Skepticism, also spelled as skepticism, is the attitude of doubting the knowledge that has been claimed in so many fields of Western philosophy. Also, the skeptics have questioned the sufficiency or reliability of these questions, claims about the principles they have founded on and what they have established. Also, they have questioned whether some of these claims are, as indubitable, claimed, or necessarily true, and they have also questioned the ostensible rational grounds for the assumptions that are accepted.
Practically every one of us is skeptical of some knowledge that is claimed in everyday life, but also, the philosophical skeptics have questioned the possibility of some knowledge beyond the contents of directly felt experience. Skeptikos’ original Greek meaning was “an inquirer,” someone who was dissatisfied and still seeking the truth.
Skeptics involved the use of logic to refute the claims of dogmatic philosophers, theologians and scientists since ancient times. The application and arguments of Skepticism, against various forms of dogmatism, have played a crucial role in shaping the solutions and problems both that are offered by Western philosophy. Doubts arose as ancient philosophy and science developed about various fundamental, widely held beliefs about the world.
Skeptics challenged Plato’s, Aristotle’s, and the Stoics’ claims in ancient times, and similar challenges were raised against Scholasticism and Calvinism’s claims during the Renaissance. Skeptics attacked Cartesianism along with the other theories that attempted to justify the scientific revolution begun by Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo in the 17th century.
Skeptical philosophical attitudes first appeared in the West around the 5th century BCE in ancient Greece. The Eleatic philosophers, who are identified with the Greek city of Elea in Italy, denied the reality of plurality and change and viewing the reality as a static One, and denying that reality could be described in terms of ordinary experience categories. On the other hand, Heracleitus and his pupil Cratylus believed that this world was in such a flux that there can be no permanent truth and nothing that could be changed about it; and Xenophanes, philosopher and a wandering poet, questioned whether human beings could distinguish between true and false knowledge.
The first school of skeptical philosophy arose in Plato’s Academy in the third century BCE and was thus known as “Academic” skepticism. Starting with Socrates’ skeptical doctrines, its leaders, Arcesilaus and Carneades, advanced a series of epistemological arguments to demonstrate that nothing could be known, primarily challenging the two major schools of thought at the time, Stoicism and Epicureanism. They have rejected the existence of every criterion for differentiating between the right and wrong; but they claimed that only reasonable or probable standards could be established.
Pyrrhonism, apparently developed by medical skeptics in Alexandria, was the other major form of ancient skepticism. This movement, named after Pyrrhon, bcrategan with Aenesidemus (1st century BCE) and criticized the Academic skeptics for claiming to know too much—that is, that nothing could be known and that there are things that are more probable than others.
Pyrrhonism died out as a philosophical movement in the late Roman Empire as religious concerns took precedence. The Academic, as described in St. Augustine’s Contra academicos, was the main surviving form of skepticism in the Christian Middle Ages. Cicero’s ideas had appealed to Augustine before his conversion from paganism to Christianity. However, after overcoming all of them through the revelation, he has defined his subsequent philosophy as faith-seeking understanding. The basis of these medieval debates was Augustine’s account of skepticism and his response to it.
Modern skepticism began to rise in part from Okhamite medieval views, which is the basic source of it and was the rediscovery of the skeptical classics. In the Middle Ages, very little was known about the Pyrrhonian tradition, but in the 15th century, Sextus Empiricus’ Greek texts were brought into Italy from the Byzantine Empire.) Cicero’s Academica and De Natura deorum were also published in the 16th century, rekindling interest in the author.
The exploration voyages for the humanistic rediscovery of ancient Greece, Rome, and Palestine’s learning; and the “new science” all conspired to undermine faith in the widely accepted religious picture of the world. Later, during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, doctrinal squabbles between Protestants and Roman Catholics raised fundamental epistemological questions about the foundations and criteria of religious knowledge.
Irrational skepticism evolved into existentialism in the nineteenth century, a philosophical school that emphasizes the concrete and problematic nature of human existence. Sren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher, emphasized the importance of faith while attacking Hegelianism and liberal Christianity with traditional skeptical themes.
Only by taking an unjustified (and unjustifiable) “leap of faith” could certainly be found—and even then, it would be entirely subjective rather than objective. Influenced by existentialism, subsequent theologians argued that the skepticism challenges the highlights of humanity’s inability to find the ultimate truth except through faith and commitment.