Innate Knowledge Thesis Rationalism

Plato is a rationalist because he thinks that we have innate knowledge of the Forms [mathematical objects and concepts (triangles, equality, largeness), moral concepts (goodness, beauty, virtue, piety), and possibly color – he doesn’t ever explicitly state that there are Forms of colors]; Descartes thinks that the idea of God, or perfection and infinity, and knowledge of my own existence is innate; G. Leibniz thinks that logical principles are innate; and Noam Chomsky thinks that the ability to use language (e.g., language rules) is innate.

The only way to come to have the idea of blue is to experience it with your senses.

It studies the nature of knowledge, the rationality of belief, and justification. This theory emphasizes the role of the five senses in obtaining knowledge.

Rationalism and empiricism are two schools of thought in epistemology. Empiricism rejects innate concepts or inborn knowledge.

(This objection only works possibly against Plato; see the introduction above again to see why this objection would not faze Descartes, Leibniz, or Chomsky.)Rationalists claim that there is innate knowledge that gives us fundamental truths about reality, but even among rationalists (e.g., Plato, who believes in reincarnation and Forms and Descartes, who does not believe in either but does believe in a soul), there is disagreement about the nature of reality, the self, etc.

I hasten to add that Ockham's Razor is simply a rule of thumb, and that I would recommend that the reader track down an excellent paper by Elliot Sober, entitled, "Let's Razor Ockham's Razor," wherein he demonstrates that if one uses Ockham's razor in a certain case of evolutionary biology, one will choose the wrong theory to explain the phenomena, because the situation is more complex than it may seem.

Intuition and deduction thus provide us with knowledge , which is to say knowledge gained independently of sense experience.

Innate knowledge means having knowledge of some truth is a particular subject area.

There are significant ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience.

They also assume that these can be understood through sufficient understanding and thought.


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