scepticism

(Greek: skeptomai, consider, examine carefully)

The doctrine that the real truth of things cannot be known with certainty. This conclusion is reached in two ways:
  1. by casting doubt on the existence of the thinking subject and of all subjective states and operations (Subjective Scepticism)
  2. by calling into doubt the objectivity of the universe and of truth
Universal Scepticism comprises both the subjective and the objective. Contradictory theories, elaborated by philosophers to explain the physical universe, gave rise to Scepticism. Heraclitus taught that nothing exists but bodies in a state of perpetual motion; everything is becoming. Parmenides, that change or becoming is impossible; there can only one being; the senses are unreliable when they assure us of the plurality of being and the existence of change. In this belief Heraclitus concurred. Subsequent philosophers denied the possibility of knowing reality (Sophists and Sceptics). The Pyrrhonists and the Academicians held that nothing can be known with certainty; that the wise man will suspend judgment, affirming nothing and denying nothing; that we can know appearances, but not reality. Socrates said: "I know only one thing, that I know nothing." Arcesilaus added: "Nor do I know with certainty that I know nothing.." More recent sceptics are: Sound philosophy, under the leadership of Aristotle and Saint Thomas; teaches:
New Catholic Dictionary

NCD Index SQPN Contact Author