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Innate Knowledge

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Explain the significance of innate knowledge Innate ideas were defined by Locke as those which we are born with, an updated version put forward by rationalists (those who hold that synthetic a priori - knowledge that is learnt prior to experience and tells us something new about the world - can exist) is 'ideas which the content of which is not derived from experience'. Both definitions of innate idea, are however a priori (known prior to experience). Innate ideas were significant because for Plato, they proved that we could have true knowledge. He claimed that his 'Forms' were innate and this is how we come to know true knowledge. All universals (that is, particular things that have characteristics in common) ...read more.


and it's how we can come to have true knowledge. Innate knowledge is significant because for Plato it is how we come to know about the idea of 'equality'. Plato notes that the idea 'equality' could not have come from experience because nothing in experience is perfectly equal (in anything; matter, weight, length). So we must have an innate form of equality which we can relate back to see that things are unequal. The innate forms also had huge significance for Plato because they reinforced his idea that the soul was immortal. If we had not known the idea of 'equality' from experience then we must relate it to the ideal form. This means that it must have always been present ad infinitum, thus the form (which is present in the realm of souls) is immortal. ...read more.


Moving to the present day, we can see that innate ideas have huge significance for linguist Chomsky. He claimed that we had innate syntactical knowledge. His poverty stimulus argument can be summarised thus; children learn so little and such weak information regarding grammar that they shouldn't be able to have coherent grammar yet they do. This not only has huge significance in itself but it also shows that without these innate syntactical structures we wouldn't be able to communicate. In conclusion, we can see the significance of innate ideas because for Plato they provide a source for true knowledge, provide a solution to the problem of universals and also show that souls are immortal. Even for modern philosophers we see that innate ideas have huge significance, for Descartes God was innate. Chomsky also showed the significance of innate ideas by showing that without them, we could not communicate. ...read more.

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