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SCEPTICISM - DOES LOGIC ABOLISH ITSELF?

Sceptics argue that there are no beliefs and there is no such thing as knowing anything or knowing that something is likely to be true.  Scepticism is the belief that there are no beliefs and that nobody really knows anything.  Oddly enough it accuses all who have beliefs of lying that they believe something.  It believes that people lie or are stupid and think they do believe.

Sceptics argue that the senses can fool you, your reason might be wrong for your brain might be like a badly programmed calculator and that evidence leads you down the garden path.  We use reason to work out if our senses are perceiving correctly.  Reason tells us if evidence points to something.  So to say reason is wrong or unreliable to to say you don't really believe you have a head on your shoulders or that evidence really is evidence.  It is possible to argue that reason is only good for telling us that we know nothing for sure.  So you could be a rationalist who thinks the senses and evidence are futile as helps to truth.

It cannot be denied that there is a problem knowing how we know what we know or that we really know what we think we know.  But it is important not to make too much of the problem - it is not a big problem.  The bottom line is that something can be as good as proven even in the absence of perfect 100% proof.

DEGREES

Suppose sceptics are right.  Then the more important you say what you know is the more scepticism you call for! The more you think you know then the worse it is. The more you say you need to adopt a belief as a fact the more sceptical you need to be!  So a big doctrine like God deserves deeper scepticism than a small doctrine that the cat has a tail.

If scepticism is unassailable or even just a stance that is understandable if one takes it then there are still things that deserve more scepticism than others. Scepticism is by degrees. For example, the supernatural only makes the problem of knowledge worse.  To reject the supernatural is not about bias but about helping us to see we know what we know.

So if a sceptic doubts all around her the supernatural is not a part of the mundane and thus will deserve more doubt than it.

AN ATTEMPT AT A REFUTATION OF SCEPTICISM

Let us look at a sceptical argument.

1 A force could be giving us an illusion.

2 You say you know you have a book in your hand but you do not.

Conclusion: What if it is an illusion? So you don’t know that you have a book at all. You only know that you think you do.

Turri tried to to refute such scepticism. He pointed out that human nature tends to doubt and distrust suggestions or beliefs that something that appears to be the case in fact is not. He says that most of the time we are right to go with things as they appear.

So he says though we could infer that there could be a deceptive force tricking us all the time we have no reason to think it so we should not bother.  Believing that you do not really know anything for sure is a mistake for there is no reason to.  It would be different if evidence appeared.  But just to assume those things out of thin air is silly.  You cannot disregard what seems to be the case.  There is such a thing as thinking so much that you cannot see the wood for the trees.

Critics say Turri is doing the very thing he says sceptics do - assuming.  Assuming is a symptom of scepticism or ignorance.  He is doing what sceptics do to refute scepticism and that cannot work for it makes him a sceptic himself.  He is a sceptic about scepticism and so open to the same criticism he levies against it.  But not all assumptions are bad.  If we cannot assume that our faculties are okay what else can we assume?

There is no way to know 100% if scepticism is right or wrong. All you can do is try to give evidence but what if the evidence is incomplete?  It does not matter.  Evidence only points to things but it does not prove they are true.  The critics seem to be right for Turri fails to see assuming that what seems to be the case is the case is unhelpful for assuming is not knowing.  But he knows he is assuming and its the best option.  He gets good results from doing so - why would he sit a maths exam if maths is just mere opinion and not really factual?  His assuming brings good results and lets him function in the world.  That is enough.  Assuming fire is hot without evidence means you get to realise  you were right when you try to touch it.

USING GOD TO VALIDATE REASON SHOWS YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN REASON AT ALL

Reason is based on the fact that a contradiction is not a thing or a truth but rubbish. It is best to see reason as a tool for working out if ideas fit together and to weed out the false from the true.  Even if the principle of non-contradiction were a guess, it would be a guess we would need to make. If you use reason to work out that God might exist or does exist, then because you are guessing it follows that your mind will always be greater than any God and more important.
 
Those who say our logic works because a trustworthy God gave it to us are making logic abolish itself. It is the biggest way to try to abolish it.  "Logic may be wrong. But we can reason that there may be a God of truth.  We can reason that he gave us logic so that is how we know it works."  Nobody in their right mind would reason, "Reason is guilty of being useless until proven usefull.  Guilty until proven innocent.  Therefore we reason that there is a God who makes sure reason works for us."  That is abolishing reason for it is incoherent.  It is deadly for it can make a person look and sound rational until you find out what their core attitude to reason is.

If logic cannot be trusted then reasoning that there is a God to create it in us and make it accurate is making the cure worse than the disease.  It makes more sense to just try reason out and then decide it works than to use something that you suspect is dodgy to lead you to the idea of a God who gave it to you correctly.

The biggest sceptic of all is the one who uses God to validate his reason and perception of evidence. If you need God to convince yourself you have the thumb on your hand that means you are more convinced than ever than you do not have one. You still do not believe you have a thumb. You are using God to validate not that you know something but that you do not but want to feel you do.

PARADOX - EVIDENCE AGAINST REASON?
 
