Bolzano a priori knowledge, and the Classical Model of Science
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This paper is aimed at understanding one central aspect of Bolzano’s views on deductive knowledge: what it means for a proposition and for a term to be known a priori. I argue that, for Bolzano, a priori knowledge is knowledge by virtue of meaning and that Bolzano has substantial views about meaning and what it is to know the latter. In particular, Bolzano believes that meaning is determined by implicit definition, i.e. the fundamental propositions in a deductive system. I go into some detail in presenting and discussing Bolzano’s views on grounding, a priori knowledge and implicit definition. I explain why other aspects of Bolzano’s theory and, in particular, his peculiar understanding of analyticity and the related notion of Ableitbarkeit might, as it has invariably in the past, mislead one to believe that Bolzano lacks a significant account of a priori knowledge. Throughout the paper, I point out to the ways in which, in this respect, Bolzano’s antagonistic relationship to Kant directly shaped his own views.
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