There is no <a priori probability> about it

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
“Dirty-looking rascals, but I suppose every one has some little immortal spark concealed about him. You would not think it, to look at them. There is no a priori probability about it. A strange enigma is man!”

The Sign of the Four, novel

Hi. What does the bold part mean in this context?
Thank you.
 
  • S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    a pri•o•ri /ˌeɪ praɪˈɔraɪ, -ˈoʊraɪ/ adj.
    1. Philosophy: from a general law to a particular instance;
      reasoning from cause to effect:a priori thinking.
    2. Philosophy: existing in the mind independent of experience;
      valid independently of observation:an a priori belief.
    I take the 'immortal spark' to mean 'soul'. Holmes is looking at a bunch of rascals (lower class perhaps criminals) and saying that just from observation and reasoning, it would seem unlikely (ie, low probability) that each one has a soul. He is feeling superior because the people he is looking at are poor and dirty.
    It is a very victorian thing to treat the lower class as if they were animals; which, in Holmes's cosmology, have no souls.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    a pri•o•ri /ˌeɪ praɪˈɔraɪ, -ˈoʊraɪ/ adj.
    1. Philosophy: from a general law to a particular instance;
      reasoning from cause to effect:a priori thinking.
    2. Philosophy: existing in the mind independent of experience;
      valid independently of observation:an a priori belief.
    I take the 'immortal spark' to mean 'soul'. Holmes is looking at a bunch of rascals (lower class perhaps criminals) and saying that just from observation and reasoning, it would seem unlikely (ie, low probability) that each one has a soul. He is feeling superior because the people he is looking at are poor and dirty.
    It is a very victorian thing to treat the lower class as if they were animals; which, in Holmes's cosmology, have no souls.
    Thank you. So it is definition 2 that applies in this context, right?

    By the way, the quotation is said by Mr Athelney Jones, a well-known member of the detective police force in London, not Holmes.
     
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