JOHN LOCKE A Power-Point in Support of a Lecture On Education G.D.Albear, M.A. EDF 4450 Eastern Illinois University
JOHN LOCKE • List of major works • (1689) A Letter Concerning Toleration – (1690) A Second Letter Concerning Toleration – (1692) A Third Letter for Toleration
• • • •
(1689) Two Treatises of Government (1689) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1693) Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1695) The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures
• • • • • • •
Major unpublished or posthumous manuscripts (1660) First Tract on Government (or the English Tract) (c.1662) Second Tract on Government (or the Latin Tract) (1664) Essays on the Law of Nature (1667) Essay Concerning Toleration (1706) Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1707) A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul
– (1695) A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity
JOHN LOCKE 1632-1704
JOHN LOCKE • The father of the Enlightenment in Educational thought • The “Essay Concerning Human Understanding” (1690) – Laid the psychological groundwork for • Modern Educational Theory
• “Some Thoughts Concerning Education” • (1693)
– Written during the time he was working on the Essay • Applies his philosophy to pedagogy
JOHN LOCKE • One of John Locke's major works • Is primarily about moral education— – Its role in creating a responsible adult and – The importance of virtue as a transmitter of culture
• However, Locke's detailed and comprehensive guide also ranges over such practical topics as: • The effectiveness of physical punishment • How best to teach foreign languages • Table manners, and • Varieties of crying.
JOHN LOCKE • A REVOLUTIONARY THINKER – A CONSERVATIVE ALSO • TRANSMITED AND TRANSFORMED – TRADITIONAL IDEAS
• His treatise on Education – Stands at the beginning of modernity – Stands also at the end of • The evolutionary process of – Discovering the child
JOHN LOCKE • During the Middle Ages & The Renaissance – Adults treated children as • Toys • Strange animals • Small grown-ups
– Children mixed in adult company – Played infantile adaptations of adult games – Dressed in cut down versions of adult clothing – Participated in overt-sexual play
JOHN LOCKE • The precise age of a child was not known – If known it was irrelevant
• The educational process knew nothing of – Allocating children to classes or grades – Most children remained illiterate
• Even among the educated – Some began school early, some late – Some were home schooled—TUTORS – Others went away to school
JOHN LOCKE • Some students completed their education in – Three years – Others in ten years
• Educators – No conception of rationality in the child – Or of self discipline relative to growth or age – Or of the orderly development of subject matter
• Children were important as – Labor – Sources for inheritance
JOHN LOCKE • WHY? – Uncertain life expectancy • Death was more prevalent then than now at younger ages. • Men aged quickly and died young • The most frequent victims of – Epidemics, vile nourishment and misplaced medical care: » Children
• Children’s survival was so problematic, that: – Parents covered their losses by » Not investing to much attention in them
JOHN LOCKE • Before this time most parents could not remember how many children they had lost • After this (18th century) they began to remember or could count them, but the sentiment we hold for children did not exist. – We have evidence of this because even Rousseau after abandoning his five illegitimate children, was exact about their number.
