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John Locke’s Tabula Rasa vs. Innatism

Today, people face multiple situations when their rights and freedoms are compromised by existing societal norms and regulations. In philosophy and social sciences, many theories explain human interactions and classify behaviors as per different criteria. One of the most common debates is developed between John Locke’s tabula rasa theory and innatism, introduced by Descartes and Chomsky. On the one hand, innate ideas are supported because it is possible people are born with some qualities and skills. On the other hand, the absence of needs should be explained, and Locke’s approach to achieving knowledge has certain benefits. Both theories affect an understanding of the free will and determine human feelings in conflicting situations. Despite the existing benefits and shortages of tabula rasa and innatism, I would like to agree with the former approach as it does not diminish free will and allows fair decision-making and development.

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I want to say why I prefer to choose the theory ellaborated by Locke in the 17th century. The philosopher tried to reject the presence of original sin in the system and offered a person to be born with a blank slate, promoting the desire for independence from deep-rooted values and norms (Rekret, 2018). I do not like that people use the concept of being conceived and born in sin to explain physiological or mental health problems in children. I accept as true that every individual is born free from other family members’ mistakes and has to take certain stages of development to create their own destiny and life. Thus, Locke’s theory is more appealing to my beliefs and social position. Any child needs the adult’s control, examples of discipline, and opportunities to acquire knowledge and maintain development (Rekret, 2018). If a person believes in the innate idea of human existence, fewer efforts could be made, and more decisions would be randomly made on spec, diminishing the worth of free will. Instead of thinking that some qualities are predetermined, independence and freedom should be equally available for all people.

In my life, there were many situations when my skills were compromised by obstacles related to innate ideas. For example, when I went to school, several teachers saw me as a son of a great hockey player who succeeded in sports and had good physical qualities. They offered me a place in a team without even asking if I wanted this opportunity. In fact, they questioned my free will by hiding other options and limiting my development in one direction. I remembered Locke’s tabula rasa and found it normal to continue my skills in poetry. I was good at hockey, but my writing also raised my interest. Thus, I decided to resolve the differences between what was expected and what I could do. I divided my free time, with enough attention to both hobbies. However, I was not ready to make a choice, which created a conflicting situation and feeling about my activities. I think that people, in general, do not need to make fast decisions relying on innatism without observations. It is hard to notice conflicting feelings, and the task of educators is not to support, not impose.

In general, despite the existing social situations and people’s attitudes toward innate and acquired skills, it is always necessary to remember that it is preferred to do what is liked and interesting. When people are bound to some qualities, some events, or some family members, they are not able to understand what they can or want to do in reality. Thus, Locke’s theory is the best to increase free will and promote it in most decision-making, problem-solving, and communication processes.


Rekret, P. (2018). The posthumanist tabula rasa. Research in Education, 101(1), 25-29. Web.

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