ian - Introduction Love it or hate it no contemporary...

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Introduction Love it or hate it, no contemporary student of philosophy can ignore John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Initially published in December of 1689, it has been one of the most influential books of the last three centuries; in fact, it is not much of a stretch to say that every subsequent philosopher has been touched by Locke's ideas in some way. The unique importance of Locke's Essay lies in the fact that it is the first systematic presentation of an *empiricist* philosophy of mind and cognition: a theory of knowledge and belief based wholly on the principle that everything in our mind gets there by way of experience. The first principle of an empiricist philosophy of mind is often illustrated by the notion of a Tabula Rasa, or a blank slate (an illustration Locke himself made famous in the Essay): at birth, our minds arrive into this world completely empty, like a pure white sheet of paper, and it is only as experience "writes" on this paper that ideas and thoughts begin to form. As the first explicit formulation of an empiricist philosophy, the Essay had a profound effect
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