This is a translation of the short, third letter in G.E. Schulze's Aenesidemus, without its lengthy appendix. -/- Excerpts of the appendix which follows this letter have been translated into English by George di Giovanni in Between Kant and Hegel, eds. G. di Giovanni and H.S. Harris, (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 2000).
According to veridicalism, your beliefs about the existence of ordinary objects are typically true, and can constitute knowledge, even if you are in some global sceptical scenario. Even if you are a victim of Descartes’ demon, you can still know that there are tables, for example. Accordingly, even if you don’t know whether you are in some such scenario, you still know that there are tables. This refutes the standard sceptical argument. But does it solve the sceptical problem posed by (...) that argument? I argue that it does not, because we do not know substantively more about the external world according to veridicalism than we do according to the sceptical argument. Rather, veridicalism merely reformulates what little knowledge we have. I then draw some general conclusions about the nature of the sceptical problem, the formulation of the standard argument, and the significance of this for some other, non-veridicalist strategies. (shrink)
There are some tantalizing suggestions that Pyrrhonian skepticism has its roots in ancient India. Of them, the most important is Diogenes Laertius’s report that Pyrrho accompanied Alexander to India, where he was deeply impressed by the character of the “naked sophists” he encountered (DL IX 61). Influenced by these gymnosophists, Pyrrho is said to have adopted the practices of suspending judgment on matters of belief and cultivating an indifferent composure amid the vicissitudes of ordinary life. Such conduct, and the attitudes (...) that it embodied, became inspirations to later skeptical thinkers. It is a fact that practices of the sort attributed to Pyrrho are richly evident in a number of ancient Indian philosophical and ascetic movements. On this basis, attempts have been made to determine the identity of these gymnosophists and, further, to pinpoint the dialectical tropes within Pyrrhonism that may have their basis in Indian thought. But despite these attempts, and in the absence of any new discoveries, these suggestions will likely remain just that. The paucity of the historical data and the problematic nature of the data itself prevent us from reconstructing a solid bridge between ancient India and Greek skepticism that may serve as the basis of robust historical theorizing. Classical India does, however, lay claim to a sophisticated and diverse culture of epistemological reflection, which includes a number of innovative skeptical thinkers deserving study on their own merits. This chapter is meant to provide such a study, or perhaps more accurately, a prolegomena for such. After some initial ground-laying, I will discuss three leading Indian skeptics and situate them historically and conceptually within the network of competing schools that comprise classical Indian philosophy. They are Nāgārjuna (c. 150 CE), the founder of Madhyamaka Buddhism, Jayarāśi (c. 800), associated with the Indian materialist tradition, and Śrīharṣa (c. 1150), a thinker connected to the school of Nondual (Advaita) Vedānta. (shrink)
While there are good reasons to think that Hegel would not engage with modern scepticism in the Science of Logic, this article argues that he nevertheless does so in a way that informs the text's conception of logic as the latter pertains to metaphysics. Hegel engages with modern scepticism's general concerns that philosophy should begin without unexamined presuppositions and should come to attain not only knowledge of truth, but corresponding second-order knowledge: knowledge of knowing truth. These concerns inform two needs (...) that Hegel formulates for first philosophy, which logic—by unifying with metaphysics, which is traditionally synonymous with first philosophy—is to satisfy. However, logic, for the Logic, is unified with metaphysics as a science of absolute knowing, the form of thinking involved in traditional metaphysics. As such, logic, for the Logic, is neither anti-metaphysical nor reducible to metaphysics, but is rather a science of metaphysical thinking, which, for Hegel, includes metaphysics. The article emphasizes how Hegel's construal of logic as a science of absolute knowing avoids running into the ‘swimming problem’ that Hegel raises against, broadly, epistemological forms of first philosophy. (shrink)
