Avoiding the pits of extreme skepticism

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by greenberg, Nov 14, 2007.

  1. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member


    I think this joke succintly points out the trouble with extreme skepticism - refraining from action and having no sense of urgency.

    It is of course easy to scoff at extreme skepticism - and solipsism and relativism. But avoiding them and their consequences is not so easy. And the consequences can be serious sometimes.

    What do you suggest are the workable alternatives to extreme skepticism?

    By what criteria are those alternatives better than extreme skepticism?
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  3. Gustav Banned Banned

    succinct indeed
    i will do some reading but of the top of my head i cannot think of a worse state of affairs than the skepticism as defined by the criteria presented thru the joke

    the light is off. its negation is "the light is on"

    the actual state of affairs is the light is off
    we know this because we want to change the light bulb. plus it is goddamn dark in here

    *restricting ourselves to these particular dynamics involves not coming up with bogus shit like... huffing, "lower wattage to higher" or puffing, "regular to florescent"

    now if they are not sure of the situation, that means they are not sure of themselves. they are not sure they think, exist, whatnot. a logical extrapolation, i think

    if this is the case. i shall disregard any input with regards to the lightbulb from that particular school of thought. they have nothing to offer. it is conceptually impossible for them to speak out on anything. or even to speak at all if the wish to be consistent

    i shall also ask them to leave the neighborhood and never come back


    i shall refine or reject from feedback.
    next part...."workable alternatives" soon
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  5. Grandtheftcow Registered Member

    How are skepticism and urgency related?
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  7. Gustav Banned Banned

    of course. they would say...."i do not have to leave cos i never arrived"
    in that case.......

    "garcon! the gallows please"

    alternative, we could rip open their chests and ladle the sludge out

    personal preference really. thats all

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  8. Gustav Banned Banned

    if i may be so bold and interject

    restricting to this particular scenario... the urgency is evinced by the distaste for we have for stumbling around in the dark. a very undesirable state of affairs, would'nt you say, my good man?

    from here, it is a simple matter of extrapolation (and imagination)

    a cattle rustler, eh
  9. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    I think regular ol' skepticism is just fine and quite workable. Extremes of most anything ain't so good.

    Baron Max
  10. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    Extreme skepticism is a state of extreme belief.
    The ES is making extreme claims about what is possible. The extreme skeptic is making very strong claims about his or her ability to criticise our senses, reasoning, intuition.
    It is not as if an ES IS pure doubt. They see the dark room. Then they doubt it. They have a religious belief in their faith in the kind of reasoning they aim at the perception. The reasoning that raises other possibilities.

    To be polemical: everyone by the way they live is taking an absolute stand - including their mental justification processes. Their actions (and words) are making an absolute claim to knowledge.
    Epistomologically: an agnostic is not simply less extreme then an athiest or a theist. The agnostic has very specific criteria about what can be known and what cannot, the value of experience, perception, reasoning and so on.
    We cannot avoid being a specific form of life and one whose choices may be mistakes.

    Or to put this another way. Sometimes reading your posts it is as if you are outside asking for help about where to step into the world and what it would be best to belief there.

    But there is no outside. And there is no stance that is not extreme in its way. Even one foot outside is a stance with claims about how much participation or belief is healthy.

    On the other hand I also agree with Baron Max to a degree.
    Or better put:I think he has summed up his extreme philosophy very well. It has a certain panache. I doubt it will be satisfying for you. But I think a more reasoned defense of his position would actually be misleading. 'I know what I know: moderation is the key, boy." An extreme claim right there.

    I realize I did not answer your question but I felt like the question was coming perhaps from a misunderstanding of what an ES is actually doing. It is just another person with a mode of life that is absolute. The ES is as sure of his or her beliefs and Pat Robertson is. The primary focus of the beliefs is a little different (and perhaps this speaks to the ES's psychology - what their absolute beliefs allow them to avoid).

    And there is no 'we' who needs to avoid this. Most people would not even consider extreme skepticism.

    What is the attraction of it for you?
    What is repulsive about it for you?

