11. Locke's Empiricism
0. Some biography
Letter On Toleration
To Treatises On Government
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
1. Empiricism: there is nothing in the mind that did not get there through the senses.
• Empiricism - From The Greek Work "Emperia" Meaning Experience.
• There Is Nothing In The Mind That Did Not Get There Through The Senses.
• The Overall Project Of Empiricism Is To Figure Out How All Knowledge Arises
Through Sensation Or Sense Perception.
• Before Sense Perception Happens, The Mind Is A tabula rasa - A Shaved
2. The meaning of 'idea'
• Whatever It Is The Mind Can Be Employed About In Thinking
3. Are there innate ideas? Locke wants to defend the view that there are not.
It was commonly thought that there were some innate ideas. Descartes, for example thought
that the idea of God was innate.
Descartes' argument - The idea of God is the idea of the infinite being, and we have no
experience of infinite beings, so God must be innate
Innate -in=in , natus = born
a) an opposing argument: certain speculative principles
Many people think that there are certain speculative principles that are so
universally shared they must be innate.
Example: It is possible for the same thing to be and not be.
Locke's answer: The fact that such principles are universally held would not
at all show that they are innate.
Moreover, they are not universally held.
Children and idiots have no grasp of such principles.
b) the positive theory: i) sensible qualities & internal sense, reflection
a.Sensation gives us such ideas as yellow, white, heat, cold, soft, hard, bitter,
sweet - sensible qualities.
b. We observe the operations of our own mind, so we observe the operations
of our own mind and so get ideas of perception, thinking, doubting,
believing, reasoning,knowing, willing - Internal sense or reflection
All off our ideas come from sensation and reflection
ii) simple and complex
-Ideas enter our minds (from sensation or reflection) as
-By combining and mixing and blending such as simple
ideas, our minds create complex ideas.
-simple ideas are indestructible and they cannot be created
-All we can do is combine separate ideas into more complex ideas.
-That is why, for example, we cannot imagine a new sense beyond
the (five) already acknowledged
(what would it be like to be a bat?)
-We cannot imagine flavours we've never tasted or odours we have
Parenthetical Question: How many senses do we have?
In the objects In Our Minds