This essay develops an intercultural approach to the skeptical way of life through an interpretation of two classical traditions: the Pyrrhonian tradition of ancient Greece and the Madhyamaka Buddhist tradition of classical India. The skeptical way of life is characterized by several important features, including a goal of tranquility or of freedom from disturbance and suffering, a philosophical strategy of dialectical argument that terminates in the suspension of judgment or the abandonment of views, a purgative philosophic therapy, and life without (...) belief. A constellation of practical questions that emerge from the skeptical way of life are also considered, including the skeptic’s character, conformity, and care. One of the principal aims of the essay will be to develop this intercultural account of the skeptical way of life and to show by way of this illustrative example how our understanding of skepticism and ancient philosophy is enhanced through an intercultural approach. (shrink)
The Illusion of Doubt shows that radical scepticism is an illusion generated by a Cartesian picture of our evidential situation—the view that my epistemic grounds in both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ cases must be the same. It is this picture which issues both a standing invitation to radical scepticism and ensures that there is no way of getting out of it while agreeing to the sceptic’s terms. The sceptical problem cannot, therefore, be answered ‘directly’. Rather, the assumptions that give (...) rise to it, need to be undermined. These include the notion that radical scepticism can be motivated by the ‘closure’ principle for knowledge, that the ‘Indistinguishability Argument’ renders the Cartesian conception compulsory, that the ‘New Evil Genius Thesis’ is coherent, and the demand for a ‘global validation’ of our epistemic practices makes sense. Once these dogmas are undermined, the path is clear for a ‘realism without empiricism’ that allows us to re-establish unmediated contact with the objects and persons in our environment which an illusion of doubt had threatened to put forever beyond our cognitive grasp. (shrink)
Genia Schönbaumsfeld argues that Cartesian skepticism is an illusion induced by the “Cartesian Picture” of perceptual knowledge, in which knowledge of the “external world” depends on an inference from how things subjectively seem to one to how they actually are. To show its incoherence, she draws on the work of John McDowell, which she sees as elaborating a central theme from Wittgenstein’s On Certainty. I argue that Cartesian skepticism is not an illusion, as Schönbaumsfeld understands ‘illusion’, and that McDowell’s account (...) of perceptual knowledge is both untenable and incompatible with Wittgenstein’s ideas about knowledge. Schönbaumsfeld thinks that, to understand how perception can engender knowledge of the world, we need a non-Cartesian account of perceptual reasons. Wittgenstein offers a much more radical break with the Cartesian Picture: an account of knowledge without ‘experience’. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the topic of skepticism is central to Hegel’s philosophical work. However, I contend that in returning to the subject of skepticism throughout his career, Hegel does not treat skepticism simply as an epistemological challenge to be overcome on the way to truth, as some commentators suggest, but as part of the very truth which it is philosophy’s task to explain. I make this case by considering three texts through which Hegel develops the connection between (...) skepticism and the ‘negative’ or ‘dialectical’ dimension of reality: “Relationship of Skepticism to Philosophy” (1802), the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), and the Encyclopedia Logic (1817). In this, I also demonstrate how the topic of skepticism informs the development of Hegel’s speculative metaphysics throughout his career and, thus, present a problematic that sheds light on the important continuity between these different phases of Hegel’s project. (shrink)
This is an account of Sceptical investigation as it is presented by Sextus Empiricus. I focus attention on the motivation behind the Sceptic’s investigation, the goal of that investigation, and on the development Sextus describes from proto-Sceptical to Sceptical investigator. I suggest that recent accounts of the Sceptic’s investigative practice do not make sufficient sense of the fact that the Sceptic finds a relief from disturbance by way of suspending judgement, nor of the apparent continuity between proto-Sceptical and Sceptical investigation. (...) I offer an alternative account which turns on the suggestion that the Sceptic accepts that justification is the norm of belief. (shrink)
A Touch of Doubt traces the theme of touch in the evolution of skepticism through Platonism, German idealism, Continental philosophy and psychoanalysis. Haptic Scepticism, the field of ethics emerging from this study, explores the grasp-ability of contradiction. Contradiction is a haptic marvel. We can cup it in our palms, press it against our lips, dip our toes into its coolness, and, if we are not careful, we may even burn ourselves on its surface.
