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Skepticism

SKEPTICISM.

Skepticism is both a generalized sense of doubt and disbelief as expressed in everyday language and an identifiable school of thought in the history of ideas. In its most general sense it refers to uncertainty, doubt, disbelief, suspension of judgment, and rejection of knowledge. It is characterized by its opposition to dogmatism, which claims to know reality and the truth.

As a philosophical tradition skepticism is best understood as the product of two movements in ancient Greek philosophy. Academic skepticism can be attributed to Socrates and to Plato's successors at the Academy in Athens (fifth century to second century b.c.e.), and Pyrrhonism can be traced back to Pyrrho of Ellis (c. 365275 b.c.e.). Elements of skepticism can be found in many other schools of ancient Greek philosophy, from Heraclitus to the Cyrenaics and the Cynics. There are also analogies to ancient Greek and Roman skepticism in ancient Chinese, Persian, Arabic, and Indian philosophy, but they did not have the impact on modern thinking that the Mediterranean skepticisms did.

Academic Skepticism

The Roman philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (10643 b.c.e.) is the chief source for Academic skepticism. His Academica (45 b.c.e.) reports on the teachings of Arcesilaus (315240 b.c.e.) and Carneades (214129 b.c.e.), both heads of the Academy, and he claims allegiance to the Academic school. St. Augustine of Hippo's earliest extant work, Contra Academicos (Against the Academics; 386 c.e.), is also an important source of knowledge about Academic skepticism.

Socrates can be placed at the origins of skepticism if it is understood that he only asked questions and did not teach positive doctrines. Plato and Aristotle strayed from his path when they claimed to know the truth. Arcesilaus gave renewed vigor to skepticism, arguing against the opinions of all men, as Cicero put it. But he also showed that skeptics could make choices in accordance with the eulogon (the reasonable) in the absence of truth. Carneades, also a master of arguing on both sides of every issue, refined this into the standard of the pithanon (the credible). Cicero translated this into Latin as probabile, setting the stage for the skeptics' claim to live by the probable in the absence of truth.

Manuscripts of Cicero's Academica were available in the Middle Ages to figures such as John of Salisbury (11151180), who used it to underpin defenses of liberty of thought and speech. The text was first printed at Rome in 1471, followed by numerous commentaries and annotations. By 1600 more than 100 editions had been published.

The Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (1466?1536) admired Academic skepticism in his Praise of Folly (1511), which provoked opposition from Christians like Philipp Melanchthon (14871560). Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola's Examen Vanitatis (1520) drew from both Cicero and Sextus Empiricus. Omer Talon emphasized the Academics' philosophical freedom from dogmatism in his Academia of 1547, and Petrus Ramus praised their rhetoric and style in Ciceronianus of 1557. Giulio Castellani (15281586) defended Aristotelianism against Academic skepticism in Adversus Marci Tullii Ciceronis (1558), arguing that disagreement is not as widespread as the skeptics claimed. Johannes Rosa (15321571) brought out a substantial early commentary on the Academica in German in 1571, and Pedro de Valencia (15551620) refashioned Academic skepticism in his own Academica of 1596, published in Spain.

Publication of Sextus Empiricus's works in the 1560s replaced Cicero as the chief source of information about ancient skepticism. After that point most authors drew their inspiration from both sources, so it is hard to speak of purely Academic skeptics from then on. One exception is David Hume (17111776), sometimes called an Academic skeptic, among other reasons because a character in his Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779) takes the role of an Academic. There has also been scholarly debate about whether other individual early modern figures were Academic skeptics or Pyrrhonians, but in this period the two traditions were often run together and few, if any, authors made a clear distinction.

Pyrrhonism

The chief source for ancient Pyrrhonism is the work of the Greek physician Sextus Empiricus (second century c.e.), including Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Against the Dogmatists, and Against the Mathematicians. Once thought of as a mere compiler, many recent studies have found philosophical originality in his texts. As Sextus explained it, skepticism was not a philosophy but rather a way of life in which one opposed all claims to truth with equal opposite claims (equipollence). Standard tropes or formula arguments could be used against any certainty or truth. He attributed one set of these tropes to the Greek philosopher Aenesidemus and another to Agrippa (both first century b.c.e.). Diogenes Laertius's Lives of the Philosophers (early third century c.e.) is also a source for information about ancient skepticism, including the tropes.

