Skepticism - Custom Research Paper
Skepticism, generally speaking, is placing doubt on whether an object or particular idea exists or contains truth. The idea is common in all walks of life, however, its most common existence can be found in many philosophical works.
Writers and philosophers known as skeptics share a common theme, in that most challenge a vast majority of areas that are commonly known to be truth. For the skeptic, reality, therefore, is not always what it presents itself to be. In fact, knowledge about a specific subject, object or idea, fails to prove reality about it (Landesman). One may feel that the idea of skepticism comes from the mind of an individual that will not believe what he or she observes. Although true on its face, true skepticism comes with strong arguments and probable and plausible evidence and arguments, as Landesman notes.
In examining the idea of skepticism, it is important to understand why it exists. A quest to answer a common question as to the purpose of doubting the reality of specific things, is one that may or may not be worth beginning for many. Simply put, accepting reality for what it is, is the safest way to approach most situations. However, because of the existence of realism, materialism, empiricism, rationalism and idealism, the validity of skepticism must exist on some plane.
Writers and philosophers who's works fall into a specific category of thought allows for a seemingly simple method of identifying both their work and the thought process behind it. This allows the reader to pit each though process against one another and extrapolate meaning to each. Although easy to do for some in regards to the several areas of thinking, skepticism seems to bring a sense of negativity and a time consuming plethora of circular reasoning that many simply don't have time for.
It has been said that whenever someone believes something, there will always be someone else that does not. According to some people, their belief is the empirical truth and everything else is simply false. This stand does not seem to fall into the realm of what true skepticism is and has since watered down the idea's meaning through the centuries.
Early philosophers took a more broad approach to examining things from a skeptical point of view. For example, being a skeptic about a certain religion, does not, necessarily make one an atheist. The true skeptic will not write off other beliefs or apparent truths (Suber). True skepticism must be void of conceit and presumption. In fact, as Suber points out, the word skeptic, to the early Greeks, simply meant “inquirer.” Today, however, the term is loosely used to define someone who strongly doubts or disbelieves and idea.
Kant, in his writings, was quite careful in not writing off belief systems as untruth. In understanding Kant from a skeptic's point of view, one must separate the types of skepticism used in his writings (Forster). Kant's work contained three types of skepticism. Veil of perception, skepticism focuses on one's ability to infer conclusions based on his or her mental interpretations of the idea. Humean skepticism focuses on the truths that are not necessarily attached to logic or sensibility. Pyrrhonian skepticism is the idea that truths must have equal arguments for and against it, Forster writes. The definition of Kant's skepticism seems as though it is possible to argue the truth about any subject to known to man. This is possible based on the findings here. However, in attempting to use Kant's work to find truth or untruth in everyday occurrences such as politics, economics or sociology, for example, it seems like a mental and emotional merry-go-round ride would surely be included.
It is clear that skepticism, simply speaking, is a way to challenge everyday beliefs on many planes. The quest of absolute truth or absolute falseness seems to fuel the skeptic's fire. Most often than not, skepticism is simply the attempt to challenge metaphysical theories that man has come to accept as truth or to ground or re-ground and find fault in our everyday belief systems (Rudd). This rings true on several fronts. For example, one person may feel strongly that our everyday beliefs are in severe need of legitimization. Another may feel that what man knows as truth may simply be enough, however, may still hold in the back of their mind that what we know as trutth could be wrong. In either case, however, all attempts of disproving universal truths will involve wrestling with common sense, as Rudd notes.
It is evident by the findings here that skepticism may simply be a journey to center of one's mind in many cases. Championing an argument against pragmatic black and white, appears possible, however, it also presents itself as one void of anything practical. However, skepticism in the true sense of the word is something that can be used in every day life. One might ask themselves “Is it better to be a skeptic or a sucker?” Based on this research it is safe to assume that a skeptic may, in fact be a sucker, and the sucker, could, just as easily, prove to be nothing more than a skeptic.
Forster, Michael. Kant and Skepticism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.
Landesman, Charles. Skepticism: The Central Issues. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002.
Rudd, Anthony. Expressing the World: Skepticism, Wittgenstein and Heidegger. Peru, Illinois: Carus.
Suber, Peter. “Classical Skepticism.” 1996. Department of Philosophy, Earlham College.