Compare And Contrast John Locke, Immanuel Kant, And John Dewey’s Theories Of Learning Free Writing Sample

The point of rejecting universal assent is that everyone with a soul, including children and those with intellectual disabilities, can easily perceive innate ideas. Unfortunately, the rationalists failed to provide any explanation for this situation.

The rejection of Locke’s use of reason can best be explained through his inference to dispositional accounts. According to him, dispositional accounts do not provide enough proof or any fundamental criteria to distinguish an innate proposition from other propositions. His argument against dispositional account as an innate proposition is contained in the following sentences: if any proposition may be in the mind but is unknowable, then by the same reasoning, all propositions that are true and that the mind is capable of assenting to may be said to be in the mind and imprinted. If any one can be said to be in the mind which it never yet knew, it must only because it is capable of knowing it; and so, the mind contains all truths that it ever shall know.

He also added that even if man can come up with an adequate proof and fundamental criterion for innate ideas, it will not prove anything innate because we will come to the use of reason.” He interpreted this phrase as using reason to discover innate ideas. While exploring the realm of innate ideas, we use our reason, but we are still so ignorant of it that we do not come to the aid of reason. Locke disagreed with both interpretations because the first interpretation deduces the very nature of reason and the second interpretation is a contradiction to posit that man can know and not know at the same time.

To further strengthen his claim, Locke rejected speculative and practical moral principles because ideas represent principles that are not innate. For instance, if a principle were innate, then the golden rule would be universally obeyed and held as truth. However, since individuals have different perspectives on practical moral principles, the golden rule cannot be considered innate. Similarly, in the case of speculative principle, some men may not understand the golden rule as others do. It should be noted that speculative principle is self-evident when it comes to the proposition of what is, is.

So, if ideas are not imprinted in the mind, can we still acquire or obtain knowledge?

Locke argued that knowledge can be acquired through our senses and reflection. He believed that our mind is like an empty slate[5], which develops through experiences of the external world (sensation) and understanding the totality of the external world with internal operations of the mind (reflection). Locke claimed that we possess various faculties and abilities to receive and manipulate simple ideas.

With our faculties and abilities, we are able to combine simple ideas to create complex ones. A simple idea is defined as anything that humans can understand, whether it is physical or abstract. It is the most basic form of an idea. On the other hand, a complex idea is a combination of two or more simple ideas. It can be classified into ideas of substance and ideas of modes. The former has an independent existence like God, angels, and man while the latter has a dependent existence such as moral ideas, mathematical ideas, conventional ideas, and everything that we have assented.

Our mind performs three activities in developing our ideas. First, it combines simple ideas to form a complex idea. Second, it enables us to show the relationship between things by uniting or differentiating two different ideas through understanding their primary and secondary qualities. Lastly, our mind produces general concepts through abstraction from particulars.

In conclusion,

the distinction between primary and secondary qualities

is essential in developing our understanding of complex concepts.

Another foundation of Locke’s theory of learning is his discussion of primary and secondary qualities of an object. According to Locke, primary qualities are characteristics of an object that are definitely independent of us, such as the space it occupies, its state whether it is in motion or at rest, or the texture it possesses. On the other hand, secondary qualities are characteristics that affect our perception of the object, such as its color, smell, taste.

On the Fundamentals of Kant’s Theory of Learning

The affirmation of the existence of knowledge is of great importance during the modern period. This period brought an intellectual debate between two equally intelligible schools of thought: rationalism and empiricism. As stated earlier, the former argues that ideas are imprinted in our minds, and we only have to discover their innateness to obtain knowledge. The latter, on the other hand, argues that we must experience the source (object) of knowledge through our senses and reflection.

The battle between these schools of thought paved the way for the rise of Immanuel Kant. He synthesized rationalism and empiricism through his postulation of synthetic a priori knowledge. Additionally, he examined the validity, soundness, fallacy, and loopholes of each thought.

The discussion in this part of the paper will focus on one of the most important structures of Kant’s philosophy: a priori knowledge, which is independent of experience. Specifically, we will examine his ideas on transcendental aesthetics, which serve as the foundation for Kant’s theory of learning.

Transcendental aesthetic is a fragment of Kant’s transcendental doctrine of elements in his notable work entitled Critique of Pure Reason. It is considered the science of all sensibility a priori, focusing on the important role of sensibility, the object of sensibility, and mathematics including geometry. Most importantly, it focuses on pre-scientific arguments about time and space.