In this article I develop an interpretation of the opening passages of Hegel's essay ‘With what must the beginning of science be made?’ I suggest firstly that Hegel is engaging there with a distinctive problem, the overcoming of which he understands to be necessary in order to guarantee the scientific character of the derivation of the fundamental categories of thought which he undertakes in the Science of Logic. I refer to this as ‘the problem of beginning’. I proceed to clarify (...) the nature of the problem, which I understand to be motivated by a concern to avoid arbitrariness, and then to detail the nature of Hegel's proposed solution, which turns on understanding how the concept of ‘pure being’, understood in a specific sense to be both mediated and immediate, avoids the concerns about arbitrariness which accompany attempts to begin merely with something mediated, or merely with something immediate. On this basis, I offer a number of criticisms of alternative approaches to the beginning of Hegel's Logic. (shrink)
I offer a novel reading in this dissertation of René Descartes’s (1596–1650) skepticism in his work Meditations on First Philosophy (1641–1642). I specifically aim to answer the following problem: How is Descartes’s skepticism to be read in accordance with the rest of his philosophy? This problem can be divided into two more general questions in Descartes scholarship: How is skepticism utilized in the Meditations, and what are its intentions and relation to the preceding philosophical tradition? -/- I approach the topic (...) from both a historical and a text-based analysis, combining textual and contextual research. I examine Descartes’s skepticism against two main traditions in the historical analysis: philosophical skepticism and Aristotelian Scholasticism. I argue that skepticism in the Meditations is intended to oppose and upheave both Scholasticism and skepticism. The intended results of the work are not merely epistemological but also metaphysical and even ethical. Furthermore, these ambitions cannot be neatly distinguished but merge into each other. -/- The third historical context against which the skeptical meditations are examined is the literary genre of meditative exercises, particularly from the 1500–1600’s, which, while religiously and spiritually oriented, likewise provided the practitioner with an enlightened understanding of self-knowledge and their cognitive place in the world on the way to closer spiritual proximity to God. I argue by this reading that the skepticism of the Meditations is an attentive, meditational cognitive exercise that is not merely instrumental and methodological but is to have a genuine and serious (psychologically real) effect on our thinking. The skeptical meditation is not simply a theoretical thought experiment but is to be seriously practiced as a transformative process of reorienting one’s cognitive framework to discover truth, certainty, and a way to a happy, tranquil, and virtuous life. -/- I offer a close reading in the textual analysis of the first three meditations of the Meditations. I argue that the meditative skepticism employed in the work does not reject the previous beliefs but suspends judgment on them, withdrawing assent until further evidence can be found. I introduce a new term into Descartes scholarship in this analysis, based on the terminology of ancient skepticism: Cartesian epochē (gr. epochē, suspension, withdrawal). Instead of rejecting previous beliefs or assenting to the probably false, the skeptical procedure of the Meditations is argued to emulate in important ways the suspension of judgment on equally balanced reasons in ancient Pyrrhonian skepticism. Novel interpretations are presented along the way of the will’s freedom, of the First Meditation’s skeptical scenarios, of the cogito, and of the vindication of metaphysical certainty, as well as a clarification of the Cartesian Circle problem. -/- Reinterpreting the relation of Descartes’s skepticism to the preceding historical and literary traditions leads to a new look at the skeptical method itself. Presenting a new interpretation of skepticism in the Meditations leads at the same time to a new look at its relation to the historical context. The two research questions are, then, intrinsically tied together. -/- My focus in the study is on the Meditations, but I also reference and discuss Descartes’s other philosophical works, as well as his correspondence, when necessary. (shrink)
In middle to late Byzantium, one finds dogmatic-style sceptical arguments employed against human reason in relation to divine revelation, where revelation becomes the sole criterion of certain truth in contrast to reason. This argumentative strategy originates in early Christian authors, especially Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–215 CE) and Gregory Nazianzen (c. 329–390 CE), who maintain that revelation is the only domain of knowledge where certainty is possible. Given this, one finds two striking variations of this sceptical approach: a “mild” variant (...) (represented by Clement), where knowledge derived from human reason admits partial access to truths manifested in revelation, if imperfect; and a “strict” variant (represented by Gregory), where knowledge derived from human reason does not admit any access to truths in revelation. This paper analyzes the three Byzantines, Nicholas of Methone (d. 1160/66 CE), Theodore Metochites (1270–1320 CE), and Gregory Palamas (1296–1357/59 CE), who each display certain tendencies toward these two “poles” in their respective epistemological positions on knowledge through reason and faith. (shrink)
In this paper, I offer a reconstruction of Ghazālī's encounter with scepticism in the Deliverance from Error. For Ghazālī, I argue, radical scepticism about the possibility of knowledge ensues from intellectualist assumptions about the nature of justification. On the reading that I will propose, Ghazālī holds that foundational knowledge can only be justified via actions that lead to transformative experiences.