In Sextus's account, the basic ten tropes or formula arguments show that the same thing appears differently (1) to different animals, (2) to different individuals, (3) to different senses, (4) to the same sense in different conditions, (5) in different positions or places, (6) in company with different things, (7) in different quantities, (8) in different relations, (9) if common or if rare, and (10) to people with different customs or ways of life. Thus, any claim about a thing could be matched with an equal counterclaim. Other tropes bring out the problem of the criterion (an infinite regress), unresolved disputes, problems with attributing causation, and more. The result of the skeptical tropes was that one would suspend judgment (epochē ) and then find oneself in ataraxia, or tranquility, no longer disturbed by conflicting claims. One would live in accordance with the phenomena or appearances, without taking a stand on the truth or reality behind them. One would follow one's natural impulses as well as local customs and laws.

Even in ancient times, critics of the skeptics accused them of inconsistency, incoherence, immorality, and inability to live their skepticism. These arguments were more and less sophisticated, and ranged widely from the claim that skeptics cannot be fully skeptical because they believe their own positions are true to the claim that skeptics will not make reliable friends. As late as the 1980s, a number of scholars of ancient skepticism continued to maintain these claims, but opinion turned in the 1990s as a consensus emerged that skeptics could indeed live their skepticism, and that they would not necessarily be any more immoral than followers of other philosophies.

Much of Sextus's text consists of refutation of other dogmatic philosophies of the time. Since he quoted their ideas in order to refute them, his text has been an important source of information about ancient Stoicism, Epicureanism, and other philosophies.

Early Reception

Occasional references to the ancient Pyrrhonists can be found throughout the late Roman and early medieval periods. The oldest extant Greek manuscript of Sextus dates from the tenth century, and manuscripts of Latin translations existed in medieval collections by the fourteenth century. More manuscripts came into Italy from Byzantium in the mid-fifteenth century, when the Florentine religious leader Girolamo Savonarola (14521498) used Sextus to combat pagan philosophy, and the humanist scholar Pico della Mirandola drew on Sextus to fight other dogmatists. Knowledge of the materials eventually spread into France and other northern countries.

The printing press made for the most influential dissemination of these texts. Published Latin translations by Henri II Estienne (Stephanus) (1562) and Gentian Hervet (1569) provided the stimulus for a widespread "skeptical crisis." Michel de Montaigne (15331592) was the most influential of the early European writers to draw on the writings of Sextus in his Essais (Essays; 15801595). In his longest essay, "Defense of Raymond Sebond," Montaigne retailed most of the skeptical tropes and all of the skeptical vocabulary from Sextus Empiricus. In this and other essays he demolished pretensions to human knowledge and argued both sides of nearly all issues. He was never pessimistic but showed people how to live a good life in spite of skepticism, which helps explain why his work was so popular.

Later thinkers often started from Montaigne. One who went beyond him in posing questions of skepticism was René Descartes (15961650). Without specific precedent in the ancient materials, he set out to answer the skeptical idea that there could be an all-powerful malin genie or evil demon that manipulates human perceptions and reasoning, fooling people about the world. His conclusion was that individuals know of their existence because they can thinkthe famous "I think therefore I am." Explaining why one's perceptions of thinking could not be a deception, Descartes asserts that God would not allow such deception. Religion is invoked to certify truth. Later skeptics would worry about a deceiving God.

Bishop Pierre-Daniel Huet (16301721) and the Huguenot refugee Pierre Bayle (16471706) have been described as the "master skeptics." Huet invoked Sextus Empiricus in great detail against Descartes and many other dogmatic philosophers in his Traité philosophique de la foiblesse de l'esprit humaine (1723; Philosophical tract on the weakness of the human mind). Bayle's massive works attacked all previous philosophy and historical scholarship but upheld moral rigorism.

Reception in and since the Enlightenment

The Scottish philosopher David Hume responded to the skeptical challenge in ways that made him central to philosophical discussion up to the twenty-first century. His Treatise of Human Nature (17391740) argued for skepticism about both facts and reason. His critique of causation reduces it to little more than a habit based on constant conjunction. And yet in typical skeptical fashion he showed people how to live with skepticism on the basis of probabilities and custom.

The Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant (17241804) was called the "all-destroyer" because of his rejection of many other dogmatic philosophies. He adopted skeptical Greek vocabulary when he argued that one could have no knowledge of the noumenathe reality behind appearancesbut only of the phenomena. He saved free will and morality from scientific determinism by reducing human knowledge of them to faith rather than knowledge. Other skeptics writing in German in his time included Salomon Maimon and Gottlob Ernst "Aenesidemus" Schulze. When Carl Friedrich Stäudlin's Geschichte und Geist des Skepticismus (History and spirit of skepticism) of 1794 showed Hume facing Kant on the title page, it was clear that these two thinkers had posed the skeptical challenge for the age. Stäudlin denounced unphilosophical skepticism even as he demonstrated that philosophical skepticism could not be refuted.

In the nineteenth century, the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (17701831) believed that ancient skepticism was of great philosophical importance while modern skepticism had little merit. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (18131855) incorporated skepticism into his theology. One of the prize questions of the Royal Academy in Paris concerned the failure of all answers to skepticism. The Swiss philologist and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900) made skepticism a significant part of his philosophy. Karl Marx (18181883) and Sigmund Freud (18561939) followed in a long-established tradition of using various skepticisms against their opponents but then claiming dogmatic truth for their own positions. Their practice reflected the important distinction between partial skepticism (e.g., of claims in one domain, such as religion, or the claims of an opposing political party) and global or universal skepticism, which suspends judgment about everything.

In the twentieth century Jean Grenier (18981971) translated Sextus into French. His student Albert Camus (19131960) drew on skepticism in his work as one of the founders of existentialism. In Germany, Odo Marquard (1928) led a self-consciously skeptical charge against the dogmatisms of thinkers such as Jürgen Habermas. Also in the same century, some analytical philosophers developed their own ahistorical definitions of skepticism and debated them with little if any reference to the traditions of skepticism. Revisionists such as Stephen Toulmin (1922) then interpreted one of their heroes, Ludwig Wittgenstein (18891951), as following in the footsteps of the ancient skeptics.

Skepticism in Medicine and Science

Of all the fields that in the early twenty-first century are considered sciences, medicine has been especially intertwined with skepticism. Sextus Empiricus was a practicing physician whose work influenced his philosophy. The writings of the Greek physicians Hippocrates (c. 460c. 377 b.c.e.) and Galen (c. 129c. 200 c.e.) stressed the importance of skeptical observation and experience and the dangers of dogmatic theory in medicine. Their work was an important part of medical education in early modern Europe, introducing the student to both dogmatic medicine and the skeptical critique.

Several prominent early modern physicians developed the connections between skepticism and medicine. The Toulouse professor Francisco Sanches (c. 15501623) called himself "Carneades philosophus," attacking Aristotelian science in his book Quod Nihil Scitur (That nothing is known; 1581). The English physician and philosopher John Locke (16321704) borrowed some of the skeptical elements in his philosophy from the skeptical physician Thomas Sydenham (16241689). Martín Martínez (16841734), royal physician and president of the Royal Medicine Academy of Medicine in Seville, published Medicina Sceptica (17221724), attacking dogmatic Galenism, and Philosophia Sceptica (1730), which introduced Descartes to Spain. The German physician Ernst Platner's (17441818) skeptical writings were influential in Kant's time.

The early natural scientist Francis Bacon (15611626) was convinced that the experimental method would produce absolute certainty. Skeptics like François de La Mothe Le Vayer (15831672) used skeptical tropes to show that science could not produce certain knowledge. Other philosopher-scientists, such as Marin Mersenne (15881648) and Pierre Gassendi (15921655) in France, rejected the need for certainty and defended experimental science on the ground that it is enough that it produces useful knowledge. This attitude prevailed at the Royal Society in London. Skepticism could sweep away the pretensions of Aristotelians and other dogmatists while leaving scientists free to continue their experiments. In this spirit, Robert Boyle (16271691) named his spokesman "Carneades" in The Sceptical Chymist (1661), and Joseph Glanvill (16361680) titled one of his books Scepsis Scientifica (1665).

By the twentieth century, natural science had pretty much left the skeptical path, claiming something close to a monopoly on truth and knowledge. But avatars of the skeptical tradition still emerge here and there in connection with the sciences. The philosopher of science Karl Popper (19021994) contended that scientific claims could never be absolutely verified, only falsified. Paul Feyerabend (19241994) was described as a Pyrrhonian for his generally skeptical attitude toward all scientific claims.

