I Think, therefore I Have No Time to for Skepticism March 23, 2010Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Philosophy.
Tags: Descartes, Michael Ruse, skepticism
Descartes famously posed the problem of global knowledge skepticism by asking us to prove that we are not always dreaming.
Philosopher of science Michael Ruse thinks this is a fascinating question:
I truly remember my first day in philosophy class and thinking: “Gosh, I am not the only person who really wonders if they are awake or asleep. I have been thinking about this since I was a kid and never could solve it. I am not a nut-case to be worrying about this. […] I want to suggest that the Meditations is a bit of a litmus test. Either you are hooked or you are not. […]
Humans are divided by nature into two essential types. This is not male or female, or straight or gay, or whatever. It is between those who think that philosophy, as marked by Descartes’ Meditations, is the only thing that truly makes worthwhile the life of a human being, and those who think that philosophy is really a little bit daft but we have to let our spouses have their silly enthusiasms
I was never fascinated by global knowledge skepticism (and I remain unconvinced that it is worth thinking too hard about). Logical possibilities are not as interesting as real possibilities. My entry to philosophy was a worry about whether I had free will given the social influences I was learning about in sociology.
And I think it is rather silly to make a fascination with global knowledge skepticism a litmus test. There have been countless philosophers—Aristotle, Nietzsche, Pierce, Wittgenstein, Rorty, etc.—who thought such questions a waste of time.
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