Montaigne’s “Apology” is a lengthy work the overarching theme of which is the relationship between epistemology, virtue, and vice. It is a commentary on the thesis that science or knowledge “is the mother of all virtue and that all vice is produced by ignorance.” Montaigne’s response is radical and unequivocal: there is no idea more harmful; its consequences are no less than the destruction of inward contentment and the undermining of societal peace and stability. Indeed, Montaigne sees the Protestant Reformation (...) as the instantiation of this terrible thesis, with all of the attendant trouble it had and continued to cause in France. So Montaigne inverts the thesis: ignorance begets virtue and (presumption of) knowledge vice. Out of this inversion he draws many conservative social and political consequences, and this is one of the most interesting and yet underexplored aspects of the text. Montaigne exhibits the conservatism of the Counterreformation in the “Apology,” and I intend to draw more attention to this theme. I show that Montaigne’s main target in the “Apology” was not dogmatism as such, but Protestantism as a species of dogmatism. I then show that, by using a few elementary epistemic concepts, Montaigne launches a withering skeptical attack on the Reformation. Out of this criticism I draw some important conservative themes that have important implications for our understanding of Montaigne’s social and political thought, as well as for conservative political theory and its intellectual history. (shrink)
Du Bois-Reymond’s Ignorabimus could have been a game changer in the last decades of 19th century, but it wasn’t. The sound argument of the German physiologist concerning the limits of natural science, although it was indeed taken seriously and confronted by all means, was in fact so severely distorted by opponents that one could hardly recognize it in the straw men generated in the process. By scrutinizing three less known approaches dug up from 19th century Romanian literature, the present paper (...) focuses on the theoretical commitments that prevented the consciousness issue to be properly addressed. (shrink)
This essay provides an interpretation of Hume’s “two definitions” of causation. It argues that the two definitions of causation must be interpreted in terms of Hume’s fundamental ontological distinction between perceptions and (material) objects. Central to Hume’s position on this subject is the claim that, while there is a natural tendency to suppose that there exist (metaphysical) causal powers in objects themselves, this is a product of our failure to distinguish perceptions and objects. Properly understood, our idea of causation involves (...) no suggestion that there is anything more to causation among objects themselves than constant conjunction. A new appendix is added, discussing the relevance of this interpretation to the recent debate concerning Hume’s “causal realism.” -/- [The original of this article was published in HUME STUDIES 10 (1984), 1 - 25, with corrections added separately in the following issue.]. (shrink)
Peter Fosl's new monograph offers a bold reading of Hume as a "radical," "coherent," and "hybrid" skeptic, who draws influence from both the Pyrrhonian and Academic skeptical traditions. I press some concerns about whether Fosl's reading of Hume can accommodate his scientific ambitions.
