Draft. Berkeley denied the existence of abstract ideas and any faculty of abstraction. At the same time, however, he embraced innateideas and a faculty of pure intellect. This paper attempts to reconcile the tension between these commitments by offering an interpretation of Berkeley's Platonism.
This article starts from the assumption that there are various innate contributions to our view of the world and explores the epistemological implications that follow from this. Specifically, it explores the idea that if certain components of our worldview have an evolutionary origin, this implies that these aspects accurately depict the world. The simple version of the argument for this conclusion is that if an aspect of mind is innate, it must be useful, and the most parsimonious explanation (...) for its usefulness is that it accurately depicts the world. There are a number of important criticisms of this argument. These include the idea that evolutionary justifications are circular, that evolved mental content and principles are not necessarily accurate, and that, if the argument is taken seriously, it has some highly dubious consequences. These criticisms necessitate various qualifications to the initial argument. Nonetheless, it is argued that, in some cases, important conclusions can be drawn about the world from an analysis of evolved contributions to our view of the world. An evolutionary approach cannot provide an ultimate justification for any belief; however, in certain circumstances, it supports the conclusion that a given belief is a reasonable first approximation. To the extent that innate content and principles pertain to topics in metaphysics, they can be viewed as a naturalistic source of metaphysical knowledge. (shrink)
Here's one way this chapter could go. After defining the terms 'innate' and 'idea', we say whether Chomsky thinks any ideas are innate -- and if so, which ones. Unfortunately, we don't have any theoretically interesting definitions to offer; and, so far as we know, Chomsky has never said that any ideas are innate. Since saying that would make for a very short chapter, we propose to do something else. Our aim is to locate Chomsky, (...) as he locates himself, in a rationalist tradition where talk of innateideas has often been used to express the following view: the general character of human thought is due largely to human nature. (shrink)
Evidence, For the most part from books I and iv of locke's "essay concerning human understanding", Is presented to show that the issue about innateideas as understood by locke was not primarily psychological but methodological. Locke's philosophic ire was directed against those who used the doctrine of innateideas to advocate a close-Minded, As opposed to an open-Minded, Method of inquiry.
This paper seeks to reconstruct an important controversy between leibniz and malebranche over innateideas. It is argued that this controversy is in some ways more illuminating than the better-Known debate between leibniz and locke, For malebranche's objections to innateideas raise fundamental questions concerning the status of dispositions and the relationship between logic and psychology. The paper shows that in order to meet malebranche's objections, Leibniz adopts a strategy which is doubly reductionist: ideas are (...) reduced to dispositions to think in certain ways, And these dispositions are in turn reduced to unconscious perceptions. It is suggested that malebranche's platonist commitment to the existence of abstract entities forces leibniz to reveal the extent of his nominalism. (shrink)
A careful examination of descartes' works shows that innateideas are not born with the mind, But are generated by (i.E., Born within) the mind. This is descartes' way of talking about empirical concept formation, As well as what the mind can infer from these concepts. Particular examples are examined to provide the material and formal conditions for identifying innateideas. Descartes forces the transition from medieval to very modern epistemology.
This paper traces the connections between the assertion or denial of innateideas, and the possibility of the soul being immortal, in the contrasting cases of Descartes and Locke. Descartes and Locke disagree about whether there are innateideas and the nature of the soul, but they agree that the soul is immortal. The issue explored is which theory of the mind, Descartes's or Locke's, is in the best position to contend that we to survive death, (...) and indeed exist immortally. The argument is not as straightforwardly in Descartes's favor, as one might suppose. (shrink)
Philosophers have long debated whether any ideas are innate in the human mind and if so, what they might be. The issues here are real and important but it often seems that the discussion of them isn’t. One of the main reasons that these discussions are frequently so frustrating is that the various sides seem to be talking past each other rather than engaging in genuine argument. When this happens, it seems to me that it is usually because (...) the issues they are discussing have not been formulated clearly enough. To avoid that problem and also to motivate what follows, I want to begin with an overview of some philosophical concepts and questions before I get to the historical part of my paper. (shrink)
The cambridge platonists exemplify the fear that newtonian natural philosophy subverts the status of traditional moral and religious beliefs, Which are strongly supported by the innate idea doctrine since it justifies them independently of the senses and the material universe. Isaac barrow, Friend and teacher of newton, Also employs the doctrine approbatively to support his metaphysics as a science of basic principles that constitute the foundation of natural science. Locke's rejection of the doctrine is analyzed and it is suggested (...) that the platonist's treatment of the active role of the mind in sensation could have been developed in eighteenth century britain if locke's polemic had not been so successful. (shrink)