Kant argued that space and time are pure intuitions that have a sensible form of experience and are not part of absolute reality.

Kant believed that our knowledge is related to objects in whatever means since it is immediately related to them by intuition[6]. However, the possibility of having an intuition will only take place if a certain object is given to us and on the condition that this certain object affects our mind in a certain manner. At this point, Kant argued that the first step to acquiring knowledge is through sensibility[7] since this is where the object will be given to us, which will eventually endow intuition. Having sensibility and intuition, the faculty concerned with the production of concepts[8] will take off since it studies the structure of our cognition, enabling us to create a system.

Another important step to consider is sensation[9]. This is the basis of our knowledge, gained through particular experiences. From these sensations, we can derive an empirical intuition of the object. However, since the object in empirical intuition is undetermined, we refer to this as a phenomenon[10]. Kant believed that all phenomena corresponding to sensation are matter[11], while those corresponding to certain relations of effects are form[12]. Therefore, matter is an a posteriori property and form is an a priori property of knowledge.

According to Kant, in order to achieve the necessary purity of space and time, one must disregard all ideas belonging to sensation (such as color and hardness) and all thoughts belonging to understanding (such as substance, force, and divisibility). This will allow for the shape and extension of empirical intuition to remain. Kant considers these properties pure intuition because they exist a priori in the mind as a mere form of sensibility without an empirical object of sensation.

Kant claimed that space is not an empirical concept since it is not derived from external experience of a phenomenon. Rather, it is the external phenomenon that depends on the representation of space. It necessarily follows that space is a necessary representation a priori since it is the state of possibility for phenomena and the medium for all external phenomena. Because a priori representation is necessary, we can say that mathematical definitions are not merely perceptions that depend on a posteriori ideas.

Space itself is not discursive but rather a pure intuition because it is unitary and cannot be perceived or measured. It only becomes divisible due to limitations we assign to it. Lastly, Kant conjectured that space should be represented as an infinite quantity, but we must note that its quantity cannot be confined or measured since it exists as an a priori intuition.

In short, we cannot say that there is space in a certain room if there is no phenomenon inside the room. For example, if we place a bed inside the room, the existence of the bed depends on how space is represented. This occurs because space is not derived from any experience.

Kant believed that time is not an empirical concept derived from experience. If it were, we could not imagine things happening simultaneously or successively because the representation is not given a priori. Time is a necessary representation since all intuitions depend on its existence. Time has one dimension since all apodictic principles of time depend on its being a necessary representation a priori. Most importantly, time is not discursive like space because the former is a sensuous intuition and subjective because we put reference on its existence. However, it must be noted that time will exist infinitely without any reference.

Simply put, we can only comprehend time through our perception of a phenomenon in a specific space. By establishing a reference point in time, we are able to observe the changes that occur within the phenomenon, thus indicating the passage of time.

On Dewey’s Foundation of Education

Since time immemorial, the acquisition of knowledge has been the quest of every person. Even during our primitive days, our goal was to develop our intellectual capacity. Learning is innate among humans. However, it was during ancient times when education or learning became formalized. As time passed, ways of learning multiplied and improved in ways that no one had ever thought possible.

Education is a necessity of life. According to John Dewey, individuals are destined to renew themselves throughout their existence. In order to do so, one must satisfy their physiological needs such as nourishment and reproduction, as well as social needs including obtaining an education or learning from a formal school. The significance of education lies in the fact that it can improve the quality of life for both society and oneself.

As society becomes more complex, education must also adapt to this complexity and apply it to its teachings. This means that as society develops, education must develop in line with it. In the real world, those without education are often doomed to suffer while those who have received an education can taste the sweetness of life.

In order for a society to provide an educational environment for its people, especially its youth, several factors must be pursued. First and foremost, the factors of education that need development should be simplified and organized. Secondly, the customs of society should be purified and idealized. Lastly, a conducive and balanced environment should be created which will directly affect young individuals.

The youth are inherently unaware of their society’s customs, so it is essential that they receive guidance and direction. This guidance can only be provided through education, as it can shed light on the internal differences in the youth’s identity and interests. Through education, young people can come to understand the power of their own social awareness.

Having an education gives individuals unstoppable growth. Education is limitless as it always transcends itself. When a person realizes this, they can actualize all their potentialities. Education is a process that continually moves from simple knowledge to complex knowledge, and then to even more complex knowledge.

