Descartes reasons that he can come to the truth by doubting everything including his senses and the assumptions made to be true. He posits that he can gain the foundation of knowledge, if he finds something that can withstand his skepticism. According to him, people can be deceived on anything. Therefore, he has to doubt any knowledge he has ever received if he is to establish new knowledge and determine what he knows with certainty. This would enable him to come to the truth, in absence of all error and deception. He begins his knowledge by finding what is clear, distinct, and self-evident. Other than the senses, he also reasons that it is possible to doubt the existence of a physical world. He then argues that he has to doubt the existence of God, since his knowledge of his religious teachers who could have been deceiving him to accept such truths. He further argues that since he exists since he is able to think and be deceived. This realization makes him develop his starting point, since he has managed to identify the one thing that can withstand a skeptical challenge.

Locke noted that people developed their knowledge from their ideas. He argued against innate origin of ideas, noting that not all people had the same knowledge. People began with no knowledge or ideas but they gained them through the experiences they had. They are able to acquire knowledge by engaging the senses and reflecting. They develop complex ideas from the simple ideas they have and they are able to do this by the experiences they have had. The complex ideas consist of component parts. Therefore, based on this reasoning, it is possible for people to think of something they have never experienced, by combining different simple elements of what they have already experienced.  

The difference between Locke and Descartes hinges on the idea of innate knowledge. Descartes believed that people have an innate knowledge while Locke reasoned that people are born empty and they acquire knowledge through their experiences. Descartes can withstand Locke’s criticism by showing that the source of the innate knowledge. However, he argues that people have an innate knowledge of God. Locke shows that this is not possible because people have different experiences. One’s understanding and knowledge of God comes from learning, which comes from the experiences that people have. Descartes cannot withstand Locke’s criticism based on this.

Descartes makes important points when he argues that things are not necessarily true just because somebody said they are or because people have always assumed them so. By doing this, he paved the way for people to be willing to acquire new knowledge. However, his method of doubting as a way of founding knowledge is practical. To put it in his approach, one cannot be sure that he doubts when he doubts. Moreover, the idea of people having innate knowledge cannot be proved. Descartes used his idea of God to show that people have some knowledge within them. On this end, Locke seems to be more plausible. This is because of people’s ability to acquire ideas and develop knowledge from the experiences they have had. It is possible to observe Locke’s ideas clearly by looking at how people develop. Babies have limited knowledge, and one cannot prove what they know without depending on the experiences they have had.

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