[hist-analytic] Frrom AUNE: Analytic and A Priori

Danny Frederick danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk
Fri Mar 20 08:09:44 EDT 2009


Hi Bruce,

Apologies for my brevity last time!

It seems to me logically possible that solipsism is true; and it seems to me
logically possible that idealism is true (e.g., that the world consists of
Leibnizian monads or Berkeleyan souls to whom the world APPEARS as extended
in space). Thus it seems to me logically possible that I have no spatial
location. This is not a possibility that I take very seriously, but it is a
possibility nevertheless. Thus, while in everyday affairs I take 'I' to
refer to a spatio-temporal particular, when doing philosophy I admit the
possibility that 'I' refers to something temporal but non-spatial. But while
admitting that possibility, I may still deem it true that I think, and thus
I deem 'I think' knowable a priori (in the sense of being knowable
independently of any knowledge of the truth of any proposition about
spatio-temporal particulars). Since, on this view, 'I think' is a priori
knowledge, and since it seems plainly contingent (since I might not have
existed at all), then it is an example of a contingent a priori proposition.

When I said I thought talk of sense-impressions was nonsense, I was
rejecting two things.

First, I was rejecting the idea that there are any sensory experiences which
are not infused by theory, any bare sense data free of an interpretative
scheme. I did not mean to deny that we have sensory experiences.

Second, I was rejecting the idea that sensory experiences can be used to
test theories and thus that they can be used to demarcate empirical
statements. What we test theories against are 'basic statements,' that is,
inter-subjectively testable singular statements about finite regions of
space-time. Thus, our demarcation of the empirical from the a priori should
refer to basic statements. Given this, the logical possibility of solipsism
and of idealism leads directly to the existence of contingent a priori
truths.

Best wishes,

Danny




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