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The Question

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Contemporary philosophy of mind tends to focus on thought experiments, intuitions and very abstract arguments. But it was not always like this.

As Locke saw it, questions about the nature of minds are bound up with questions about their developmental origins:

β€˜... ’tis past doubt, that Men have in their Minds several Ideas ...:
It is in the first place to be enquired, How he comes by them?’ (Locke, n.d., p. \ 104)

Where Locke asked a question about Ideas, I want to consider a perhaps simpler question about knowledge. How do humans make the transition from not knowing any simple facts about particular things in a given domain to possessing some such knowledge?

As this is a very broad question, I will narrow it down by considering only knowledge of physical objects, their movements and causal interactions.


Leibniz, G. W. (1996). New essays on human understanding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Locke, J. (n.d.). An essay concerning human understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Spelke, E. S., & Kinzler, K. D. (2007). Core knowledge. Developmental Science, 10(1), 89–96.