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Encyclopedia > Tabula rasa

Tabula rasa (Latin: scraped tablet or clean slate) refers to the epistemological thesis that individual human beings are born with no innate or built-in mental content, in a word, "blank", and that their entire resource of knowledge is built up gradually from their experiences and sensory perceptions of the outside world. A tabula rasa (blank slate) is a philosophical concept. ... For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ...


Generally proponents of the tabula rasa thesis favor the "nurture" side of the nature versus nurture debate, when it comes to aspects of one's personality, social and emotional behavior, and intelligence. The nature versus nurture debates concern the relative importance of an individuals innate qualities (nature) versus personal experiences (nurture) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. ...

Contents

History

In Eastern philosophy, the notion of tabula rasa is not explicitly mentioned, though there are many reasons to consider that it is a much relied upon idea.[citation needed]


In Western philosophy, traces of the idea that came to be called the tabula rasa appear as early as the writings of Aristotle: Western philosophy is a modern claim that there is a line of related philosophical thinking, beginning in ancient Greece (Greek philosophy) and the ancient Near East (the Abrahamic religions), that continues to this day. ... Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ...

What the mind thinks must be in it in the same sense as letters are on a tablet (grammateion) which bears no actual writing (grammenon); this is just what happens in the case of the mind. (Aristotle, On the Soul, 3.4.430a1). On the Soul (or De Anima) is a writing by Aristotle, outlining his philosophical views on the nature of living things. ...

Aristotle writes of the unscribed tablet in what is probably the first textbook of psychology in the Western canon, his treatise Περι Ψυχης (De Anima or On the Soul). However, besides some arguments by the Stoics and Peripatetics, the Aristotelian notion of the mind as a blank slate went much unnoticed for nearly 1800 years. Aristotle (Greek: AristotélÄ“s) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... Psychology (from Greek: Literally knowledge of the soul (mind)) is both an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. ... The Western canon is a canon of books and art (and specifically one with very loose boundaries) that has allegedly been highly influential in shaping Western culture. ... Stoicism is a school of philosophy commonly associated with such Greek philosophers as Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus and with such later Romans as Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. ... Peripatetic (περιπατητικός) is the name given to followers of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher. ...

But the human intellect, which is the lowest in the order of intellects and the most removed from the perfection of the Divine intellect, is in potency with regard to things intelligible, and is at first "like a clean tablet on which nothing is written", as the Philosopher [Aristotle] says. (Aquinas, Summa Theologica 1.79.2). Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 - March 7, 1274) was a Catholic philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, who gave birth to the Thomistic school of philosophy, which was long the primary philosophical approach of the Roman Catholic Church. ... Summa theologiae, Pars secunda, prima pars. ...

In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas brought the Aristotelian notion back to the forefront of modern thought. This notion sharply contrasted with the previously held Platonic notions of the human mind as an entity that pre-existed somewhere in the heavens, before being sent down to join a body here on Earth (see Plato's Phaedo and Apology, as well as others). St. Bonaventure (also 13th century) was one of Aquinas' fiercest intellectual opponents, offering some of the strongest arguments towards the Platonic idea of the mind. Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 - March 7, 1274) was a Catholic philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, who gave birth to the Thomistic school of philosophy, which was long the primary philosophical approach of the Roman Catholic Church. ... Platonic idealism is the theory that the substantive reality around us is only a reflection of a higher truth. ... It has been suggested that Phaidon be merged into this article or section. ... Saint Bonaventura, John of Fidanza, Franciscan theologian, was born in 1221 at Bagnarea in Tuscany. ...


Aquinas's writings on the tabula rasa theory stood untested and unprogressed for several centuries. In fact, our modern idea of the theory is mostly attributed to John Locke's expression of the idea in the 17th century. In Locke's philosophy, tabula rasa was the theory that the (human) mind is at birth a "blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences. The notion is central to Lockean empiricism. As understood by Locke, tabula rasa meant that the mind of the individual was born "blank", and it also emphasized the individual's freedom to author his or her own soul. Each individual was free to define the content of his or her character - but his or her basic identity as a member of the human species cannot be so altered. It is from this presumption of a free, self-authored mind combined with an immutable human nature that the Lockean doctrine of "natural" rights derives. For other persons named John Locke, see John Locke (disambiguation). ... Senses are the physiological methods of perception. ... In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas. ... For other uses, see Soul (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Mind (disambiguation). ...


