Locke_to_Hume_to_Kant.pdf - From Locke to Hume to Kant Locke\u2019s Causal Theory of Perception Hume\u2019s \u201cThought Experiment\u201d and Kant\u2019s Creative

Locke_to_Hume_to_Kant.pdf - From Locke to Hume to Kant...

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From Locke to Hume to Kant Locke’s Causal Theory of Perception, Hume’s “Thought Experiment” and Kant’s Creative Response Locke’s Epistemology: The Causal Theory of Perception Locke was the first of the three men known as the “British Empiricists.” He believed that “there is nothing in the mind that wasn‟t first in sense experience” -- this is Locke‟s paraphrase of Aristotle. Locke believed that his empiricist explanation of the world was simpler than Descartes‟ rationalist appeal to innate ideas. Locke believes that the principle of “Ockham‟s razor” (the simplest explanation is the best) supports his simpler explanation over Descartes‟. According to Locke, the mind is a tabula rasa or blank slate that our sense experience writes upon. His explanation of how our perceptions relate to the physical world is called Locke‟s “causal theory of perception.” Essentially, what Locke is doing is retaining Aristotle‟s epistemological method (empiricism) but without automatically accepting Aristotle‟s metaphysica l conclusions as true. Locke‟s causal theory of perception makes two important distinctions: between primary and secondary qualities and between simple and complex ideas. (Remember that Descartes had earlier pointed out the difference between primary and secondary qualities: primary qualities can be proven by deductive reasoning--existence, extension in space-- whereas secondary qualities are uncertain interpretations of these primary qualities based upon sense experience.) Primary qualities are characteristics of external objects that inhere in those objects. Secondary qualities are our interpretations of the primary qualities. These secondary qualities exist in our minds as ideas; they are caused by the primary qualities--hence the name “causal the ory of perception. Colors, sounds, tastes are examples of secondary qualities. Locke‟s view is called representative realism, because he believes that the mind represents or interprets the external world but does not duplicate the external world (the naive realism of Aristotle). External objects are real and are called substances. Secondary qualities are known through experience but the reality of substance itself (to which primary qualities inhere) must be assumed rather than proved. This is the f undamental problem in Locke‟s metaphysics and is ultimately its undoing. He concluded that the actual existence of substances or objects was a “mystery.” It could not be proven by direct sense experience, but their existence was the most probable, logical, and common-sensical conclusion of that direct sense experience. Simple ideas and complex ideas are the two types of secondary qualities. Simple ideas are based in one particular sense (one of our five senses) and cannot be broken into parts. The idea of yellow, for instance; whereas complex ideas are made up of combinations of simple ideas--an apple is a combination of color (red), shape (round), size (about 4 inches in diameter), etc. Complex ideas result in our knowledge of
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