How convincing is the view that we are born with at least some innate knowledge?

Topics: Ontology, Knowledge, Empiricism Pages: 4 (1374 words) Published: February 3, 2014
How convincing is the view that we are born with at least some (innate) knowledge?

Innate knowledge is knowledge that is already in the mind without experience. This is the view taken by rationalists, which contrasts against the empiricist view that the mind starts tabula rasa, and all knowledge is gained through experience. Plato argued that all ideas or concepts are innate and that when you gain knowledge, it’s merely recollecting what you already know innately.

The view that we are born with innate knowledge supports the existence of propositional knowledge without any experimental grounding. Descartes believed that we only have the idea of God because God gave us the idea of himself; he argued that the concept of God was one of a perfect being. As we have never experienced complete perfection, without being born with the knowledge of a perfect being, we wouldn’t be able to produce it. An argument against this is to argue if Descartes is able to say that the God he has in his mind is actually an idea, this leads to many questions about the use of the term ‘idea’ with philosophers arguing that the term has been warped. An empiricist would argue that our concepts and knowledge come solely from experience. Hume argued that we can observe the relative virtues in other people and we are able to recognise the various degrees of goodness, power and benevolence. After we’ve experienced these, we are able to extend those degrees to reach infinite goodness for example. Therefore, we can conceive the idea of a perfect, infinite being, but the cause of the idea is not perfect or infinite. Leibniz’s Ontological Argument can combat this argument from Descartes; Leibniz argued that as God is perfect, he would create a perfect world. However, he admits that the world is imperfect, as there are evils. His argument is that we are unable to see it all, and that local evils are there in order to contribute to the overall good. An example of this is taking unpleasant...
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