Friday, December 21, 2007

Epistemological skepticism - Philosophy Bites

Philosophy Bites (PB) invited Barry Stroud to speak about skepticism (they write 'scepticism'). Skepticism, we know from podcasts such a the skeptics' guide to the universe, teaches us to be skeptic towards all sorts of claims of alternative medicine, UFO, conspiracy theories and other outlandish beliefs. But in PB skepticism is taken in a more accurate (philosophical) context; the context of epistemology.

What I learned in university was that epistemology was the philosophical investigation of knowledge and indeed, we are talking knowledge here. Skepticism scrutinizes knowledge: how can you know, what you think you know, to be correct. Even of your senses, you cannot be entirely certain. Ultimate skepticism is questioning even our perception.

For a moment I thought we'd slip into the question of reality: whether there is reality at all. If we can't trust our senses, maybe reality as we experience it is just a dream. But eventually this related issue, is a different one. Stroud, interviewed by Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds, uses the ten minutes of the show to rapidly take us through the intricacies of epistemological skepticism. What fun!

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