In the conclusion to the first book of the Treatise, Hume's skeptical reflections have plunged him into melancholy. He then proceeds through a complex series of stages, resulting in renewed interest in philosophy. Interpreters have struggled to explain the connection between the stages. I argue that Hume's repeated invocation of the four humors of ancient and medieval medicine explains the succession, and sheds a new light on the significance of skepticism. The humoral context not only reveals that Hume conceives of (...) skepticism primarily as a temperament, not a philosophical view or system. It also resolves a puzzle about how Hume can view skepticism as both an illness and a cure. The skeptical temperament can, depending on its degree of predominance, either contribute to or upset the balance of temperaments required for proper mental functioning. (shrink)
Pyrrhonian skepticism is usually understood as a form of quietism, since it is supposed to bring us back to where we were in our everyday lives before we got disturbed by philosophical questions. Similarly, the ‘therapeutic’ and ‘resolute’ readings of Wittgenstein claim that Wittgenstein’s ‘philosophical practice’ results in the dissolution of the corresponding philosophical problems and brings us back to our everyday life. Accordingly, Wittgenstein is often linked to Pyrrhonism and classified as a quietist. Against this reading, I will employ (...) Laurie Paul’s notion of epistemically transformative experience and argue that Pyrrhonian skepticism and Wittgenstein’s philosophy can be interpreted as a philosophical practice that changes our self-understanding in significant ways. I will argue that this practice can evoke transformative experiences and is thereby able to yield a non-propositional insight into the finitude of the human condition. This shows that Pyrrhonian skepticism and Wittgenstein’s philosophy go beyond quietism. (shrink)
In “On Certainty” Wittgenstein regards doubting as meaningful and reasonable only in a context providing language game where some background is taken for granted. Doubt, just as knowledge, should be backed up by an argument, only this time, one presenting reasons for uncertainty. Common sense propositions constitute part of the background for the arguments of doubting and because of their function and place within the system of language, they are regarded as indubitable. I discuss critically the idea of linguistically determined (...) indubitability and advocate the possibility of a different kind of doubt, one that does not require its own justification and is still a reasonable epistemic attitude. Such doubt characterizes the states of affairs where the certainty of a proposition is not yet rationally established. I argue that, language does not limit us in doubting and in doubting reasonably. (shrink)
We offer a novel interpretation of the argumentative role that Meditation IV plays within the whole of the Meditations. This new interpretation clarifies several otherwise head-scratching claims that Descartes makes about Meditation IV, and it fully exonerates the Fourth Meditation from either raising or exacerbating Descartes’ circularity problems.
This paper offers a new interpretation of the young Spinoza’s method of distinguishing the true ideas from the false, which shows that his answer to the sceptic is not a failure. This method combines analysis and synthesis as follows: if we can say of the object of an idea which simple things underlie it, how it can be constructed out of simple elements, and what properties it has after it has been produced, doubt concerning the object simply makes no sense. (...) The paper also suggests a way in which this methodology connects to the ontology of the Ethics. (shrink)
In this article, I tackle a heretofore unnoticed difficulty with the application of Pyrrhonian scepticism to science. Sceptics can suspend belief regarding a dogmatic proposition only by setting up opposing arguments for and against that proposition. Since Sextus provides arguments exclusively against particular geometrical definitions in Adversus Mathematicos III, commentators have argued that Sextus’ method is not scepticism, but negative dogmatism. However, commentators have overlooked the fact that arguments in favour of particular geometrical definitions were absent in ancient geometry, and (...) hence unavailable to Sextus. While this might explain why they are also absent from Sextus’ text, I survey and evaluate various strategies to supply arguments in support of particular geometrical definitions. (shrink)
This is the first volume dedicated solely to the topic of epistemological disjunctivism. The original essays in this volume, written by leading and up-and-coming scholars on the topic, are divided into three thematic sections. The first set of chapters addresses the historical background of epistemological disjunctivism. It features essays on ancient epistemology, Immanuel Kant, J.L. Austin, Edmund Husserl, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. The second section tackles a number contemporary issues related to epistemological disjunctivism, including its relationship with perceptual disjunctivism, radical skepticism, (...) and reasons for belief. Finally, the third group of essays extends the framework of epistemological disjunctivism to other forms of knowledge, such as testimonial knowledge, knowledge of other minds, and self-knowledge. Epistemological Disjunctivism is a timely collection that engages with an increasingly important topic in philosophy. It will appeal to researches and graduate students working in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of perception. (shrink)
