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John Locke 1632-1704 was born in Wrington England toPuritan parents who fostered his education in theology andpolitics He attended the Westminster school and thenentered Christ Church Oxford where he received ascholarship Locke studied classical languagesmetaphysics logic and rhetoric there He developedfriendships with Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton both of whominfluenced his views In 1690 he wrote An Essay ConcerningHuman Understanding this is considered his greatest work The essay tries to set limits on human understanding Lockeattempts to answer two questions The first question iswhere we get our ideas from The second question is whetherwe can rely on what our senses tell us The Essay alsoclassifies knowledge into three degrees These are theintuitive demonstrative and the sensitive Finally theEssay divides the ways ideas can be related into fourcategories identity or diversity relation coexistenceand finally real existence Part of Lockes theory is thatwomen are equal to men this will be discussed in the secondTo understand why Locke wanted to explain where we getour ideas from it is important to understand what sect ofphilosophy he was a part of Locke belonged to aneighteenth century group of British philosophers whichincluded George Berkeley and David Hume These threephilosophers shared a view called empiricism Empiricism isthe belief that all knowledge and ideas come from thesenses Thus a new born baby is a blank slate until itsfirst sensory experience with the world Aristotle was theoriginator of the empiricist way of thinking Empiricismdirectly conflicts with Plato and the rationalist way ofthinking which states that humans are born with a set ofinnate ideas about the world As Locke explains in An EssayConcerning Human Understanding humans gain all ideas andknowledge by interacting with the external world with theirsenses and by reflecting their new gained knowledge Bysenses Locke is referring to the five senses sight soundtaste feeling and hearing Lockes definition ofreflection is the way the mind actively processes theinformation given to it by sensation In reflection themind continues to analyze what it has sensed Thisanalization
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