Wednesday, 21 April 2010

How to move from doubt to self-reliance - Story of Carneades (Part 3 of 4)

In our days, the philosophy of eternal doubt has adopted the disguise of sophistication. Instead of attacking science, modern sceptics come up with contradictory measurements and point out that no conclusion can be drawn. Instead of denying facts, data is grouped in arbitrary categories that render logical discourse impossible.

A man becomes self-reliant when he leaves fundamental doubts behind. Learning to think independently requires ignoring noise, not making more of it. The key to overcoming scepticism is realism, not pointless debates. Moving from hesitation to self-confidence involves growing indifferent to nonsense.

Three centuries after Carneades' death, the Roman philosopher Sextus Empiricus (160-210 AD) wrote extensively about scepticism, which he mainly presented as subjectivism. This variant of thought denies objective conclusions and replaces them by individual truths, as many as persons are involved in a discussion.

Subjectivists believe that all points of view are equally valid. The only precept of their philosophy is that principles do not exist. Their cardinal rule is that no conclusion can be reached from a discussion. They view the human mind as a container to be filled with random ideas and opinions, from which all possess the same worth.

To be continued in Part 4


[Image by Al Ianni under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]

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