The Splendor of the Synthetic A Priori

Larval Subjects .

Immanuel_Kant_(painted_portrait)It’s difficult to understand why anyone would ever get excited about Kant’s question “how are synthetic a priori propositions possible?”  It’s an incredibly abstract question.  Everything must be placed in context.  That seems to lack any import beyond academic import.  We have analytic a priori concepts.  I think the concept “bachelor” and immediately think “unmarried male”.  There’s nothing in an analytic a priori judgments or concepts that, to use Kant’s language, “amplifies” my concept of “bachelor”.  “Unmarried male” is already contained in my concept of “bachelor”.  It’s a matter of definitions.  That’s why I can know it independent of experience.  The NSF won’t fund a study for research into whether bachelors are unmarried males as there’s nothing to learn.  We know it by definition.

With synthetic a posterior judgments, my knowledge is amplified.  When I go to Morocco for the first time, my concept of Morocco is expanded.  I synthesize

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