In John Locke's philosophy, Tabula Rasa was the theory that the (human) mind is at birth a 'blank slate' without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences...  As understood by Locke, Tabula Rasa meant that the mind of the individual was born 'blank', and it also emphasized the individual's freedom to author his or her own soul.  Each individual was free to define the content of his or her character - but his or her basic identity, as a member of the human species cannot be so altered.  It is from this presumption of a free, self-authored mind combined with an immutable human nature that the Lockean doctrine of 'natural' rights derives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blank_slate
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3,140 hits Rate me! Share Favorite | Flag 15 years ago by Malletman

Do existing social constructions (affirmative action, the educational system, etc.) rely upon the Tabula Rasa theory as applied to psychology?
In John Locke`s philosophy, Tabula Rasa was the theory that the (human) mind is at birth a `blank slate` without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one`s sensory experiences... As understood by Locke, Tabula Rasa meant that the mind of the individual was born `blank`, and it also emphasized the individual`s freedom to author his or her own soul. Each individual was free to define the content of his or her character - but his or her basic identity, as a member of the human species cannot be so altered. It is from this presumption of a free, self-authored mind combined with an immutable human nature that the Lockean doctrine of `natural` rights derives.

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15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Thursday 3/9/06 - 6:21:40 PM EST (GMT-5)
Yes, that sums up my beliefs exactly.
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Thursday 3/9/06 - 8:01:53 PM EST (GMT-5)
i agree
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Friday 3/10/06 - 3:33:10 PM EST (GMT-5)
If that premise were true, then the "blank mind" would be structured by the organizations, rather than vice versa, and "freedom" would be more limited with each new generation. While this *does* happen (and can be said to be happening now), there are times when the trend reverses itself, and the constructs change to reflect the change in society's perceptions of itself.

But the fact is that Locke, while quite brilliant, was wrong, at least in part. It is slowly becoming clear that the human mind is *not* blank at birth; that some data already is stored in memory and that there are many processing rules already in place. Babies know how to suckle, they can see, they can react to outside stimuli from before birth, in ways that require at least a little more than pure "instinct".

The other problem with Locke is that, if the slate is blank, there is almost *no* chance that the individual can form their own ethical code; it would all be imposed from with

15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Saturday 3/11/06 - 12:19:32 PM EST (GMT-5)
Tabula Rasa-Blank Slate, right? Anyway, I think he's partly right to say that social institutions do shape us as people, this is undeniable.


But in the entire nature vs nurture arguement, the nature side is finding more and more evidence that we are who we are almost at birth, and even extreme circumstances don't take us away from our genetitcally defined selves.


But to answer that question, no, that's not why social constructions exist, they exist to help people, which doesn't really have anything to do with theories of how we learn and become who we are.

15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Sunday 3/12/06 - 2:30:21 PM EST (GMT-5)
On 3/11/2006 12:19:32 PM Aburame wrote:
But to answer that question, no, that's not why social constructions exist, they exist to help people, which doesn't really have anything to do with theories of how we learn and become who we are.

Right; even though people are not identical at birth, the moral incentive to help others is still there.

Now, there IS a flaw that has permeated society as a result of Tabula Rasa, though... Education. It's especially obvious when considering the differences of the sexes: boys are significantly more likely to be diagnosed (and medicated) for learning disabilities. The sheer magnitude of the problem really suggest that the problem's in the system, and not in the kids.

15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Sunday 3/12/06 - 2:32:23 PM EST (GMT-5)
Didn't Newsweek do a whole special on that a few months ago, how boys were failing in school more because of feminist teachers?
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Sunday 3/12/06 - 3:57:06 PM EST (GMT-5)
I wouldn't know... If that's the case, it's horribly depressing a trend.
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Sunday 3/12/06 - 11:46:22 PM EST (GMT-5)
wow too many big words.
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Sunday 3/12/06 - 11:49:44 PM EST (GMT-5)
Those aren't social constructions.

However, AA and the educational system exist to influence results, regardless of where the racism and etc. actually comes from. They're not really excersizes in philosophy.

