Augustine and Skepticism

Topics: Logic, Truth, Plato Pages: 3 (690 words) Published: September 24, 2014

Though considered one of the founders of theology, specifically in terms of Christianity, it is also widely accepted that St. Augustine played a large role in philosophy as well. In being familiar with total skepticism, the idea that nothing can be known, Augustine advised that this thought could be disproven in at least three distinct ways. According to Augustine, these “three refutations” of skepticism are the principle of non-contradiction, the act of doubting and refutation relating to perception.

The first refutation illustrated by Augustine is that of non-contradiction. This principle explains that when examining and presenting an idea, only the suggestion or the contradiction may be true, but in no instance, can both be true. For example, if one were to state that “I am here,” the idea presented is that the statement is true. As a result, it would be impossible to follow that idea up with the statement “It is not true that I am here.” According to Augustine, the idea may be true or the contradiction of that idea may be true, but never both. This refutation is an attempt to prove that although total skepticism dictates that nothing can be known, its nearly impossible to argue with both the proposition and the contradiction-surely, one of them must be known as truth. This seems to be a fairly valid principle, as it leaves little room for argument in the idea that something is either true, or it is false, but rarely ever is there an alternative that could be true.

The second refutation is the act of doubting, an idea arguing that through doubting, we ultimately defeat the purpose of total skepticism. For example, if one was to argue that through total skepticism, it is impossible to know anything or that they “doubt” something to be true, in essence they are conceding to the idea that at the very least they are certain of their own existence-otherwise, how would their be any validity in their doubts? A...
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