Locke's Human Understanding

762 Words4 Pages
Textual Analysis: Locke’s Human Understanding During the 1600’s and early 1700’s a shift toward scientific and philosophical exploration was occurring. During this time period, the human mind and way humans perceive ideas and sensations were studied more closely. One philosopher, John Locke, studied human thought in more depth than anyone during his age. He began to ask how our minds construct information and build upon it. In his work “Essay Concerning Human Understanding”, Locke identifies the origin of our basic knowledge and understanding, and how we relate to objects or sensations. In his essay, written in 1690, Locke compares the blank human mind, much like that of a newborn baby, to a “white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas.” He then goes on to say that the mind is “Furnished” with all its knowledge by experience. Once a person sees something for the first time, that image is written into their minds and will be engraved there. These ideas lay dormant until one realizes them. By realizing these ideas it means that something or someone triggers that idea in the mind and makes an individual think or acknowledge it. Once this realization has occurred, that is when an idea is truly formed; once these ideas are formed, they will remain with a person. Not only do objects create ideas or images, but sensations such as hot or cold, happy or sad do as well. Locke categorizes these types of ideas as “Sensation.” After explaining about experiences and the realization of ideas through objects and sensations, Locke describes that the human mind develops another kind of idea. He suggests that more ideas are formed from the realization of our mind’s own operation. These ideas are not influenced by external objects or sensations, but are an internal consideration. When people think about their own ideas and thoughts they create more ideas such as
Open Document