Innate Knowledge

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Innate Knowledge The theory of innate knowledge is very interesting. I am going to explain what it is, the different views that philosophers have on it, and if I think that it is possible to be born with it. Once finished, you can decide for yourself what your feelings on innate knowledge are.

Innate knowledge is a theory that was brought into this world by the great philosopher Socrates. Socrates said that everyone comes into this world with knowledge that they already had from previous lives. He said that the body was new, but the soul already had knowledge. The soul had forgotten the knowledge and simply needed to be reminded of it.

Socrates explanation was that when one dies, they must cross the River of Lethe. On the way across, they drink from the river, and all of their previously acquired knowledge is forgotten. After they cross the river, they are born again.

Since they are born with all of this forgotten knowledge, all they have to do is be reminded of it.

Here is an example of innate knowledge that I remember from class. When a baby decides to crawl from one point to another, it will take the shortest path possible. Instead of taking a detour, the baby crawls to its destination in a straight line. If the theory of innate knowledge is true, then the baby must have learned in another lifetime that the shortest path between two points is a straight line.

Another great philosopher, named John Locke, had a different view on innate knowledge. He believed that there was no such thing. Locke had a theory called "Tabula Rasa."� This theory states that when we are born, our minds are like a blank sheet of paper. We know nothing and learn everything through...