To further his position on the importance of education, Dewey provided three historical foundations of philosophies of education. Firstly, there is the Platonic education which is designed to produce a harmonious class rather than an intellectual individual. It was founded on the concept of an ideal society that works according to its own nature. Secondly, there is the birth of individualism during the Enlightenment period which was founded to ensure that every individual can actualize their own potentiality. Lastly, there is the institutionalization of education in the nineteenth century.

In summary of Dewey’s Democracy and Education,” he not only upholds every person’s right to acquire quality education and outlines the details of a perfect education, but also focuses on the moral concerns of education in regards to the knowledge it instills and the conduct it requires. For Dewey, education must not only save youth from ignorance but also mold them into well-rounded individuals who can lead their society towards advancement.

The convergence and divergence.

Locke’s theory of learning is based solely on sense data. According to Locke, the only way we can acquire knowledge of this world is through sensory experience, nothing more and nothing less. The implication of Locke’s theory of knowledge is clear: experience is the epistemological foundation for understanding the reality of the world, and only through experience can we truly know the world itself. However, it must be noted that we can only know the world based on our idea of reality and not reality itself. This is because our ideas are mental constructs while reality exists as a transcendental or extramental entity. Therefore, we can only expose properties about the world since we do not have a direct connection with its substance[13].

Rejecting the totality of the reality of objects of experience is absurd because we can never deny the fact that we live in a world of existence. Every day, we move within this world and at every given moment, we experience the object. Therefore, no philosophical system can reject the significance of empirical evidence in disclosing reality. Even if rationalists claim that ideas are innate, reason needs stimulus to explicate its existence which thrives in the reality of objects and their experiences.

Where can we ground all our doubts about reality or apply all logical principles if we reject the totality of empirical evidence? We may posit reason to satisfy this question but appealing to reason alone is solipsistic and limits us from arriving at knowledge about reality. Reason cannot stand alone in ascertaining truthfulness because counting on it alone is nothing but a mere presupposition which denies that the world exists.

The epistemological enterprise of man should not falter due to the attitude of empirical solipsism, which limits itself to a dogma of objectivity. Instead, man should utilize both reason and senses, as we perceive and conceive knowledge of the world by interpreting ideas about its existence.

In public education, Locke’s theory of learning is prevalent, particularly in schools that focus on scientific explorations. Scientific schools, especially those with a positivist tradition, have adopted Locke’s philosophy by closely examining the empirical component of their experiments. In a scientific community or school, empirical data is crucial because it serves as hard evidence to support claims. In highly scientific public education settings, theories cannot become laws without the empirical results of experiments.

On the other hand, Kant’s theory of learning implies transcendental idealism. This states that all unknowable things will always remain unknowable because the realm of the unknowable is not accessible to our reason. From this idealism, Kant differentiated between what is a property of a phenomenon and what is noumena. The former refers to things that appear to us, while the latter refers to things in themselves. Our reason can give us basic articulations of a certain phenomenon but it cannot go beyond this basic articulation. This means that one cannot know things in themselves.

The implication of this postulate is the impossibility of any science of metaphysics because all concepts beyond phenomenal reality will never be unfolded.

Kant argued that noumenal realities can provide us with knowledge of a specific thing, based only on its appearance or phenomenal status, but the nature of such a thing is unknowable. The problem with this argument is that he has limited the capacity of the knower by disregarding the subjective-objective relationship between the knower and the object. All knowledge about a certain object is only an appearance that can be interpreted or processed by the knower. This means that knowledge of things is based on what the knower deduces from the object. The problem with this kind of acquisition of knowledge is that it leads to inter-subjectivity, where each individual’s understanding and interpretation become their own source of knowledge.

It can be difficult to determine if one’s knowledge truly embodies knowledge itself, especially if their understanding is based solely on the limited perspective of phenomenal reality. Basic articulations of a thing may provide factual information, but this does not necessarily equate to true knowledge. While usefulness may be a factor in determining the value of something, it is not the sole determinant of its meaning. By expanding our perspectives and opening our minds to new possibilities, we can gain a deeper understanding and potentially uncover the noumenal status of a specific thing.

