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I Think, therefore I Have No Time to for Skepticism March 23, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Philosophy.
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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.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



1. Paul J. Moloney - March 25, 2010

When I am awake I know that I am not asleep,and, therefore, I know I am not dreaming. It is only when I am asleep and dreaming that I may wonder if am dreaming or not. There is an essential difference between being awake and sleeping. If there were not an essential difference between being awake and sleeping then they would be the same. If they were the same then it would make no difference whether one was awake or asleep.

Asur - March 30, 2010

Assuming our faculties of perception were up to the task of perceiving such an essential difference, should it exist.

2. Instant Kaamos - March 29, 2010

I think the two essential types are defined not by the area of their curiosity but between :

(1) those who feel comfortable justifying their beliefs by saying “it must be true because [person or book] says its true.” or perhaps “it’s common knowledge that…”

(2) those who feel uncomfortable with the answers given by (1)s and have an irresistable compulsion to keep asking questions and then question every answer — even their own.

In a sense, I don’t think we get to choose which type we are. But if we are (2)s we get to choose whether to pretend to be a (1) in order to fit in.

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