Skepticism in Law, Historiography, and Political Thought

It is no accident that one of the chief sources for Academic skepticism was a lawyer. After all, Cicero spent much of his professional life making cases for clients, regardless of which side truth was on. Montaigne also studied law and served as a magistrate, and concluded both that judges can make the law come out any way they want, and that they are often wrong. Legal realists in the twentieth century endorsed these views, concluding that the law was more an expression of social power than of truth or certainty. Legal education encourages skepticism by teaching lawyers how to argue both sides of any case.

Especially in the seventeenth century, skepticism made its way into historiography, as writers began to question the received accounts of history. La Mothe Le Vayer's On the Small Amount of Certainty in History (1668) and Pierre Bayle's Historical and Critical Dictionary (16971702) brought numerous historical errors to public attention. The only lasting solution was to learn to live with the appearances and accept lower standards for practical purposes instead of absolute certainty.

Throughout the early modern era, skepticism was used to justify a wide variety of political stances, from radical reform to quietist conservatism. The implications of many of Montaigne's political commentaries were quite subversive of the political arrangements of his time. But his contemporary, the Dutch thinker Justus Lipsius (15471606), claimed that skepticism justified repression of reformers on the ground that they could not know that they were right. The English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes (15881679) accepted much of the skeptical critique of knowledge and concluded that, for the sake of social order, the king should define the truth and punish deviations from it. Hume drew the different political implication that people should be left alone in commercial society to define their own manners and opinions. Kant concluded that one can know what politics should be like (ethical and republican) but that one could never know if these standards are really instantiated in any concrete political arrangements.

Earlier figures from Montaigne to Kant were often aware of the genealogy of their ideas, but even later writers working in ignorance of the roots of their ideas have come up with a similarly wide range of political conclusions. Without indicating much awareness of the skeptical tradition, the British political philosophers Edmund Burke (17291797) and Michael Oakeshott (19011990), each in different ways, used skepticism to undermine dogmatic political activism. Postmodernists with generally radical or activist sympathies have also not usually been aware of how close some of their positions are to the skeptical tradition.

Skepticism and Religion

The historical scholarship of Isaac la Peyrère (15961676), Benedict de Spinoza (16321677), and Richard Simon (16381712) contributed to skepticism about the Bible. In response, it has been common to accuse skeptics of atheism, libertinism, and immorality. But skeptics were not necessarily atheists. One of the most common uses of skepticism was by the self-described orthodox against pagan claims to truth; by the Lutherans and Calvinists against Catholic claims to infallibility; and by Catholics against Protestant claims to truth. Many religionists believed that if all claims to truth can be demolished, one should accept traditional religion on faith. This position is known as fideism.

Various versions of fideism were widespread. Thinkers from Montaigne to Huet and Bayle wrote that skepticism cleared the way to faith by removing rationalist objections. Kant famously wrote that he had had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith. Whether some of these figures were insincere atheists, using fideism as a defense against charges of heresy, has been the subject of debate ever since.

But there is little doubt about the sincerity of many fideists. The sixteenth-century translators of Sextus, Hervet and Stephanus, were both Christians who believed that skepticism could help them in apologetics. Blaise Pascal (16231662) in France Christianized skepticism by showing that, properly understood, it set the scene for Christianity. Philosophers at the Prussian Academy who translated the Greek, Latin, and British skeptics into French and German, such as Jean-Henri-Samuel Formey (17111797), Jean-Bernard Mérian (17231807), and Jean de Castillon (17091791), tried to draw the teeth of skepticism by adding notes that made it consistent with Christianity. The Germans Johann Georg Hamann (17301788) and Friedrich Jacobi (17431819) adopted skepticism as a propaedeutic to Christian faith. Kierkegaard claimed that skepticism was the key to proper Christianity, which required a "leap of faith" after dogmatism had been destroyed by skepticism. The Russian theologian Lev Shestov (18661938) even rejected mathematics in order to achieve faith. Twentieth-century theologians were also compelled to either use skepticism or refute it.

In the twenty-first century it is safe to say that the challenges of the skeptical tradition to any claims to human truth and knowledge are alive and well. Many and perhaps most modern and postmodern thinkers have internalized much of skepticism, often without full awareness of the genealogy of their ideas. The chief elements of skepticism must be adopted, adapted, or refuted by any thinker. Since no one has succeeded fully at the last of these, variations on the former prevail.

