p149 of Section "Rationalism and Empiricism" in Big Questions by Solomon talkss about "innate ideas":

One of the main points of debate between the rationalists and the empiricists� both in the seventeenth century and today (for instance, in the debate between linguist Noam Chomsky, who contends that we have an innate aptitude for lan- guage, and such contemporary empiricists as Nelson Goodman)�concerns the existence of innate ideas. We have already seen that innate ideas are those �born into� us, but this does not mean (what would be absurd) that newborn infants already �know� that 437 multiplied by 73 equals 31,901 (as if they just haven�t yet acquired the language to express this). Briefly put, rationalists generally accept the idea of innate ideas; empiricists usually reject it. Descartes, a rationalist, tried to begin with such intuitively certain truths as the idea that God is a perfect being and then tried to deduce from this other truths that would (by virtue of a valid deduction) be equally certain. John Locke, an empiricist, rejected this idea of innate ideas. Because our minds are blank tablets at birth, all of our ideas must therefore be derived from experience, for none of them are innate.

and p150 of Section "The Presuppositions of Knowledge" says:

We have seen that there are two kinds of truth; we have also seen that it is not at all clear which (if either) kind of truth we will find in philosophy. But at this point in our discussion, we should also point out that other principles share this problematic status with such big questions as the existence of God, the mean- ing of life, and the nature of reality. Unlike the big questions of philosophy, these principles are not usually considered a matter of debate; they are rarely, if ever, suggested to be a matter of mere opinion or faith, and so they are often not thought of as principles of philosophy at all. But they are. These are philosophical principles that lie at the foundations of virtually all of our knowledge and beliefs. They are the presuppositions of our thinking, without which we could believe nothing, know nothing, think nothing else.

For example, the basic philosophical belief that the world exists is the pre- supposition of anything that any scientist wants to say about the world. It is pre- supposed, too, in our most ordinary statements, such as �We ought to paint the door of the house green instead of red,� because that presupposes that there is a door, a house, paint, and the world. Similarly, one of the philosophical princi- ples that has long been discussed and debated is the principle that everything that happens has a cause (sometimes called the principle of universal causality). We cannot imagine chemistry without this principle, in fact, and we cannot imag- ine even the most everyday occurrences without it. Consider what you would think of a garage mechanic who told you, when your car wouldn�t start, �Noth- ing�s wrong: this is one of those events without a cause.� You wouldn�t call into question the principle that everything that happens has a cause; you would go to another mechanic.

What differences and relationships are between "innate ideas" and "presuppositions of knowledge"?

Do rationlism and empiricism differ in whether to accept "presuppositions of knowledge", similarly to "innate ideas"?


  • Innate ideas are disputed by the empiricists, while the presuppositions of knowledge are generally accepted and required for both rationalists and empiricists which are like faith wherefrom all derived knowledge come either by a priori reasoning or a posteriori experiences... Sep 4 at 5:55


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