08 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Lockes Enquiry.Philosophy Modern

One of the two famous works done by John Locke is known as “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”, wherein the focus of concern is about the human knowledge’s foundation including understanding. The mind was illustrated like a blank paper at birth wherein be filled later through experiences. This concept relates to modern times’ philosophy that influenced most of the philosophers like Bishop Berkeley and David Hume.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the undertaking of project in the Enquiry based on Locke’s method and motivation. The discussion also includes the comparison of things to Descartes in the Meditations.

The project explains Locke’s undertaking in the Enquiry based on specified and not on certain knowledge, the rules and standards served as a guide that add confidence allowing ourselves to have right opinions. The first method introduced by Locke was enquiring with the ideas or notions’ origin wherein a man needs to observe and be conscious about the ideas on their mind and be able to understand things that need to be equipped. Next method displays the knowledge and understanding through ideas, security and those that are evident. There should be little enquiry with regards to nature and grounds about faith or opinion known as acceptance showing truth and that certainty are really true. Locke expects the enquiry of nature and he relates it to the knowledge that leads the people to discover powers, the things that can be reached.

Locke’s Enquiry 3

The things are indeed sufficient in dealing with and other things that ignored by most individuals (John Locke, 2008). When things were successful, it usually affect the persuasion of man’s busy mind on becoming more cautious in terms of meddling with other things beyond the understanding of powers. Tether’s extremity and peaceful reconciliation with ignorance of things relates to the things beyond the capacities of most individuals.

Man needs to be truthful with no pretensions about everything and less aggressive to raise the questions and be confused with other things that relate to the understanding of things which are absolutely not applicable to the things that may not even form with clear and distinct perceptions in minds that may often happen and no notions at all. According to Locke, the scope of understanding evolved on the achievement of things with certainty wherein most cases point to judging and guessing which must be done in order to teach us accepting the limitations and then resting the content with only knowing the human conditions that enables us in knowing the things. Reaching of understanding usually may fall far short in the scope of things and people always have all the reasons to praise God for the kind and amount of knowledge that were given to people which were far above the creation. Most men have all the reasons to be satisfied with the things seen by God and they need to understand that everything was given in order to give life’s conveniences and to form their characters. This means everything needed discovery in life in order to find way to better one. Most men have the ability to look on plentiful materials and pleasure in terms of physical activities that affect the community in throwing the blessings away while the hands are filled with because the hands are considerably not big enough in grasping everything.

Locke’s Enquiry 4

In comparison with Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes promised to leave the room for soul’s immortality. Descartes used the metaphysical language of medieval because Descartes has moods to speak in a very intellect manner such as the abstract way regarding ideas and reasons. Descartes explanations regarding the human beings’ workings are indeed striking graphically with the circulatory system and pineal gland in relation to the Passions of Soul with emotional states as admiration and love (Descartes, 2008). Descartes can be described as the philosopher-by-nose rather than late medievalist or the early rationalist and his integrative dualism happened to be the dispute of modern version between materialists and those dualists of neo-Cartesian. Descartes’ substance language is known as the philosophical language used in talking the problem with modern reference in terms of mental and physical properties which is also considered as the other language.


Locke and Descartes have different point of views but the important thing is; they have their points that are specific and can easily be understood. According to Locke, most men consider the knowledge of capacities, in discovering the extension of knowledge and finding the horizon marking off the parts as illuminated with things from the dark one and the things can still be understood no matter how hard to understand. Locke never used any presupposition about the matter, mind and relation because the notions are indeed much easy to understand and not confusing. The value known as peculiar is the psychology consisting with attempt for keeping clear with his first enquiry about how the things come into mind and the next is the constitution of whole material with knowledge.


“John Locke’s Book 1”. From the Internet Explorer Web site. 30 September 2008.

< http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/locke1.pdf  >

“Descartes”. From the Internet Explorer Web site. 30 September 2008.

< http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/descmed.pdf.  >

“John Locke”. From the Internet Explorer Web site. 30 September 2008.

< http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/ >

“Descartes”. From the Internet Explorer Web site. 30 September 2008.