Pierre Gassendi, who did not like nonsense, said of the idea of infinity: ‘if someone calls something "infinite" he attributes to a thing which he does not grasp a label which he does not understand’. Gassendi’s is a harsh judgement for, surely, we all do quite cheerfully and successfully use the concept of infinity, and in a variety of contexts. Yet if Gassendi’s judgement is too hard it is easy enough to have sympathy with his claim. For it is a (...) perennial fact that we never, in Descartes’s phrase, seem to have an ‘adequate idea’ of infinity. Nor is this just because it is an abstract noun like friendship or strength, for it retains this familiar lack of adequacy when it appears in its adjectival or adverbial forms: infinite space, infinite power, infinitely large, infinitely good. It is not my intention in this paper to offer a philosophical account of this familiar state of affairs, though perhaps what I shall have to say will throw some little light on the matter. It is rather to explore how discussions of such questions take us into issues at the heart of the foundations of modern philosophy, and specifically, into the great debate which I will refer to by the usual title as that between the Rationalists and the Empiricists, of whom the protagonists are traditionally identified as Descartes on the one side and Locke on the other. It would not be out of place for somebody to say in response to that famous contrast that either it is hackneyed or else it is mistaken. It is hackneyed because we all know that Descartes and Locke represent contrasting traditions in modern philosophy and there is nothing new to be said about it. It is mistaken because, as a matter of fact, it is simplistic to set them up as dogmatic exponents of their respective schools. There are rationalist elements in Locke’s Essay, especially in Book IV, and there is a strong empiricist element in Descartes, especially in his science. Those emphasizing the former, Webb for example in the last century and Aaron in this, have underlined the place of intuition and demonstration in Locke’s account of knowledge. Descartes’s empirical leanings have been noted in his account of the role of experiment in the natural sciences. There is of course no denying these aspects of their philosophies. But my path will be more revisionist than supportive of such readings of their work. I shall argue that the dominant (though not the only) strain in Descartes is a rationalist one and that Locke was keenly aware of this and strongly hostile to it. On the other side, whilst Locke was impressed by much of Descartes’s presentation of knowledge, and borrowed heavily from it, he never looks tike subscribing at all to the central rationalist doctrines, and indeed saw his work as a major refutation of them. In all of this his account of our idea of infinity plays an exemplary role. But before we reach Locke we should go back to Descartes. (shrink)
Questions about learning and discovery have fascinated philosophers from Plato onwards. Does the mind bring innate resources of its own to the process of learning or does it rely wholly upon experience? Plato was the first philosopher to give an innatist response to this question and in doing so was to provoke the other major philosophers of ancient Greece to give their own rival explanations of learning. This book is the first to examine these theories of learning in relation (...) to each other. It presents an entirely new interpretation of the theory of recollection which also changes the way we understand the development of ancient philosophy after Plato. The final section of the book compares ancient theories of learning with the seventeenth-century debate about innateideas, and finds that the relation between the two periods is far more interesting and complete than is usually supposed. (shrink)
Contemporary debates in epistemology devote much attention to the nature of knowledge, but neglect the question of its sources. This book focuses on the latter, especially on the question of innateness. Carruthers' aim is to transform and reinvigorate contemporary empiricism, while also providing an introduction to a range of issues in the theory of knowledge. He gives a lively presentation and assessment of the claims of classical empiricism, particularly its denial of substantive a priori knowledge and of innate knowledge. (...) He argues that we would be right to reject the substantive a priori but not innateness, and then presents a novel account of the main motivation behind empiricism, which leaves contemporary empiricists free to accept innate knowledge and concepts. Carruthers closes with a discussion of scepticism, arguing that acceptance of innate concepts may lead to a decisive resolution of the problem in favor of realism. (shrink)
In this paper, I try to refute the Kantian a priorism. At the same time, I try to explain the existence of an a priori concerning space and time on the basis of contemporary neuro-physiology. This a priori is the opposite of the a-historical a priori of Kant. Concerning space and time, I argue that relativity concords with the philosophical thesis that space and time are forms of existence of matter. On the basis of this ontological principle, I support that (...) by accepting the existence of local absolute systems of reference, it is possible to explain some paradoxes of special relativity and at the same time to refute the relativism related to the theory of Einstein. (shrink)
Marc A. Hight has given us a well-researched, well-written, analytically rigorous and thoughtprovoking book about the development of idea ontology in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The book covers a great deal of material, some in significant depth, some not. The figures discussed include Descartes, Malebranche, Arnauld, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, and Hume. Some might think it a tall order for anyone to grapple with the central works of these figures on a subject as fundamental as the nature of (...) class='Hi'>ideas. And while reading the book, I must admit to having had this thought a few times. Seventeen pages on Descartes’ theory of ideas, covering the development of his ontology of ideas, the distinction between formal reality and objective reality, the nature of mental representation, the contagion theory of causation, the doctrine of innateideas as ungrounded dispositions, and the interactionism/occasionalism controversy? Wow. And yet Hight has done his homework. He knows the figures and the relevant interpretive controversies well, he focuses on many of the passages that are relevant to the book’s central thesis, and in the end offers us a compelling narrative as an alternative to what he identifies as “the traditional view of what transpired in the early modern period” (2). (shrink)
Innateideas are not objective ideas which have ceased to be doubtful. They are not ideas of attributes or modes but rather true realities. Therefore, they are simple, clear, and distinct. These ideas are not possible to analyze. Innateideas are not conceived when thinking of "something" but when the real world is felt. Therefore, they correspond with objective ideas.
