Skepticism: A Philosophical Doctrine
In this essay, I will be discussing the philosophical doctrine of skepticism. In particular, I will be looking at what skepticism is, its history, different types of skepticism as well as how The Matrix can be seen as a skeptical film. By the end of this essay, the reader should have a good understanding of what skepticism is and how it can be applied to different areas in life.
2. What is skepticism?
In its broadest definition, skepticism is a philosophical doctrine the aim of which is to question the things that are regarded as simply acceptable by the others. It has been described as “the attitude of doubting the truth of something” or “the policy or practice of holding something open to doubt or questioning”. For example, Rene Descartes was a famous philosopher who employed skepticism in his work by doubting everything that he previously thought to be true in order to find some certain and indubitable foundation for knowledge. He famously said “I think, therefore I am” in order to establish his own existence as being beyond doubt.
3. The history of skepticism
The history of skepticism can be traced back to the Ancient Greek philosophers known as the Sophists who were known for their use of rhetoric and debating skills to make any argument seem convincing. They were also known for their habit of constantly changing their own beliefs and opinions which led them to be seen as skeptical about everything. The Sophists were not the only Ancient Greek philosophers who were skeptical, however. Plato’s student, Aristotle, was also known for his skeptical views on certain topics such as the nature of reality and knowledge.
The Stoics were another group of Ancient Greek philosophers who held skeptical views. They believed that one should maintain a sense of detachment from the material world and focus on living in accordance with virtue. This is similar to the Eastern concept of mindfulness which teaches people to be aware of the present moment and not get lost in thoughts about the past or future. The Stoics believed that this detachment would help one to maintain a sense of calm in the face of adversity and tragedy.
Skepticism also has its roots in Eastern philosophy. Buddhist scriptures contain numerous instances where the Buddha himself questions various things that people take for granted such as the existence of an immortal soul or self-nature. In fact, Buddhism has been described as “the most thorough-going form of skepticism that has ever existed”.
4. Types of skepticism
There are many different types of skepticism which can be divided into two main categories: global skepticism and local skepticism. Global skepticism is the view that it is impossible to know anything for certain while local skepticism doubts specific claims or beliefs.
Some common examples of global skepticism include Cartesian doubt which calls into question our ability to know anything at all, solipsism which doubts the existence of anything outside our own minds, and nihilism which doubts the existence of values and meaning in life. Local skepticism, on the other hand, includes things like doubting the existence of God, doubting the Claims made by a particular religion, or doubting someone’s testimony about an event they witnessed.
An example oflocal scepticism would be if you met someone who told you they had been abducted by aliens and you doubted their story because you don’t believe in aliens. But if you were a global sceptic, you would doubt the existence of aliens altogether.
Butchvarov has suggested that there are two different types of global skepticism, strong and weak. Strong global skepticism is the view that we cannot know anything at all while weak global skepticism only doubts our ability to know certain things. For example, a strong global skeptic might doubt the existence of other minds while a weak global skeptic would only doubt our ability to know what is going on in other people’s minds.
5. The matrix and skepticism
The matrix can be seen as a skeptical film because it questions the nature of reality and whether or not we can trust our senses. The matrix also uses the philosophical idea of solipsism to doubt the existence of anything outside our own minds. In the film, the character of Neo is told that the world he sees is not really the real world but a simulated reality created by intelligent machines in order to control humans. This leads Neo to question whether or not anything he experiences is really real or just an illusion.
The matrix also questions our ability to know anything for certain. For example, when Neo is told about the matrix, he initially disbelieves it and doesn’t believe that it could be real. It is only when he is shown evidence that he starts to believe it. This shows that even when presented with evidence, we can still doubt what we are seeing.
In conclusion, skepticism is a philosophical doctrine that questions things that are regarded as simply acceptable by others. It has a long history and there are many different types of skepticism. The matrix can be seen as a skeptical film because it questions the nature of reality and our ability to know anything for certain.