Tabula Rasa is also featured in Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis. Freud depicted personality traits as being formed by family dynamics (see Oedipus complex, etc.). Freud's theories show that one can downplay genetic and congenital influences on human personality without advocating free will. In psychosanalysis, one is largely determined by one's upbringing. Sigmund Freud (IPA: ), born Sigismund Schlomo Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939), was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. ... pychoanalysis today comprises several interlocking theories concerning the functioning of the mind; the term also refers to a specific type of treatment where the analyst, upon hearing the thoughts of the analysand (analytic patient), formulates and then explains the unconscious bases for the patients symptoms and character problems. ... The Oedipus complex in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to a stage of psychosexual development in childhood where children of both sexes regard their father as an adversary and competitor for the exclusive love of their mother. ...


The tabula rasa concept became popular in social sciences in the 20th century. Eugenics (mainstream in the late 19th and early 20th centuries) came to be seen not as a sound policy but as a crime. The idea that genes (or simply "blood") determined character took on racist overtones. By the 70s, some scientists had come to see gender identity as socially constructed rather than rooted in genetics (see John Money), a concept still current (see Anne Fausto-Sterling). This swing of the pendulum accompanied suspicion of innate differences in general (see racism) and a propensity to "manage" society, where the real power must be if people are born blank.[original research?] John William Money, Ph. ... Anne Fausto-Sterling, Ph. ... This box:      Racism has many definitions, the most common and widely accepted is that members of one race are intrinsically superior or inferior to members of other races. ...


In the last few decades, twin studies, studies of adopted children, and the David Reimer case have demonstrated genetic influence on (if not strict determination of) personal characteristics, such as IQ, alcoholism, gender identity, and other traits.[1] Twin study - Wikipedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... For other uses, see Adoption (disambiguation). ... David Reimer (August 22, 1965 – May 4, 2004) was a Canadian man who was born as a healthy boy, but was sexually reassigned and raised as female after his penis was inadvertently destroyed during circumcision. ... IQ redirects here; for other uses of that term, see IQ (disambiguation). ... Alcoholism is the consumption of, or preoccupation with, alcoholic beverages to the extent that this behavior interferes with the drinkers normal personal, family, social, or work life, and may lead to physical or mental harm. ...


Science

Computer science

In computer science, tabula rasa refers to the development of autonomous agents which are provided with a mechanism to reason and plan toward their goal, but no "built-in" knowledge-base of their environment. They are thus truly a "blank slate". Computer science, or computing science, is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their implementation and application in computer systems. ...


In reality autonomous agents are provided with an initial data-set or knowledge-base, but this should not be immutable or it will hamper autonomy and heuristic ability. Even if the data-set is empty, it can usually be argued that there is an in-built bias in the reasoning and planning mechanisms. Either intentionally or unintentionally placed there by the human designer, it thus negates the true spirit of tabula rasa. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Psychology and neurobiology

Main article: Nature versus nurture

Generally scientists now recognize that the entire brain is indeed preprogrammed and organized in order to process sensory input, motor control, emotions, and natural responses. These preprogrammed parts of the brain then learn and refine their ability to perform their tasks.[2][3] For example, the brain is "programmed" to pick up spoken language easily. It is not programmed to learn to read and write, and a human generally will not spontaneously learn to do so.[4] The nature versus nurture debates concern the relative importance of an individuals innate qualities (nature) versus personal experiences (nurture) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. ... For other uses, see Brain (disambiguation). ...


Politics

Generally speaking, one can never decide whether a theory is true or not simply by examining what political or philosophical implications it might have. Nevertheless, some have been attracted to, or repulsed by, the notion of the "blank slate" for such reasons. On the one hand, the theory of a "blank slate" is attractive to some since it supposes that drastic innate mental differences between normal human beings do not and cannot exist; therefore, making racism and sexism illogical. On the other hand, the theory means there are no inherent limits to how society can shape human psychology. The opposing view, that human nature is primarily influenced by genetics, can be seen as a step toward controversial social engineering such as eugenics. Nature is innate behavior (behavior not learned or influenced by the environment), character or essence, especially of a human. ... This box:      Racism has many definitions, the most common and widely accepted is that members of one race are intrinsically superior or inferior to members of other races. ... This box:      The sign of the headquarters of the National Association Opposed To Woman Suffrage Sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination and/or hatred against people based on their sex rather than their individual merits, but can also refer to any and all systemic differentiations based on the sex... Social engineering has several meanings: Social engineering (political science) Social engineering (computer security) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Eugenics is the self-direction of human evolution: Logo from the Second International Congress of Eugenics, 1921, depicting it as a tree which unites a variety of different fields. ...


