7
   

Can you doubt everything?

 
 
G H
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Dec, 2011 12:05 pm
@curiousjo,
Quote:
Your response to this confused me. I didn't ask whether it was something we can do without. The question was simple, it was about if skeptism can have it's limits because to me doubting doubt is psychologically impossible. Doubt is an affirmative position one where you can't make up your mind about something. You can question it's characteristics but it is what it is.

Doubt is suspension of judgement -- not proceeding to a conclusion that one either does or does not believe, either does or does not trust, etc. A state of uncertainty.

But when applying doubt to itself (Can you doubt "doubt"?), how could doubt be employed thusly if there was uncertainty of doubt being possible? The inquiry needs doubt, it can't present its "asking" via the alternative of doing without doubt. (To wit: "Can you [blank] doubt?" Even substituting its definition or a synonymous description in the blank is still what is meant and represented by the word "doubt"). So the question is bogus, it's not really requesting an answer to Can you doubt "doubt"?, since from the outset it upholds that doubt must be so in order to apply doubt to itself.

If nothing else, we are surely demonstrating in this "hair-splitting" how annoying language eventually gets, how ambiguous it may reveal itself to be at times, how dementedly circular or paradoxical an analysis of it can lead at times -- how it can have limitations or spawn its own additional puzzles when it comes to representing "what's going on"!

For instance, I could now perversely point-out that there is "doubt" used as a verb and "doubt" used as a noun. So that Can you doubt "doubt"? involves a distinction not formerly made in my scrutiny above: Of a person ("a you") engaging in a supposed particular action (doubt) applied to a supposed particular thing (doubt). However, this as well potentially wanders-off into a maelstrom of discursive considerations, protests, declarations of outrage, etc:

"But doubt (as a noun) is not a concrete phenomenal object! It's a concept or abstract summary of either a set of physical relationships within a brain (neural state of uncertainty), or a set of body behaviors outwardly indicating or interpreted as such, or a psychological state that does not easily reduce to the physical, or...."

"The doubt in the question referred to a broad and general conception of doubt, not a particular instance of it..."

"Hold on, Hosea! Even though there is 'doubt' as a verb and 'doubt' as a noun, they are surely still referring to the same thing somehow, different sides of the same coin, yata, yata, yata..."
0 Replies
 
curiousjo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Dec, 2011 01:50 pm
@JLNobody,
I see.
0 Replies
 
curiousjo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Dec, 2011 01:54 pm
@Anomie,
I don't know, can they? But more importantly can you explain how?
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Dec, 2011 11:33 pm
@curiousjo,
I suspect that the answer to "can you doubt doubting" is yes and no. Sometimes it may be a proposition which you may doubt because your evidence for doubt is shaky. And some times (or at the same time) it may be a mere feeling of doubt that as long as you are feeling it evidence or proof for it is irrelevant.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Dec, 2011 11:38 pm
@curiousjo,
In a way I AM a radical skeptic. I think that ultimate reality is beyond language and mathematical understanding. These reflects human limitations as much as human powers. The only understanding I am truly "sure of" is the phenomenal experience I have at each moment. I can't tell you what it means, but I have no need to uncover anything about it; it is complete. I am skeptical regarding propositions ABOUT it.
Procrustes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2011 02:13 am
@JLNobody,
I'm in the same boat JL... I doubt there is even a boat. Wink
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2011 11:13 pm
@Procrustes,
Man overboard! Surprised
Procrustes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Dec, 2011 11:25 pm
@JLNobody,
I doubt that man will survive... the water is freezing. But seriously, GH hands down has the best explanation and snarky sense of humour.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jan, 2012 07:56 pm
The most comprehensive skepticism I've found so far is Pyrrhonism. Pyrrho of Elis seems to have kicked it off after visiting India with Alexander the Great.

Anyway, according to Sextus Empiricus, Pyrrhonism was complete for the very reason that it requires the Pyrrhonist to suspend belief in Pyrrhonism itself.

One crucial point is that "doubt" in Pyrrhonism isn't disbelief. It's the suspension of beliefs about the nonevident, and in particular, any metaphysical claim. Not claiming yes or no, but noting that the issue is still undecided, debatable, and continuing one's examination. The "evident" is the perceptions, and the Pyrrhonist trusted them and necessary inference drawn from them (a scar indicates an old wound, etc). The non-evident would be metaphysical claims abstracted from sense data, and any belief about them was to be suspended.

They say it led to a very pleasant psychological state called ataraxia. Freedom from stress or anxiety. It would be nice if it worked, I think.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jan, 2012 11:18 pm
@FBM,
This is what I've been advocating:

"The [self-]'evident' is the perceptions, and the Pyrrhonist trusted them and necessary inference drawn from them (a scar indicates an old wound, etc). The non-evident would be metaphysical claims abstracted from sense data, and any belief about them was to be suspended."

But virtually all inferences can be doubted.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Jan, 2012 06:08 am
One can doubt anything. The relevant question will always be whether or not there is good reason to doubt.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jan, 2012 10:29 am
Some things are hard to doubt, except by people who are just engaging in pedantry. The 'scar indicates old wound' or 'smoke indicates fire' sort of inferences are reliable for all practical purposes. For all the complexity of the Pyrrhonist's justification for their approach, I don't think they were engaging in pedantic hair-splitting. From what I gather, it was a very real-life, pragmatic approach to dealing with experience and getting the most out of it, not a one-upsmanship battle of semantics, which, in my experience, characterizes most of contemporary philosophy.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jan, 2012 08:53 pm
@FBM,
FBM and Setanta are right. In our actual lives we operative inductively without certainty, and most often do not need it. But can we observe any benefits to be gained from our epistemological hair-splitting aside from the amusement it affords us?
FBM
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Jan, 2012 09:23 pm
@JLNobody,
Some people get tenure out of it. Wink
0 Replies
 
 

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