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adventitious ideas

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E pistemology [from Latin ad , to + venire , to come] Descartes 's term for those ideas that we get through senses and that are caused by things existing outside one's mind. Adventitious ideas contrast both to innate ideas and to fictitious ideas. Innate ideas are not obtained by experience, but are carried by the mind from birth. Fictional ideas are created by mind in imagination . Descartes argued that it is impossible for all ideas to be adventitious. In contrast, British empiricists claimed that all ideas can be reduced to adventitious ideas and specifically denied the existence of innate ideas. On their account, all universals result from the operation of mind on the basis of adventitious ideas. The treatment of adventitious and innate ideas became one of the major divergences between rationalism and empiricism. “I marvel indeed at the train of reasoning by which you try to prove that all our ideas are adventitious and none of them constructed by us, saying – because the mind has the power not only of perceiving these very adventitious ideas, but, besides this, of bringing together, dividing, reducing, enlarging, arranging, and everything similar to this.” Descartes, Meditations, Reply to Objection V ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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