Descartes’s meditator thinks that if she does not know the existence of God, she cannot be fully certain of anything. This statement seems to contradict the cogito, according to which the existence of I is indubitable and therefore certain. Cannot an atheist be certain that he exists? Atheistic knowledge has been discussed almost exclusively in relation to mathematics, and the more interesting question of the atheist’s certainty of his existence has not received the attention it deserves. By examining the question (...) of atheistic knowledge in relation to the cogito, I articulate the advantage Descartes sees in having knowledge of God. I challenge a long-held reading of the cogito where “I exist” is the first full certainty and argue that while atheistic cogito is more certain than atheistic knowledge in mathematics, it cannot be a starting point for lasting and stable science, because science requires knowing the existence of the non-deceiving God. (shrink)
In this article, I offer a critical interpretation of Hegel’s claims regarding the presuppositionless status of the Logic. Commentators have been divided as to whether the Logic actually achieves the status of presuppositionless science, disagreeing as to whether the Logic succeeds in making an unmediated beginning. I argue, however, that this understanding of presuppositionless science is misguided, as it reflects a spurious conception of immediacy that Hegel criticizes as false. Contextualizing Hegel’s remarks in light of his broader approach to the (...) problem of beginning, I contend that Hegel’s Logic is presuppositionless not in the sense that it satisfies a formal epistemological demand to begin free from all mediation, but in that its self-mediating structure facilitates an immanent deduction of the categories. (shrink)
The aim of this dissertation is to provide a critique of the idea that skepticism was the driving force in the development of early modern thought. Historian of philosophy Richard Popkin introduced this thesis in the 1950s and elaborated on it over the next five decades, and recent scholarship shows that it has become an increasingly accepted interpretation. I begin with a study of the relevant historical antecedents—the ancient skeptical traditions of which early modern thinkers were aware—Pyrrhonism and Academicism. Then (...) I discuss the influence of skepticism on three pre-Cartesians: Francisco Sanches, Michel de Montaigne, and Pierre Charron. Basing my arguments on an informed understanding of both ancient Greek skepticism and some of the writings of these philosophers, I contend that it is inaccurate to predominantly characterize Sanches, Montaigne, and Charron as skeptics. To support his thesis about the singular influence of skepticism on early modern thought, Popkin says that René Descartes’ metaphysical philosophy was formed as a response to a skeptical threat and that Descartes ultimately conceded to the force of skepticism. He also argues that David Hume was a Pyrrhonist par excellence. I disagree with Popkin’s claims. I argue that Descartes was not as deeply affected by skepticism as Popkin suggests and that it is inaccurate to characterize Hume as a Pyrrhonist. By offering this critique, I hope to make clear to the readers two things: first, that Popkin’s thesis, though it is both enticing and generally accepted by many scholars, is questionable with regard to its plausibility; second, that the arguments I present in this dissertation reveal that further research into the role of skepticism in early modern philosophy is in order. (shrink)
Perception of the external world is an essential part of the animal (including human) life, both as a source of knowledge and as a way to survive. Medieval authors accepted this view, and despite general concerns about the reliability of the senses in the acquisition of certain and objective knowledge, they thought that for the most part our perceptual system gets things right when it comes to the perceptual features of things—but not always. Our article focuses on thirteenth- and fourteenth-century (...) philosophical discussions of illusions and other types of perceptual errors. Reception of incorrect information, misjudgments concerning perceptual objects, the binding problem, and similar cases that explain perceptual errors will be analyzed. We discuss what might be called medieval Aristotelian/Avicennian theories of perception and the internal senses (drawing mainly from Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas), as well as the so-called perspectivist accounts of perception, especially that by Alhacen. Finally, we take up a debate between Peter Auriol and his critics, which contains elements that can be seen as precursors of later skeptical worries. The concern here is that, just like in contemporary discussions leading to disjunctivism, the absence of a secure way to distinguish between veridical and non-veridical perception leads to a general worry about the reliability of our experience of the world. (shrink)
