I need some direction with Locke. It has been a year since I have studied modern philosophy.

Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 12:27 pm
I normally don't ask for help on a thesis, but it has been so long I don't know where to start.
My professor gave me these guidelines in order to make up a grade. 8-10 pages. some topic in modern philosophy. I want to write about Locke's innate ideas, but I don't know if I should use some other philosopher who was critical of his work and refute that, or if I should find flaws in Locke's idea. I want to tie it to universal grammar somehow, as well, but I don't know if it will send me off on a tangent not related to modern philosophy.

Any ideas, or thoughts on innate ideas and universal grammar?
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Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2010 03:53 am
@Brandi phil,
well - to start with, Locke's main claim to fame was denying the existence of innate ideas, saying that people were born a tabula rasa, or blank slate. So you better make sure you get that the right way around, to start with. And then, Steve Pinker, who is very well known current philosopher, actually wrote a book refuting the idea, called, if I remember it right, The Blank Slate, about 2002. Plenty of material right there, I would think.

Also you might want to have a look at a website www.earlymoderntexts.com. It has an updated edition of Locke's work which you might find helpful.
Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2010 04:23 am
jeeprs wrote:
Steve Pinker, who is very well known current philosopher
Pinker is emphatically not a philosopher.
Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2010 04:47 am
yes, I stand corrected. Linguist, isn't he. Anyway, The Blank Slate is still critical of the idea of the tabula rasa, so that point still stands.
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Reply Sat 10 Jul, 2010 09:54 am
Given the limitations of the paper, one topic that immediately suggests itself is the comparison between Locke and Kant's transcendental aesthetic and categories. There is ample discussion of the two perspectives to guide you in your paper.
If you agree with Kant, then this opens various ways to argue for universal grammar by arguing that language, or at least formal parts or structures of language, function similar to Kant's argument that everything is conditioned.
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