See also Cynicism ; Dialogue and Dialectics: Socratic ; Epistemology ; Philosophy, History of ; Rhetoric .

bibliography

PRIMARY SOURCES

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De natura deorum; Academica. Translated by H. Rackham. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1933.

Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. Edited by David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Montaigne, Michel de. The Complete Essays. Translated by Donald M. Frame. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1957.

Oakeshott, Michael. The Politics of Faith and the Politics of Scepticism. Edited by Timothy Fuller. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1996.

Sextus Empiricus. Against the Ethicists. Translated by Richard Bett. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

. The Skeptic Way: Sextus Empiricus's Outlines of Pyrrhonism. Translated by Benson Mates. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

SECONDARY SOURCES

Bailey, Alan. Sextus Empiricus and Pyrrhonean Scepticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Bett, Richard. Pyrrho, His Antecedents, and His Legacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Floridi, Luciano. Sextus Empiricus: The Transmission and Recovery of Pyrrhonism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Hankinson, R. J. The Sceptics. London: Routledge, 1995.

Laursen, John Christian. The Politics of Skepticism in the Ancients, Montaigne, Hume, and Kant. New York: E. J. Brill, 1992.

Paganini, Gianni, ed. The Return of Scepticism: From Hobbes and Descartes to Bayle. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer, 2003.

Popkin, Richard H. The History of Skepticism: From Savonarola to Bayle. Rev. ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Popkin, Richard H., and José R. Maia Neto, eds. Scepticism in Renaissance and Post-Renaissance Thought. Amherst, N.Y.: Humanity, 2003.

Van der Zande, Johan, and Richard H. Popkin, eds. The Skeptical Tradition around 1800. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer, 1998.

John Christian Laursen

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Skepticism

Skepticism

Sources

Ingersoll. As modern scientific thought percolated through American society, religious belief became genuinely optional for the first time in American history. Before 1878 religious skepticism made little impact on American life. Under the influence of both Darwinian biology and popular evolutionary thought, however, it became possible for Americans to reject religion forthrightly without negative consequences in genteel society. One popular strain of the new agnosticism (a belief that neither accepts nor denies the existence of God) moved beyond religion in the name of higher moral evolution. Robert Green Ingersoll, whom one admirer called the Dwight L. Moody of Free Religion, was loosely associated with this movement. In a public career that spanned the closing decades of the nineteenth century, Ingersoll traveled the country promoting agnosticism as a morally superior replacement to conventional Christianity and attacking the hypocrisy of organized religion. A veteran of the Civil War and an accomplished trial lawyer, Ingersoll was a well-known figure in Republican politics. On the lecture circuit Ingersoll caused waves of sensation by forthrightly attacking the clergy and comparing organized religion to the institution of slavery. He described agnosticism as mental abolitionism. Ingersoll emphasized modern science, which he viewed as a surer form of faith in the modern world. He advocated reliance on rational science, the irresistible nature of human progress, and the potential for human moral perfection with the fervor of an itinerant evangelist. He looked forward to a day when organized religion would wither away. Humanity is the sky, and these religions and dogmas and theories are but mists and clouds continually changing, destined finally to melt away, he wrote.

Other Skeptics. To the rage of Protestant leaders, Ingersoll successfully presented agnosticism in a socially impeccable and conventional form. Religious skepticism was also increasingly common among the growing group of university-educated Americans and became the norm among scientists. A few American intellectuals went so far as to portray the relationship between science and religion in military terms. Andrew White, the first president of Cornell University, captured this spirit in the title of his polemical work published in 1896, The History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. William Graham Sumner of Yale University, a prominent social Darwinist, was also a critic of organized religion. More representative of the trend of university thought about religion was the philosopher John Dewey, who abandoned Christianity in the 1890s. Dewey grounded his search for meaning on naturalistic and evolutionary principles. He came to view abstract questions about God or the nature of ultimate reality as unanswerable and therefore futile. As a result, he built a philosophical system based on the confidence that science can observe and describe how the human mind and society work.

