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It is not a concept created from perception. I know that Objectivism rejects a prior knowledge as being factual. My question is rather can man form a priori concepts or is it something else (e.g., misintegration).

asked Jan 26 '12 at 00:24

Humbug's gravatar image


In Kant's sense of the term, a priori "concepts" are often simply arbitrary assertions -- the idea of God would fall in that category.

answered Jan 26 '12 at 04:48

Rick's gravatar image

Rick ♦

edited Jan 27 '12 at 05:43

Can you clarify what are the different sense of the term a priori? Thanks.

(Jan 26 '12 at 11:05) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

The basic idea behind a priori knowledge is that comes without experience, without specifying what the source is. However, Kant took this further, and said that a priori knowledge has a "transcendental" source -- based on the form of objects, rather than our experience of them.

(Jan 27 '12 at 04:47) Rick ♦ Rick's gravatar image

"God" is a name for a fictional thing. Lower-case "god" is a concept for a particular kind of fictional thing.

"God" is like "Thor" or "Zeus" or even "Dominique Francon".

"god" is like "unicorn" or "ghost" or "minotaur".

People are capable of imagining the existence of kinds of things which do not exist. These kinds are given names, and the result is a concept of the imaginary.

The above ability to imagine can be used productively, or destructively. "Television" before television existed, was a concept of the imaginary. "god" is, and always will be, a concept of the imaginary.

Strictly speaking, the ideas of "God" and "god" are products of human invention -- evil products, because they are generally used for deception -- to fake the existence of that which is not.

answered Jan 26 '12 at 10:56

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

edited Jan 26 '12 at 11:00

As others have noted, "God" would be a proper name referring to a purported entity, a god, while the term "god" refers to a concept. (To give a more mundane example: you wouldn't refer to "Sally Smith" as a concept. Rather, that is a name referring to an entity, a person. The term "person" refers to a concept, though.)

Now as to whether either the idea of God or the concept of a god is a priori, Objectivism notes that all knowledge ultimately proceeds from the evidence of the senses -- and this emphatically includes concepts, which are at root mental integrations of perceptual data. A priori means "independent of experience", and so Objectivists see it as nonsensical -- both figuratively and literally :^) -- to talk about there actually being a priori knowledge or concepts.

Finally, your suspicion is corrcect: while God is not an a priori idea and "god" is not an a priori concept (because no knowledge is a priori), there is nonetheless something going wrong with God/god. As others have noted here, the idea of "God" and the concept "god" both appear to be arbitrary contrivances thrown up by the fertile imaginations of men. Something to notice on this front, though, is that even these fictions aren't entirely divorced from prior experience: men note their own limitations and imagine something not as limited, or not limited at all; men note their power to create things in this way or that way, and imagine something having the power to create more and bigger things in more ways -- or to create anything in any way; men know some things in particular human ways, and imagine something able to know more and in other ways -- or to know anything in any way (or in no particular way). You get the idea: even our imagination has roots in prior experience.

answered Jan 27 '12 at 14:51

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

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Asked: Jan 26 '12 at 00:24

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Last updated: Jan 27 '12 at 14:51