The Problem of the a priori


Two major schools of thought over the last century serve to reveal the futility of philosophy. Logical Positivism and Subjectivism are both highly problematic (sure, in practice but most importantly) foundationally.

Logical Positivism relies on empiricism, positing that in order for a belief to be meaningful it must be empirically verifiable or falsifiable. Ultimately, however, this philosophical tenet evaluates itself as a non-meaningful belief. The necessity of empirical validation cannot itself be validated, and so adherence to the belief is fundamentally a priori.  This a priori foundation is unnerving to the logical positivist, but seems to be unavoidable.

Subjectivism falls into the same trap. Simply put, subjectivism holds that there are absolutely no absolute truths. It is clear, however, that subjectivism is truly based on the belief that there is only one absolute truth; the absence of absolute truth. This system too cannot prove itself; it is based on the a priori acceptance of itself.

Given these examples, dependence on the a priori seems to be inevitable. It is in fact exasperating to attempt avoiding this dependence on an unprovable tenet, and yet is there any belief system that does not do so? And how can we be comforted knowing our beliefs are ultimately non-rational?

Let me know what you think:

2 thoughts on “The Problem of the a priori

  1. Pingback: Beauty and the Existence of God | AnnieKO'Connor

  2. Pingback: Good News: You’re Going to Hell | AnnieKO'Connor

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