Feminist Skepticism. Feminist leaders also advanced arguments critical of institutional religion. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the leaders of the I womens suffrage movement in the United States, came to view Christianity as an instrument of female enslavement. She organized and edited the controversial Womans Bible, which was published in two volumes in 1895 and 1898. The volumes focused criticism on biblical passages in both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures in which women figure. Stanton and her collaborators criticized what they regarded as the degradation of women in key biblical texts and offered alternative readings of some passages that affirmed women and their equality. Stanton recruited women scholars with advanced training in the historical-critical methods, and the book was well informed about the most advanced biblical scholarship. But although Stanton endorsed the tools of modern biblical criticism, she was chiefly interested in using them to undermine American popular values and social conventions that rooted the restriction of women in the sacred texts of the Bible. The project led Stanton to deny the divine inspiration of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures on the grounds that God would not inspire inequality. Like many women of her social class and Protestant background, Stanton looked more favorably on the Spiritualist movement, a belief that the spirit is a prime element of reality and that the dead can communicate with the living through a medium.

Sources

David R. Anderson, Robert Ingersoll (Boston: Twayne, 1972);

Carol A. Newsome and Sharon H. Ringe, eds., The Womens Bible Commentary (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992);

James Turner, Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985).

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skepticism

skepticism (skĕp´tĬsĬzəm) [Gr.,=to reflect], philosophic position holding that the possibility of knowledge is limited either because of the limitations of the mind or because of the inaccessibility of its object. It is more loosely used to denote any questioning attitude. Extreme skepticism holds that no knowledge is possible, but this is logically untenable since the statement contradicts itself. The first important skeptical view was held by Democritus, who saw sense perception as no certain guide to objective reality. The Sophists were the earliest group of skeptics. Protagoras taught the relativity of knowledge, and Gorgias held that either nothing could be known, or if anything were known, it could not be communicated. Pyrrho, regarded as the father of skepticism, later held a similarly extreme position, seeing reality as inaccessible. Arcesilaus taught that certitude is impossible and only probable knowledge is attainable. In the Renaissance, skepticism is seen in the writings of Michel de Montaigne, Pierre Charron, and Blaise Pascal. For René Descartes skepticism was a methodology that allowed him to arrive at certain incontrovertible truths. At the end of the 17th cent., Pierre Bayle skeptically challenged philosophical and theological theories. David Hume, a leading modern skeptic, challenged established assumptions about the self, substance, and causality. The skeptical aspect of Immanuel Kant's philosophy is exemplified by his agnosticism; his antinomies of reason demonstrate that certain problems are insoluble by reason. To some degree skepticism manifests itself in the scientific method, which demands that all things assumed as facts be questioned. But the positivism of many scientists, whether latent or open, is incompatible with skepticism, for it accepts without question the assumption that material effect is impossible without material cause.

See R. H. Popkin, The History of Skepticism from Erasmus to Descartes (rev. ed. 1968); C. L. Stough, Greek Skepticism (1969); M. Burnyeat, ed., The Skeptical Tradition (1983); B. Stroud, The Significance of Philosophical Skepticism (1984).

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Skepticism

591. Skepticism (See also Cynicism, Pessimism.)

  1. Bothwell, Sergeant believes in nothing. [Br. Lit.: Old Mortality ]
  2. Dawes, Jabez mischievous brat ridicules Santas existence. [Am. Lit.: The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus in Rockwell]
  3. mushroom symbol of suspicion. [Plant Symbolism: Flower Symbolica, 310]
  4. Naaman at first doubts efficacy of leprosy cure. [O.T.: II Kings 5:1114]
  5. Thomas, St. wouldnt believe Christs resurrection until he saw Him; hence, Doubting Thomas. [N.T.: John 20:2425]
  6. Windermere, Lady doesnt believe husbands virtuous generosity toward Mrs. Erlynne. [Br. Lit.: Lady Windermeres Fan, Magill I, 488490]
  7. Zacharias struck dumb for doubting Gabriels birth annunciation. [N.T.: Luke 1:1820]

Skinniness (See THINNESS .)

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skeptic

skep·tic / ˈskeptik/ (Brit. scep·tic) • n. 1. a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions. ∎  a person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions; an atheist or agnostic. 2. Philos. an ancient or modern philosopher who denies the possibility of knowledge, or even rational belief, in some sphere. • adj. another term for skeptical. DERIVATIVES: skep·ti·cism / ˈskeptəˌsizəm/ (Brit. scep·ti·cism) n.

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skeptical

skep·ti·cal / ˈskeptikəl/ (Brit. scep·ti·cal) • adj. 1. not easily convinced; having doubts or reservations: the public were deeply skeptical about some of the proposals. 2. Philos. relating to the theory that certain knowledge is impossible. DERIVATIVES: skep·ti·cal·ly / -ik(ə)lē/ (Brit. scep·ti·cal·ly) adv.

