Skepticism, in general, refers to doubt about claims or beliefs that people consider absolute truths or are highly advocated in certain quarters. Skepticism involves an attitude that is questioning and inquisitive towards knowledge, opinions, or stated facts.it is a doctrine that usually dictates the uncertainty of true knowledge. It involves systematic doubt, suspended judgment and often elements of criticism. It also entails doubt concerning widely accepted religious and cultural principles for example morality. In certain cases, the skepticism in some people is so engraved in them that they might even proceed to extremes of doubting the reliability and subjectiveness of their own personal senses. Philosophers who adopt skeptical paths of reasoning are always of the notion assert nothing (Charles, Meeks, p.54).
Their key asset is their suspension of judgment, personal or otherwise, during investigations to assure their subconscious is not involved in shaping the outcome of the investigation. Russels, however, is a philosopher who takes a somewhat different and even radical approach of the matter especially in his assertion of knowledge by description and knowledge by acquaintance.
Detailed and unbiased philosophical analysis of the current time or any other time throughout human history often results in discovery of aspects of ambiguity and hints of doubt. This is perhaps why many philosophers are led down the road of skepticism and disbelief of anything that cannot be substantiated nor has absolutely no tangible backing. Philosophical skepticism can range from doubting widely accepted philosophical solutions that people deem as contemporary to completely and utterly rejecting any claims of reality with regard to the outside world. Philosophical skepticism, however, differs from methodological skepticism (Charles, Meeks, p.101).
Methodological skepticism is a skeptical approach that is more inclined towards detailed and gruesome scrutiny of all knowledge claims with the aim of clearly sorting out and distinctly distinguishing claims that are false to claims that are indeed true. Philosophical skepticism, however, takes an entirely different approach is that it tends to question knowledge itself. It tends to question the possibility and the probability of certainty as far as knowledge is concerned. Plato, however, introduces the concept of metaphysics where something does not have to be graspable to be considered real
David Hume tries to explain why we are not consumed mentally or rendered catatonic by one’s skepticism and how we are able to relegate our skepticism and maintain a firm system of beliefs and values. He argues that the mind works in such a way that one’s ideas are somehow streamlined and flow easily through our mind (Hume, p.72).
One’s ideas and beliefs do not strain our imagination thus causing pressure on our frame of thought. Skepticism, on the other hand, tends to have a very strenuous effect on one’s imagination. It tends to disrupt the normal flow of ideas in our minds, which are the firm building blocks for our systems of belief, and knowledge of what is true and what is not true. A person’s mind thus automatically tends to sideline our skeptical tendencies in favor of the normal and regular flow of both imaginative and factual ideas. Skepticism is thus relegated to the background, and we are able to hold firm a system of beliefs which we may not have even verified for ourselves as either true and factual or false and fictional. This explains why we are able to accept a great variety of information and not go crazy while scrutinizing the information. This also alludes to Descartes’ method of meditation.
Philosopher Pierre le Morvan broke down the philosophical approaches with regard to skepticism into three main categories. The first category is known as the coil approach. This approach views skepticism as a challenge that must be overcome before knowledge and certainty of this knowledge can be determined. This approach views skepticism as a problem that must be solved before the human mind can reach the promised land of certainty and knowledge.
This is similar to Russels’ ideas in his work the problems of philosophy The second approach is called the bypass approach, which advocates that we just bypass skepticism.it is not a central concern and can therefore be overpassed. The third approach is the health approach, which specifies that skepticism must be examined on grounds of whether it is constructive or destructive before it can be embarked on (Morvan, p.133).
Hume, David, L. A. Bigge, and P. H. Nidditch. A treatise of human nature. 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press; 2009. Print.
Landesman, Charles, and Roblin Meeks. Philosophical skepticism. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2003. Print.
Morvan, Michael. The Human search with Teilhard de Chardin. London: Fount Paperbacks, 2010. Print.