In philosophy, ideas are usually taken as
mental representational images of some
object. Ideas can also be abstract
concepts that do not present as mental images. Many philosophers have considered ideas to be a fundamental ontological category of being . The capacity to create and understand the meaning of ideas is considered to be an essential and defining feature of human beings. In a popular sense, an idea arises in a reflexive, spontaneous manner, even without thinking or serious reflection , for example, when we talk about the idea of a person or a place. A new or original idea can often lead to innovation.
One view on the nature of ideas is that there exist some ideas (called
innate ideas) which are so general and abstract that they could not have arisen as a representation of an object of our perception but rather were in some sense always present. These are distinguished from adventitious ideas which are images or concepts which are accompanied by the judgment that they are caused or occasioned by an external object.
Another view holds that we only discover ideas in the same way that we discover the real world, from personal experiences. The view that humans acquire all or almost all their behavioral traits from nurture (life experiences) is known as tabula rasa (“blank slate”). Most of the confusions in the way ideas arise is at least in part due to the use of the term “idea” to cover both the representation perceptics and the object of conceptual thought. This can be always illustrated in terms of the scientific doctrines of innate ideas, ” concrete ideas versus abstract ideas “, as well as “simple ideas versus complex ideas”.