Table of Contents
Significance of the Study
Objective of the Study
Delimitation of the Study
Background of the Study
Significance of the Study
This will help the readers to better understand John Locke’s philosophy of knowledge and the Filipinos’ social and religious dimensions. In the philosophy of knowledge, they will be able to know where knowledge comes from. They will know how it is acquired. Likewise, they will see how it is being formed out of ideas and its formation process. Then they will come to realize its truthfulness and validity.
In the social dimension, the readers will be moved by their humility. They will learn how Filipinos relate themselves to each other. They will love the Filipinos more than they do after reading this. On the other hand, the readers will also love their own God more than they do when they discover the Filipinos’ fidelity. They will be thinking that these people are holy and so worthy of respect.
Finally the readers will see the connection between Locke’s philosophy of knowledge and that of the Filipinos’ two dimensions. They will also find out how it is made possible. They will be able to examine themselves the strongest and weakest points of this matter. But their decision will still be to appreciate this kind of work. Then they will acknowledge the researcher for having shared his brilliant knowledge.
Objective of the Study
The researcher exerts every possible effort to make this paper worthy of consideration. Its primary objectives are (1) to introduce John Locke’s life and his philosophy of knowledge, (2) to explain the Filipinos' social and religious dimensions, and (3) to understand that philosophy of knowledge through these dimensions. Also, this paper aims much to developing awareness of the Filipino people to Locke’s philosophy of knowledge.
Made critically, the readers are also expected to be critical in treating the matter. It would be helpful if they have some background of Locke’s other philosophies. For that would be precisely needed in order to comprehend the flow of his thought.
Delimitation of the Study
This paper focuses mainly on John Locke’s philosophy of knowledge and the Filipinos’ social and religious dimensions. Whereas some supplemental informations are carefully sought for the readers to fully grasp the whole context. In dealing with the philosophy of knowledge, the researcher goes deep down towards its solid foundation. He takes it up and examines the strongest point. In the social and religious dimensions, he generalizes the Filipinos’ ideals to correspond closely with Locke’s.
In addition, the readers should note that this work is limited to Locke’s philosophy of knowledge in line of the Filipinos’ social and religious living. Therefore it is very limited in going over to the opposite direction. Anything contained in this paper is a product of insightful enquiry done objectively. However, it is explained in a positive approach and in plain words.
Background of the Study
Experience stands as the keyword of John Locke’s philosophy of knowledge. It generates all knowledge that comes into our minds. Thus a man who lacks experience lacks knowledge as well. But what is Locke’s view concerning knowledge? According to him it is “the perception of the connection of and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our ideas.”[a] This means that knowledge is formed after a series of ideas the senses acquire.
When a child hears somebody calling his name for the first time, he does not gain any knowledge of it yet. He will not even understand what that word is. But he will gain some ideas on it. Every time the child will hear that name mentioned to him repeatedly by the people his previous ideas on it will be added. Until such time he will realize that it is his name. The child, then, obtains knowledge about his name after the working of the mind on the ideas perceived by the child.
“Our ideas enter single file into our minds, but once they are inside they can become related to each other in many ways. Some of the relations our ideas have to each other depend upon the objects we experience. At other times our imagination can rearrange our simple and complex ideas to suit our fancy. Whether our knowledge is fanciful or valid depends upon our perception of the relationships of our ideas to each other.”[b] Consequently, human knowledge does not come into our minds directly. It is the result of the processes called comparing, contrasting, confirming, and reasoning done within the mind.
These processes signify the important factors in acquiring knowledge. Hence ideas which incompletely pass any of these processes shall be considered as false or invalid. The first process is called comparing. In this process the mind compares every similar idea which the senses have acquired. It will somehow look for any support from its existing knowledge. Then it will determine which ideas correspond to each other. Yet not all corresponding ideas are compatible with each other in all degrees, so another process follows.
The second, the contrasting process, refines every corresponding idea passed on by the comparing process. It will split out every corresponding idea to evaluate each substantial element. But simultaneously seeking for incompatibility in every corresponding idea. In the end this process will join each corresponding idea back together and will simply call it idea. Then it will make the idea ready for another process. But a corresponding idea is rejected at this time to proceed to the next stage if any incompatibility arises. Incompatibility consists in being lack of experience or because of some abnormalities on the senses.
Next is the confirming process. As the third process it polishes the idea thoroughly before it confirms and readies for the final stage. By polishing the idea it has to be supported with the existing knowledge and with other ideas which are stuck in this process. Because although it has undergone the contrasting process this does not mean it has all the chances to pass this stage. For not every compatible and corresponding idea is already smooth and shiny.
After its confirmation the idea will proceed along the judgment and argumentation stage which is the reasoning process. In this last process the mind judges the idea if it is reasonable enough to be recognized as knowledge. An argumentation will be conducted by the intellect, a moment to argue about the truthfulness and validity of the idea and to question its strength and weakness. For “without these, there would be no interaction, and there would be no differentiation of things into the variety of things that we experience.”[c] Finally, the idea will be established as knowledge if proven to be valid and true. It should be noted, however, that all pending ideas can go down to the first process to look for any support and can go up to where they stop.
