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As long as one is not a pure skeptic, it is quite possible to be skeptical about skepticism by doubting it and questioning it, but not necessarily rejecting it. Academic skepticism, which says "nothing can be known except this statement", sidesteps being self refuting by special pleading. Skepticism is not a productive policy when used by itself. To produce new knowledge, it requires additional philosophical tools such as empiricism and evidentialism.

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We have to guard carefully against it. Frank Turek asked his religion professor if God existed. The professor responded "I don't know". Frank responded:. This falsely equates considering the evidence and concluding "I don't know", with not looking at the evidence and saying "I don't know".

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Skeptical doubt on an issue is not the same being uninformed. From Religions Wiki. Jump to: navigation , search.

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For more information, see the Wikipedia article: Skepticism. Pyrrhonian only withheld assent with regard to the non-evident propositions. But when ours are challenged, it takes great patience and ego strength to listen with an unjaundiced ear.


But certainty is an absurd one. How, it is ask, can rational arguments be used to undercut rationality itself without thereby undercutting themselves? If you are skeptical about everything, you would have to be skeptical of your own skepticism. I could have respected a qualified "yes" or "no" with some reasons given, but not "I don't know"-I could get that from an uninformed man on the street.

I expected a lot more from a university religion professor. Categories : Philosophy Epistemology. Namespaces Page Discussion. In this way he sought happiness, or at least mental peace. Starting from the skeptical doctrines of Socrates, its leaders, Arcesilaus and Carneades , set forth a series of epistemological arguments to show that nothing could be known, challenging primarily what were then the two foremost schools, Stoicism and Epicureanism.

The Skeptical Challenge

They denied that any criteria could be found for distinguishing the true from the false; instead, only reasonable or probable standards could be established. This limited, or probabilistic, skepticism was the view of the Academy until the 1st century bce , when the Roman philosopher and orator Cicero was a student there. His Academica and De natura deorum are the main sources of modern knowledge of this movement. The other major form of ancient skepticism was Pyrrhonism , apparently developed by medical skeptics in Alexandria. Beginning with Aenesidemus 1st century bce , this movement, named after Pyrrhon, criticized the Academic skeptics because they claimed to know too much—namely, that nothing could be known and that some things are more probable than others. The Pyrrhonian attitude is preserved in the writings of one of its last leaders, Sextus Empiricus 2nd or 3rd century ce.

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In his Outlines of Pyrrhonism and Adversus mathematicos, Sextus presented the tropes developed by previous Pyrrhonists. The 10 tropes attributed to Aenesidemus showed the difficulties encountered by attempts to ascertain the truth or reliability of judgments based on sense information, owing to the variability and differences of human and animal perceptions. Other arguments raised difficulties in determining whether there are any reliable criteria or standards—logical, rational, or otherwise—for judging whether anything is true or false.

To settle any disagreement, a criterion seems to be required. Any purported criterion, however, would have to be based either on another criterion—thus leading to an infinite regress of criteria—or on itself, which would be circular. Sextus offered arguments to challenge any claims of dogmatic philosophers to know more than what is evident, and in so doing he presented, in one form or another, practically all of the skeptical arguments that have ever appeared in subsequent philosophy.

Sextus said that his arguments were aimed at leading people to a state of ataraxia unperturbability. People who thought that they could know reality were constantly disturbed and frustrated. If they could be led to suspend judgment, however, they would find peace of mind.

In this state of suspension they would neither affirm nor deny the possibility of knowledge but would remain peaceful, still waiting to see what might develop. The Pyrrhonist did not become inactive in this state of suspense but lived undogmatically according to appearances, customs, and natural inclinations. Article Media. Info Print Print. This entry has no external links. Add one. Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server Configure custom proxy use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy.

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