If we use Kant’s philosophy to describe an apple, we can only know its sensory attributes such as sweetness, smoothness, redness, and fruitiness. However, the true nature of the apple is beyond our comprehension. We can only understand its noumenal status if we allow the apple to reveal itself to us without our subjective interpretation. By focusing solely on the object itself and disregarding our own subjectivity, we can grasp its essence which includes everything that it has shown us. Even if we alter or divide the apple, it remains an apple because of what it has revealed to us. The nature of any object is something that cannot be denied once perceived or conceived regardless of whether it exists or not.

In the philosophy of Husserl and Heidegger, we can gain knowledge of the object beyond basic articulations through phenomenology and phenomenological hermeneutics. To do this, we must first return to the thing-in-itself and interpret how it presents itself. The problem with Kant’s position on noumenal realities is that he excluded the possibility that an object can provide not only facts about itself but also true knowledge of itself. His emphasis on inter-subjectivity is to blame for denying the existence of noumenal realities because it undermines an object’s ability to be understood. Inter-subjectivity places a valid limitation on reason, preventing individuals from fully comprehending the nature of things.

In public education, the attitude of disregarding anything that cannot be explained has been especially adopted with the arrival of the positivist tradition. However, the worst thing that public education has adopted is Kant’s attitude of sticking to one’s beliefs. The problem with this attitude is that it annihilates any possibility of adopting novel ideas that are not in line with their sponsored truth. This prevalent attitude can be observed in various educational philosophies around the world, such as American philosophy being founded on analyticity, Europeans basing their philosophy on existentialism, and Asians dedicating themselves to Taoism or Buddhism.

This is where Dewey’s conceptual framework of education comes into play, as it provides an answer to the educational adoption of public academia. For instance, Dewey believed in the progression of education, whether in its system or curriculum, by embracing all kinds of knowledge. It may be argued that Dewey wanted youth to stay within the customs of their society; however, he did not sponsor any limits on the horizon of knowledge that youth must acquire. An American student must stick with their custom and preserve it because it defines their existence. However, this does not necessarily mean they cannot adopt European education because as Dewey puts it: all kinds of knowledge will bring advancement to one’s society.

Dewey emphasized the importance of experiential education. In academia, students often focus too much on the theoretical framework of philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, etc., which can render their theories futile. While acquiring knowledge is essential to exercising rationality, simply retaining theoretical knowledge does not advance humanity. Dewey proposed that public education should strictly reinforce the application of theories. By applying what we learn, we can expand our knowledge and modify existing theories to provide answers to previously unfathomable questions.

In totality, Dewey asserted that every public education must be philosophical in nature[14]. The universe is vast and infinite, implying that there are still innumerable things, events, and phenomena that have not yet been disclosed or made available to human perception. Education is the best weapon to annihilate man’s ignorance because it is a means of achieving complete metamorphosis. Education transforms an individual from an inutile state to a prolific level. It transforms our primitive knowledge into something grandiose through the constant application of theories. With this innate nature of education, philosophy plays a significant role as education’s life-support system. Philosophy perpetually asks questions and creates queries beyond human understanding. The union of philosophy and education is undeniably the panacea for our ignorance and the medium for our infinite transcendence. Philosophy provides questions while education serves as its laboratory.


Dewey, J. (1929). My Pedagogic Creed.” Progressive Education Association.

Dewey, J. (1997). Democracy and Education: Free Press.

Kant, I. (1984). Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. Open Court Publishing Company.

Kant, Immanuel. (1999). Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge University Press.

Locke, J. (1994). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Prometheus Books.

(J. Dewey, 1929; J. Dewey, 1997; Kant, 1984, 1999; Locke, 1994)

[1] Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Page 27.

[2] Ibid., Page 30.

[3] Ibid., Page 29.

[4] Ibid., Page 34.

[5] In Locke’s terminology it is called tabula rasa.

[6] The process by which knowledge reaches the object directly given.

[7] The capacity for receiving representations (receptivity) through the mode in which we are affected by objects.

[8] The Active species of representation, by means of which our understanding enables us to think.

[9] The Effect of an object upon the faculty of representation, so far as we are not affected by the said object.

[10] The object of knowledge, viewed empirically, in its fully knowable state.

[11] The passive or objective aspect of something-that is, the aspect which is based on the experience a subject has, or on the objects given such an experience.

[12] The active or subjective aspect of something-that I, the aspect which is based on the rational activity of the subject.

[13] “Something that I know not what,” “that of which one predicates

[14] This is his basis of Philosophy of Education.

