"I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am". ----Rene Descartes
"The worst speculative Sceptic ever I knew, was a much better Man than the best prestigious Devotee and Bigot (I have ever known)." --David Hume (Letter to Gilbert Elliot of Minto, March 10, 1751)
The original Greek meaning of skeptikos was “an inquirer,” someone who was unsatisfied and still looking for truth. At its simplest, Skepticism holds that one should refrain from making bold truth claims, and avoid the postulation of final truths.
Socrates claimed that he knew one, and only one, thing: “that he knew nothing”. Thus, rather than making assertions or opinions, he set about questioning people who claimed to have knowledge, ostensibly for the purpose of learning from them. Although he never claimed that knowledge is impossible.
Skepticism in Western philosophy is the the practice of doubting “knowledge claims” set forth in various areas. Skeptics challenge the adequacy or reliability of these claims by asking what principles they are based upon or what they actually establish. They question whether some such “claims” really are, as alleged, indubitable or necessarily true, and they have challenged the purported rational grounds of accepted assumptions.
In everyday life, practically everyone is skeptical about some knowledge claims; but philosophical skeptics doubt the possibility of any knowledge beyond that of the contents of directly felt experience.
Skepticism is a philosophy based on life, experience and phenomenon. A “phenomenon” is a physical object that we can perceive. For example, an object emits (or reflects) light. The eye emits radiation. The meeting of those two creates an image in our mind of a physical object that constitutes a “perception” in our mind which is a “phenomenon”.
The main consequence is that an object is never seen as its true self. What we see is a kind of screen, on which is projected a mask. The perception is relative. When Plato concluded that we must be wary of the vision and know the idea, he concluded that there was no way skeptics can know at all about something. Skeptics do not deny the existence of a being or of truth, only its true appearance. We must therefore remain undecided about everything we can perceive. (i.e. The Allegory of the Cave by Plato , see: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=the+allogory+of+the+cave+plato+video&view=detail&mid=0A35B8E177363200D6230A35B8E177363200D623&FORM=VIRE)
Morally, for example, Skeptics deny the existence of an “absolute” in anything, such as good, but instead admit the existence of better lives than others. The wisest course then is to follow the customs of the most widespread and accepted ideas and be guided by our own experience and life.
When practicing Skepticism it’s easy to slip into Cynicism. The difference between the two is that:
*Skepticism means I have doubts, questions, concerns, but the door is open to information that will help me make up my mind.
*Cynicism means my door is closed, locked and nailed shut. I’m not questioning, I’m not looking for information, and I’m not open to new ideas. My mind is made up. That’s it!
Philosophical skepticism systematically questions the notion that absolute certain knowledge about any subject is possible. Philosophical skepticism is opposed to philosophical dogmatism, which maintains that a set of positive statements about a subject are authoritative, absolutely certain and true (i.e. the proclamations of any religious, historical or governmental document).
The first Skeptic was Pyrrho of Elis and the Skeptic movement which subsequently grew up was largely based around his early ideas. Pyrrho travelled and studied as far as India, but he became overwhelmed by his inability to determine rationally which of the various competing schools of thought of the time was correct. Upon admitting that to himself, he finally achieved the inner peace (or "ataraxia") that he had been seeking (and which became the ultimate goal of the early Skeptikoi), and he propounded the adoption of what he called "practical skepticism". Pyrrho himself wrote nothing, everything that we know of him comes from other ancient writers.
Around 266 B.C., Arcesilaus (c. 316 - 241 B.C.) became head of Plato's Academy in Athens, and he strongly changed the Academy's emphasis from Platonism to Skepticism, and it remained the center of "Academic Skepticism" for the next two centuries.
Towards the end of the 1st Century A.D., Agrippa the Skeptic established five tropes (or grounds of doubt):
-Dissent - the uncertainty of the rules of common life, and of the opinions of philosophers.
-Progress ad infinitum - all proof requires some further proof (and so on, to infinity).
-Relation - all things are changed as their relations become changed, or as we look upon them from different points of view.
-Assumption - the truth asserted is merely a hypothesis or assumption.
-Circularity - the truth asserted involves a vicious circle.
Much of the history of early Christian philosophy is an attempt to superimpose the new religion over Greek and Roman philosophical methods which were based on Skepticism and probable knowledge. So early Christian thinkers such as St. Augustine and Boethius adapted the epistemological traditions of Greece and Rome to demonstrate that one could in fact arrive at certain knowledge at least in matters of Christian religion.
After centuries of religious dogmatism throughout the Middle Ages, Skepticism again resurfaced during the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th Century. Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592) in France and and Francis Bacon in England both took as their starting point the skeptical viewpoint that they knew nothing for certain, as did Blaise Pascal and René Descartes, although these early pioneers were careful not to jettison their Christian beliefs.
From ancient times onward skeptics have developed arguments to undermine the contentions of dogmatic philosophers, scientists, and theologians. The skeptical arguments and their employment against various forms of dogmatism have played an important role in shaping both the problems and the solutions offered in the course of Western philosophy.
