Hume Essay Concerning Human Understanding Sparknotes

Since this knowledge could be obtained by deductive inference from the initial starting point, it was believed to have a certainty and finality about it that would not be possible on any other basis.People who believe they have certain or absolute knowledge are likely to be intolerant of those who hold opposite opinions.

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The moralists and theologians had used a different method. It might be an innate idea, as it was in the philosophy of Descartes, or it could be a divine revelation or something that was so regarded by an ecclesiastical body.

Whatever was accepted in this fashion necessarily became the source from which knowledge must be derived.

The belief was as old as the dialogues of Plato, in which the doctrine of a world of ideas or universals had been expressed.

Plato had taught that ideas are latent in the human mind and need only the stimulation of sense perception to bring them to the level of consciousness.

In addition, it includes a detailed account of such subjects as the reality of knowledge, the nature of truth, the character of judgments, and the respective roles of reason and faith.

Locke's theory of knowledge as a whole may be said to have four dominant characteristics.Having stated his reasons for rejecting the belief in innate ideas, he now goes on to show how it is possible to construct the whole pattern of human knowledge from what has been experienced.Beginning with an account of simple ideas which are derived from the senses, he proceeds to an explanation of the ideas of reflection, perception, space, time, substance, power, and others that are related to these. It includes analysis of general terms, the names of simple ideas, the names of substances, an account of abstract and concrete terms, and a discussion concerning the abuse of words.This dualism of mind and matter was comparable to that of a knowing subject and an object which is known.Just how these two worlds, which are so different in their respective characteristics, can interact on one another is something that Locke did not explain, but that an interaction of some kind did take place he never doubted.Intolerance leads to persecution and the suppression of human freedom.In view of these considerations, it seemed clear to Locke that the method employed by the scientists was the only safe one to follow and that this method should be extended to cover all fields of inquiry.Many of the philosophers of the so-called rationalistic school followed Plato in this respect.In the era that preceded Locke, Descartes had insisted that the criterion of truth was to see so clearly and distinctly that it could not be doubted.It had been recognized for some time that the sense qualities of color, sound, taste, and so forth, do not belong to the objects that are sensed but to the mind which perceives the objects.At the same time, it was generally assumed that spatial characteristics and such items as size, weight, and density are present in the objects which constitute the material world.


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