Descartes’ demon is a deceiver: the demon makes things appear to you other than as they really are. However, as Descartes famously pointed out in the Second Meditation, not all knowledge is imperilled by this kind of deception. You still know you are a thinking thing. Perhaps, though, there is a more virulent demon in epistemic hell, one from which none of our knowledge is safe. Jonathan Schaffer thinks so. The “Debasing Demon” he imagines threatens knowledge not via the truth (...) condition on knowledge, but via the basing condition. This demon can cause any belief to seem like it’s held on a good basis, when it’s really held on a bad basis. Several recent critics, Conee, Ballantyne & Evans ) grant Schaffer the possibility of such a debasing demon, and argue that the skeptical conclusion doesn’t follow. By contrast, we argue that on any plausible account of the epistemic basing relation, the “debasing demon” is impossible. Our argument for why this is so gestures, more generally, to the importance of avoiding common traps by embracing mistaken assumptions about what it takes for a belief to be based on a reason. (shrink)
Reidentification scepticism is the view that we cannot knowledgeably reidentify previously perceived objects. Amongst classical Indian philosophers, the Buddhists argued for reidentification scepticism. In this essay, I will discuss two responses to this Buddhist argument. The first response, defended by Vācaspati Miśra (9th century CE), is that our outer senses allow us to knowledgeably reidentify objects. I will claim that this proposal is problematic. The second response, due to Jayanta Bhaṭṭa (9th century CE), is that the manas or the inner (...) sense, functioning as a capacity of attention, helps us knowledgeably reidentify objects. I will explain how this second response answers the Buddhists’ challenge. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 25 This is a pre-print. Please cite only the revised published version. This paper presents an original, ambitious, truth-directed transcendental argument for the existence of an ‘external world’. It begins with a double-headed starting-point: Stroud’s own remarks on the necessary conditions of language in general, and Hegel’s critique of the “fear of error.” The paper argues that the sceptical challenge requires a particular critical concept of thought as that which may diverge from reality, and that this (...) concept is possible only through reflection on situations of error, in which how things are thought to be diverges from how things really are with independent items in an objective world. The existence of such a world is therefore a necessary condition of the possibility of scepticism: such scepticism is therefore false. I defend the argument against objections from Stroud’s sceptic and others. Drawing on Heidegger, the paper concludes by indicating that the chain of necessary conditions includes practical engagement with the world. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue how Descartes in the First and Second Meditation of the Meditations uses a very clear suspension of judgments or assent that in many ways resembles the epoché of the ancient skepticism, especially that of pyrrhonistic variant. First I show how the pyrrhonistic epoché works and what purpose it was used. After that I show how this Cartesian epoché both resembles and differs from the ancient epoché. My main argument is that Descartes, when using the (...) method of doubt, doesn’t really dismiss or abandon earlier knowledge or beliefs, as he is sometimes been viewed, but more likely doesn’t take any stance in them, suspending his judgment on the existence of the outside-world. I base my argument both on my reading of Meditations and the “as it were sensing” -interpretation of Descartes’ use of method of doubt by John Carriero. (shrink)
In his 1802 article for the Critical Journal, “Relationship of Skepticism to Philosophy,” Hegel attempts to articulate a form of skepticism that is “at one with every true philosophy.” Focusing on the priority that Hegel gives to ancient skepticism over its modern counterpart, Michael Forster and other commentators suggest that it is Pyrrhonism that Hegel views as one with philosophy. Since Hegel calls attention to the persistence of dogmatism even in the work of Sextus Empiricus, however, I argue that it (...) is only a sublated form of Pyrrhonism, what in the Phenomenology of Spirit he calls “self-completing skepticism,” that Hegel takes to be part of genuine philosophical cognition. In this way, I hope to show that the insight that motivates Hegel’s engagement with skepticism in the 1802 essay comes to inform the philosophical itinerary of the Phenomenology of Spirit. (shrink)