    I don't think there is an objective rational reason not to be an ES. I made some case above that there are contradictions in it, but I doubt pointing out those contradictions is going to dissuade someone from it. We would just end up having a long, complicated discussion - and one where I might very well make an ass of myself.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2007
  11. Gustav Banned Banned

    what a relief
    i was expecting long lines snaking towards the gallows
  12. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    I really appreciate that you are willing to take an individual stand in relation to communication. I admire it, truly. I do sometimes wish you could take one more step toward me. This certain speaks about my laziness, but I don't think it speaks about my abilities. I love Cesar Vallejo, for example.
  13. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    Let's not make this too personal.

    I am also not looking for "an objective rational reason not to be an ES".

    I'd rather see this thread be a kind of brainstorming to the questions in the OP.
  14. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    descartes avoided it with "I think therefore I am" - IOW I can doubt so many things but I cannot doubt the nature of my self (since doubting is a sub aspect of 'self")
  15. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    I have always thought this was an odd choice by descartes.
    You could simply say 'thoughts occur' and make no reference to a self.
    And thoughts and thinking are so ephemeral, they have always seem a poor foundation for certainty.

    It's like he used the habits of thought built into the grammar of his famous sentence to convince himself. 'We say 'I think' so there must be an I thinking.' But our habits in grammar need to be backed up as well. I doubt any extreme skeptic would consider Descartes more than a passing irritant.
  16. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    An objective reason is that it is self-contradictory. See my first post. You are still making a lot of claims of absolute belief if you are an extreme skeptic.
    The version of an extreme skeptic you described uses his beliefs to be passive - I do not think this is the only possible outcome, but I will work on the example you gave.
    Passivity here assumes that the base state is rest and actions need justification. So he does not get up to get the light.
    He or she (ah, shit, it has to be a 'he')...He assumes that stillness and inaction are primary.
    In fact however his own body is in constant action. He is stiflling response and justifying it via ES. He has no justification for his stifling. Whatever justification he has is not being criticised with the same thoroughness he is aiming at 'reasons to act'. In fact his stifling is an action, a thought based action he takes in relation to himself. He talks himself out of acting.
    It is an intra-psychic relationship that is active, does prioritize and has beliefs.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2007
  17. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    descartes is famous for his time since he was doubting so many established paradigms that were ingrained - he couldn't doubt his doubting however - if you doubt you exist, it becomes difficult to ascertain what is doing the doubting
  18. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    yes, I just don't think this does much to an ES. He could just say: why do you assume that actions must have doers? Which a number of Eastern Mystics seem to have said also.
  19. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    why would one assume that an action has no cause? (apart from the hearsay of eastern mystics .... or interpretations on what they might have said, since there are also quite an abundance of eastern thinkers who do attribute action to cause)O
  20. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    1) An ES is not assuming there is no cause, he is not assuming there is.
    2) It is a shift to talk about cause and effect. The question was whether there exists a self. I think, therefore I am. Must all verbs have subjects.
    3) I thought it was ironic since I had the impression you liked Eastern mystics. Of course there is no reason to accept their authority. A number of practices focus on a disidentification with thoughts. As not viewing them as
    'mine' or a part of me or something I am doing. To simply notice that they are. And if you are simply noticing, they who is doing them? Obviously there is no reason for you to believe this is true. I simply raised the issue because I thought these were practices that informed your beliefs. My apologies.
  21. lightgigantic Banned Banned


    BG 4.16 - 18 Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what is action and what is inaction. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from all misfortune.

    The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.

    One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.

    just because some action causes trouble or is not the real Mccoy, in no way suggests that all action is
  22. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    Of course. But I think we all sometimes fall into extreme skepticism, unawares. Bam! - and we're in the middle of gut-wrenching doubt. It happens sometimes, and it can be really bad.
  23. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

    I don't mean to be daft - But why are extremes often not a good thing?

    I agree - extremes are often not a good thing. And for me, this implies that our desire for moderation is a reflection of our desire for true happiness - philosophical scrutiny and consistency be damned.

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