Essay On Human Understanding

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Finally Locke turns his attention to the related concept of reason, which he defines as the ability to discover truths and establish connections among them.

As with knowledge itself, Locke argues that people are generally too optimistic about what human reason can achieve.

He uses the word "gold" as an example to discuss its essence as opposed to its qualities and the way it may be used by a child, an adult layperson, and a chemist.

According to Locke, his example shows that names denote bundles of ideas that can easily vary from person.

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The Essay was highly influential and its rendering of empiricism would become the standard for subsequent theorists.The rest of the work is divided into four books, as follows.Locke begins his exploration of human knowledge by refuting a widely held belief of his time.He argues that there are no ideas in the human mind—none that people bring into the world at birth.Instead, he says, the mind is initially a blank slate, and ideas are imprinted on it only through experience.For example, someone who has eaten too much honey as a child might be nauseated, even in adulthood, by the smell or taste of honey.This happens not because of any essential relationship between honey and queasiness, but because the mind puts ideas together to reflect its own experiences.This goes even for the most fundamental principles of reasoning, including principles (i.e., assertions about how to behave).Locke now presents his own theories regarding ideas: what they are, how they are acquired, and how they relate to reality.It's probable because reputable historians say so and nobody has an obvious reason to lie about such a thing.It can't be "certain knowledge," however, because nobody alive in Locke's time can remember the events of that long-ago era.


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