< http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/d/descarte.htm >

06 Oct 2009

Simple Essay: A Critical Comparison: Locke and Descartes'

Tradition seems to require that treatment of modern philosophy begins with Descartes’ in the seventeenth century. However, a history of philosophy does not usually pass directly from the medieval to the modern period. As the acknowledge Father of Modern Western Philosophy, Rene Descartes’ fame is uncontested. His influence has been enormous, and the study of his principal works is still indispensable to anyone who wishes to philosophize (Hocutt, 61).

René Descartes and John Locke are often sees as two of the first early modern philosophers in the seventeen century. Both of them attempt to find answers to the same questions in metaphysics and epistemology such as, what is knowledge?  Is there certainty in knowledge? What roles do the mind and body play in the acquisition of knowledge? (Hocutt, 167).

Both philosophers do not provide the same answers to these questions. In this paper, I will consider the differences similarities between Descartes’ and Locke’s’ philosophies. I will also then discuss a few important differences in their theories of knowledge, specifically the distinction between rationalism and empiricism and the question of the existence of innate ideas. Finally, I will find out which of the ideas from the two philosophers is more convincing.

According Descartes, knowledge depends on the absolute certainty. Definite knowledge cannot come from the outside world via the senses since perception is unreliable (Descartes, 76). He believes that experience and deduction are two ways of discovering knowledge. If knowledge didn’t come from within then it must come from experience of the outside world. Further he believes in contrast to perception, that deduction “can never be performed wrongly by an intellect which is in the least degree rational”. Therefore, deductive knowledge is the only certain knowledge (Descartes, 2).

Such system requires a basis of intuitively understood principles from which knowledge can be deduced. Descartes further believes that there is such idea of the existence of the self and that God’s existence. These principles are revealed by natural light and cannot be in any way being open to doubt. He believes that these principles are innate (Descartes, 97).

On the contrary, Locke does not believe that there is any certain knowledge (Locke, 263). According to Jon Locke, the mind at birth is a blank tablet, which is subsequently written upon by sensory experience. For Locke, knowledge is possible to a very high degree. Locke believes that innate ideas cannot do anything for knowledge. For him, it is useless to assume, anything occult, opaque, mysterious, hidden away in the recesses of the mind. The real cause of Locke’s hatred of innate ideas is his horror of anything mystical. Thus, if you pretend to have any knowledge, you must be prepared to tell where it comes from. It would not do to appeal, as Descartes did, to a certain impression of the clearness and distinctness of the ideas. Their origin will decide their value. For Locke, the origin comes from experience (Hocutt, 61).

Since Locke is not concerned with certainty, he needs not to abandon ideas from perception. He says that all ideas come from sensation and reflection, knowledge can and does rely on the sense and observations, and it is all founded on experience (Locke, 33).

The existence of any innate principles or ideas on at least two independent grounds is rejected by Locke. He argues that there are no innate ideas, they would immediately be known to children if there were. He explains further that if the idea is innate then the idea of God is innate. On the other hand, since there is not a universal agreed notion of God, the idea cannot be innate. There are no ideas present in the mind; instead the mind can be compared to a white paper, void of characters, without any ideas. And by experience, the mind can gain knowledge not some divine natural light (Locke, 33).

To summarize, Descartes and Locke are primarily skeptics about the probability of definite knowledge. Descartes, a French rationalist believe that there is certain knowledge and that human reason, innate and deduction is the sole source of such knowledge. In contrast, Locke an English empiricist believes that knowledge is not certain, but an extremely probable knowledge can be gathered from experience. The idea of (certain enough) knowledge arising from experience is inconceivable to Descartes, just as the existence of innate ideas in the mind is unacceptable to Locke.

As for me, both philosophers are abandoning older traditions and offering new ways of looking at knowledge and skepticism. I believe that it is not entirely accurate to say that their philosophies are different and leave it at that. I find the philosophy of Descartes more convincing than the idea of Locke. Simply because everything that is and happens in the world will be ultimately reducible to terms of mind and matter. Moreover, everything that happens will be dependent upon, and follow from, the nature of a God, who is the creator of the world and that’s in it, and the constant cause of its continued existence and activity. God is extremely good, so the world that He chooses to create and sustain must be good as well. For me, Descartes is right, that God’s will and providence is beyond our understanding.



Descartes, René. Selected Philosophical Writings. Trans. John Cottingham, et al. Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Ed. Kenneth Winkler. Hackett Publishing Company, 1996.

Hocutt, Max. An Introduction to Philosophical Issues. Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company, 1986

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