|Apriorism as a Way of Knowing|
Though some people defend apriorism, the logical fallacy of apriorism bases reasoning on a priori thinking. Google defines a priori thinking like this:
knowledge independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori knowledge, which derives from experience.
So if we use an axiom or presupposition, that’s a priori thinking since we don’t have observation or experience to prove it. We can compare this to a posteriori thinking, which is based on experience and observation. Yet some philosophers insist that apriorism makes sense. In their defense of apriorism, they assume that knowledge comes out of three things:
Let’s examine each of these three quickly here.
Reason: There are many kinds of reason, but we must remember that reason can be sound or unsound. And sound reason requires a true premise. For a true premise, we need to prove the premise true, but we can’t prove a premise true by making up something and accepting it as true a priori. So reason based on made-up stuff can’t be used as a sound bases for a priori reasoning. For this cause, it’s irrational to claim that reason alone can create knowledge.
That which is self-evident: To whom is it self-evident? What’s self-evident to one person isn’t self-evident to everyone else, but whatever matches a person’s own inner worldview seems self-evident to that person even if it’s false. In the same way, whatever doesn’t match a person’s own inner worldview seems crazy to that person even if it’s true. So just declaring something self-evident doesn’t make that thing true. Rather, it must be proved true by something.
Common sense: The term “common sense” seems to indicate a set of commonly held beliefs. Yet commonly held beliefs don’t determine truth, and to imply they do is an appeal to common belief fallacy.
Taking this a step further, the common sense of one person isn’t likely to be common sense to everyone else. So whose common sense is this? There’s not going to be agreement, since common sense is a subjective judgment. And most people determine common sense based on what matches their own worldviews because whatever matches one’s own worldview seems to make sense and whatever doesn’t match one’s own worldview seems to be nonsense. In addition, peer pressure gives the illusion of universal truth, since those who disagree keep quite. And worldviews are usually formed by the influence of peer pressure, but worldviews are not reality. By contrast, they’re concepts of reality. And while they usually contain some aspects of reality and some aspects of fantasy, worldviews have no mechanism to distinguish between reality and fantasy. In fact, worldviews make it difficult to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
Going back to basic principles, if we say something is true, then we’re saying it’s absolute and certain. And truth is absolute by definition, so if we say we know something, then we’re saying it’s true and certain. Yet in common conversation, thinkers use words like “know” or “truth” to express their opinions. But opinion isn’t knowing. And opinions prove nothing. Opinions are vapor.
In general, thinkers repeat things they’ve been taught or they’re convinced by what they’ve read in a book or publication they trust. So they memorize concepts in school and think these learned concepts are true. Professors taught them these concepts, and authors put these concepts in books. It’s likely that the authors and professors thought these concepts were true. Yet these concepts were mere fabrications of the mind. In developing these concepts, there may have been observations or experiences, but the interpretations that led to the concepts were based on worldviews. And the interpretations that led to the concepts went beyond the observations or experiences.