Now an illustration of these processes would be of great importance.
Let us suppose I perceive beings walking: man, dog, chicken, cow, etc. And suppose we focus on man. (I already have knowledge that man will eat, move, and go to bed.) I see an old man inside a long rectangular box for the first time. (I do not yet have any knowledge why the man is there. I neither have any knowledge of other dead being nor any idea of it.)
Now I have an idea. He is sleeping but not breathing perhaps because he is inside of a close box, but he is not also moving. Then somebody tells me he is dead. But what is ‘dead’? My mind works very fast, looking for some support from my existing knowledge. But I do not have any existing knowledge about it.
The next day I see a dog hit by a car. Filled with blood, it does not move and suddenly stops breathing. Then somebody tells me it is dead. It is the same to what happened on the previous day about the man. They are the same. They neither move nor breathe. The only difference is that the dog is hit and bloody.
Then my mind starts comparing the two ideas. Both are similar and corresponding to each other. So the two ideas join together and proceed to the second process. My mind splits it out and detects incompatibility on it. It seeks for support from my existing knowledge and some ideas but finds none. So it remains in the contrasting process.
The next day I see someone killing a chicken. Blood flows and it moves for a while and stops. Then he says it is dead. My previous ideas about ‘dead’ are added. They are all similar so they join together and proceed to the second process but fail due to incompatibility – man, dog, chicken. Then I reflect upon these ideas and ask that if a man becomes like that, will all men also become like that? Why? When? How? The man is not hit, but dies; the man is not killed, but dies.
The next day I see a man stabbed by another man. The wounded man, bathing with his own blood, falls on the ground and does not move or breathe. Somebody says he is dead. With that, another idea enters into my mind. There are already four ‘dead’ ideas in my mind and they join into one then proceed to the second process.
It is compatible and corresponding idea so it continues to the third process. But it is declared unpolished yet. True, I have the idea that man can be killed and will die in his old age. I also have acquired idea through reflection that man could also be hit and die. But it is not strong enough for I have not yet seen such situation.
Luckily at the distance I see a man accidentally hit by a car and dies right away. So another new process is begun till it reaches the last stage. But it is judged and argued to be unreasonable. For the idea comprises of three ‘dead human beings’ and two ‘dead animals’. Therefore the idea disjoins and the three ideas about ‘dead man’ rejoin. In the last process this idea ‘dead man’ finds support from the ideas about dead animals.
At the reasoning process the mind judges that man will die in his old age, will die if killed, and will die if hit by a car as what the idea suggests. Also, a dead man will neither move nor breathe as what the idea suggests. But the mind also argues that in some other ways a man will die as what its thousands of pending ideas suggest. But this illustration does not end here. For this new knowledge I have just acquired can be a great support to other upcoming ideas.
Like, suppose I see a man jumps from a building and dies. So I get another idea about a ‘dead’ man again. But yet it must have at least one companion similar to proceed to the second process. Suppose it finds the idea ‘dead bird’ which I happen also to have an existing knowledge about birds. So they correspond to each other immediately and join as one. With the support of the existing knowledge the mind will see compatibility on it. But then it will be confirmed and proven not as a new knowledge but as an addition to the existing knowledge.
Thus the process of acquiring knowledge is faster if the subject has an existing knowledge of the idea acquired. Most importantly if the subject has lots of experiences in life. Since this is what Locke learnt when he “set out to enquire into the origin, certainty, and extent of human knowledge.”[d] “His conclusion was that knowledge is restricted to ideas… that are generated by objects we experience.”[e] Further, he clarifies that “the mind is a tabula rasa or blank sheet until experience in the form of sensation and reflection provide the basic materials — simple ideas — out of which most of our more complex knowledge is constructed.”[f]
With regard to his philosophy of knowledge, Locke has illuminated the Filipinos’ own history of thought. For them he is a man who makes their understanding about acquiring knowledge firm, especially in their life’s social and religious dimensions. It is in these dimensions that they have kept the cultures and traditions of their forebears. In spite of the changing world and the test of environment, they still hold fast to the experiences they have encountered. As a loving and God-fearing people, they always tend to do good things to others minding that they are all in one big happy family. This concept of the Filipinos’ social and religious dimensions shows Locke the definitive value of his teaching – a teaching which proves the truthfulness and validity of Filipino knowledge.
[a] Samuel Enoch Stumpf, Socrates to Sartre, A History of Philosophy (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1999), p. 252.
[c] Claro R. Ceniza, Thought, Necessity and Existence, Metaphysics and Epistemology for Lay Philosophers (Manila: De La Salle University Press, 2001), p. 113.
[d] Samuel Enoch Stumpf, Socrates to Sartre, A History of Philosophy (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1999), p. 248.
[f] William Uzgalis, “John Locke,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/#BooII (March 7, 2016).