Skeptical Philosophy Research
This, in essence, means that we should never solely believe our senses as they can in some cases deceive us. For instance, Descartes opined that our senses can sometimes misinform us regarding objects which are distant or very small1. Sextus in support of the fact that our senses can sometimes lie to us claimed that what a thing appears before one’s senses may be totally different from what it actually looks. In support of his claim, he argued that “honey appears to us to be sweet” and sweetness perception is based on our senses, nevertheless, the claimed sweetness is doubtful in that it is based on appearance judgment2. The underlying argument which that will be examined in this paper is that reason is highly required for one to acquire knowledge.
Based on their meditations, Descartes depicts himself as mistaken by matters which he initially thought were certain. As a result, he decides to do away with the pre-conceptions which informed his knowledge. In this case, he withdraws from his senses and believes that he may be dreaming or his senses are misled by some evil demon or God. Based on this, he argues that he should never trust his senses regarding anything. David Hume in his argument claims that there are two object types in human reason and which are a relation of ideas and the matters of fact. This is an actual sense means that failure to reason means an absolute emptiness of knowledge7. In support of this position, Sextus came up with several arguments which he termed as the modes and one of them dealt with circumstances.
The mode deals with both unnatural and natural states such as sleeping or walking, situations brought about by rest, motion, age, love or hatred among others. In this regard, it is out of reasoning aided by senses that we are able perceive the odor of frankincense and other things despite the fact that we do not perceive them. Honey appears sweet to some people while at the same time it is bitter to men with jaundice. For instance, in the case of matters of fact, a man may hold that a friend lives in France. If the man is asked why he holds such an idea, he/she will give a reason for the belief and hence justifying that it is the reason which informs a certain kind of knowledge.
Nevertheless, the reason is a subject of experience since there is no reason that can be drawn from a non-existence. In support of the three philosophers’ arguments, it can be concluded that reason obtains its information from experience and hence our knowledge is promoted by the presence of prior experience. Therefore, whatever human beings think they know is based on their past life experiences. The impossibility of knowledge according to skepticism is based on its observation of the external world which is mainly beyond the reach of human beings. Since the project of epistemology is building on knowledge, it is important to argue on issues that can be proofed and hence reflecting on the possibility of knowledge12. Since epistemology is all about the study of knowledge, the arguments of Sextus, Descartes, and Hume provide precedence to further justification of knowledge.
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