Symposium by Plato

Locke’s Proof Against Innate Mathematical Knowledge College

John Locke proves that mathematical knowledge is not innate in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by contrasting Plato’s theory to learning through sensation and perception, thus curating the theory of empiricism. Through his arguments, Locke proves mathematical knowledge is not something that you are born with, clarifying that Plato’s universal consent proves nothing. Knowledge is not imprinted; it is learned through observation, sensations and experience. Locke assesses the situation between Socrates and the Greek boy in the Meno, and how the boy actually assented to multiple correct answers, and deduces that all knowledge is adventitious.

While Plato argues all knowledge is innate, Locke disagrees and justifies empiricism. Plato displays his theory of innate knowledge through universal consent, the idea which because humanity can agree, it authorizes his theory of innateness. Locke argues this by stating that universal consent proves nothing, “if there can be any other way shown how men may come to that universal agreement, in the things they do consent in, which I presume may be done.” (Locke 1) Because people agreeing on something, doesn’t mean it was knowledge that came from their souls. Plato needed to rely on this...

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