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"skeptical." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/skeptical-0

"skeptical." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/skeptical-0

skeptic

skepticachromatic, acrobatic, Adriatic, aerobatic, anagrammatic, aquatic, aristocratic, aromatic, Asiatic, asthmatic, athematic, attic, autocratic, automatic, axiomatic, bureaucratic, charismatic, chromatic, cinematic, climatic, dalmatic, democratic, diagrammatic, diaphragmatic, diplomatic, dogmatic, dramatic, ecstatic, emblematic, emphatic, enigmatic, epigrammatic, erratic, fanatic, hepatic, hieratic, hydrostatic, hypostatic, idiomatic, idiosyncratic, isochromatic, lymphatic, melodramatic, meritocratic, miasmatic, monochromatic, monocratic, monogrammatic, numismatic, operatic, panchromatic, pancreatic, paradigmatic, phlegmatic, photostatic, piratic, plutocratic, pneumatic, polychromatic, pragmatic, prelatic, prismatic, problematic, programmatic, psychosomatic, quadratic, rheumatic, schematic, schismatic, sciatic, semi-automatic, Socratic, somatic, static, stigmatic, sub-aquatic, sylvatic, symptomatic, systematic, technocratic, thematic, theocratic, thermostatic, traumatic •anaphylactic, ataractic, autodidactic, chiropractic, climactic, didactic, galactic, lactic, prophylactic, syntactic, tactic •asphaltic •antic, Atlantic, corybantic, frantic, geomantic, gigantic, mantic, necromantic, pedantic, romantic, semantic, sycophantic, transatlantic •synaptic •bombastic, drastic, dynastic, ecclesiastic, elastic, encomiastic, enthusiastic, fantastic, gymnastic, iconoclastic, mastic, monastic, neoplastic, orgastic, orgiastic, pederastic, periphrastic, plastic, pleonastic, sarcastic, scholastic, scholiastic, spastic •matchstick • candlestick • panstick •slapstick • cathartic •Antarctic, arctic, subantarctic, subarctic •Vedantic • yardstick •aesthetic (US esthetic), alphabetic, anaesthetic (US anesthetic), antithetic, apathetic, apologetic, arithmetic, ascetic, athletic, balletic, bathetic, cosmetic, cybernetic, diabetic, dietetic, diuretic, electromagnetic, emetic, energetic, exegetic, frenetic, genetic, Helvetic, hermetic, homiletic, kinetic, magnetic, metic, mimetic, parenthetic, pathetic, peripatetic, phonetic, photosynthetic, poetic, prophetic, prothetic, psychokinetic, splenetic, sympathetic, syncretic, syndetic, synthetic, telekinetic, theoretic, zetetic •apoplectic, catalectic, dialectic, eclectic, hectic •Celtic •authentic, crescentic •aseptic, dyspeptic, epileptic, nympholeptic, peptic, proleptic, sceptic (US skeptic), septic •domestic, majestic •cretic •analytic, anchoritic, anthracitic, arthritic, bauxitic, calcitic, catalytic, critic, cryptanalytic, Cushitic, dendritic, diacritic, dioritic, dolomitic, enclitic, eremitic, hermitic, lignitic, mephitic, paralytic, parasitic, psychoanalytic, pyritic, Sanskritic, saprophytic, Semitic, sybaritic, syenitic, syphilitic, troglodytic •apocalyptic, cryptic, diptych, elliptic, glyptic, styptic, triptych •aoristic, artistic, autistic, cystic, deistic, distich, egoistic, fistic, holistic, juristic, logistic, monistic, mystic, puristic, sadistic, Taoistic, theistic, truistic, veristic •fiddlestick •dipstick, lipstick •impolitic, politic •polyptych • hemistich • heretic •nightstick •abiotic, amniotic, antibiotic, autoerotic, chaotic, demotic, despotic, erotic, exotic, homoerotic, hypnotic, idiotic, macrobiotic, meiotic, narcotic, neurotic, osmotic, patriotic, psychotic, quixotic, robotic, sclerotic, semiotic, symbiotic, zygotic, zymotic •Coptic, optic, panoptic, synoptic •acrostic, agnostic, diagnostic, gnostic, prognostic •knobstick • chopstick • aeronautic •Baltic, basaltic, cobaltic •caustic • swordstick • photic • joystick •psychotherapeutic, therapeutic •acoustic • broomstick • cultic •fustic, rustic •drumstick • gearstick • lunatic

