What is the difference between mere doubting and philosophic scepticism

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Dustin phil
 
Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 04:25 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I think Quatl mentioned something on the first page about the importance of the process in which skepticism is reached. For instance, if one were to reach a conclusion based merely on emotion, or a particular bias, that would be what Aristoddler called "just because." The other process mentioned was a skepticism reached by knowledge and the process of elimination perhaps.

Which ever the case may be, it can be easily seen that the first process may not be the best way to go if one wanted to reach a reliable conclusion.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 05:27 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:

The problem is if we accept your later terminology, our initial question is now left unanswered. Unless you intend to argue that one kind of skepticism is somehow "ordinary" and the other "philosophical".


I don't think that requires argument. If an ordinary person on the street were to remark that he is skeptical whether Clinton will win the nomination, I would take him as saying that he doubts it is true that Clinton will win the nomination. Not that he doubts that he knows Clinton will win the nomination.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2008 05:37 pm
@kennethamy,
But we can imagine many instances of what you call "ordinary skepticism" which are certainly not ordinary - again, does God exist? Sure, we might answer this in an ordinary way, "yes, 'cause preacherman said so", but we might also set out to answer the question as many great philosophers have.

I see what you are saying - "knowledge skepticism" is particularly philosophical in that this sort of skepticism is rare in 'ordinary' life. But there is no reason to call "truth skepticism" "ordinary" when it is not necessarily ordinary at all.

This is why I think the difference between philosophical skepticism and "ordinary" skepticism, if we are going to divide them at all, is a matter of degree - how serious are we when we ask whatever question we have in mind.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2008 04:50 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
But we can imagine many instances of what you call "ordinary skepticism" which are certainly not ordinary - again, does God exist? Sure, we might answer this in an ordinary way, "yes, 'cause preacherman said so", but we might also set out to answer the question as many great philosophers have.

I see what you are saying - "knowledge skepticism" is particularly philosophical in that this sort of skepticism is rare in 'ordinary' life. But there is no reason to call "truth skepticism" "ordinary" when it is not necessarily ordinary at all.

This is why I think the difference between philosophical skepticism and "ordinary" skepticism, if we are going to divide them at all, is a matter of degree - how serious are we when we ask whatever question we have in mind.


Just asking whether God exists does not express skepticism (about God). You express skepticism when you say that you doubt that God exists. Truth-skepticism (ordinary skepticism); and if you say that no one can know that God exists, you express knowledge-skepticism (philosophical skepticism). The term "ordinary" has a number of different meanings. So I don't know what meaning you have in mind. (Maybe that ordinary people do not doubt God exists? Or, maybe, that it is not usual to question God's existence? If so, I don't know whether either of these is true). But what I mean by "ordinary" is "the ordinary man on the street" who does not ordinarily concern himself with sophisticated issues like whether anyone knows that God exists. The ordinary man will not usually bother to distinguish between whether God exists, and whether God can be known to exist. Philosophers do that.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2008 11:58 am
@kennethamy,
If you are determined to assert that philosophers do not ask whether God exists, and that they are not skeptical about the truth of whether or not God exists, I'll leave it alone until you finally read a book in which a philosopher does just that.

Then you should reply again, and we'll have a nice conversation.
 
saiboimushi
 
Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2008 01:56 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
My method of approaching the issue is to divide Doubt into two categories: non-philosophical doubt and philosophical doubt.

Non-philosophical doubt is based primarily on an obvious prejudice or assumption. For example, a staunch conservative might doubt that Barack Obama would make a good president--because he or she assumes that Obama's policies would ruin the nation. An atheist might doubt that the existence of God can be proven--because he or she firmly believes that God is a fiction. The dogmatic skeptic might doubt that Truth is ever attainable--because he or she doggedly insists that knowledge of anything is impossible. And most of us might doubt that the sun is the center of the universe--because we prudently assent to the proclamations of modern physics and astronomy.

On the other hand, philosophical doubt is based more on open-minded curiosity than on any obvious prejudice. In contrast to the non-philosopher, the philosopher simply will wonder what makes a good president; will try to figure out whether God really exists; will reflect upon the nature of knowledge and truth; and will even dare to imagine that the Soul is the center and circumference of all being.

Curiosity, the anticipation of discovery, and the love of wisdom are the driving force behind the philosopher's doubt; while the non-philosopher's so-called "doubt" is mostly the byproduct of an unphilosophical belief, an indirect manifestation of some deep-seated prejudice combined with an irrational love of one's own.

As would-be philosophers, we should always watch our thoughts to see what passions motivate them. This may be the hardest task of all: To know thyself.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 20 Mar, 2008 08:27 am
@Dustin phil,
Dustin wrote:
I think Quatl mentioned something on the first page about the importance of the process in which skepticism is reached. For instance, if one were to reach a conclusion based merely on emotion, or a particular bias, that would be what Aristoddler called "just because." The other process mentioned was a skepticism reached by knowledge and the process of elimination perhaps.

Which ever the case may be, it can be easily seen that the first process may not be the best way to go if one wanted to reach a reliable conclusion.


There is something to that, although I don't see what that has to do with the topic of the thread.
 
 

 
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