15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Monday 3/13/06 - 12:42:08 AM EST (GMT-5)
No. Affirmative action, education's seeking to tap into students' "schema," or "background knowledge," and various other areas where social heredity applies stand in contrast to Locke's tabula rasa.
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Monday 3/13/06 - 12:50:51 AM EST (GMT-5)
It's not helping people based on their biological make-up, but on the way that other people perceive them. There is actually about zilch that can biologically file people into race categories that match public opinions.

Race, by the way, is something that would be correctly referred to as a "social construction".

15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Monday 3/13/06 - 4:18:33 AM EST (GMT-5)
Ah, the responses make me feel good. I was expecting more people to panic that people *not* being the same at birth would mean that the ideas would fall apart.
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Monday 3/13/06 - 7:05:15 AM EST (GMT-5)
I'm very confused. Was rufio's last comment directed at me or at the question itself?
What are you saying, Malletman?
For clarification, I think "tabula rasa" is the right approach with which to set expectations of others. It's a positive, "you can do it" kind of philosophy. But to think that everyone is born neutral, free of socio-economic circumstances or that those aren't well in place by the time a child enters kindergarten would be extremely naive.
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Monday 3/13/06 - 10:51:59 PM EST (GMT-5)
It was directed at you, UL. I'm not using the quotes because I think they are rediculous on this site. I already responded to the question with my first post.

Mallet - if we were the same at birth, the whole concept of society and culture would fall apart.

15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Tuesday 3/14/06 - 2:48:37 AM EST (GMT-5)
I know, it's obvious we're not. But people seem to maintain the idea that we are, or else attempts for change are wasted.
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Tuesday 3/14/06 - 2:57:57 PM EST (GMT-5)
The individuum is affected by genetical factors and experience.
Society and culture exist by agreement as result of development of mankind.
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Friday 3/17/06 - 6:35:20 PM EST (GMT-5)
On 3/12/2006 2:32:23 PM Aburame wrote:
Didn't Newsweek do a whole special on that a few months ago, how boys were failing in school more because of feminist teachers?

I have a Newsweek from 2003 with an article titled The New Gender Gap, and I've been seeing more press on the subject recently; 20/20 did a special. The problem isnt feminist teachers. It's the basic fact that boys and girls learn differently. In public schools the model for behavior in class is more condusive to girls brains learing styles. So boys are singled out as undisciplined or labeled with learing disabilities when they are just naturally inclined to take a more chaotic approach to learing. That doesnt indicate a blank slate IMO.

15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Friday 3/17/06 - 6:36:08 PM EST (GMT-5)
*learning
15 yrs ago, 6 mos ago - Saturday 3/18/06 - 12:45:31 AM EST (GMT-5)
Okay, so I keep skipping this question because I really truly don't feel like thinking enough to answer it, but IT KEEPS COMING BACK! Should I just select a trivial answer to make it go away?
15 yrs ago - Monday 8/28/06 - 5:05:57 PM EST (GMT-5)
I remember an experiment done that proved that we are not born with a "blank slate". They took an infant that could barely crawl and set it ontop of a table that was covered by a larger, overhanging, sheet of glass. The infant would crawl to the edge of the table but would not go passed it even though the sheet of glass would support it. The baby was born knowing not to go off the edge of something high up...
14 yrs ago, 9 mos ago - Monday 12/18/06 - 12:33:55 AM EST (GMT-5)
On 3/12/2006 11:46:23 PM lilbaby14 wrote:
wow too many big words.

Just nod your head and smile, just nod and smile...

14 yrs ago, 9 mos ago - Monday 12/18/06 - 10:03:51 AM EST (GMT-5)
Any teacher would tell you even the youngest students are not 'blank slates' at all.
14 yrs ago, 8 mos ago - Friday 12/29/06 - 5:32:53 PM EST (GMT-5)
I'm a BIT confused.
14 yrs ago, 7 mos ago - Wednesday 2/14/07 - 5:50:21 PM EST (GMT-5)
Am I the only one who thought he was talking about Lost? (One of the characters is called John Locke, and the third ever episode is called Tabula Rasa)
14 yrs ago, 7 mos ago - Wednesday 2/14/07 - 7:18:27 PM EST (GMT-5)
Some of the characters were named after old, well-known social theorists, and the episode name was another reference to the same material by the writers.

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