The Constitutive A Priori

Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 18 (sup1):179-214 (1992)
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Abstract

The modem rationalist tradition initiated by Descartes has as one of its central tenets the independence of the human understanding from the senses. Regardless of the different ways in which independence from experience is understood, there is much common ground among the modem views on the a priori. Yet Kant, culminating this tradition, introduces an entirely new conception of the a priori never before articulated in the history of philosophy. This is the notion of elements in knowledge which are independent of experience but nevertheless closely connected, in a special way, with experience.Although for Kant the a priori has a privileged position in the structure of knowledge - as it has for other modem rationalist philosophers - one of the most striking, and often neglected, aspect of his conception of the a priori is the great extent to which it is opposed to foundationalism.

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Graciela De Pierris
Stanford University