Extended essay 2009

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So the preliminary question is this: Why should we think that bosom-burning is a reliable way of determining truth? We can’t use bosom-burning to answer this question, because that would just beg the question (. assume precisely what it is we are trying to determine). The evidence suggests that bosom-burning is affected greatly by the power of suggestion. When Mormons come to the door and suggest bosom-burning as a means of determining whether Mormonism is true, a higher percentage of persons will bosom-burn in the Mormon direction. But when other sects come to the door and use the same method (even if not the same terminology), a higher percentage of person will ‘feel led by God’ to join those other [non-Mormon] sects. All this implies that the method itself is a not a reliable way of determining truth, but is a psychological tool to get people to follow their own feelings while making them believe that it is not their own feelings that they are following but the leading of the Spirit. (They don’t stop to ask, “If this were just my feelings, and not the Spirit, how would I know?” They can’t answer that question, because the method prevents the person using it from discovering his error.)

What we read of the Great Terror also distracts us from its true nature. The great novel and the great memoir are Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and Alexander Weissberg’s The Accused . Both focus our attention on a small group of Stalin’s victims, urban Communist leaders, educated people, sometimes known in the West. This image dominates our understanding of the Great Terror, but it is incorrect. Taken together, purges of Communist Party elites, the security police, and military officers claimed not more than 47,737 lives.

Locke attacks both the view that we have any innate principles (for example, the whole is greater than the part, do unto others as you would have done unto you, etc.) as well as the view that there are any innate singular ideas (for example, God, identity, substance,  and so forth). The main thrust of Locke’s argument lies in pointing out that none of the mental content alleged to be innate is universally shared by all humans. He notes that children and the mentally disabled, for example, do not have in their minds an allegedly innate complex thought like “equals taken from equals leave equals”. He also uses evidence from travel literature to point out that many non-Europeans deny what were taken to be innate moral maxims and that some groups even lack the idea of a God. Locke takes the fact that not all humans have these ideas as evidence that they were not implanted by God in humans minds, and that they are therefore acquired rather than innate.

Extended essay 2009

extended essay 2009

Locke attacks both the view that we have any innate principles (for example, the whole is greater than the part, do unto others as you would have done unto you, etc.) as well as the view that there are any innate singular ideas (for example, God, identity, substance,  and so forth). The main thrust of Locke’s argument lies in pointing out that none of the mental content alleged to be innate is universally shared by all humans. He notes that children and the mentally disabled, for example, do not have in their minds an allegedly innate complex thought like “equals taken from equals leave equals”. He also uses evidence from travel literature to point out that many non-Europeans deny what were taken to be innate moral maxims and that some groups even lack the idea of a God. Locke takes the fact that not all humans have these ideas as evidence that they were not implanted by God in humans minds, and that they are therefore acquired rather than innate.

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