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John Locke: The Better Account of the Origins of Ideas

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 1762 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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John Locke has a better account of the origins of ideas that we as human beings experience on a daily basis. Locke altercation theory believes that the mixture of our ideas comes certainly from our day-to-day experiences. It is known that ideas are never to be innate, ideas you are born with. One is born with a “blank slate”. For example, if a baby is born the chances of that baby knowing the general basis of mathematics is slim to none. The infant cannot be born with the knowledge to know the basis of mathematics, the child will have to obtain in school through and throughout the experiences of learning. Ideas cannot be processed by individual’s before completely concluding the truthiness behind such factors or more into thought, cannot be processed without the concept of being taught such actions or “ideas”. In, the argument of origins of ideas John Locke and Rene Desecrate go on opposites forms from one another. Rene Desecrate believes in innate ideas, in which are ideas that individuals are born with. As one would think they are natural at the state of ideas. In this case, Locke completely fails to agree with Desecrate with a valuable explanation on why ideas are not innate. John Locke has a clear understanding, more so, a better account of the origins of ideas (plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/.).

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 John Locke started with having the understanding that the principles of ideas are true, but assuredly not innate. This making senses that the terms of “ideas” can be scrupulously explained by two principles (Mulvaney, pg.207-208). The principle of identity starting off by supporting the fact that a certain thing is a thing based on awareness not so much the mind or furthering the soul of one individual body. The second principle supporting that it is unfeasible for a thing to-be and not-to-be in the same facet and at the selfsame moment. One could understand this term as the principle of non-contradiction. By supporting these two principles in regard to Locke’s better account of the origins of ideas, this entirely gives someone the intuition that our experiences are what contributes us to having precise ideas (plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/). A better explanation is that by resulting in an idea of something “not being” concludes that, that something had to have been aware of at one point in time with our conscious recognition of that something is. I agree with Locke with how he believed that it is impossible for something in this world to be without having the conscious knowledge that you are aware of it. By diving deep into the curiosity of ideas, you can better understand that by knowing that the ideas are formed from abstractions. I am for both of these principles because how can someone be thinking something and not be aware of it. So, how can someone have the respect of an object without the awareness that, that object is there?  I am confident in saying that with the two types of experiences presented from John Lock, are bringing me closer to having his origins of ideas be certain they are the better account (Mulvaney, pg.214-215). This builds to my effort in supporting John Locke on being the better account for this disagreement within ideas. The first experiences are said to be called the outer experiences. Or formerly known as sensation. These experiences show how our senses are incorporated into the knowledge of ideas. These ideas cannot be cut into an understanding. What I mean by that, is these ideas are a smaller acknowledgment to bigger mechanisms. An example of sensation experience would be a color. Let’s say the color yellow; however, I cannot deeply describe to you what that color yellow is. I can only appear to you what that color is. So, relating this agreeing with John Locke, sensations are learned through experiences, you have to experience what the different colors are to know what they are. You are not born with know the difference from every color in the world. The second kind of experience is called the inner experience. More, known as reflection, that being more complex than sensation. Reflection experience goes off of certain ideas that can be better understood than sensation experience. That, having combinations of smaller sensation experiences. For example, relating these two finds of experiences together, say I show you a pumpkin. That pumpkin would have your ideas built up from experiences of smaller sensation ideas, including orange, lumpy, bitter, and hard. This now moves into my strong explanation on how John Locke is the better account for the origins of ideas, the four ways for the attainment of ideas. His four ways of receiving an idea just top of the chart on how ideas are not innate. (Mulvaney, pg.214-216). We gradually get all of our ideas from experiences due to these for ways. It starts off with having only the ability to use one sense. For example, the color red, you can only visually see it, it cannot be heard, felt, or tasted. Second, is the ability to use more than one sense. This influenced my decision by learning spatial experience, knowing how large a bedroom is because you walk into it with a loud voice and that results with your loud voice echoing, and you can hear your echo. That is using more than one sense into experiencing an idea of a large bedroom. The third way is based on reflection only. That, is the chance of using smaller sensation to build amongst an idea. The last way to weld an idea is using all the ways referring to sensation and reflection. That sums up perception making it that you can use all of your complete sense to form an idea from experience. I agree with Locke completely on this theory because it brings all the component together to form an idea in which it was brought together by an experience (plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/.).

 The strengths in John Locke’s origins of ideas states that they are strong due to many justifications. His theory declares that human beings experiences are critical in achieving grants to the origins of ideas. The reason behind this is due to one’s experiences being ineluctable in one’s everyday being of life, mainly causing that to be the reason our experiences of different ongoing ideas. Another strength that pulled me into knowing he was the better account is that his theory insights how one understands of the relationship amid an individual’s ideas and current happening experiences. With having that said, Locke made it clear that it would be impalpable in regards that knowing an idea cannot “be” something and “not be” something at the same time or while when the time was.

 The weaknesses that I could oversee in the explanation of Locke’s were comprehensive. I saw that he failed to give an individual a better understanding of the undertaking of emergence ideas in the minds of individual’s. In fact, it would have been pressing to have a lucid developmental understanding of how such an idea can be converted into the intelligence of human beings minds. Although, one could think that if Locke had processed the works of expressing comprehensive levels of knowing the relation between mind and ideas, it would have overall been acknowledged.

 Now, moving forward to explain why I believe that Rene Descartes belief about knowledge and the origin of ideas are not as strong as John Locke’s (Mulvaney, pg.195-197). It was known that he believed that all ideas are innate, in which, an individual is born with these ideas. I fail to understand why Rene thinks this way. He used logic and reason behind all of his understandings of ideas. Focusing on the term mythological doubt that relates to him, he has false beliefs in which he would make ideas and experiences out of these false beliefs. He says that an individual person is born with ideas, in fact, I have to disagree completely, as would Locke. You cannot be born with all of these ideas. For example, you cannot be born with the knowledge of simple mathematics or English. They are simply factors that are learned throughout your life. Although, I do agree in the terms of you are born with simple tendencies, such as knowing your family and surroundings. 

 Rene Descartes had strengths in his positions. He went and began to show the factors behind the basic part of nature and the way of life. In which, the nature meaning the logical happenings in a daily world. His understanding of the origins of ideas helps one understand how these logically happenings occur in the life of individuals experiences. Like I said early, I agree with him Descartes on this. He is right, you are born with the knowledge of your surroundings.

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 Rene Descartes weaknesses are where it failed for me to believe he had the better account for the origins of ideas. In regard to the logical happenings, he did show how it stresses one’s actions to a daily life. But, he failed to give a thorough explanation on the origins of ideas in his favor. In fact, this to me, is hard to understand where the relationship between his logical ideas, and the individual experience come together. There is not an explanation on why or how he knows that our ideas were with us at birth. It logically does not make any sense to say “ all your ideas are born with you”. All the ideas in each and every person are different so that is not a correct statement to make.

 John Locke explained and thoroughly expressed that the process of logical ideas is how we can conquer the knowledge we all have as individuals today. I believe that he is the better account of the origins of ideas due to all the factors of his kind that was discussed. John Locke did an outstanding job by creating vivid experiences for people to have a better understanding of how we get these “things” called ideas. On, the other side Rene Descartes failed to have an overall better explanation for the origins of ideas. Locke, himself, exposed how our sense perceptions from these experiences which are a clear and discrete fact that is where our knowledge comes from.


  • Mulvaney, Robert J. Classic Philosophical Questions. Pearson Education, 2012.
  • Markie, Peter. “Rationalism vs. Empiricism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 6 July 2017, plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/.


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