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Locke Theories

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In Knowing Truth

The agenda for the modern Western philosophy was set up in the 17th century, with the establishment of the scientific outlook on the world. Philosophers began their study and published their thoughts of what they believe is the cause and effect of everything that we feel or believe that is going on in the life around us. Rene Descartes and John Locke were philosophers in the 1600s, but their work and wisdom can still be seen and used today.

Descartes is sometimes called the father of modern philosophy because he introduced the idea that all things are not always true because someone or group claims they are true. Descartes started doubting all things, criticized traditional methods and beliefs. He asked himself "What, if anything, can I know with certainty?" Descartes used his method of doubt to find one truth, "I think, therefore I am." He asks himself various questions about the certainty of his existence and solves them through clear thought and logic. Using this method Descartes establishes doubt to be truths. He focuses on the perception of things, things far from him give him reasons to doubt their certainty, and things that are close, he is clear about their certainty. Before Descartes proved the certainty of the physical world, he accomplished that the mind and body were separate substances. He thought that two independent substances existed, thought and extension. But he had a problem explaining how they interacted as mind and body. Extension remained a closed system because there was no certainty, and no one could prove it. Descartes also give strong thought to our ability to think for ourselves. He believed that knowing was a creation of God, we are born with the knowledge. Descartes relied heavily on the theory of innate ideas to justify his system, by using them to argue for the existence of God. He claimed that we all have an innate idea of the existence of God and His basic nature. The theory of innate ideas can be brought back to Plato, who claimed we first gain knowledge of things before we are born, like the theory of forms, and gradually recall or relearn them during our life. Both Plato and Descartes seem to be influenced by the fact of clear and distinct perceptions. But the only thing is that Descartes could not prove this true. He dies with the longing to provide truth to his theory. So in that case wouldn't that make his thought false if he could not prove them to be true?

The theory of innate ideas was a common one during Locke's time, it is the theory that certain pieces of knowledge exist in us from , or before birth, from God. They are also not gained from experience or observations of the outside world. Locke opposed Descartes' theory of innate ideas. All knowledge has its origin in experience, in sense-perception. The elements of knowledge are the ideas, and Locke, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, explains the idea of this theory.



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