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Free «The benefits and the limits of skepticism» Essay Sample

Skepticism is a philosophical theory which denies any questioning issue or problem. This principle looks like it describes how knowledge can be expanded by means of inference: If you know something you can come to know anything it entails by coming to know the entailment. But, in the Argument by Skeptical Hypothesis, the skeptic uses the principle to attack the thesis that we know. On this theory, the main ingredient that must be added to true belief to make knowledge is that one be in a position to rule out all the relevant alternatives to what one believes. The important implication here is that some alternatives to what one believes are not relevant, and so one can know in the face of some uneliminated possibilities of error.

The main benefit of skepticism is a search for truth and true claims through method of doubt. Current researchers posit such a wide variety of different standards; they look for rules by which what is said in a conversation can change the standards that are in place; and they typically try to (at least partially) explain the intuitive pull of skeptical arguments by claiming that the skeptic, in presenting her argument, exploits one of these rules, raising the standards for knowledge, and thereby making her conclusion that we "don't know" true. Such contextualist strategies also seem to provide a tighter tie between the skeptic's and the ordinary use of 'know,' than do "Two Senses of 'Know'" theories, which may help them to explain why skeptical arguments can seem to threaten our knowledge ordinarily so-called. For if these current theories are correct, the standards for knowledge are variable even in ordinary, non-philosophical settings. It's not as if we had always used a single set of standards and the skeptic is now introducing some new and different standards in an unprecedented way.

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Rather, the skeptic is making use of a feature of "know" that shows itself in non-philosophical contexts, and is employing rules we're already accustomed to (DeRose and Warfield 32).

Skepticism is equated with representation, and representation is understood in terms of the subject. Skepticism is the self-doubt, but such transparency of being to itself, as knowledge, is the mark of infinite being; for finite being it is otherwise. Finite knowledge is not to be equated with comprehension. Finite knowledge is inadequate to its object, and to understand presence as comprehension and representation is also inadequate. But, if this is the case, and if this inter-subjective reduction can be pursued, then what emerges is that at the core of finite subjectivity is not self-presence but difference, but a difference which ultimately is not be understood ontologically but ethically. The original relationship for finite subjectivity is not within the realm of the same but, beyond the same which is why the philosopher is able to present. The framework within which questioning arises is not cognitive nor is its intentionality simply cognitive; rather, questioning arises within the context the subjective relation, a relation which, apart from cognition, also involves affection and volition (DeRose and Warfield 76). What is presupposed as a transcendental necessity by Descartes in order that his "work of infinite negation" might reach certitude is the existence and veracity of a God whose actuality is able to ground that act whereby Descartes can place the existence of all things in question, but can nonetheless affirm the exercise of doubt.

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In other words, the transcendental reduction relies on something other than the system by which the reduction can be justified. Descartes supposes:

In whatever way [it is supposed] that I have arrived at the state of being that I have reached - whether [it is attributed] to fate or to accident, or [made] out that it is by a continual succession of antecedents, or by some other method - since to err and deceive oneself is a defect, it is clear that the greater will be the probability of my being so imperfect as to deceive myself ever. (Meditations, 147 cited "Skepticism" 2005)

The question about the whole actually compromised the whole for the question about the whole itself intended the whole from a position which is actually beyond the whole. In skepticism, there is approach to the inadequacy of evidence and the link between access and essence. Also, there is not a more fundamental agreement which is first required which does not attempt to construct a common framework, but which is a sort of proto-agreement, an ethical agreement, which respects the absolute difference of the Other in an agreement to disagree (Landesman and Meeks 98).

With respect to such skepticism, understood as the other person in his or her neutrality and divested of the form in which his or her subjectivity has become clothed, knowledge, understood as comprehensive mastery, provides an inadequate first tool to moderate the relationship and the response we make within the relationship, for the relationship is straightaway ethical. It is not so much the case that knowledge dictates the moral judgments that we make in respect of others, but rather, that the ethical relationship with the other, which calls for a response, should guide the progress of understanding. The skepticism interrupts the relational field, excluding any possibility of direct claims. But this inaugurates language as discourse, and language as the possibility of relating to the Other, though language does not attain the Other nor does it offer the Other directly in terms of what is said. Thus it is, in skepticism, that the starting point does not really matter, for, whatever is questioned, there is the presupposition of being already and always in the presence of the totality. The question is never finally accomplished, not because there is always more within the totality of being to question, but because the question relates us to the infinite; or, in terms of the Other, to the neutrality which, invested with no form, the ontological question cannot lay hold of to divest (DeRose and Warfield 87).

The main limits of skepticism are that the quality of doubt, subjectivity of doubt and believe that an accurate knowledge exists. Philosophers privilege the question as the starting point of his skepticism and proceed to expose its conditions of possibility through a reflection. Ultimately, the supreme condition of possibility is absolute being which is demanded by and sustains the dynamism of the spirit. In short, the question, standing apart from the whole, places the "whole" is question and, with it, the privilege of ontology. The horizon of understanding against which the philosophical tradition has operated has always been subjective. Hence, the deepest, widest and most fundamental philosophical question has always been the question of the meaning and accurate knowledge.

The question of "why" finds its meaning in an absolution from doubting. Thus there is the need to rethink the question. The question does not intend doubting; rather, it is the promotion and the privilege of doubting within the question which is itself to be placed in question. The question is not doubting, but whether doubting is the question. The question does not find its fulfillment or completion in the complete presence which the possession of doubting would offer. Rather, the response marks a closure of the question (Landesman and Meeks 65).

In sum, the question of the meaning in skeptical view will thus become the ethical question of the significance of the Other meaning, as interlocutor. In fact, it is not possible for the idea of the infinite to be thought since thought is inadequate to the idea of the infinite, and it is here that the traditional understanding of knowledge, as the model of traversing a gap between the self and the Other in a representational act of consciousness and the consequent closing of a distance, breaks down. Now, as we noted, transcendence is to be understood skeptical. In making this point, philosophers are concerned to distinguish between true and false transcendence, and with it between true and false infinity, in order to avoid any skeptical view of the notion of infinity.


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