Chapter 5 :Epistemology
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Skepticism is the belief that some or
all human knowledge is impossible. Since even our best methods for
learning about the world sometimes fall short of perfect certainty,
skeptics argue, it is better to suspend belief than to rely on the
dubitable products of reason. Classical skeptics include Pyrrho and Sextus
Empiricus. In the modern era, Montaigne, Bayle,
all advocated some form of skeptical philosophy. Fallibilism is a more
moderate response to the lack of certainty.
David Hume, the jovial skeptic
Suggested Reading: Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
A degree of skepticism is quite healthy as a counterpoint to being too credulous and being taken in by poor reasoning and illusions and deliberate attempts to mislead and deceive. Skepticism that holds that it is not possible to have knowledge is self defeating and not productive. There should be a skeptical inquiry that is used before humans reach conclusions and decide which beliefs they will hold. There is a sort of positive skepticism that urges caution and all deliberate care and critique before drawing conclusions or setting beliefs but does not reject the possibility of either achieving knowledge or gaining closer proximity to knowledge and truth.
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© Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2000. All Rights reserved.
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