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"skeptic." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"skeptic." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/skeptic

"skeptic." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/skeptic

skeptical

skepticalcackle, crackle, grackle, hackle, jackal, mackle, shackle, tackle •ankle, rankle •Gaskell, mascle, paschal •tabernacle • ramshackle •débâcle, diarchal, matriarchal, monarchal, patriarchal, sparkle •rascal •deckle, freckle, heckle, Jekyll, shekel, speckle •faecal (US fecal), treacle •chicle, fickle, mickle, nickel, pickle, prickle, sickle, strickle, tickle, trickle •besprinkle, crinkle, sprinkle, tinkle, twinkle, winkle, wrinkle •fiscal •laical, Pharisaical •vehicle • stoical • cubicle • radical •medical, paramedical •Druidical, juridical, veridical •syndical •methodical, periodical, rhapsodical, synodical •Talmudical • graphical • pontifical •magical, tragical •strategical •alogical, illogical, logical •dramaturgical, liturgical, metallurgical, surgical •anarchical, hierarchical, monarchical, oligarchical •psychical •angelical, evangelical, helical •umbilical • biblical • encyclical •diabolical, follicle, hyperbolical, symbolical •dynamical, hydrodynamical •academical, agrochemical, alchemical, biochemical, chemical, petrochemical, photochemical, polemical •inimical • rhythmical • seismical •agronomical, anatomical, astronomical, comical, economical, gastronomical, physiognomical •botanical, Brahmanical, mechanical, puritanical, sanicle, tyrannical •ecumenical •geotechnical, pyrotechnical, technical •clinical, cynical, dominical, finical, Jacobinical, pinnacle, rabbinical •canonical, chronicle, conical, ironical •tunicle • pumpernickel • vernicle •apical • epical •atypical, prototypical, stereotypical, typical •misanthropical, semi-tropical, subtropical, topical, tropical •theatrical •chimerical, clerical, hemispherical, hysterical, numerical, spherical •calendrical •asymmetrical, diametrical, geometrical, metrical, symmetrical, trimetrical •electrical • ventricle •empirical, lyrical, miracle, panegyrical, satirical •cylindrical •ahistorical, allegorical, categorical, historical, metaphorical, oratorical, phantasmagorical, rhetorical •auricle • rubrical • curricle •classical, fascicle, neoclassical •farcical • vesicle •indexical, lexical •commonsensical, nonsensical •bicycle, icicle, tricycle •paradoxical • Popsicle • versicle •anagrammatical, apostatical, emblematical, enigmatical, fanatical, grammatical, mathematical, piratical, prelatical, problematical, sabbatical •impractical, practical, syntactical, tactical •canticle •ecclesiastical, fantastical •article, particle •alphabetical, arithmetical, heretical, hypothetical, metathetical, metical, parenthetical, poetical, prophetical, reticle, synthetical, theoretical •dialectical •conventicle, identical •sceptical (US skeptical) • testicle •analytical, apolitical, critical, cryptanalytical, diacritical, eremitical, geopolitical, hypercritical, hypocritical, political, socio-political, subcritical •deistical, egoistical, logistical, mystical, papistical •optical, synoptical •aeronautical, nautical, vortical •cuticle, pharmaceutical, therapeutical •vertical • ethical • mythical • clavicle •periwinkle • lackadaisical •metaphysical, physical, quizzical •whimsical • musical •Carmichael, cervical, cycle, Michael •unicycle • monocycle • motorcycle •cockle, grockle •corncockle • snorkel •bifocal, focal, local, univocal, varifocal, vocal, yokel •archducal, coucal, ducal, pentateuchal •buckle, chuckle, knuckle, muckle, ruckle, suckle, truckle •peduncle, uncle •parbuckle • carbuncle • turnbuckle •pinochle • furuncle • honeysuckle •demoniacal, maniacal, megalomaniacal, paradisiacal, zodiacal •manacle • barnacle • cenacle •binnacle • monocle • epochal •reciprocal •coracle, oracle •spectacle •pentacle, tentacle •receptacle • obstacle • equivocal •circle, encircle •semicircle

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"skeptical." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"skeptical." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/skeptical

"skeptical." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/skeptical