Architecture

In discussions of architecture since the 1950s, the term tabula rasa has been used in arguments against what were criticized as insensitive design strategies employed by a monolithic Modern Movement, brought to the United States from Europe by emigrés like Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. Entirely separated from its Aristotelean or Lockean meaning, the tabula rasa in architecture signifies the utopian blank slate on which a new building is conceived, free of compromise or complication after the demolition of what previously stood on the site. Le Corbusier's Plan Voisin, which proposed the demolition of a large area of central Paris and the construction of a new city with vast open spaces and tall towers, provides a good example of what was associated with the term tabula rasa in the architectural discourse. This article focuses on the cultural movement labeled modernism or the modern movement. See also: Modernism (Roman Catholicism) or Modernist Christianity; Modernismo for specific art movement(s) in Spain and Catalonia. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... Walter Adolph Georg Gropius (May 18, 1883 – July 5, 1969) was a German architect and founder of Bauhaus. ... Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies) (March 27, 1886 - August 17, 1969) was an architect and designer. ... Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, who chose to be known as Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887 – August 27, 1965), was a Swiss-born architect and writer, who is famous for his contributions to what now is called Modern Architecture. ... This article is about the capital of France. ...


Paradoxically, and because of misunderstandings, the tabula rasa may be associated in architectural circles with ideas about Cartesian space and the Cartesian subject rather than with the term's use by Locke. In mathematics, n-dimensional Euclidean space (also called Cartesian space or n-space) refers to the space of ordered n-tuples of real numbers along with the associated operations of component-wise addition and scalar multiplication which make it into a vector space, and the dot product which makes it... Locke is a common Western surname of English origin: John Locke, an English Enlightenment philosopher. ...


References

  1. ^ Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate. New York: Penguin. 2002.
  2. ^ "The neocortical microcircuit as a tabula rasa.", Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A., Jan 18, 2005. 
  3. ^ "Spontaneous and evoked synaptic rewiring in the neonatal neocortex.", Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A., Aug 29, 2006. 
  4. ^ Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate. New York: Penguin. 2002.
  • Locke, John, "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding", Kenneth P. Winkler (ed.), pp. 33–36, Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis, IN, 1996.

Steven Pinker Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a prominent Canadian-born American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and popular science writer known for his spirited and wide-ranging advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. ... The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature is a 2002 book (published by Penguin Putnam, ISBN 0670031518) by Steven Pinker arguing against tabula rasa models of psychology, claiming that the human mind is shaped by evolutionary psychological adaptations. ... Steven Pinker Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a prominent Canadian-born American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and popular science writer known for his spirited and wide-ranging advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. ... The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature is a 2002 book (published by Penguin Putnam, ISBN 0670031518) by Steven Pinker arguing against tabula rasa models of psychology, claiming that the human mind is shaped by evolutionary psychological adaptations. ... Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... On the Soul (or De Anima) is a writing by Aristotle, outlining his philosophical views on the nature of living things. ... The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books, today published by the Harvard University Press, which present important works of ancient Greek and Latin Literature in a way designed to make the text accessible to the broadest possible audience, by presenting the original Greek or Latin text on each... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas, O.P.(also Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino; c. ... Summa theologiae, Pars secunda, prima pars. ... Robert Maynard Hutchins (January 17, 1899, Brooklyn, New York - May 17, 1977, Santa Barbara, California) was a philosopher. ... The Great Books Great Books of the Western World is a series of books originally published in the United States in 1952 by Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. ... For other persons named John Locke, see John Locke (disambiguation). ...

See also

Related topics

In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas. ... For other uses, see Human nature (disambiguation). ... Innatism is a philosophical doctrine introduced by Plato in the socratic dialogue Meno which holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a tabula rasa at birth. ... The nature versus nurture debates concern the relative importance of an individuals innate qualities (nature) versus personal experiences (nurture) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. ... In the field of psychology, nativism is the view that certain skills or abilities are native or hard wired into the brain at birth. ... In epistemology and in its broadest sense, rationalism is any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification (Lacey 286). ...

Related works


  Results from FactBites:
 
Tabula rasa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1134 words)
Tabula rasa (Latin: scraped tablet or clean slate) refers to the epistemological thesis that individual human beings are born with no innate or built-in mental content, in a word, "blank", and that their entire resource of knowledge is built up gradually from their experiences and sensory perceptions of the outside world.
In Locke's philosophy, tabula rasa was the theory that the (human) mind is at birth a "clean slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences.
As understood by Locke, tabula rasa meant that the mind of the individual was born "blank", and it also emphasized the individual's freedom to author his or her own soul.
GameShark | Previews | Tabula Rasa E3 Preview (967 words)
The creatures in Tabula Rasa are each diverse in their own strengths and attacks and the player will need to use the right weapons and spells on each enemy, depending on what their weaknesses are.
Tabula Rasa also features a fully integrated built-in voice communication system that allows players to talk to each other and coordinate their efforts on the battle field.
With everything Tabula Rasa has going for it, the nonstop action, the weapons and spells, the incredible enemies and simplified menu interaction, this is sure to be the next addictive MMORPG to steal the hours upon hours of our lives when it is eventually released.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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