Philosophers have often claimed that general ideas or representations have their origin in abstraction, but it remains unclear exactly what abstraction as a psychological process consists in. We argue that the Lockean aspiration of using abstraction to explain the origins of all general representations cannot work and that at least some general representations have to be innate. We then offer an explicit framework for understanding abstraction, one that treats abstraction as a computational process that operates over an (...) class='Hi'>innate quality space of fine-grained general representations. We argue that this framework has important philosophical implications for the nativism-empiricism dispute, for questions about the acquisition of unstructured representations, and for questions about the relation between human and animal minds. (shrink)
Strong nativist views about numerical concepts claim that human beings have at least some innate precise numerical representations. Weak nativist views claim only that humans, like other animals, possess an innate system for representing approximate numerical quantity. We present a new strong nativist model of the origins of numerical concepts and defend the strong nativist approach against recent cross-cultural studies that have been interpreted to show that precise numerical concepts are dependent on language and that they are restricted (...) to speakers of languages with the right kind of structure. (shrink)
Essay, Ii8) Although theorizing about ideas figures prominently in philosophy before him, Locke introduced what became known as the "New Way of Ideas," by considering all metaphysical and epistemological questions through an examination of the nature and origin of the mind's content. Although sometimes disagreeing with him on important details, other empiricists of the modern era follow Locke by first theorizing about the origin of ideas, and second by classifying ideas into types, based on origin and (...) characteristics discovered by mental inspection. The shared features of the empiricist notion of ideas is that ideas are not innate, and that they are the result of sensation and reflection. (See INNATENESS). (shrink)
This paper tries to trace the roots of the Śaiva Mantramārga concept of innate impurity. Since innate impurity is regarded as one of the three bonds fettering bound individual souls, this paper begins with the Pāśupata and early Śaiva views on these bonds. It examines the Buddhist logician Dharmakīrti’s criticism of the Śaiva idea that initiation removes sin, and discusses the Pāśupata concept of sin-cleansing and two different concepts of innate impurity found in two early Śaiva scriptures: (...) the Sarvajñānottaratantra and Svāyambhuvasūtrasaṃgraha. In search of the roots of these Śaiva conceptions of innate impurity, this paper then goes over some Vedic passages which speak of the removal of sin during the initiatory rite and identify it as the internal impurity. Putting all these points together, this paper concludes arguing that the Śaivas initially saw sin or the unseen force of merits and demerits as innate impurity, but later, under the pressure of criticism, they introduced the idea of innate impurity as a separate abstract substance affecting all souls with its multiple powers. (shrink)
Radical Concept Nativism (RCN) is the doctrine that most of our concepts are innate. In this paper I will argue in favour of RCN by developing a speculative account of concept acquisition that has considerable nativist credentials and can be defended against the most familiar anti-nativist objections. The core idea is that we have a whole battery of hard-wired dispositions that determine how we group together objects with which we interact. In having these dispositions we are effectively committed to (...) an implicit conceptual scheme and acquiring concepts is a matter of labelling the elements of that scheme. (shrink)
This article illustrates in which sense genetic determinism is still part of the contemporary interactionist consensus in medicine. Three dimensions of this consensus are discussed: kinds of causes, a continuum of traits ranging from monogenetic diseases to car accidents, and different kinds of determination due to different norms of reaction. On this basis, this article explicates in which sense the interactionist consensus presupposes the innate?acquired distinction. After a descriptive Part 1, Part 2 reviews why the innate?acquired distinction is (...) under attack in contemporary philosophy of biology. Three arguments are then presented to provide a limited and pragmatic defense of the distinction: an epistemic, a conceptual, and a historical argument. If interpreted in a certain manner, and if the pragmatic goals of prevention and treatment (ideally specifying what medicine and health care is all about) are taken into account, then the innate?acquired distinction can be a useful epistemic tool. It can help, first, to understand that genetic determination does not mean fatalism, and, second, to maintain a system of checks and balances in the continuing nature?nurture debates. (shrink)
I argue that Berkeley's distinctive idealism/immaterialism can't support his view that objects of sense, immediately or mediately perceived, are causally inert. (The Passivity of Ideas thesis or PI) Neither appeal to ordinary perception, nor traditional arguments, for example, that causal connections are necessary, and we can't perceive such connections, are helpful. More likely it is theological concerns,e.g., how to have second causes if God upholds by continuously creating the world, that's in the background. This puts Berkeley closer to Malebranche (...) than to Hume. -/- As far the what I call the "first strategy;" defending the passivity of ideas by ordinary introspection, I refer to the work of the French psychologist Albert Michotte,(1940) and those now extending his experiments, to show that (1) there is an immediate and quite robust visual impression of causality, (admitted in fact by Berkeley, Malebranche and Hume) and (2) of more importance, the impression isn't due to projecting into nature expectations gained from experienced regularities. (shrink)