Philosophy Essay 1

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Philosophy Essay 1

John Locke was a great philosopher of the 17th century who was born in South West England to a family of a parliamentary clerk. After being a successful student in high school, he entered Oxford University after graduating from which he remained in the same institution as a lecturer and researcher. He studied the area of natural philosophy and met with Robert Boyles among other great scientists of his time. As a result, John Locke became fascinated with the idea of coming to conclusions after conducting controlled observation which made him to research and publish ground breaking work in the area of natural philosophy and freedom.

Some of his works were focused on expounding how people learn and how their brain acquires information. His research, observations as well as discussions he held with other specialists of his time culminated in his work titles ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ that was published in 1690 after 20 years of research. Locke thought it was important to examine people’s abilities to see what the substance of human understanding was. His research focused on how knowledge is acquired. Moreover he stated that human brain is initially blank before it is filled with knowledge.

Locke claimed tat humans can acquire knowledge through perceptions as the stimuli received by the sensory organs are processed by the brain into ideas (Locke, 1959). Having sensory organs is crucial in gaining knowledge because when they are stimulated, the sensation received is processed with the brains to create ideas and the ‘creation’ or the knowledge of the environment. This is the primary reason why people react to the conditions in their environment, which is critical in adaptation and survival. Locke also described the other way in which people gain knowledge, which is through demonstration. It differs from perception as knowledge is obtained through step-by-step processing of ideas to reach agreement or disagreement. Demonstration is therefore longer and more demanding that perception.

Demonstration as a means of gaining knowledge, which occurs through getting to an agreement or a disagreement, may be preferred in some instances. However, perception is also a viable means of acquiring information. It leads to the knowledge that is spontaneous or instinctive in nature over some time (Locke, 1959). For instance, when one sees a given animal or hears a certain sound by an animal, such details will be processed and stored in the brain so that one can easily recognize and identify the animal when one sees it agaain. For this reason, perception, as a means of acquiring knowledge, leads to immediate recognition through matching or not matching of the two ideas. If anything perceived though senses matches what is already known, an agreement occurs and vice versa. Acquiring knowledge through perception leads to certainty when compared to demonstration. Additionally, the method is fast as the process involved is usually short.

To enhance the reception of information using perception, one should ensure that the sensory organs are properly used and allow clear access the stimuli so that the process is not influenced with ‘bent straw’. ‘Bent straw’ occurs when the stimuli are interpreted wrongly so that the information received or interpretation by the brain is faulty. While interpreting the information received with the sensory organ, the brain may need to formulate ideas that are used as a basis for knowledge; the brain may ‘liken’ the stimuli with previous experience or misjudge it that the knowledge received is not reality. However, ensuring that the stimuli are received well and keeping the process of interpretation as independent as possible from previous experiences may help in reducing ‘bent straw’ effect which makes perception an effective way of gaining knowledge.

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