John Locke's Theory

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John Locke's Theory

John Locke's Theory


John Locke (1632-1704) is best known for his theory of the mind as a blank tablet, or tabula rasa. By this, Locke meant that environment and experience literally form the mind. According to Locke, development comes from the stimulation children receive from parents and caregivers and through experiences they have in their environment. The principle of tabula rasa, also referred to as the “blank slate” or “white paper” thesis, states that human consciousness is constructed exclusively within the context of what is learned in the social environment. This principle is based upon the thinking and writings of John Locke, who stated that the mind is like a blank slate. Locke argued that the contents of the mind are written on it by experience, as if written on a piece of white paper. This paper discusses how John Locke's theory of each child starts as a blank slate is still used today and how it can still be felt in child development.

Thesis Statement

John Locke's theory of each child starts as a blank slate is still used today particularly when discussing one's intelligence, emotional & social behaviour, and personality.


The tabula rasa thesis arose in direct opposition to arguments that link social behavior to human nature. Such arguments assume that all humans possess certain fundamental behavioral proclivities and that these behavioral tendencies are present within individuals from birth. The principle of tabula rasa rejects the notion that behavioral tendencies exist at any innate level. However, while the tabula rasa thesis does not negate the existence of behavioral tendencies, such tendencies are explained solely within the context of environmental learning and experience. The controversy arising from these divergent currents of social thought has been referred to as the nature versus nurture debate. (Chappell 2005)

John Locke's theory that each child starts as a blank slate (Tabula Rasa) rejects the claim that persons have inborn ideas. This notion gives birth to the great “Nature versus Nuurture” debate. Supporters of the “Tabula Rasa” thesis support the "nurture" part of the “nature versus nurture” debate.

In the letters Locke expressed his vision of human nature and moral virtue, a program of a suitable curriculum and teaching method, and he shows how significant the education and family are for the political state.Locke did not support the Christian notion of Adam's fall that meant that children were born depraved because of the taint of original sin. He believed in the child's potential and his educational thoughts emphasize the heart as well as the mind, feeling as well as philosophy. The first goal of education is to get the child to recognize that learning is enjoyable and can even be a passion. (Moshman 1999)

Most individuals can be trained, with a greater or lesser facility, for many or most of the occupations and roles that a given culture requires to be filled. Almost everybody could become, if properly brought up, a fairly competent farmer, craftsman, soldier, sailor, teacher, or ...
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