Can a pragmatist accept a priori knowledge? Consider the following statements of a priori knowledge:
1) 4 beer cans and 3 beer cans equals 7 beer cans in total.
2) A can contains the properties metallic and cylindrical.
The mind has inescapable a priori knowledge that operates as an interpretative function for ordering and categorizing experience. A pragmatist can instrumentally stipulate any definition. If we take thought as a priori, i.e.capable of intuitions independent of experience, one can stipulate necessary conventions for assimilating experience. In this way the self generates a priori thoughts that function as an interpretive structure brought to experience, but this a priori knowledge is uniquely exclusive to the self. Revisions to current a priori knowledge have no affect on past interpretations as they have already been interpreted as experience. All a priori stipulations provide a ‘perceptual gestalt’ or ‘interpretive lens’ composed of axioms that categorize experience into concepts to suit personal ends. The implications of a stipulation may even yield new insights about experience, as when two stipulated definitions render incompatible (contradictory or inconsistent) experience.
The two examples given illustrate concepts with definitions stipulated a priori that categorize experiences a posteriori. In this way the definition of a can brings classification to experience, so that experiencing the properties metallic and cylindrical classify an experience as a can.
While experience may provide material to stipulate categorical definitions, such as certain predications, it is not necessary for stipulating. Stipulations arise from the mind and are brought to experience as a priori categorical structures.