Theory of knowledge

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Information about Theory of knowledge

Published on February 18, 2014

Author: ralphmartin


John Locke

Connection and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy, of the ideas humans form.

---fundamental questions about how we think and perceive, and it even touches on how we express ourselves through language, logic, and religious practices--

-to discover where our ideas come from, to ascertain what it means to have these ideas and what an idea essentially is, and to examine issues of faith and opinion to determine how we should proceed logically when

- human beings cannot have ideas in their minds of which they are not aware, so that people cannot be said to possess even the most basic principles until they are taught them or think them through for themselves.

- human beings differ greatly in their moral ideas, moral knowledge must not be innate.

- God is not a universally accepted idea and that his existence cannot therefore be innate human knowledge.

• Simple Ideas are those that cannot be further analyzed into simpler components • For example, if your friend does not know what the color green is, you would have to show them a green object, because you cannot further define green. • These simple ideas are generally

• Complex Ideas are: 1. Compounds of simple ideas 2. Ideas of relations 3. Abstractions

• Primary qualities are characteristics that are necessarily contained within objects • Such as: solidity, extension, figure, motion/rest, and number • Secondary qualities are qualities that are not contained within objects, but are sensations produced by the primary qualities • Such as: color, sound, taste, smell, etc.

• According to Locke, our ideas of primary qualities are correct ideas. That is, the ideas in our mind correctly represent the way the world is. • My perception that the desk in front of me is a rectangle is correct, because the idea of a rectangle in my head lines up with how the atoms (or corpuscles for Locke) are arranged to make up that desk – in the shape of a rectangle. Reality matches the idea in my

• On the other hand, the ideas we have of secondary qualities are not “correct” in the same way primary qualities are “correct:” they do not necessarily match the external world. • Locke says, “The ideas of primary qualities of bodies are resemblances of them, and their patterns do really exist in the bodies themselves, but the ideas produced in us by these secondary qualities have no resemblance to them at all. There is nothing like our ideas existing in the bodies themselves.” John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

• In other words, we may see grass as being “green,” but there is no “greenness” innate in the substance [atoms/corpuscles] that makes up the grass. There are patterns that create the idea of “greenness” in our minds, but the matter itself is colorless.

- proposes that knowledge is built up from ideas, either simple or complex. Simple ideas combine in various ways to form complex ideas.

There are two types of experience, 1. Sensation- the mind experiences the world outside the body through the five senses. 2. Reflection - the mind turns

Locke divides simple ideas into four categories: 1. Ideas we get from a single sense, such as sight or taste; 2. Ideas created from more than one sense, such as shape and size;

3. Ideas emerging from reflection; and 4. Ideas arising from a combination of sensation and reflection, such as unity, existence, pleasure, pai n, and substance.

Locke divides complex ideas into four basic types: 1. modes, which are ideas that do not exist in and of themselves, such as qualities, numbers, and other abstract concepts;

2. substances, either selfsubsisting things (such as a particular man or a sheep) or collections of such things (an army of men or a flock of sheep);

3. relations, such as father, bigger, and morally good; and 4. abstract generals, such as “man” or “sheep” in general.

Everything that exists in the world is a particular “thing.” (Abstract General Ideas)

- it would be too hard to remember a different word for every particular thing that exists, having a different word for everything that exists would obstruct communication, and the goal of science is to generalize

Natural Weaknesses of Language 1. A word may imply a very complex idea. 2. The ideas that words stand for may have no constant standard anywhere in nature

3. The standard that ideas refer to may not be easily known 4. The meaning of a word and the real nature of the thing referred to by the word may not be exactly the same.

Abuses of language 1. People often use words without really knowing what these words mean 2. People use words inconsistently

3. People purposefully make terms obscure by using old words for new and unusual uses or by introducing new terms without defining them. 4. People mistakenly believe that words refer to things rather than

5. People try to use words incorrectly to change their meaning 6. People assume that others know what they are saying when they are not really being clear.

1. Never use a word without having a clear idea of what it means 2. Try to recognize the same meaning for words as others do so that we can communicate with a common

3. If there is the slightest chance that the meaning of your words will be unclear, define your terms 4. Always use words consistently.

Knowledge is what the mind is able to perceive through reasoning out the connection, or lack of connection, between any two or more of our ideas.

Agreement and Disagreement that reason can perceive to produce knowledge: 1. identity (blue is blue) and diversity (blue is not yellow)

2. relation (two triangles with equal bases located between the same two parallel lines are equal triangles) 3. coexistence (iron is always susceptible to magnets)

4. realization that existence belongs to the ideas themselves and is not in the mind (the idea of God and of the self).

Degrees of Knowledge 1. Intuition, when we immediately perceive an agreement or disagreement the moment the ideas are understood.

2. Demonstration, which requires some sort of proof. 3. Sensitive knowledge, which is about the existence of an external world, roughly resembling the world as we perceive it.

Degrees of Knowledge 1. Intuition, when we immediately perceive an agreement or disagreement the moment the ideas are understood.

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