• Locke was an expression and a cause of this shift in sensibility
JOHN LOCKE • The 16th and 17th century witnessed the growing rationalization of the world. • There was: – A new calendar – Mechanical clocks – Improved administrative techniques – Inquiries into • Sources and nature of knowledge
JOHN LOCKE • The magnificent cumulative discoveries of the new PHILOSOPHY! • These changes also brought about – New types of schools • Differentiated by grades • With a Curriculum
– However there were some great flaws • Most schools taught by rote • Disciplined with brutality • Most children were still illiterate
JOHN LOCKE • Childhood was still not very much accepted as a step in the life cycle of humanity • It took Locke’s books and over fifty years of consistent pushing by educators like him to bring about the notion that: – Children are humans with rights – Their own rhythm of development – Their own pedagogic needs
JOHN LOCKE • Locke stressed the crucial significance of education for the total physical and psychic development of the human being • Locke stated that 9/10 men are good or evil, useful or not by their education • He was the first to state that the impressions one receives and experiences one has in childhood have very important and lasting tendencies in adulthood
JOHN LOCKE • Locke states that the best thing one can do relative to students is to be kind! • Or as he calls it a gentle application of the hand, as a guide • (Locke, STCE, Section 63)
– These points of view and his conceptions of knowledge demonstrated in his epistemology make Locke the father of the enlightenment in educational thought
JOHN LOCKE • Locke’s pedagogy became popular because his philosophy was popular – Especially his epistemology as seen in • The Essay states – Pedagogically Learning is: » Experience based – Human nature is flexible » Humans are organisms of interacting psychological and physical characteristics » They should be humanely treated and trained in a utilitarian fashion
JOHN LOCKE • Locke was an empiricist – He imported into philosophy the scientific method of: • Isaac Newton
– He was philosophically modest • He was going to: – Inquire into » The origins » Certainty » Extent of human knowledge – Look at the extent as well as the limitations of human knowledge
JOHN LOCKE • He says that he is not writting philosophy at all • Instead he simply states that he is an “under-laborer in clearing ground a little and removing some of the rubbish that lies in the way of knowledge” – (Locke, Introduction, Essay)
JOHN LOCKE • How does he do that? – He wont design a boastful system – He wont design arguments over semantics – He states that knowledge is man related • Man knows by experience rather than dogma • Man knows by observation rather than syllogisms
– The book is by nature didactic • Rule based – But rules based on experience
JOHN LOCKE • The rules suggest that Locke looked at children objectively – Or at least with open eyes
• His educational program was not – A divine pattern or – A moral improbability
• It was a sensible attainable reality
JOHN LOCKE • It aimed at producing: – A civic minded – Well mannered – And soundly informed • English gentleman
• He stated that children understand reasoning early and take pride in being treated as rational creatures
JOHN LOCKE • Locke warns us that when he speaks of reason relative to the child he is speaking of: – Such as is suited to the child’s • Capacity and • Apprehension
– No one should argue with a 3-7 year old as if he/she was a grown-up – Long lectures and philosophical reasoning amaze and confuse but do not instruct children
JOHN LOCKE • Locke believe in showing students pictures to accompany their reading • Education is not confined to formal exercises • It goes on in all transactions between – Adults and children – Children and children
• That is why the Thoughts on Education deal with the child’s total environment
JOHN LOCKE • He encourages children to study • To profit from the art of conversation • Encourages the inculcation of good habits through practice – Do not teach children by rules – Teach them by the empirical practice of the rules • He goes as far as stating that if possible design the scenarios for the experience
JOHN LOCKE • What is important to note is that since children learn by imitation they must be given experiences worth imitating • Man’s nature is receptive and malleable – Especially in early youth
• Locke dedicates the first part of his other book the “Essay Concerning Human Understanding” to an attack on the doctrine of “innate principles”
JOHN LOCKE • Locke believed experience was a perfectly adequate foundation for knowledge • Locke suggested that contemporary theories of knowledge needed to be revised • To “see what objects our understandings were, or were not, fitted to deal with” (Epistle to the Reader, Essay).
JOHN LOCKE • HE BEGINS THE Essay this way: • 'It is an established opinion amongst some men, that there are in the understanding certain innate principles... as it were stamped upon the mind of man; which the soul receives in its very first being, and brings into the world with it... [However, I will show] how men, barely by the use of their natural faculties, may attain to all the knowledge they have, without the help of any innate impressions; and may arrive at certainty, without any such original notions or principles' (Locke, Essay,1:1:1 )
JOHN LOCKE • Locke set the stage for the debate between what are traditionally known as Rationalists and Empiricists as to exactly how we acquire and justify knowledge. • Locke's challenge to (Pure) Rationalists is that if there are innate ideas, then these would surely be known by all, and as such there could be no question as to what truth actually was/is.
JOHN LOCKE • A new approach to grounding and justifying knowledge (or truth) needs to be found. • Locke was also concerned that a belief in the existence of innate principles would make people lazy in their thinking, and more prepared to blindly follow dogmatic teachings without questioning them; something he was vehemently opposed to – ('Truth has been my only aim; and wherever that has appeared to lead, my thoughts have impartially followed, without minding whether the footsteps of any other lay that way or not' (1:3:24)
JOHN LOCKE • In fact, the idea that one should think for themselves in all matters of life is a deep vein running through Locke's philosophical and philosophical writings – ('To break in upon the sanctuary of vanity and ignorance will be, I suppose, some service to human understanding; though so few are apt to think they deceive or are deceived in the use of words' (Epistle to the Reader, Essay)
JOHN LOCKE • The key premise of Locke's argument is that if there are innate rational principles in the mind, then it would simply be the case that everyone would know and agree to them • Locke's argument can be set out in following way: – If there were innate rational principles in the mind from birth, then these would be universal and agreed by all – There are no universal rational principles on which everyone agrees – Therefore, there are no innate rational principles
JOHN LOCKE • Locke is particularly keen to draw attention to the problems raised by the principle of noncontradiction • ('"Whatsoever is, is," and "It is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be"'), (1:1:4). • Locke believes that if there are innate rational principles in the mind, then these would be geographically, culturally and temporally transcending. • In other words, we would find them everywhere we looked in the world.