Escaping Reality In Death Of A Salesman And The Things They Carried

Everyone wants to escape reality and live their lives the way they dream it would be. Due to disappointments, people tend to daydream, lose touch with reality and start imagining that life is easier in dreams than in reality. They get to plan their life and live it as if it were real – no resentment, heartbreaks or disappointment. In their dreams, they have full control of their life unlike in reality where everything is uncontrollable and people are subjected to failures.

The Death of a Salesman is about a man who is determined to achieve the American dream at any cost, even if it means deceiving his own family. Willy Loman craved success and popularity, so he lied to his family about his job and misled his colleagues about his personal life. As he grew older and realized that his dream was slipping away, Willy became increasingly depressed. His obsession with the American dream ultimately led him to take his own life in order to pay off debts and provide for his family through insurance money.

In The Things They Carried, the soldiers also imagine an escape from reality by envisioning their lives back home or what life could have been like if they were there. The story is set during the Vietnam War, where young soldiers are drafted to fight for their country. These soldiers are typically older teenagers and boys in their early twenties who have been separated from their previous lives and forced to defend America’s dignity. Despite being immature, many of these boys long for the love of girls they fancy, hoping that it will inspire them to continue on with the war.

The illusion of escaping reality and entering a state where you imagine things that could have happened often occurs to people who want to avoid their current situation, as is the case with Willy. He is aging and fears that he will never achieve his dream of the American Dream. Willy’s children, Biff and Happy, also desire an escape from reality. Both are dissatisfied with their lives and frequently discuss leaving everything behind to live in the west. BIFF (enthusiastically): Listen, why don’t you come out West with me?” (Miller 13).

The same thing happens when a person is at war. They tend to imagine things so that they can escape the harsh reality, even for a second. In The Things They Carried,” Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carries the burden of a dead man because he wasn’t paying attention to the war. He was daydreaming about Martha, a girl he had recently dated before going to war, at the moment Ted Lavender was shot.

Being in the war often makes soldiers feel lonely. They leave their loved ones at home and become vulnerable when they are sent to war. This vulnerability can cause them to drift away from the reality of war and imagine the life they could have had if they weren’t drafted. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross escaped reality by imagining his date with Martha, as he remembered telling her one evening. He recalled how she nodded and looked away, and how later, when he kissed her, she received the kiss without returning it. Her eyes were wide open but not afraid or those of a virgin; they were flat and uninvolved (O’Brien 5).

Like soldiers who escape reality because they couldn’t have what they want, Willy feels the same way. He has a hobby of talking to himself and often drifts from reality into his fantasy world. Willy goes in and out of his imagination even when talking to Linda, his wife. He frequently loses focus during their conversations. When Linda compliments him and assures him that he looks handsome, he drifts off into his imagination and imagines his mistress. From the darkness is heard the laughter of a woman. Willy doesn’t turn to it but it continues through Linda’s lines” (Miller 24).

In the novel The Things They Carried,” soldiers were not given a choice when they were drafted; they were obliged to serve. The narrator did not share his country’s vision of the war, and when he was drafted, he wanted to escape. He imagined doing things he was not used to doing, such as charging an enemy position or taking aim at another human being: “I imagined myself doing things I could not do” (O’Brien 12).

The escape from reality is not limited to a specific group of people; many individuals drift away from reality occasionally. For instance, Willy talks to his deceased brother Ben when he wants to escape reality. During the time when Howard was firing him, Willy often slipped in and out of reality. As Miller writes, Willy stares into space, exhausted. Now the music is heard — Ben’s music — first distantly, then closer, closer. As Willy speaks” (60).

They are all the same. They want to forget the present situation and go someplace else. The war was not easy for any of the soldiers. Watching their friends die, they all wanted to get out of war as soon as possible, go home, and be with their family. It is also not easy living and not achieving what a person has planned – watching their life deteriorate even when they are still alive.

Arthur Miller’s play and Tim O’Brien’s novel showcase various situations where men yearn to escape reality. Through delicately crafted characters, readers gain insight into why they feel the need to flee their current circumstances. The glimpse into their imaginations enables readers to empathize with their heartbreaks and connect with the characters on a deeper level.

