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MORE ABOUT A POSTERIORI
What does a posteriori mean?
A posteriori is a term applied to knowledge considered to be true based on experience, observation, or existing data. In this sense, a posteriori describes knowledge that requires evidence.
A posteriori comes from Latin and literally translates as “from the latter” or “from the one behind.”
It’s often applied to things involving inductive reasoning, which uses specific instances to arrive at a general principle or law (from effect to cause).
It can be used as an adjective, as in a posteriori knowledge, or as an adverb, as in We acquire knowledge a posteriori—through experience.
A posteriori contrasts with a priori, which literally translates as “from the previous” or “from the one before” and is applied to things considered to be true without being based on previous experience or observation. A priori is applied to things that involve deductive reasoning, which uses general principles to arrive at specific facts or conclusions (from cause to effect).
Both a priori and a posteriori are used in the context of reasoning and philosophy, especially epistemology, which is the philosophical study of knowledge. Both can also be used generally, though they’re often used formally.
Example: It’s a scientist’s job to gather facts a posteriori by careful observation.
Where does a posteriori come from?
The first records of the use of a posteriori in English come from around 1620. The first part, a, means “from,” and posteriori means “behind” (the English word posterior is based on the same root).
The terms a priori and a posteriori were popularized by philosopher Immanuel Kant in his influential 1781 book Critique of Pure Reason, which focuses on the distinction between empirical and non-empirical knowledge.
A priori knowledge is independent of experience, while a posteriori knowledge is derived from experience or observation. Things that are claimed to be true a priori are often thought to be self-evident, while those claimed to be true a posteriori are based on what has been experienced or demonstrated to be true.
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How is a posteriori used in real life?
A posteriori is primarily used in philosophy, but is also occasionally used in general conversation and writing.
My break up with someone’s son showed me that we had no business trying again. Lessons about love can only be a posteriori never a priori.
— Zinhle ka’Nobuhlaluse (@ConflictedBlkW) March 26, 2020
A posteriori knowledge or justification is dependent on experience or empirical evidence
— Philosophy Tweets⚡️ (@philosophytweet) April 30, 2013
All this staying indoors has really put a dent in my a posteriori knowledge but it's done wonders for my a priori knowledge
— Michael Bench-Capon (@MikeBenchCapon) June 3, 2020
Try using a posteriori!
True or False?
A posteriori knowledge is thought to be self-evident.
How to use a posteriori in a sentence
ROME — What does it take for a Hollywood A-lister to get a private audience with Pope Francis?Pope Francis Has the Pleasure of Meeting Angelina Jolie for a Few Seconds|Barbie Latza Nadeau|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Yes, Byrd—dead four-and-a-half years now—was a Kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan.Steve Scalise and the Right’s Ridiculous Racial Blame Game|Michael Tomasky|January 2, 2015|DAILY BEAST
By the time it concluded with a sing-a-long of “XO,” Beyoncé had done the rare thing.Bow Down, Bitches: How Beyoncé Turned an Elevator Brawl Into a Perfect Year|Kevin Fallon|December 31, 2014|DAILY BEAST
In another year, stories about the strange new face of an A-list actress might draw chortles and cackles.Renée Zellweger Got a New Face—and Everyone Had An Opinion About It|Kevin O’Keeffe|December 29, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Because Duck Dynasty receives monster TV ratings and Robertson paid by a company (A&E) while making these public statements.Butts, Brawls, and Bill Cosby: The Biggest Celebrity Scandals of 2014 |Kevin Fallon|December 27, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Now-a-days it is the bankrupt who flouts, and his too confiding creditors who are jeered and laughed at.Glances at Europe|Horace Greeley
He felt himself the meanest, vilest thing a-crawl upon this sinful earth, and she—dear God!St. Martin's Summer|Rafael Sabatini
All that scientific bric-a-brac in the cupboard had far better be thrown away.The Salvaging Of Civilisation|H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
Urinary sediments may be studied under three heads: A. Unorganized sediments.A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis|James Campbell Todd
I knowed, a-course, that I could go kick up a fuss when Simpson stopped by his office on his trip back from Goldstone.Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher|Eleanor Gates