JOHN LOCKE • THEREFORE: – Everywhere we went, we would expect to find people agreeing on what is the case, • ("Whatsoever is, is")
– and what is not the case, • ('"It is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be"').
• However, the fact that there are differing opinions over a variety of matters is once again evidence to Locke that it cannot easily be argued that there are innate rational principles present in the mind from birth or we would not have disagreement on them.
JOHN LOCKE • Locke is suggesting that if there are innate universal rational principles in the mind from birth, then people would automatically know them. • For example, if the concept of 'triangularity' was in the mind from birth, then children would be born knowing this. • As evidence that they knew this, when faced with a shape-sorter, a child should always put the triangular shape into the triangular hole. • Anytime it failed to do so, this would be evidence to Locke that 'triangularity' was not an innate rational principle in the child's mind
JOHN LOCKE • Furthermore, that children need to be taught to recognize shapes, and taught to put the right shape into the right hole, is why Locke would conclude; – 'If therefore children... have minds, with those impressions upon them, they must unavoidably perceive them, and necessarily know and assent to these truths; which since they do not, it is evident that there are no such impressions' (1:1:5).
• Furthermore, if children are born with knowledge of innate rational principles, then why do they find it difficult to grasp some concepts/ideas? • If they already have knowledge of things such as 'triangularity', then surely they would also know that the missing angle in a right-angled triangle is found using the theorem a2 + b2 = c2
JOHN LOCKE • ASSUMPTION: • The belief that if there are innate rational principles in the mind, then these will always be known • It seems strange to Locke to suggest we have innate knowledge, yet be ignorant of this knowledge, for this begs the question as for what reason we have this knowledge in the first place, if it were not for us to know it (or use it)
JOHN LOCKE • Locke is convinced that people learn to respond to the world in appropriate ways through experience, but also that this is the way God intended us to gain knowledge. • He writes: – 'I imagine anyone will easily grant that it would be impertinent to suppose the ideas of colors innate in a creature to whom God has given sight, and a power to receive them by the eyes from external objects' (1:1:1).
JOHN LOCKE • If it is the case that we have an innate knowledge of color, for what purpose have we been 'given' eyes that are sensitive to receiving colour? • If the mind already knows what colours are, then why do we need colour-sensitive eyes? • Furthermore, the fact that we learn a lot about the world through seeing things, is also an indication to Locke that this is probably the key sensory means by which God intended knowledge to be acquired by us. (INTELIGENT DESIGN?)
JOHN LOCKE • THE PRINCIPLES OF INATE REASONING • The use of reason shows that some principles are innate • When we use reason, this is the first time we become aware of these innate ideas • The fact that all people would agree to certain terms (such as mathematical ones), means they must be universally evident, and therefore innate? • Maybe there are universally innate propositions (first principles) upon which the more specific ideas are based?
JOHN LOCKE • What exactly does innate knowledge constitute? • Locke writes, – 'If propositions be brought to [a child] in words which stand for ideas he has not yet in his mind, to such propositions, however evidently true or false in themselves, he affords neither assent nor dissent, but is ignorant. For words being but empty sounds, any further than they are signs of our ideas, we cannot but assent to them as they correspond to those ideas we have, but no further than that.' (Locke, Essay,1:1:23 )
• In other words, if our understanding of the world is expressed through language, this would mean that anything not able to be expressed by language, would remain unknown to us. • So, in the case of innate knowledge, as far as Locke is concerned it is ridiculous to suggest that we are born with innate knowledge, yet cannot communicate such ideas to either ourselves or other people.
