Augustine and Skepticism

Topics: Truth, Epistemology, Logic Pages: 2 (321 words) Published: December 15, 2013

Augustine and Skepticism
October 9, 2013
Louise Morell
When we begin to question the possibility of knowledge what arises is skepticism. Skepticism is a view that doubts whether any of our beliefs can be supported by adequate or sufficient evidence (Popkin & Stroll, Philosophy Made Simple, 1993). The doubt or the denial of the possibility of knowledge is known as skepticism. Knowledge requires certainty; this implies that before we can claim to know anything we must be certain (Omoregbe, J., Epistemology, 2007). Certainty therefore becomes a priority to lay claim to any knowledge. Augustine’s first skepticism was refuted by the principle of contradiction, which states that “a proposition and its contradiction cannot both be true; therefore one or the other must be true” (Moore & Bruder, 2011, Philosophy). In the law of non-contradiction, where we have a set of statements about a subject, we cannot have any of the statements in that set negate the truth of any other statement in that same set (Dictionary of Philosophy). “Secondly, Augustine held that the act of doubting discloses one’s existence as something that is absolutely certain, from the fact I am doubting, it follows automatically that I am” (Moore & Bruder, 2011, Philosophy). As with his example of the principle of contradiction, Augustine tried to show that there is at least one thing you can know with certainty, the skeptic may doubt but they cannot doubt the existence of perception itself. “Finally, Augustine also held that sense of perception itself gives a rudimentary kind of knowledge. Deception in sense perception occurs only when we give assent to more than the fact of appearance” (Moore & Bruder, 2011, Philosophy). Augustine was more concerned with the knowledge of eternal truths than earthly objects that were mutable and the knowledge of which we obtain through mutable sense, which are themselves subject to error.


Moore, B. N., &...

References: Moore, B. N., & Bruder, K. (2011) Philosophy: The Power of Ideas. (8th ed).
Omoregbe, Joseph (2007) Epistemology: A Systematic and Historical Study
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