Some say that paradoxes, seeming contradictions which are not really contradictions make reason futile for you cannot tell the difference between a paradox and a contradiction.
 
A paradox is p=non p in a way we cannot understand while a contradiction is p=non p is a way that makes no sense, that cannot be reconciled. Since reason is the avoidance of contradiction and reason leads to paradoxes, it is sometimes thought that reason is fraud for we cannot tell the difference between paradox and contradiction. This argument is wrong for reason can lead us to paradox and be true for we just aren’t smart enough to solve the paradox. Paradoxes sanction reason rather than abolish it. When a reality is proven to be paradoxical it must somehow fit reason for it would not be a reality if it did not.

A paradox is only an effective abrogation of reason as a tool when there is insufficient or no evidence that the paradox is true. Then you have no way of telling if it is a contradiction or not. Then it is dishonest to say you are reasonable for how can you really be reasonable when you don’t know if you are? You must only accept paradoxes when you can’t avoid them. So, the fewer you have the better.

Religion is heavily steeped in paradoxes which rest on guesswork or on evidence that is so feeble that the religionists should be ashamed to present religion to the world.
 
Everything one says when one accepts such alleged paradoxes is unintelligible though it may look intelligible for when reason is rejected so is meaningful language. That is to say, you can call a cat a dog. Your talk might make sense but as far as your perception of reality goes you are talking nonsense in your own mind.

REASON: ONCE WRONG ALWAYS WRONG?
 
Argument: "Suppose it is true that correct reason leads to contradictions. The danger is that some would say that when reason is sometimes wrong it is always wrong for it is really just the rule, A is A. If A is ever not-A then you cannot be sure that A is A. If reason leads to contradictions it does not always do that so it should be accepted as valid when it leads to coherence. It should be accepted as right most of the time. In case we are wrong we will have to obey it all the time. There is nothing else we can do."

This argument calls for resignation.  But it does not alter the fact that if the simple rule A is A is wrong ever it must be the case that we never know if a cat is a cat or two is two.  The argument confuses the usefulness of reason with the rightness of reason.  For example, if we think some contradictions are true then we cannot say reason is okay with other things just because it works.  In fact even if it works it is still wrong.  A broken clock is right twice a day.
 
Perhaps perception of the contradictions should be put down to innate mental derangement or inability of the intelligence to go any further. We could even say that reason should only be listened to when it works and should not be listened to when it contradicts itself but it is best not to.

Sceptics tell us that errors refute reason. Errors support reason because they wouldn’t be errors if reason is wrong.

SCEPTICS AFFIRM AND CONTRADICT REASON AT THE SAME TIME
 
Sceptics who say they believe in nothing at all or that nothing can be known or believed boast that they have disproved reason with reason. This is self-contradictory for if reason is wrong it can hardly prove that itself is wrong! This proves that we should assume that reason is right if we have to.
 
The sceptic might reason that reason is rubbish.  Thus the sceptic’s argument both uses reason and then makes it contradict itself.  There are two sides.  The affirmation side and the contradicting side.  Does the affirmation or rejection of reason count?  But both are in fact made to oppose and exclude each other.  To reject is to affirm and to affirm is to reject.

If the affirming and rejecting could be both separated then which one if the weaker?  Does the person affirm more than reject more?  The affirming is the answer for it is what the sceptic starts with.

We see it is impossible to completely divorce reason.  It is reasonable to just accept reason.  That is not a vicious circle for it is not reason makes us accept reason.  We just do.

Some state that since the sceptic is finding reason to be both true and false and therefore incoherent, he is not making reason valid by turning reason against itself. But the sceptic cannot just say, "Reason is wrong for reason is wrong." If reason is wrong then he cannot reason that this is so with confidence. He has to say, “I cannot prove that reason is valid therefore reason is nonsense for what use is it if it cannot prove anything?” This idea is based on bad logic. Failing to prove that reason is right fails to prove that reason is nonsense. That is why it collapses as a critique of reason.
 
Sceptics can disbelieve in anything and still live a normal life just in case what they perceive is real. We all tend to live a certain way no matter what we believe. The sceptic can still be a good scientist.

THE INFINITY OBJECTION
 
Reason consists of one law: A is A. It is most likely that this law is correct. It speaks for itself. Thus the sceptic’s argument, “Every argument for something depends on another argument and that one on another and so on … to infinity”, stands refuted.

SELF-EVIDENT

Reason must be right to a sufficient degree to prove itself wrong. For example, you cannot refute reason unless you agree that A is A. The sceptic then cannot get away from belief in reason and he only pretends that he has refuted it to himself and to others.
 
I cannot doubt that I am aware and not unaware now. This proves that this law is self-evidently true. It is the thing I can be most sure of. Some would object that if it is right that I can’t be unaware and aware at once it could be true that a could be non-A in other cases. But if that were true then we could be non-existent and yet aware of our existence at the same time, which would be impossible. Reason is proven which is why it must be put first.  It is put first by taking nothing for granted and putting all things to the test.  The important things will be top of the list. 