Willy and Biff, along with the soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War, all yearned to escape their current situations and live in their dreams, even if only for a few seconds. They longed for an escape because their present lives seemed dismal. Daydreaming allowed them to experience life as they wished it would happen – Lieutenant Jimmy Cross could pretend he was with his college sweetheart Martha, while Willy could imagine he had achieved the American dream. All of them desired something more than what they currently had and sought to escape reality.


Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: The Viking Press (1949).

O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Penguin, 1990.

Keynes And Friedman: Comparing Two Of The Greatest Economic Minds

One source of contradiction between the ideas of Keynes and Friedman is in the role of the government.  Keynes is concerned with full employment which basically increased the importance of policies and intervention coming from the state.  He believed that laissez-faire is flawed and budget deficit accruing from the government, if ever criticized by the principles of classical economics, is justified if it is meant to contribute on job creation.  The term famously attached to this claim is pump-priming the economy.  The objective of Keynes in raising the extent of government intervention is to safeguard economic structures particularly to optimize the success of individualism. 

Friedman, on the other hand, is an advocate of economic freedom and substantially classical economics.  He is widely known in several lectures and media appearances emphasizing the individuals right on choosing freely.  Using arguments that supported decentralization of power on both political and economic dimensions, he likely challenged the strength of the assertion about the interference on individual consumption and investment.  This is because, for him, the role of the government is limited on state protection against foreign threats, maintaining internal peace, creation as well as enforcement of laws of exchange and monetary regulation.  Beyond this point, the state intervention is risking individual freedom.

It is important to note that Keynes, like Friedman, is an avid believer of individual freedom and its fundamental function to a satisfying life and also a healthy society.  The perceivable doubt is caused by the fact that the former chose to support increase in government intervention.  His aim is to improve the tenets of classical economics and contribute on how a free economy should be dealt by political forces.  But Friedman, instead of finding weaknesses on a free economy, found ways on how people should continue to fear central control.  As an example, he did not showed any concern of increasing the role of government despite rapid globalization.

For Keynes, there is an economic relation among savings, investment, consumption and employment.  The government must intervene to maintain their sound relationship that promotes economic growth and stability.  Specifically, the state is the one responsible to impose gradual reduction of interest rate, mainly the borrowing rate, to the point where the level of capital reaches full employment.  With this, Keynes argued that capitalist who are the primary wealthy and drivers of savings will not benefit on inappropriate accumulation of wealth by which economic principles deemed invalid.  Savings, unlike land, is not essentially scarce.  This is why the economic rent applied on the former is miscalculated.  In effect, Keynes is solving a macroeconomic problem in terms of full employment on one hand and promoting adjustments on microeconomic issue in terms of pricing savings on the other.

Friedman likely remained indifferent.  Generally, he explained that every state-level solution has its individual-level counterpart.  It is not less of a problem when the government is pulling down the interest rate successfully when the cost of doing so, that is determining the level of full employment and other specific information, is very expensive.  Individual solutions are not only practical and efficient but also preserve human freedom.  His debate, although not supported by his actual quote, would likely be in a tone supporting individual and necessarily firm choice.  If propensity to consume is low, it can be explained that there is a motivation to save such as higher lending rate.  Therefore, the invalidity of renting the savings from either wealthy or working individuals is solved by the market interaction.

From one view, the government serves as the armor and provider of the people in an expanding and ever-changing economic landscape.  This concept involves conviction from political forces, managing broad macroeconomic issues and a level of sacrifice for some individual freedom.  On the other, beyond Friedman’s state roles, government and individual/ firm are substitutes in deciding the fate of the economy.  With decreasing state intervention, focus on comprehensive issues and promotion of economic freedom, the economic arguments of the two economists have their distinct foundation.  Keynes somewhat believed that there is a system within the economic arrangements while Friedman did not go further to defining such system primarily of his fear on entering complex individual behavior where freedom is held.  For example, the former is optimistic on determining the volume of employment and that there is trade or business cycle.  The latter, in contrast, is puzzled why the government is tailing administration complexity and that there are no business cycles rather shocks from time-to-time.

In certain cases, the difference in the means of the arguments of the two economists contributed to similar broad ends.  Keynes argued that wealthy individuals who are basically the owners of savings wrongfully enjoyed premiums pending full employment level.  As a result, his criticism against the role of savings in capital growth is leading an economy towards equality and decentralization of saving capacity.  This is to show, that like Friedman’s humane motive, Keynes also have the intention to improve the quality of life of most people.  The latter may not be emphasizing individual freedom and favoring government intervention but the concern for the greater good is still in tact.  As Friedman consented on the fact that political and economic freedom goes in pair, Keynes is also on the same end with Friedman as he explained that the inappropriate savings rents accumulated by money-making individuals is less unfriendly than resorting to tyranny of influential and wealthy people.

