't a tautology and there is no way of empirically discovering its truth, then it is meaningless. The principle suggests meaningful sentences are those that say the world is either this way or that way.


    In regards to the slave boy argument, Socrates enquires the boy through leading questions, a method where he can learn the rules and relationships and apply it to the original question. In Descartes' "Trademark argument", he claims that we have an innate idea of God.

  1. Theory of Knowledge

    It holds that when we open our eyes to the world, what we see is simply the world, nothing more, nothing less. Every sound, smell and taste is directly perceived, and contains nothing more than what it appears to. This theory is otherwise known as common-sense realism, and unlike other

  2. Do you find any of the arguments for cognitivism convincing?

    I disagree strongly with this. How can moral decisions be made in a complete absence of emotion? Surely emotions and feelings form the basis of our judgments? Schopenhauer illustrates the impossibility of a "loveless doer of good, who is indifferent to the sufferings of other people" (2).

  1. How can we have knowledge? LOCKE ESSAY

    In intuitive knowledge, the mind understand or know something immediately without needing to think about it, learn it or discover it by using reason. The mind identifies the truth without having to prove or examine ideas. By direct reasoning, it perceives that human is different from a dog, a circle is not a triangle, three are more than two.

  2. Theory Of Knowledge essay

    This prediction is a deduction from the initial hypothesis, and if events occur as predicted then the hypothesis is confirmed. Confirmation of the hypothesis is inductive, simply because if the hypothesis holds true x number of times, we claim that it always will hold true.

  1. Do humans have innate knowledge?

    He laid out his argument in three waves of doubt which cover illusions, dreams and an evil demon controlling your brain. When something is far away to the human eye it looks small, this is an illusion proving that our senses can deceive us, likewise when we are dreaming we take it as real life.

  2. Conscience is innate. Discuss

    According to Butler, humans are motivated by two basic principles; self-love and benevolence. The conscience encourages people to move away from self-love and strive towards benevolence and focusing on keeping other people happy. In turn, this would result in a happier life.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work