Modern philosophers often express regret about the mental burden that skepticism imposes on them. Hume complained that skeptical doubts led him to “melancholy and delirium.” Descartes accepted that a “provisional” system of morality was needed to deal with the practical irresolution caused by his method of doubting everything not evident to reason. Pascal and other fideists thought that skeptical disturbances could only be cured by a complete renunciation of reason, a wholehearted “leap of faith” to revealed religion.
This attitude comes as a surprise when we recall that the ancients understood skepticism as a technique to obtain peace of mind (ataraxia). In fact, Sextus Empiricus claimed that doubt and suspension of judgment were the most suitable attitudes to avoid the main sources of psychological perturbation, namely, dogmatism and precipitated belief. Why, then, do modern philosophers find skepticism so mentally disturbing?
In this talk I attempt to answer this question by observing the modern attitude toward skepticism from the perspective of Odo Marquard, a contemporary German thinker who describes himself as a skeptic. According to Marquard, skepticism is the only philosophical stance that leads to a genuine acceptance of the finitude of human life, through what he calls a “dietetic of the our expectations of meaning.”
Catalina González, Profesora Asociada, Departamento de Filosofía. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manuel Palacio, estudiante del Doctorado en Filosofía
Organiza: Departamento de Filosofía de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales
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