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

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‘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. Locke dismissed the rationalists view of ‘innate knowledge’ and subsequently went on to claim that knowledge can only come from our senses, reflecting our senses and combining simple ideas. Locke’s claim appears well constructed. However, the emphasis placed on our senses may well be misguided. As, the potential to gain knowledge via combining ideas appear far-fetched, due to it being virtually impossible to define a ‘simple idea’. Hume would argue that our sense impression will have clarity and be coherent if it’s an accurate experience.

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Nevertheless, infants clearly lack ‘innate principles’. This is highly beneficial in Locke’s quest to show that the mind is empty at birth. Locke used this to strongly challenge the existence of ‘innate knowledge’ , innate knowledge must be acquired at birth, but this is not present with babies. This simplistic approach leads him to declare that innate knowledge could therefore not exist. The implications of         Locke‘s proposal is that innate knowledge must be present from birth or cannot exist. This undoubtedly highlights the flaws in the innate knowledge argument, as it is hard to understand how knowledge can be ‘innate’ ...

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