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Hume’s Skeptical Empiricism and Locke’s Empiricism Essay

Empiricism claims that knowledge is gained largely by experience, observation and also sensory perception. Human knowledge and ideas are gained empirically and through experience. Locke and Hume are empiricists who have different views about human knowledge perception. Therefore, empiricism is a theory of knowledge that arises from evidence gathered through experience of sense. It is a field that complicates views which predominates human knowledge as it emphasis on the role of experience, evidence, perception, and formation of ideas.

Hume’s skeptical empiricism was Marjory on external world being rationally unjustifiable. Hume argued that in keeping with empiricism views, all knowledge derives from sense of experience. Through this he divided human knowledge in to two categories that is; the relations of ideas and matters of fact. Therefore, for Hume an impression corresponds roughly with sensation. A person’s ability to remember and imagine such impressions is known as having ideas.

Therefore, Hume argued that ideas are the faint copies of sensations. Through his skeptical arguments, he explained that all knowledge cannot be established by reason. Through out his argument, he added that inductive reasoning is required to justify circular arguments about a certain issue. The premises for the principle of inductive reasoning can be reached and justified through circular argument. He concluded that such things as beliefs in an external world in the existence of the self were not rationally justifiable.

Therefore, his skeptical arguments cast on the legitimacy of inductive reasoning allow many skeptics who follow it to cast similar doubts. Locke on the other hand, held that some knowledge could be arrived at through intuition and reasoning alone. Locke expressed his ideas on issues regarding to mind and white paper which leads to proper reasoning. According to Locke, the mind is like a white paper on which the experiences leave their marks. Therefore, according to his argument the predominant sources of ideas and knowledge are sensation and reflection of information.

The information could ultimately lead to the internalization of knowledge making it seem innate recall of information. In this case the empiricism denied that human beings have innate ideas and anything is understandable without ideas. According to Locke’s argument, any knowledge that needs to be properly inferred or deduced should be gained ultimately from one sense based on experience. Therefore, according to Locke’s position understanding is set of propositions present to consciousness.

However, the central point is missed in his argument that faculties are innate but not conscious propositional knowledge. These assumptions of cognitive transparency were challenged by Hume who argued towards positive cognitive faculties. Hume argued that there are certain traits or characteristics that could not be traced back to experience. Therefore, through his argument he contrasted Locke. The main difference between the two is seen in the point that understanding is a product consisting of propositions.

It is also assumed as a process where by power of making inferences requires an explanation. According to Locke’s argument, the human minds resort to reflection on information which leads to decision making process. Reflection in this aspect could ultimately lead to internalization of knowledge making it seem innate upon recall of the information. On the contrary, Hume agued that new ideas are simply as a result of improvements made to existing ideas gained through impressions and sensations.


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