Updated: Aug 12, 2020
Could we live in a world in which humans are nothing but robots—programmed by our circumstances? Could everything we do and say be determined by previous events? Is every word “I” (is there an I) am writing compulsory? Are humans flawed by nature?
Tabula rasa is a view that human minds do not start off with pre-engraved knowledge, but that they start off blank—with no pre-engraved knowledge. This is a very interesting view and, if true, totally discredits the view that there are inherent or pre-engraved personal axioms in this world. It would also allow for the communist and socialist views to work because it basically means that humans are not pre-programmed to sin but that the environmental circumstances are what determines man’s sinful nature. So, all one needs to do is change the environmental circumstances and therefore “program” humans to live in a way that allows communism and socialism to thrive. This essay will show that the tabula rasa view is false and will set up the groundwork for a following essay on socialism.
It Makes Sense on the Surface
Tabula rasa makes sense on the surface. Babies are not aware of anything and seem to not hold any inherent knowledge; yet, when they grow, they seem to acquire a sense of morals and different truths of reality. However, as they grow, it could be said that they start to understand the truths of reality instead of acquiring it. “Acquire” is the word that will destroy the theory of tabula rasa. How does one acquire knowledge? “Acquire” is a word that, in this context, assumes the knowledge acquired is not inherent but is taken in by the people and circumstances that influences oneself. The problem with that view is that it means all the knowledge acquired is subjective or relative to the individuals who influenced oneself. This would mean there are no objective or absolute truths. However, as the “Argument for Reason” found, there is at least one inherent truth and that is the validity of reason.
This inherent truth, by itself, disproves the blank slate idea; however, a step further will be made in order to show that humans are not only “filled” slates, but that they are inherently sinful by nature. This is a very interesting approach, because the “Moral Argument” showed that humans have objective moral values that are good in nature. However, if this is true, then why are humans supposedly prone to sin? In both the “Teleological Argument” and the “Moral Argument” it is shown that there is a supreme personal being that defines all personable things. It is also known, from those essays, that personal beings have free will because they can reason, and they understand morals as something that they either should or should not do—which assumes a choice and therefore free will. However, even if humans have free will, why would they naturally or tend to act against inherent moral values?
A Short Explanation
Considering that the Network’s foundation convincingly shows that there is a God and that God is the God of Christianity, it is not illogical to go to the Bible for an explanation. The reason to do this is because philosophy does not reveal past events but interprets them, and so one needs to go to a historical record of those past events in order to understand what happened. The Bible has an explanation of why man acts against these inherent truths and that explanation is found in Genesis but is best summarized in Romans 5:12-14. These verses talk about past events when the first man sinned (acted against the nature of God) and therefore caused an infection in that every other human, that came out of that first man, is born into sin. So, while there are inherent moral values in the world, man tends towards the opposite—while still filling the tug of those inherent moral values.
Evidence of Man’s Sinful Nature
If one is skeptical of man being sinful by nature, then consider this: if man was a blank slate and can essentially be programmed by the environment around them, then why is it that kids, who are usually taught to do “good” from a young age are still very selfish and, as one would say, immature. Immaturity is a very interesting descriptor humans use to describe kids. It assumes there is something the kid needs to grow into. In this context, it assumes that kids should grow into “goodness” which would mean they are currently in “wrongness” (sinfulness). If humans are born with a blank mind, then why would it be necessary to teach a kid to do “good?” If the parents already do “good,” then all they would have to do is to keep doing what they are doing, and the kid should naturally pick up what he/she “should” do.
Plus, what is “good” and “bad” in the view of Tabula Rasa? For if humans are programmed by their circumstances, then, can there be “good” or “bad?” How can one say that someone should not do something because it is wrong when the person, who is supposedly doing something wrong, is only doing that thing because he/she was programmed to do it? Going one further, how can an idea of a better society be morally superior when it is considered that those who hold that view only hold it because they were programmed to hold it?
Anyways, parents are told to discipline their kids when they do wrong because… why? Would it not be natural for the kid to do what the kid was programmed to do by different environmental circumstances? What does this say about tabula rasa? It says that tabula rasa assumes that there is no good nor wrong. It assumes that there are no morals because there is no such thing as one doing something because one should do it, but only one doing something because one was shaped to do it.
It was shown that the theory of tabula rasa is false, and that mankind is sinful by nature. The next essay, connected to this subject, will show that because man is sinful by nature, then socialism can never work. It also lays the groundwork for the Christian faith. If man is sinful by nature, then who can save him from his nature? Overall, tabula rasa, while interesting, is false and therefore is a very dangerous view because it leads to a reality in which man is nothing but a “victim” of chance.
"What Is The Blank Slate Theory?." Reference. Accessed January 11, 2020. https://www.reference.com/world-view/blank-slate-theory-dc4b7196315d396d.