[hist-analytic] Cocktails And Laughter (But What Comes After): "A Posteriori" Revisited
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Jlsperanza at aol.com
Thu Apr 2 15:12:27 EDT 2009
In a message dated 4/2/2009 1:02:34 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
danny.frederick at tiscali.co.uk writes:
John Watkins wrote a paper called 'Between a priori and
empirical' (or something similar),
cocktails and laughter
but what comes after
Good. Indeed, when Grice and Strawson (*) wrote "In defense of a dogma",
they were giving room for:
a. an attack on a dogma
b. an attack on the other dogma
c. an attack on another dogma.
ad a: it's the analytic/synthetic. Dogma for Hume according to Quine. Not a
dogma necessarily for Grice/Strawson.
ad b: an attack on 'basic statement' dogma -- Duhem. The other of the two
dogmas of empiricism for Hume according to Quine.
ad c. -- THE DOGMA that I propose to consider now. The a priori vs. a
posteriori. I have to call it 'another dogma' because if I call it 'the other
dogma', people will naturally feel inclined to think I'm thinking of (b).
I recently was discussing with M. Chase (I think) the topic of the
This is interesting. In philosophy of mathematics, and Lakatos would know
about this, there's so-called ante rem structuralism and in re structuralism. I
found it appalling that nobody has considered 'post rem' structuralism,
seeing that the phrase 'post rem' is a charmer.
The 'post' in 'post rem' is indeed the 'husteros' of the Greek -- but also
'epi'. (Both, i.e. husteros and epi) are used by Ammonius ad Isag. Porph. to
render what will become 'post rem': 'husterogenes' and 'epi pollois'). The idea
mainly metaphysical that universalia, for some, come _after_ the individual
instances ("epi pollois") or after the 'thing' (post rem).
Of course, one may find the distinction (I love Albritton's use here)
'otiose'. We philosophers (unlike mathematical philosophers) are up to our necks
with discussions of 'a posteriori' and may find the 'post rem' redundant, if
conceived for a different 'pseudo-problem'.
But there are similarities. What kind of 'post' is the 'post' in "a
POSTeriori" and the "POST rem". Grice once (WOW, iii) considers the hot topic, 'the
meaning of 'to'', 'the meaning of 'of'', etc. -- i.e. the meaning of a
preposition. The preposition here being 'post'. (or after, if we must). I would
think Grice thought that the SPATIAL sense is the only sense possible, and that
temporal uses are indeed 'implicatural'. I would agree.
So 'a posteriori' (for I'll focus on this as from now) is NOT to be
interpreted 'temporally': every serious student of philosophy knows that; not because
it's true but in the sense that Grice allows that a student may claim to
'know' that the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066: teachers reprimand you if
So, if it's not temporal, it's spatial? He he! No. It's 'justificatory'. I
cannot see how D. Frederick, who eschews justification, can even start to think
of the 'a priori' (or a posteriori for that matter) for it's all about
justification -- Virginia!
When I see discussions of the a-priori (like "I am thinking", Danny
Frederick suggests), I become once again a Millian -- for him, indeed post-rem
structuralism galore. "Three and three make six" -- synthetic a priori? No
synthetic a POSTERIORI: three oranges and three oranges make half a dozen oranges".
With tarts it's different: "six tarts and six tarts do not make a baker's
Is what comes after 'empeiria'? i.e. before and after the justification
provided by _actual_ experience? But then I would never know that it hurts to be
beheaded. Apparently, Guillotin, who invented the mechanism, said, "It doesn't
hurt one bit". Is that a priori?
J. L. Speranza
(*) I'm never sure what Grice said and what Strawson said. The problem of
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