[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
                           Noel Coward
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
    post rem.
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  
you disagree!
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 
dozen", etc.
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  
'joint collaborations'!
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