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Augustine and Skepticism

By ramreed Dec 09, 2013 468 Words

Augustine and Skepticism

Augustine explained the act of doubting, which is knowledge claims set forth in various areas and asking what they are based upon, what they actually establish, and whether they are indubitable or necessarily true (Moore & Bruder, 2011 p. 81). Total skepticism is that nothing can be for a fact known, and total skeptics suspend judgment in all matters. Modified skepticism is when there is no doubt that at least a few things can be known, but modified skeptics deny or suspend judgment on the possibility if knowledge about particular things. (Moore & Bruder, 2011, p.80) In Augustine’s beliefs total skepticism can be refuted in three different ways. The first is that both a contradiction and its proposition cannot be true, one or the other must be true but not both. This is called the principle of non-contradiction. An example of a principle of non-contradiction Icy Hot. How could one thing be icy and hot at the same time? I believe this to be true, although icy hot feels cold when you put it on, it gets hot on your muscles as it starts working. Therefore it is not icy and hot at the same time. Second is the act of doubting. The act of doubting is when one’s existence is disclosed as something that is absolutely certain. An example of the act of doubting would be, I am doubting, it automatically follow I am. (Moore & Bruder, 2011, p.82). When I hear the word doubting I automatically think of a skeptic. Doubting means to lack confidence in, or to be in doubt about. ( Skepticism means an attitude of doubt. ( The two are virtually the same so on this point I do not agree with St. Augustine. How could doubting be a refutation of skepticism? The last refutation of total skepticism is sense perception. Sense perception its self gives a rudimentary kind of knowledge. (Moore & Bruder, 2011, p82) This occurs only when we give assent to more that the fact of appearance. Assent: to agree to something especially after thoughtful consideration. ( For example: the grass is green. The grass is not only green but it is also cool, soft, and gives off a pleasant smell. On this one I do agree with Augustine. I do think that a good refutation of total skepticism is thoughtful consideration of something. Augustine believed that the three refutations were highly important but he did not try to get anything of importance from them. “The most important truths for Augustine are received by revelation and held on faith, and this doctrine was assumed throughout the Christian Middle Ages.” (Moore & Bruder, 2011, p82,)


Moore, B. N., & Bruder, K. (2011). Philosophy: The power of Ideas (8th ed.). New York, New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.

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