As ancient philosophy and science developed, doubts arose about various basic, widely accepted beliefs about the world. In ancient times, skeptics challenged the claims of Plato and Aristotle and their followers, as well as those of the Stoics; and during the Renaissance similar challenges were raised against the claims of Scholasticism and Calvinism. In the 17th century, skeptics attacked Cartesianism (the system established by the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes) along with other theories that attempted to justify the scientific revolution initiated by Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.
Later, a skeptical offensive was leveled against the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant and then against the philosophical idealist Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and his followers. Each challenge led to new attempts to resolve the skeptical difficulties.
Modern Skepticism, especially since the Enlightenment, has come to mean disbelief (primarily religious disbelief) and the skeptic has often been likened to the village atheist. For example, Skeptics do not deny the existence of God, Morels or Truths, they just say “Prove it to me”, and then question every explanation to infinity.
The core concepts of ancient skepticism are belief, suspension of judgment, criterion of truth, appearances, and investigation. Important notions of modern skepticism such as knowledge, certainty, justified belief, and doubt play no or almost no role.
The Skeptical argument is an argument which tries to show that we can have no knowledge of the external world and no knowledge about the existence and natures of things outside our own minds. So, a skeptic is someone who thinks that we can’t know about “the existence of the ﬂoor under our feet, or the tree outside the window, or our own teeth.” All we can really know are facts about the way things seem or appear to us -- facts that we can experience through our own sensations and other mental processes.
Rene Descartes established a methodological skepticism (also known as Cartesian Skepticism) in which he rejected any idea that can be doubted, and then attempted to re-establish it in order to acquire a firm foundation for genuine knowledge. His famous formulation "Cogito, ergo sum" is sometimes stated as "Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum" ("I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am").
Dogmatism- Skepticism is effectively the opposite of dogmatism, the idea that certain established beliefs are not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from.
Agnostic : somebody who doesn't believe in something until there is evidence for it.
Secular Humanism- embraces human reason, ethics, social justice, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the bases of morality and decision making. Believe that we live once therefore we should enjoy it.
Atheism- a lack of belief in gods, primarily anthropomorphic gods, not a disbelief in gods or a denial of god.
Epistemology- the study of human knowledge. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.
Empiricism- a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. Empiricism emphasizes the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, over the idea of innate ideas or traditions; empiricists may argue, however that traditions arise due to relations of previous sense experiences
VIEW OF THE UNIVERSE
All we know of the Universe is determined from what we can perceive.
We all perceive and experience things differently.
There are no basic truths which must be accepted.
Things can be absolute and/or true, but they must go through a period of testing, discovery and reasoning first, before they can be accepted.
The skeptical movement is a modern social movement based on the idea of scientific skepticism ( a/k/a rational skepticism). Scientific skepticism is the application of skeptical philosophy, critical thinking skills, and knowledge of science and its methods to empirical claims, while remaining agnostic or neutral to non-empirical claims (except those that directly impact the practice of science)
The movement has the goal of investigating claims made on fringe topics and determining if they are supported by empirical research and are reproducible, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". The process followed is sometimes referred to as “skeptical inquiry”.
The true meaning of the word skepticism has nothing to do with doubt, disbelief, or negativity. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It's the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion.
A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient, and therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence, and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves.
Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion
PEOPLE WHO PRACTICED STOICISM
Some of the most famous Skeptics in history include:
Leonardo da Vinci James Madison
Plato Napoleon Bonaparte
Jean Jacques Rousseau Simon Bolivar
Robert Frost Edgar Allan Poe
Abraham Lincoln Karl Marx
Joseph Kennedy Charles R. Darwin
Diogenes Andrew Carnegie
Copernicus Samuel Clemens "Mark Twain",
Thomas Edison Sigmund Freud
George Bernard Shaw Clarence Seward Darrow
William Howard Taft Marie Curie
"H.G." Wells Vladimir Ilich Lenin
Albert Einstein Joseph Stalin
Virginia Woolf DH Lawrence
Jawaharlal Nehru Sir Alfred Hitchcock
Mao Tse-tung Ernest Hemingway
Walter "Walt" Disney George Orwell
Howard Hughes Gene Roddenberry
George C. Scott Carl Sagan
John Lennon Richard Burton
A “Skeptic” is one who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions.
The early Greek Skeptics criticized the Stoics, accusing them of Dogmatism, and argued that the logical mode of argument was untenable, as it relied on propositions which could not be said to be either true or false without relying on further propositions (the regress argument), so that every proposition must rely on other propositions in order to maintain its validity. In addition, the Skeptics argued that two propositions could not rely on each other, as this would create a circular argument.
Stoics replied that the method of reasoning which the Skeptic used is also bound to be unreliable. So that:
Either the skeptic is right, in which case we cannot trust our ability to reason and therefore cannot trust the skeptic's conclusion; or the skeptic is wrong, in which case again we cannot trust the skeptic's conclusion.
Modern day Skepticism is primarily used in modern science to test the value of a scientific idea. It is also used in the process of Debunking pseudoscience.
January 27, 2018