What does it mean a priori: definition, examples of use



The tendency to use words like a priori in ordinary speech, the meaning of which is unusual for the conversational style, has reached a new level with the advent of an accessible Internet. If a couple of decades ago they could be heard with a few exceptions, except among the intelligentsia, now it is not a rarity in everyday conversation. At the same time, the meaning of the word a priori is far from always known to the interlocutor or even to the speaker himself. It sounds nice and clever, the definition is a little clear from the context - so why not? But no! The last thing that any reasonable person needs is to get into a ridiculous situation due to the fact that he himself does not fully understand what he is saying.

What does a priori mean?

The phrase, and it was she (a priori), did not at any time belong to the most popular styles of speech and certainly not used in everyday life. Hearing "this dress is a priori for you to face." Immanuel Kant is surely turning over in his coffin.It was he who gave life to this term, however, in a purely scientific, philosophical understanding.


However, many scientific inventions receive a second life, and the terms are no exception. Today, their use in ordinary conversation is not considered a mauveon, provided that everything is said to be relevant in the case. There is a difference between scientific and domestic interpretation, so it’s worthwhile to deal with both cases separately.

A priori concept: scientific value

Kant and his followers put a deep meaning in the term of Latin origin.Actual translation a priori - from previous- does not clarify the situation in any way, so you should take a little time into philosophy.

A priori are knowledge, independent of experience, acquired before it.Knowledge known in advance and not having the opportunity to be confirmed or disproved by experience. Pure theory.


So what is a priori in philosophical understanding? To be precise, it is more likely to describe the meaning of a word by a theoretically grounded assumption. Kant himself gave this name to a view that does not require evidence of experience.

The need to isolate the term arose because of the constantly evolving and not closed to this day direction.knowledge of the world by man. The doctrine, recognizing the existence of a priori, was called "a priori." The greatest scientists of history, capable of thinking "beyond" known knowledge, followed this theory before and after the emergence of the direction - Plato, Newton, Mendeleev, and Einstein.

An example of a philosophical interpretation of "a priori" is the assumption of the existence of one God, one mind. Millions of people all over the world believe in this, and it is impossible to prove theory empirically (empirically). Similarly, the theoretical knowledge of quantum physics and mechanics, which not only go beyond the visible and tangible world, and sometimes even contradict it (a microparticle quantum can simultaneously be located in several points in space).


What is a priori in everyday life

The complex and deep scientific meaning of the word a priori did not fully translate into modern language. In everyday life, as a rule, a strongly abbreviated version of the definition is used, simultaneously expanding the scope of the term.

Unlike philosophy,a priori in conversation is an expression that means the statement is obvious, and it makes it emotionally, effectively.Today, instead of “it’s clear,” “more than obvious,” “I won’t discover America by saying” the interlocutors use a short and succinct word.


The idiom used in the articulation of any statement, its existence eliminates the need to prove its veracity. What has been said automatically becomes obvious, does not require facts in support, and should be taken as a given. This interpretation is very close to the definition of an axiom - a postulate that is taken without proof on faith and does not need to be checked or studied.

For example, the axiom that parallel lines do not intersect, at the household level, you can sound like "parallel lines do not intersect a priori," and the meaning will not change.

On the other hand, the word can also be used with negative emotional coloring. For example, in the statement that people before Copernicus argued that the earth was a priori flat, the term emphasizes inflexibility, inertia of reflection, and the avoidance of development.

What does it mean a priori: examples of use in conversation


As is clear from the meaning of the word a priori in modern language, it can be used where previously you would say “by default”, “obviously”, “of course”, “understandable”, etc.:

“A priori a solvent audience lives on Rublevka”

"This product is a priori the best price / quality in its category"

"You will not have time on this train a priori"

“A priori, a diamond is the most versatile precious stone,” etc.

However, it is important to understand that by replacing all possible versions of the statement of the obvious with a single a priori, a person voluntarily impoverishes his speech. No matter how beautiful, capacious and mysterious the word may sound, it is not worth using it in each case. It is better not to replace the previously used phraseological units, but add one more option to them.

In addition, given the possible negative perception of meaning, one should not resort to using a priori a priori for another reason - such an interlocutor may be suspected of rejection of progress and new opinions. How to argue with a person who has not a single sentence can be proved or disproved by the facts? But it is precisely in dispute that truth is born.

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