a Priori vs. a Posteriori in Discussions About Rationalism vs. Empiricism

By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

A priori knowledge has to do with Rationalist theories such as “Intuition and Deduction Thesis” and “Innate Knowledge Thesis.”  A priori is as if to say “before” or for example from God.”  A priori has been described as that “perfect, eternal or unchanging….from God or that with which one is born, or from before.

A priori becomes paramount when one begins to look at “weaker or stronger understandings of warranted belief or at metaphysical research or research on for example assertion of moral truths.  A priori can be considered a “foundational knowledge.”

The main concern over the derivation of knowledge is when we begin to erect scaffoldings and take them to be truths.  Early man struggled to codify knowledge a priori or a posteriori-“dependent on the source of experience,” in order to omit fear to be mistaken and to build a knowledge at all.

Empiricism was concerned with a posteriori and Rationalist was concerned with a priori. Some thinkers felt that knowledge was gained by experience and rejected innate concepts.

Markie, P. (2015). Rationalism vs. Empiricism in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).



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