Saturday, January 7, 2017

Reading #26: Doubt: On Being Skeptical

John Donne:

"To come to a doubt, and to a debatement of any religious duty, is the voice of God in our conscience. Would you know the truth?  Doubt, and then you will enquire."

I will start my class about Reason and the Good with a segment on doubt. What is doubt, what can be doubted, and what is the relationship between doubt and curiosity?

Doubt/Being skeptical: requiring more information before belief.

Skepticism: the claim that nothing is clear.

1.  What does doubt presuppose?  What is the goal of doubt?

2. What is the difference between what is practically difficult to doubt, what is psychologically difficult to doubt, and what cannot actually be doubted?

3. Why do some people never doubt what can be doubted?  

4. Why do some people attempt to doubt what cannot be doubted?

5. What is the relationship between doubt, thought, meaning, and truth?

6. Is faith opposed to doubt?  Is knowledge or certainty opposed to doubt?  If something is clear can it be doubted?

7. Consider the relationship of doubt to various sources of information and knowledge:

Personal testimony (past and present)
Common sense (appearance and reality)
Intuition (sign and reality)
Tradition (commonly accepted truths)
Experience (senses)
Science (experiment and interpretation)
Systems (presuppositions and inferences)
Logic (laws of inference)
Reason (laws of thought)