Criticism Of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

An essay concerning human understanding is one of the greatest philosophy works : Locke, folllowing, Descartes, described the new world of spirit and consciousness, thaht make human dignity.

According to Locke, the understanding is the sign of human superiority over the animals and is comparable to the eye: it makes us see things, but it does not see itself naturally.

Locke shows that an idea is innate means that the soul naturally sees this idea is the meaning of this doctrine. In fact, the only thing Locke grants the innateness is the fact that the faculty of understanding is innate.

Chronologically, these are the processes by which ideas are formed in our minds: -Direction we discover the world, and therefore ideas appear in our mind -These, more and more familiar, return to our memory and we give them names -The spirit of other abstract ideas, these ideas brought by the senses: it is the general concepts -Mind reasoning about these concepts and find others.

Locke devotes an entire chapter of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding practice principles, to show that none of them is therefore innate universal.

Indeed, if morality was innate, we would all moral, and we would all have pangs of conscience for violation of murder or theft, which is not the case.The rules of morality need to be proven, so they are not innate.Locke takes a classic argument from the skeptics, which shows the diversity of morals among the people: child sacrifice practiced by the Greeks or the Romans, the abandonment of the elderly in some tribes, etc..Even a tautology such as “what is” is ignored by much of humanity, such as children.Counter-argument: it is innate in their souls, but it does not see them, they do not realize it.Both types of experience, external and internal, “provide the materials in our minds of all his thoughts,” and are “the two sources from which all the ideas we have, or we can have naturally.” Our senses are first affected in various ways by external objects, resulting in a certain type of perception, and thus their minds.Thus we get the idea from white to yellow, cold, etc.., More generally, what we call sensible qualities. Or mind not only to welcome these ideas obtained through passive sensation: the operations of the mind (thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, willing, etc.). As a result, new ideas emerge, and the origin of the latter is no longer the sensation but the reflection.Locke distinguished in the Essay on Human Understanding two kinds of ideas: ideas simple and complex ideas.Simple ideas are mixed in the sensible object perceived. He understands that the white and cold snow are distinct qualities simple: “nothing is more obvious to a man that clear and distinct perception he has of those simple ideas.” These are “all the materials of our knowledge.” The mind can combine these simple ideas, and make complex ideas “when the mind has once received these simple ideas, it has the power to repeat, compare, to unite them together with an almost infinite variety , and thereby to form new complex ideas.Trying to reverse our eyes and make the understanding itself the subject of our review.Perhaps this will allow us to determine “the certainty and extent of human knowledge”.


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