John Locke was an English philosopher and physician who lived in the 17th century. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and his ideas have had a profound impact on political philosophy, epistemology, and metaphysics.
One of Locke’s most famous works is his “Essay Concerning Human Understanding”, which is widely considered to be a seminal work in modern philosophy. In this essay, Locke presents his theory of knowledge, which has come to be known as empiricism.
Empiricism is the theory that all knowledge comes from experience. According to this view, we are born with no innate ideas or concepts, but rather we acquire them through our interactions with the world around us. This stands in contrast to rationalism, which holds that some knowledge can be acquired through pure reason.
Locke’s empiricist epistemology begins with a rejection of innate ideas. Instead, he argues that all knowledge comes from experience and observation. He believes that there are two sources of knowledge: sensation and reflection.
Sensation refers to our experiences with the external world through our senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. According to Locke, all of our ideas about the world around us come from these basic sensations.
Reflection refers to our internal experiences – thoughts, emotions, memories – that arise from our interaction with the external world. For example, when we see a red apple (sensation), we might reflect on its sweetness or recall a previous experience eating an apple (reflection).
Locke’s epistemology is often referred to as “empiricist” because it emphasizes the importance of observation and experience in acquiring knowledge. However, it also incorporates elements of rationalism by recognizing the role of reflection in shaping our understanding of the world.
In summary, John Locke’s epistemology is known as empiricism and emphasizes the importance of observation and experience in acquiring knowledge while rejecting innate ideas. His theory of knowledge continues to influence modern philosophy and has had a profound impact on our understanding of the nature of knowledge itself.