SKEPTICISM, History of Skepticism, & "Academic skepticism...


History of skepticism

The goal of all philosophical schools, which until now we have considered, was the search for the foundations of knowledge and the construction on these grounds of a certain philosophical system. Skepticism (IV century BC - II century AD) stands out from this series in that it does not offer any system of knowledge, but on the contrary, insists on the impossibility of constructing such a system. Instead, the skeptics offer a certain philosophical practice, which is based on abstaining from judgment about the true nature of things. The tool of this practice is the dialectical method , which allows to challenge dogmatic philosophical positions, and the goal is serenity and peace of mind, which skeptics call happiness.

Skepticism can be divided into pyrronism and academic skepticism. Pyrrhonism, or actually skeptical doctrine, originates from the philosophy of Pyrrho of Elis (approx. - 275 BC) , who insisted that our sensations can not be recognized as true or false, and the things themselves are unstable and can not be determined. As a reasonable attitude to things, Pirron proposed the principle of abstinence from judgments (epoche ), which applied in the intellectual and ethical spheres. The closest pupil of Pyrrho was Timon from Fliupt (320-230 BC) , who wrote "Cylls" - a collection of satirical poems in which famous philosophers are described.

The philosophy of Pyrrho has had a significant impact on the Platonists of the Middle and New Academy. The teaching of the scholar of the Secondary Academy Arkesilaus of Pitana (circa 315 - 240 BC) became the basis for a skeptical turn of academic philosophy, which was expressed in the interruption of the tradition - Arkesilaus no longer discusses Platonic doctrine as it is represented in Plato, Sieviaia and Xenocrates, but proclaims as the main task of philosophy a return to Socrates and the use of the Socratic method of conducting philosophical

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Discussion. Philosophy Arkesilaya continued and developed the Carneades from Cyrene (circa 214 - 129 BC) ; he introduced the concepts of probability and persuasiveness as a relative criterion of truth.

Pyrrhonism revives in the philosophy of Enesydem (around the 1st century BC), Agrippa (1st century BC - 1st century AD) and Sextus of the Empiricist (2nd half of the 2nd century AD) . Maximal development and certainty skeptical philosophy received in the works of Enesydem and Agrippa, while Sextus Empiricus acted as a systematizer of the teachings of his predecessors. It is from his books "Pyrrhonic Regulations" (3 books) and Against Scientists (11 books), we draw today the most complete information on the views of skeptics. Skepticism as a method that casts doubt on the truth of statements and beliefs had a long history and was apprehended by the philosophers of modern times. Skeptical criticism of the "dogmatic" philosophy became one of the reasons that led to the philosophical syncretism of the first century. AD On the other hand, this critique of ideas about the criteria of truth, developed in classical and Hellenistic philosophy, "cleared the way" for a new type of discourse based on the concept of Revelation and characteristic of the era that began after the Nativity of Christ.

Academic skepticism of Arkesilaus and Carneades

Pirron's ideas were developed in the Middle and New Academy, namely in the teachings of her scholastics Arkesilaus and Carneades. A common feature of academic skepticism was the departure from those discussed in the Ancient Academy, and a return to Socratic discourse and the method of questioning. Academicians of that time were inclined to understand the texts of Plato not doctrinally-dogmatically, but as lessons on the problematization of beliefs that seem to us unshakable. Probably the main in the legacy of Plato at this moment becomes the dialogue "Teetet", dedicated to the nature of knowledge, criticizing, as we recall, its sensationalistic definitions (so popular in the Hellenistic era) and not giving an unambiguous answer to the question posed.

Arkesilaus and Carneades did not leave written works after themselves - we know their views from the descriptions of Sextus Empiricus and Cicero. Academic skeptics did not offer their own teachings and did not defend their own beliefs about reality - their goal was to show that any philosophical statement could in fact be challenged. For this, the skeptics used the dialectical method , asking the real or imaginary interlocutor about his beliefs, as Socrates did, and analyzing these beliefs using his own premises. During the discussion, the skeptic not only proved to the opponent that he does not know the truth, but also led him into a situation in which he could not answer something in the affirmative - this situation was called an "aporia." The dialectical method used to refute the dogmatic philosophical positions of opponents, was a key element of academic skepticism.

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Such a philosophy, which did not defend its own theory, but only looked for flaws in the opponent's thoughts, could not exist in itself, without a context to which she could oppose. In their arguments, Arkesilaus and Carneades challenged the theses of the Epicureans and, especially, the Stoics. The main subjects of the dispute were the existence of the criterion of truth, the possibility to rely on the evidence of sensory perception and the sending of ethical actions. Arkesilaus denies the existence of the criterion of truth, doubts the authenticity of sensory impressions and denies the possibility of knowing natural things. Carneades also denies the existence of criteria for truth and the possibility of knowing nature, but introduces the convincing ( pithane >) impressions criterion that the skeptic can follow when choosing one or the other actions. This criterion has three stages: on the first one we estimate the persuasiveness of the impression, on the second we form the idea of ​​this impression, on the third we analyze the context of this idea and we study our own idea in connection with other subjects, and this study can lead to the fact that the truth of our representation will be violated.

Both Arkesilaus and Carneades had to answer the question of how the skeptic can act without being convinced of the need for one or another goal and the truth of this or that impression that gives an impulse to action. They argued that the skeptic, like any other intelligent being, has rational impressions, and these impressions influence his actions. But given the complexity of human nature, the skeptic will most likely have several impressions about the same situation or one thing that may contradict each other. Contradictory impressions will cause contradictory impulses, which, it would seem, should lead to the impossibility of any action. But the skeptic, acting in accordance with his impressions, nevertheless relies not primarily on impressions, but on reason , choosing from the contradictory impressions the most plausible, and from the impulses - the most rational. It is the mind, not the impressions, that guides the skeptic.

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