What is INNATISM? What does INNATISM mean? INNATISM meaning – INNATISM pronunciation – INNATISM definition – INNATISM explanation – How to pronounce INNATISM?
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Innatism is a philosophical and epistemological doctrine that holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a “blank slate” at birth, as early empiricists such as John Locke claimed. It asserts that not all knowledge is gained from experience and the senses.
In general usage, the terms innatism and nativism are synonymous as they both refer to notions of preexisting ideas present in the mind. However, more correctly, innatism refers to the philosophy of Plato and Descartes, who assumed that a God or a similar being or process placed innate ideas and principles in the human mind.
Nativism represents an adaptation of this, grounded in the fields of genetics, cognitive psychology, and psycholinguistics. Nativists hold that innate beliefs are in some way genetically programmed to arise in our mind—that innate beliefs are the phenotypes of certain genotypes that all humans share in common.
Nativism is a modern view rooted in innatism. The advocates of nativism are mainly philosophers who also work in the field of cognitive psychology or psycholinguistics: most notably Noam Chomsky and Jerry Fodor (although the latter has adopted a more critical attitude towards nativism in his later writings). The nativist’s general objection against empiricism is still the same as was raised by the rationalists; the human mind of a newborn child is not a tabula rasa, but equipped with an inborn structure.
In philosophy and psychology, an innate idea is a concept or item of knowledge which is said to be universal to all humanity—that is, something people are born with rather than something people have learned through experience.
The issue is controversial, and can be said to be an aspect of a long-running nature versus nurture debate, albeit one localized to the question of understanding human cognition.
Although individual human beings obviously vary due to cultural, racial, linguistic and era-specific influences, innate ideas are said to belong to a more fundamental level of human cognition. For example, the philosopher René Descartes theorized that knowledge of God is innate in everybody as a product of the faculty of faith.
Other philosophers, most notably the empiricists, were critical of the theory and denied the existence of any innate ideas, saying all human knowledge was founded on experience, rather than a priori reasoning.
Philosophically, the debate over innate ideas is central to the conflict between rationalist and empiricist epistemologies. While rationalists believe that certain ideas exist independently of experience, empiricism claims that all knowledge is derived from experience.
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz suggested that we are born with certain innate ideas, the most identifiable of these being mathematical truisms. The idea that 1 + 1 = 2 is evident to us without the necessity for empirical evidence. Leibniz argues that empiricism can only show us that concepts are true in the present; the observation of one apple and then another in one instance, and in that instance only, leads to the conclusion that one and another equals two. However, the suggestion that one and another will always equal two require an innate idea, as that would be a suggestion of things unwitnessed.
Leibniz called such concepts as mathematical truisms “necessary truths”. Another example of such may be the phrase, “what is, is” or “it is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be”. Leibniz argues that such truisms are universally assented to (acknowledged by all to be true); this being the case, it must be due to their status as innate ideas. Often there are ideas that are acknowledged as necessarily true but are not universally assented to. Leibniz would suggest that this is simply because the person in question has not become aware of the innate idea, not because they do not possess it. Leibniz argues that empirical evidence can serve to bring to the surface certain principles that are already innately embedded in our minds. This is similar to needing to hear only the first few notes in order to recall the rest of the melody.