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`I know God exists, because I have an idea of perfection Discuss whether knowledge can be gained without using sense experience

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Introduction

`'I know God exists, because I have an idea of perfection' Discuss whether knowledge can be gained without using sense experience The argument for God's existence often prompts debate, and provides contrasting responses. The idea of perfection is often described as a state of 'completeness and flawlessness' Rene Descartes's 'trademark' argument for the existence of God is likened to the existence of a clothing brand designer. The 'Trademark' analogy claims that by searching one's interior deeply they will find the concept of God implanted within them. This is likened to finding the name of a designer on an item of clothing. The implications of this are that if this is the case, the argument for the existence of innate knowledge is relatively strong. The presence of knowledge of God's existence prior to experience would suggest that innate knowledge is achievable. The existence of innate knowledge is a view held by rationalists, whilst Empiricists are strongly against the existence of this particular kind of knowledge. The acquisition of knowledge is reliant on a claim about the world, which can only be true. The view that, "we know only what our experience teaches us" is one held by many Philosophers in the empiricist school of thought. Empiricists believe that all knowledge is derived from and checked against sense experience. What we know or knowledge can be defined as a 'justified true belief". Experience can be split into two categories -raw sensory perceptions, and emotional experiences. ...read more.

Middle

Locke understood these to be universally assented to- everyone would have the same innate knowledge. However he argued through his, "children and idiots" argument that this in fact was not the case. Neither children nor idiots assented to such innate knowledge that should have been present from birth and therefore there was no such thing as innate knowledge, "nothing can be said to be in the mind which the mind was not yet conscious of". Therefore Locke believed because there were no such things as innate knowledge all knowledge of which we have understanding must derive from sense experience. However, Locke's view that there could not be innate knowledge is however quite naive. Firstly he defines innate in such a way that it is very hard to argue against him, almost making his claim unfalsifiable and essentially meaningless. A more substantial definition might be "knowledge from which the content cannot be gained from sense experience". In fact under this definition experience could be used almost as a trigger to uncover an innate idea. Leibniz's statue of Hercules analogy uses this principle well. Leibniz was a philosopher who set out to criticise and provide a counter argument to Locke's attack on innate ideas. Ultimately, Locke's premise that the mind is a tabula rasa at birth came under fire from Leibniz. Leibniz believed that the mind was predisposed to certain innate ideas much like a block of marble was veined in such a manner that it was predisposed to the creation of the statue of Hercules. ...read more.

Conclusion

These relations of ideas can tell us nothing of the world around us and as cannot be checked by experience. Experience cannot teach us them and only the most radical empiricist would argue against relations of ideas not being learnt through experience. Matters of fact on the other hand are synthetic (not true by definition) this is where the real empiricism vs. rationalism debate takes place as relations of ideas can tell us something new about the world. An example would be "The sun will rise tomorrow" To conclude, there are two compelling arguments, when it comes to the discussion of the existence of 'innate knowledge'. Descartes and Chomsky are integral in the bid to prove 'innate knowledge, the cognito and universal grammar theories are both instrumental in highlighting the possibility of innate knowledge. The alleged presence of universal grammar would account for the reasoning behind the fact that animals are incapable of picking up the human language/ However, the argument for 'innate knowledge' is not without its flaws. 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. ...read more.

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