Tuesday, August 6, 2019

A Critique on the Blank Slate Essay Example for Free

A Critique on the Blank Slate Essay There are three doctrines which have attained sacred status in modern intellectual life. The Blank Slate, a loose translation of the medieval Latin term tabula rasa, scraped tablet, commonly attributed to John Locke which delves into the opposing of political status quos and social arrangements, stating mainly that the mind is like a sheet of white paper void of all characters and ideas, furnished with words through experience; it denounced the differences seen among races, including the institution of slavery as slaves could no longer be thought of as innately inferior, ethnic groups, sexes and individuals for the differences come not from the innate constitution but from the differences in the experiences. It is indeed fitting to think of the mind that way as the mind is like a blank sheet of paper filled only through experience. Yet it is safe to say that not only experience that can fill it but also preconceptions and expectations of the society. Another doctrine is The Noble Savage, commonly attributed to philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, inspired by the European colonists’ discovery of the indigenous in the New World; it stated the belief that savages were solitary, without ties of love or loyalty and without any industry or art. It also captures the belief that humans in their natural state are selfless, peaceable and untroubled and that negative emotions such as greed and jealousy are products of civilization, a concept which debased Thomas Hobbes’ belief that man is naturally cruel and requires a regular system of police to be resolved. Looking at it from a personal angle, I would say that I quite agree with Hobbes only on one aspect: man is naturally cruel; if he isn’t, then how is it that our history has been tainted with the blood of millions of people who have died because of a single man who could not rein his malice, i.e. Hitler. Even in our everyday life, we manage to impress upon other peopl e our evil nature, even if in a simple way. But that does not mean that we need to surrender our lives to leviathan control for I believe that we can change our nature, no matter how far back we may seem. As the last doctrine states, we are not merely machines with gears and springs, we are our minds and thus we have the ability to think and choose our own decisions. The last doctrine, attributed to Rene Descartes, is perhaps the most ingenious of all: The Ghost in the Machine. Our mind exists because we know how to think and the very act of doing so proves it. Our bodies’ existence however may be doubted for we may simply be immaterial spirits who merely daydream that we are incarnate. Add to that a moral bonus: the belief that the mind is a different kind of thing from the body. And what makes it truly intriguing is the fact that philosophers argue as to when the ghost enters the body, during the start of the fertilization when the sperm cell fertilizes the egg cell and creates the zygote or when it has become a fetus ready to be borne into the world. Certainly it is an argument comparable to the question, â€Å"Which came first, the chicken or the egg?† Philosophically answering the question would pertain to another question, â€Å"what is meant by ‘came first’?† as all philosophical questions go. These doctrines have so shaped the world that it has left fingerprints, from Walt Disney to the former president of the United States, George W. Bush. And even for a simple student like me who has recently come across the subject, I can say that I have already thought of such concepts even without reading it before, or at least I have thought about the idea of the Noble Savage and the Blank Slate. Yet as I read the concept of the Ghost in the Machine, I was very much in awe for I have never, in my whole sixteen years of existence, thought of such a thing. And what really appeals to me is the fact that Descartes claims that we are our minds and that our body may merely be an image we have formed as immaterial b eings. Even Buddha thought so, stating that â€Å"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think†¦Ã¢â‚¬  I have long doubted the ideas of ghosts and reading of such a concept, especially in a subject such as this, makes me wonder how the philosopher conceived such an idea. Thinking of it gives me shivers as it implies that we are beings far greater than we imagined. And as good as it may sound, I think it appeals to man’s egotistic nature; we as humans who have done things, good and evil, try to look for a sound explanation to ease our consciences. I cannot say that the idea does not appeal to me yet I cannot also say that I do agree with it; on the other hand, of the three doctrines, I agree the most with the doctrine of The Noble Savage. I do believe that in our true nature, we are savages but that does not mean that we did not know how to control ourselves; indeed it would seem that the Native Americans, the specific race of people that the Europeans based the doctrine of The Noble Savage on, had a better society than we did: they were less barbaric, no employment problems and substance abuse, even crime was nearly nonexistent. And even if there were hard times, life was definitely stable and predictable. And yet that in itself was the reason why man chose to come out of his â€Å"savage† nature; he wanted adventure, twist and turns in his life; he wanted to feel the thrill of living. There is nothing wrong with that but for every choice there is a price to pay and the price we paid was high even if it remains to be seen whether it was worth it or not. However that is not enough reason to turn over our free will to an autonomous control; doing so would merely undermine the choices we have made for our civilization. Besides, our lives are meant to be lived fully and whatever choices we make, we must stand by it and see it to the end. Our mind, no matter how it started or whatever way it really is, is a tool for us to live our lives as we see fit. We must learn to harness our true potential to make sure that whatever choices we make would produce positive ripples that would be felt in the distant future to help the coming generations. As Plutarch said, â€Å"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.†

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