JOHN LOCKE • Locke would agree with Rationalists that innate principles are universal. • However, the fact that there are no universally agreed 'first' principles is evidence to him that the mind is not born with innate knowledge. • In order to draw together his arguments for this, he once again turns to the example of children, whose behaviour is evidence to him that knowledge is something that is acquired through experience, rather than innately known. He writes: – 'The child certainly knows... that the wormseed or mustard it refuses, is not the apple or sugar it cries for: this it is certainly and undoubtedly assured of: but will any one say, it is by virtue of this principle, "That it is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be," that it so firmly assents to these and other parts of its knowledge?' (1:1:25)
JOHN LOCKE • If it was the case that children 'know' (for example) the 'law of non-contradiction', that something good for them cannot at the same time be something bad, then they would also know that something bad cannot at the same time be something good. • Yet the fact that children need to be taught (or learn) what is good and bad for them (in this case, what it is good and bad to eat), is further evidence to Locke that children do not have innate knowledge.
JOHN LOCKE • Even though children may grow to accept what are deemed to be 'universal truths' about the world (such as 2 + 2 = 4), this cannot be taken as evidence for innate knowledge of such principles • The fact that there is no evidence (as far as Locke is concerned) that children are born with innate knowledge of the fundamental principles of reason • That there is no evidence that there are universal truths in the world such that people would always agree that x is true (and therefore non-x is not true at the same time) • That there is no conclusive argument to support the idea that the 'first principles' of reason are present in the mind from birth, leads Locke to conclude – 'And if these "first principles" of knowledge and science are found not to be innate, no other speculative maxims can (I suppose), with better right pretend to be so.' (1:1:28)
JOHN LOCKE • 'Moral principles require reasoning and discourse, and some exercise of the mind, to discover the certainty of their truth.' (1:2:1) • One of the reasons why Locke rejected the theory of innate rational principles is because he believed they can make people lazy in their thinking. • Furthermore, if it is the case that we need put no thought into our beliefs, then we could believe all sorts of things without ever wondering if they are true. • In the case of what people believe to be right and wrong actions, this could lead to all sorts of problems. • Locke also believes that people usually do not act without a good reason to, and that such reasons will (and should) be good enough to show why they ought to a, but not b
JOHN LOCKE • 'It may suffice that these moral rules are capable of demonstration: – and therefore it is our own fault if we come not to a certain knowledge of them.
• But the ignorance wherein many men are of them, and the slowness of assent wherewith others receive them, are manifest proofs that they are not innate, and such as offer themselves to their view without searching.' (1:2:1)
JOHN LOCKE • Locke believed the actions of people are the only real evidence we have with which to judge their internal moral compass – 'I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts' (1:2:3)
• Therefore, that people do not 'outwardly' live according to the same moral code is evidence to him that they do not live according to the same innate universal moral principles – (which he denies the existence of anyway).
JOHN LOCKE • To illustrate this, Locke uses the example of Justice. • One might suggest that 'Justice' is a universally innate moral principle, and that the basis of it is that all people are aware that their actions are in some way accountable. • However, the fact that some people choose to commit crimes shows that not all people must be living according to such a universal principle. • Now it might be suggested that 'criminals' do have an innate sense of 'Justice', but choose to express it differently
JOHN LOCKE • For example, although 'criminals' break the established social law, criminal fraternities do not operate amidst chaos but have their own rules and 'laws'. • So, although criminals may act illegally (according to the social law), they avoid acting unjustly (insofar as they define 'Justice') for fear of retribution within their own 'community'
JOHN LOCKE • Where is that practical truth that is universally received, without doubt or question, as it must be if innate? Justice... • But will any one say, that those that live by fraud or rapine have innate principles of truth and justice which they allow and assent to?' (1:2:2) – Locke rejects outright the idea that those who commit crimes can be considered in any way to be acting 'justly'!
• 'Nature, I confess, has put into man a desire of happiness and an aversion to misery: – these indeed are innate practical principles which (as practical principles ought) do continue constantly to operate and influence all our actions without ceasing: – these may be observed in all persons and all ages, steady and universal; but these are inclinations of the appetite to good, not impressions of truth on the understanding' (1:2:3))?
JOHN LOCKE • Locke does admit that people appear to naturally desire happiness, and avoid misery • But this does not mean they have an innate awareness of what will make them 'happy', or not. • As Locke has already suggested, people require proof (or sound reasons) as to why an action should be considered good or bad