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Power of Ideas: Philosophical Theories

Rene Descartes’ argument

Rene Descartes proposed a novel way of acquiring knowledge through the use of his “doubting methodology” (Moore & Bruder, 2008). He said that skepticism enabled him to know the truth. The doubting methodology was comprised of the dream conjecture and the evil demon conjecture. It is possible to perceive the world through a dream or through the influence of a demon. Descartes asserted that in order to ascertain truth he needed a “distinct criterion” framework. His “distinct criterion” framework enabled him to ascertain two things: the existence of God and the existence of self.

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Hobbes’ view

Hobbes asserted that everything is reducible to physical objects in motion. He said that perception is the reaction to the impact of external motion on a body. Thus, people have the capability to express these perceptions through speech or sign languages. However, Hobbes failed to explain the root cause of the forces that acted on people. As a result, Hobbes was unable to refute the idea that human thought originated in the human mind.

John Locke’s Theory of Representative Realism

Locke’s theory provided the intellectual framework to understand the core qualities of an object. A normal human being finds no difficulty in determining the primary qualities of a basketball or a piece of wood. Locke expounded on this theory by stating that objects possess secondary qualities. The problem with his assertion is that people tend to reach consensus when it comes to the physical description of an object if an object is perceivable through sensory perceptions.

Spinoza’s view

Spinoza made the conclusion that free will is an illusion. Spinoza argued that a human being is controlled by his biological or human nature. Thus, people go to work not because they want to work, they are driven by physical needs. Spinoza’s theory is sound when limited to biological functions like the need to sleep or go to the comfort room. However, his theory is inadequate when it comes to activities not related to the biological nature of humans. His theory cannot explain the need of a sports enthusiast to climb Mt. Everest. People do things outside the need to satisfy biological needs.

Anne Conway’s monism

Anne Conway asserted that everything in this world is reducible to a single substance (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 107). Conway pointed out that all substances were created, and these things are utterly dependent on God. Conway revealed that these things are aptly called creatures because they were created by God. She supported her claim by saying that created things have a common denominator, which is an essence that is common to every created thing. As a result, she was able to make the conclusion that every created thing possesses a mental and physical component. However, it was unclear how she arrived at the conclusion that every object has a mental component.

George Berkeley’s view

Berkeley created arguments based on the ideas of John Locke. His major contribution to the study of epistemology was the assertion that human beings have the mind to perceive the world around him. Nevertheless, Berkeley argued that only the mind has the power to perceive things. However, Berkeley went too far when he asserted that nothing exists outside the human mind.

David Hume’s arguments

David Hume questioned the validity of the uniformity of nature argument. This philosopher pointed out that repetition does not automatically guarantee the truth about a particular phenomenon. For example, the repeated display of excellent behavior does not guarantee the same outcome. There are several factors that can affect the quality of the performance. However, Hume did not consider the fact that people can make accurate predictions based on data gleaned from repeated observations.

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Immanuel Kant’s notion of the “noumena” and the phenomenal

Kant echoed the sentiments of Locke and Berkeley when it comes to the human mind’s ability to perceive the outside world. Nevertheless, he disagreed with Hume on the exact methodology needed to distinguish the truth. This philosopher asserted that there is a way to determine facts. Kant argued that people can perceive the truth using the framework called phenomena. Kant also clarified his view by saying that there is information outside the realm of the senses, and these things are perceived through the framework of “noumena” (Moore & Bruder, 2008).

Schopenhauer’s pessimism

Schopenhauer’s pessimism was based on the idea that human beings do not have the moral power to make ethical decisions. In other words, Schopenhauer believed that wickedness is part of human nature. However, he failed to recognize the innocence and purity of children. This purity in children gives people hope. More importantly Schopenhauer did not factor in the contributions made by men and women of great character.

The Best View of Metaphysics or Epistemology

The ideas of Locke, Kant, Berkeley and Hegel paved the way for the modern world. They provided the groundwork for modern psychology. However, each theory they developed contained several flaws. Therefore, it is not possible to make a general conclusion about the primacy of a particular school of thought. The best way to solve the problem is to look at the different ideas that they presented. The next step is to develop a theory that considers the best facet of every theory. At the end, the student must develop a theory that harmonizes different ideas validated through the use of the scientific method and common sense.


Moore, B., & Bruder, K. (2008). The power of ideas. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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