Doubting Thomas Doubting Thomas According to Webster, Skepticism is the philosophical doctrine that the attainment of absolute knowledge is impossible. It comes from the Greek word skeptesthai meaning to examine, and the practice was brought about during the elementary stages of philosophy by Pyrrho sometime between 360-270 b.c. Some other well-known skeptics are Xenophanes, Gorgias, and Sextus Empiricus. Skepticism is very common in today’s society, and is practiced in some way by all. If you are alive and functioning on this planet, you’ll find that it is difficult to avoid being skeptic in one way or another.96 Pyrrho was an ancient Greek philosopher, who introduced pure skepticism into Greek philosophy, founded the school known as Pyrrhonism, and is considered to be the founder of philosophical skepticism. Not much is known about Pyrrho, because he left no writings and was regarded by some to be a distant person who was not aware of things around him, not even his teacher being stuck in a ditch as told in a story by Greek biographer Diogenes Laeritus.
But to some he was a sensible, level-headed individual. Pyrrho’s theory held that it is not only impossible to know whether our perceptions are truthful, but equally impossible to find rational ground for preferring one course of action to any another. Such skepticism was useful during Pyrrho’s time; if nothing was provably wrong, one could legitimately accept the customs or religion of whoever was in power. He also believed that each theory had it’s own contradictory argument, so he suspended judgment on all events.161 The roots of skepticism are also believed to be accredited to Xenophanes, a philosopher and poet of Asia Minor. He believed that if truth were stated.
It could not be known In his writings Xenophanes cleverly satirized the polytheistic beliefs of earlier Greek poets and of his own contemporaries. He ridiculed their deities as gods created in the image of the mortals who worshiped them. In a famous passage he asserted that if oxen could paint and sculpt, they would depict gods who resembled oxen. He felt that humans should reject polytheistic ascribing of human motivation and characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, and phenomena and recognize instead a single non-human deity underlying and unifying all worldly phenomena. 117 A parallel to Xenophanes’ philosophy is that which was expressed by Gorgias, a famous Sophist.
The Sophists consisted of experienced debaters and speech writers who popularized the ideas of various early philosophers; but based on their understanding of this prior philosophic thought, most of them concluded that truth and morality were essentially matters of opinion. Gorgias’s philosophy was a nihilistic one, expressed in three propositions: Nothing exists; if anything did exist, it could not be known; if anything existed and could be known, it could not be communicated, hence the parallel. Total skepticism was brought about by Sextus Empiricus. Although his writings were extensive and stated nearly every every skeptical altercation, little is known about his life. Sextus Empiricus was considered to be the last great Pyrrhonist and emphasized observation and common sense as opposed to theory. He did not say that nothing could be known but in turn suspended judgment on issues whether he had examined them or not, and claimed that he did not know whether or not knowledge was possible.
With these arguments, it is an easy task to take on the view of a skeptic doubt anything in this world in some degree or another. If we are not religious, then we may be skeptic about the religious beliefs and teachings of others. If we are going into a major surgery, we can become skeptic about the outcome. As humans, we are prone to have our doubts about ourselves, other people, situations, and the world around us. We are brought up to not be gullible and take things at face value, but are taught to think for ourselves and research the things we do knot know. So, we are all skeptics in a way, because we all have our doubts, big or small, they’re there.