The that the human mind is a “blank

The everyday experience has a philosophical theory to
it which science has raised to a level of existential principle. A new
articulate way of nature split the conformity between experience and reason. A
divide into two distinct ways of acquiring knowledge. Empiricism is a way in
which we achieve our knowledge through our sense of experience. On the other
hand, rationalism is a way in which we independently gain knowledge through
reason and logic (Markie, P.). Philosophers like Locke and Bacon have made
efforts to validate where knowledge is derived from. Experience is the
underlying concept in which we achieve knowledge and can be shown through
philosophical arguments. 

John Locke, a seventeenth century philosopher, built
his philosophies around the notion that the human mind is a “blank slate” that
experiences sensations come from the external world. Locke renders from the
idea that this is how knowledge is obtained. This idea is predominantly a form
of empiricism (Uzgalis, W.). A clear view of the idea of the mind being a
“blank slate” is given by David Hume, an eighteenth century philosopher. The
argument Hume gives is that any idea in our mind is similar to a
sense-impression that we once had. Hume sees that experience plays a role in how
our mind can cast new ideas. When our mind does this, these ideas resemble
simpler ideas that become intertwined as replicas of things we have experienced
or involve strengthening or weakening these ideas in a way. The point Hume is
making is that from all the impressions that one has experienced, they
fundamentally cannot accumulate ideas that are of different sorts. Hume
provides the example of a blind person that has been blind since birth, has not
experienced any sense-impression visually, and is unable to form any type of
mental visual image (Morris, W, Brown, C.). Although, Hume acknowledges his
rule of “no idea without preceding impression” has an exception to it (Morries,
W., Brown, C.). The example he gives is that if someone was given a proceeding
series with shades of blue and one shade in particular was missing, then one
could most likely provide that shade through their own mental image. Therefore,
could form an idea that is not similar to any past impressions. However, Hume
acknowledges this exception as minor, and sees no efficient reason to reject
the original rule of “no idea without preceding impression” (Morris, W., Brown,
C.).   

Knowledge from experience can be argued by the
scientific method in which observation, experimentation, deductive and
inductive reasoning, and the forming and testing of theories and hypothesis are
conducted (Anderson, H., Hepburn, B.). 
The philosopher accredited to spreading the approach of the “scientific
method” of analysis into natural experiences, Francis Bacon, structured his
thoughts through the ideas of empiricism. Francis Bacon stated that, “man,
being the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand so much and
so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought about the order of Nature:
beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything” (“Francis Bacon”).
Bacon believed in achieving knowledge by using inductive logic, in which the
premises support the conclusion. Such support means that the conclusion is true
with some level of forte from the premises, for scientific purposes which later
evolves into the scientific method (Hawthorne, J.). Bacon’s philosophical view
provides the basis of how knowledge is acquired through using the scientific
method to gain experience. 

Although the scientific method can be used to gain
knowledge through experience, on occasion our preconceptions can misguide our
perception. For example, we cannot see everything, but we can see to understand
things, such as gravity. We cannot see gravity therefore, we cannot observe it
and must use reason and logic to establish theories and laws by things that are
influenced by gravity. Gravity has been studied by physicists for almost a
century and philosophers are just now beginning to explore its philosophical implications.
A philosopher by the name of Galileo Galilei, conducted an experiment that he
believed would lead to a heavier object, in this case a cannon ball, would hit
the ground before the smaller object, a musket ball (Machamer, P.). Galileo
discovered that when he went to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and dropped a musket
ball and a cannon ball, they both hit the ground at the same moment (Machamer,
P.). Galileo did not consider certain factors like air velocity, that would
show that the musket ball would hit the ground before the cannon ball.
Galileo’s preconceptions and ideas of gravity had influenced his impression and
perception. Galileo’s experiment shows that the scientific method does not
apply when you are testing something you are unable to visually experience
(i.e. gravity) and aids in the understanding that ideas come from previous
impressions that was shown by Locke and Hume.

The ideas expressed by Locke and Hume can be shown in
what is known as phantom limb pain. This pain is experienced in an individual
that has went through amputation of the limb where that limb no longer exists
or where paralysis has occurred. A philosophical theory on phantom limb pain is
the “external perceptual theory of pain”, which states that a form of
experience is pain and can be equated to other experiences that are tactile,
visual, etc (Witonsky, A., Whitman, S.). The experience of pain and as a result
of tissue damage happening is the connection that can describe the way pain
feels and just like other experiences can be misleading, like a visual
illusion, pain can be imprecise (Witonsky, A., Whitman, S.). Phantom limb pain
is an illusion in the way that an individuals’ impressions and perceptions are
influencing the idea of there still being a limb present. The pain experienced
can be described as a perceptual error, in which a false belief is formed on
the principles of experience (Silins, N.). The individual goes through a
paradigm of illusion, where the pain is present but misperceive the way it is
experienced, and a paradigm of hallucination, where they experience pain but
there is no external source of pain (Silins, N.). Phantom limb pain exercises
the idea that knowledge is derived from experience. 

On the other hand, A concept that reflects on the
ideas of rationalism is seen in the Athenian philosopher, Plato in “The
Allegory of The Cave”. In this allegory, Plato differentiates between those who
misunderstand knowledge through experience for actuality that is expanded
through philosophical reasoning. Plato used the example of prisoners in a cave
that were unable to turn their heads and are only able to look at the stone
wall that is in front of them. The prisoners, since birth, have lived inside
the cave and have never seen the outside world. There are people that walk by
and their shadows are projected onto the wall that the prisoners are looking
at. Since they have never seen anything besides these shadows, they believe
they are ‘real’ (Marc Cohen, S.). When the prisoners see an object’s shadow
that is passing behind them (for instance a book) they take it in relations to
their language to refer to the shadows rather than the real thing that is
casting the shadow. Plato makes the point that physical objects are not “names”
of thing we can see but are things we cannot see but rather ideas that we grasp
in our mind. The prisoners experience of seeing the shadows helps them to
understand what a book is, however, they would be wrong to think the term
“book” refers to something they have seen. Plato’s overall objective in this
allegory is to show that by our perceptual experience of physical objects we
obtain concepts. We would be misguided if we thought the things we perceive
were at the same level as concepts we cling to (Marc Cohen, S.). This allegory
shows that our experience cannot always justify our knowledge.

Knowledge is a justified true belief and is vindicated
through experience and reason. As demonstrated through philosophical arguments
from Locke, Hume, and Bacon, experience is the source of our knowledge. Experience
has its limitations and can be implied through science. Our experience provides
the foundation of our knowledge.  

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