DETERMINIST OBJECTIONS
 
It is commonly presumed that determinism (that we simulate being free agents but are not in reality free), and we know determinism is true, denies the validity of reason. If we were produced without an all-truthful God and are programmed by chance it seems that our reason might be unreliable. But if you assume that reason is right for a God of truth exists and that God exists for reason says so then you are using circular reasoning which denies the authority of reason. And if you forget the circle and say God exists and made reason therefore reason is true you are just assuming that reason is true and are saying God exists without reason which is irrational. It may be called non-rational or beyond reason by those who refuse to say it is against reason.  But it is against reason to assume there is such a major thing as God. 

It would be more reasonable to simply assume that reason is right without bringing a God into it for the hypothesis is only a guess itself anyway. This is yet another of the countless proofs that believing that God should be put first and therefore that reason should be subjected to him is ethical nihilism or just plain nasty.
 
Also if God exists then reason is probably delusion for he made deception and tolerates it and says he cannot abide temptation and has made our bodies to tempt us to sin.
 
There is no evidence or proof that human reason is useless so we ought to trust it though it is its own witness and is its own evidence and I witness to myself that it is true and I know what I experience is true for me so it is me who testifies to reason and reason testifies back to me so though it is its own witness I am a witness too. Not to trust it is more irrational than to trust it for it does no harm to trust it. If reason is blind faith it takes more blind faith to disbelieve in it.

If everything is really blind faith masquerading as unblind faith, blind faith is unavoidable so it is best to have blind faith in reason.

DAVID HUME

The idea David Hume had that we have as much reason to think material things are real as we do spirits or vice versa is wrong.  The fact that the material could be an illusion does not alter the fact that we sense it and thus it makes more sense to believe it is real than to believe in spirit.

Hume was led to skepticism about the existence of anything by the thought that it could be an illusion.  But it is a fact that possibilities such as that do not count. 

For Hume, nobody knows what the truth about anything is. Rather than try to find a flaw in this sceptical reasoning he just cast it into the bin. Hume said that life cannot function if we think we know and believe nothing and that was why he wrote, “nature is too strong for principle.”

To argue that life cannot function if we think we have no information about anything is to say you do have information after all!

PYRRHONISM

Pyrrhonism is extreme scepticism. It is the belief that there are no beliefs. This is not necessarily contradictory because you can believe that there are no beliefs except this one. That would be modified Pyrrhonism. It is indeed possible that our senses and reason and perception make fools of us.   Anybody that says we can’t prove that reason is right is a Pyrrhonist regardless of all the beliefs they say they have and the things they say they know. Reason is the foundation of belief and knowledge and once you say you can’t be sure of it you can’t be sure of anything you deduce from it either. The basic rule of reason is that A is A. I know this is true for I am X and nobody else and I know I exist for I experience therefore I am and I can’t experience if I do not exist. So, you can know that reason is true and you can see it without a logical argument. You only have to look with your mind’s eye. It is striking that most religionists have not grasped or been told this with the result that all their beliefs are artificial. God’s miracles don’t do anything about it either so somebody else must be responsible for them.

To say nothing can be proved is to say that anything at all can be possible. For example, the sun may be a pot of boiling milk.  Many who think that way are confusing epistemic possibility with logical possibility.  That is to say they think they could sense that the sun is milk and are mistaking that for logic.  It is not logically possible for a sun to be a pot of boiling milk.  It is a mistake to think that just because you cannot totally prove the sun is a sun that it means that you could tell by your senses that it is something else.  Logic matters more than what the senses tell us.  Logic tells you your senses are wrong if they say you are dead when you are walking about.    What is epistemically possible is not necessarily logically possible.

An absolute answer is not the same as a proven one.  1=1 is absolute but not totally provable.

The skeptic usually makes the mistake of thinking that something has to be provable totally to 100% to be considered to be something you know.  Demanding total proof is self-defeating because   It is unaffirmable.

It is said that the sceptic starts off presupposing that to know something is true he must know that he knows it. You can know something while thinking you do not. Or you can think you know something and not know it at all.  The sceptic then can think he knows he knows nothing and be wrong.

Plus if the sceptic thinks she cannot know anything she is presupposing and making that her starting point so it is no wonder she thinks she knows nothing! She is being self-defeating.

FINALLY

The sceptical position is not really a position for it is a contradiction.  It is self-defeating while saying it is not self-defeating.  The sceptic claims to know a contradiction is true.  If it is denying that we in fact think we know then it is pure self-deception and harmful. 

It is true that reason and everything else may be a deception but when there is no evidence that they are there is no need to care about what they might be.  It is irrational to care.  Reason then supports itself.  Even sceptics use reason to refute reason so it follows that they and everybody else believe in it after all.

The sceptic who says he has no reason to believe in anything at all even that he has a thumb on his right hand forgets he has no reason to believe he may not believe.

Though you could be dreaming your life you don’t need hard proof that your life is real. You have enough warranted belief to get by.  But you may say that the absence of evidence for your life being real is not evidence that it is real.

Suppose we cannot find a truth test that works or is useful.  All we can do is try to see the truth as best we can do it. This means that if anything we believe is true then that is down to luck and we don’t know which of our beliefs is true or false. But at least we know the truth is out there and the truth is not about us.