What is the difference between A Priori and A Posteriori? What are analytic and synthetic statements?
What is the difference between A Priori and A Posteriori statements or arguments?
A Posteriori statements are statements or truths ‘post experience’. In other words, you have to have experienced something in order to make the claim. Remember it because ‘post’ means after – after experience.
A Priori Philosophical statements are based on logic
A Priori statements are usually ‘analytic’ in nature and A Posteriori statements are usually ‘synthetic’ in nature.
What is an analytic statement?
An analytic statement is one that is analytically true i.e. it is true within itself. An example of this is the term ‘bachelor’. A bachelor is an unmarried male. The term bachelor entails ‘maleness’ and ‘unmarriedness’. If you told me ‘John is a bachelor’ I would not have to meet John to know that he was unmarried and that he was a man. That is because the term ‘bachelor’ itself tells me these things analytically.
What is a synthetic statement?
A synthetic statement is something that is true by the way it relates to the world. For example, ‘the cat is black’ is a synthetic statement.
Now, let’s say that ‘catness’ entailed ‘blackness’, and Timmy was a cat. He would therefore be black, and this would be analytic. However, not all cats are black. Therefore, the statement ‘the cat is black’ is synthetic.
Is the statement ‘God Exists’ A Priori or A Posteriori?
This is a trick question, because the answer is both!
If we argue that ‘God exists’ from Design in the world (Paley), we are presenting a A Posteriori argument. That is because I have to experience the design in the world to be able to present the argument for God as a designer.
If we say that ‘God’ exists arguing ontologically, we are presenting an A Priori analytic argument. This is because, according to Anselm, existence is a logical necessity for God.