Epistemic berry picking a priori

The characteristic note of modern thought is to try to figure out exactly what the limits of the mind are so that one might judge subsequent claims to knowledge. This is rather like trying to draw a map of where the fruit is before you go out looking for it, and then refusing to try anything that isn’t on the map- or swallowing everything that is. It’s also like studying your kitchen mixer to figure out what sort of cookies you can make- it’s a relevant concern, but not the primary concern. 

The older way of proceeding- which placed experience first and not universal method- was more free. One could only go out with a few general guidelines and try to see what you can find. You might discover some patterns of where things grow, or you might not; you might gather a few berries that make you sick or not; you might have far more success at finding one kind of thing or another. it may turn out that some things can only be found where you find them, without patterns, or predictability, or clearly separate from what is harmful. 

The modern way seems to have ended with the death of logical positivism. Postmodernism has done a good job of kicking the berry map drawers out into the woods again, but there is an irritating hangover of “the system” that attempts to judge all experience a priori in their fascination with language. But this remnant of modernism will probably disappear soon.

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