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Innate Ideas Descartes vs Locke In this paper I will discuss the Descartes vs Locke debate on innate ideas also giving insight on what an innate idea means Each philosopher takes a very different stand on the issue and each point of view will be thoroughly examined The main question at hand here is where do our ideas come from The controversy and basis of the argument is that some philosophers and others believe that human beings have innate knowledge or ideas The others deny it What seems to be black and white turns grey when one asks what is it to have innate knowledge or an innate idea Therefore when analyzing the debate over innateness we must look at what we mean if we say someone knows something or has ideas innately Stich 1 For the purpose of understanding we can look back on historical caveats Plato for example seemed to believe that all knowledge is innate The problem with Platos view is only part of what we think we know is known innately 2 Plato does not try to enlarge the concept of innateness to cover all knowledge but rather he tried to minimize the concept until it fits what we know innately According to Websters dictionary innate means existing in or belonging to an individual from birth or belonging to the essential nature of something When trying to define innateness Descartes says he is using it in the same sense of the word as when we say certain diseases are innate So what does it mean to have an innate disease A disease is prefaced with a unique set of symptoms Therefore there is a relationship between symptoms and the disease itself We could safely say that a person could have a disease all along but not know it until the symptoms appeared This occurrence is actually quite common It also draws a parallel to innate knowledge
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