Friedman’s solution for an economy to achieve growth and stability, however, is natural and plain.  The basic model is for the government to use its legitimate role of monetary regulation.  Specifically, it should maintain a gradual rise in money supply over time.  Money supply has important influence on interest rate which directly addresses the issue forwarded by Keynes.  When there is an abundant supply of money in the economy, banks have more to loan thus interest rates are automatically lowered.  In reverse, when there is minimal supply, banks have less to loan and there will be competing demand for loan that will cause the price of such loan to increase interest rate.  The state have various ways to manage interest rate including the control of government bonds benchmarking, reserve requirement of banks and production of money.  Thus, it is possible to protect individual freedom and solve macroeconomic problems through simple policies without aiming at microeconomic issues such as consumption and savings.

Going back to the role of government to pump prime the economy, Keynes have provided insight on how capitalism can be supported by public works to achieve a social organization.  In one of his works, he explicitly advocated an end to full laissez-faire which induced many to believe that his economic idea is endeavoring to combine the two extremes; namely, centrally-planned and free economy structures.  He argued that capitalists do not have the ability and willingness to fulfill the necessity of the society largely because they are known for money-making.  It is observed that Keynes has an eye of identifying what are the sources of social evils which he also found on wealthy savers earlier.  He then uses the government as the tool to ensure that the common people are not aggrieved by such self-vested interests and administer the necessary steps to avoid or solve emerging social issues within the economy.

In this respect, Keynes is in favor of budget deficits in order to solve unemployment problems and shoulder the social responsibilities that are not covered by profit-minded capitalists.  He also commended the use of the state in monetary and fiscal policies in reducing the negative impact of sudden economic booms and recessions.  With the increasing role of the government in the economy, Keynes is optimistic that the inability of capitalists to serve social welfare is accounted.  Tax and state source of income are thus essential for this framework.

The central dividing line between the economic ideas of Keynes and Friedman lies where it all started: the role of government.  Friedman, partially satirical, referred to the continuously-increasing state intervention as “priming the pump”.  In this part of his work, he is likely debating against the ideas of Keynes.  This is obvious especially when he explained that people in the US in the late 1930s persisted on saving or delaying their consumption albeit under a mature economy with high level of unemployment and looming investment opportunities.  If Keynes ideas are in effect, the US experience did not offer the chance for the state to intervene through increased expenditures because full employment must have happened.  The pump-priming of the state even after the appearance of substantial savings available for firms as means of job creation proved that the ideas of Friedman is empirically supported.

Due to the failure of the state to establish full employment in its initial endeavors, politicians used the ideas of Keynes to end-up on ever-increasing government spending until today.  But with all the efforts, Friedman is again indifferent.  In fact, he argued that the major source of instability in the economy is caused by the government.  Both fiscal and monetary policies are flawed according to him.  On the fiscal side, the high risks involved from the decisions of politicians who are using the “rule of personality” are devastating as their effects to the economy are in totality.  On the monetary side, the creation of the Central Bank triggered the economic recession that plague US into the Great Depression due to the same cause.

In conclusion, the friction between the economic ideas of Keynes and Friedman is observed probably because of the time lags of their works or the varying economic conditions confronting Keynes in Great Britain and Friedman in the US.  Keynes routed for revolution from classical economics while Friedman opted to stay on the status quo and refined supporting ideas towards it.  It is possible, as observed in this paper, that the ideas of the two economists can be merged into same ends.  However, the means of getting to an economic objective divide their ideas.  It is to note, in contrast, that the two ideas are clear that the starting point of governing an economy and essentially a country is through the commitment to economic and political freedom.


Friedman, M. & Friedman, R. (1990). Free to Choose: A Personal Statement. Hard-court, Florida.

Friedman, M. (1962). Capitalism and Freedom. Phoenix Books, Chicago.

Keynes, J. (1936). The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Prometheus Books, New York.

Keynes, J. (1926). The End of Laissez-Faire: The Economic Consequences of the Peace. Prometheus Books, New York.

Hollander, S. (1987). Classical Economics.             Blackwell, Oxford.


error: Content is protected !!