Descartes's Views on Skepticism

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To be a skeptic means that one disbelieves what others consider truth. For example, skepticism could apply to an atheist. Atheism is the non-belief in God, therefore and atheist would be a skeptic. Skepticism is a healthy attitude as one should question the ideas they are given, but they should not take it so far that they do not believe in anything. Descartes, says, “Several years have now passed since I first realized how numerous were the false opinions that in my youth I had taken to be true, and thus how doubtful were all those that I had subsequently built upon them.” (Ariew, pg 104). Descartes suggest that as one goes through their youth, they believe what they are told, or see. This is true; most children now believe that what they see on T.V. is real, but once they grow older they start to see that it was not true and this is where one begins to build a skeptical attitude.
Once one learns that what they believed as a child is not true, they begin to question other ideas. One begins to decipher what people they can trust and who they can’t, and if they can trust someone can they believe what they say. Descartes says, “reason persuades me that I should withhold my assent no less carefully from opinions that are not completely certain and indubitable than I would from those that are patently false. For this reason, it will suffice for the rejection of all of these opinions, if I find in each of them some reason for doubt.” (Ariew, pg 105). In this passage, Descartes suggest that he withholds his opinions of others until they give him a reason to doubt them. When one meets a new person, they trade stories of their lives. There is no way to know if what they are telling the truth or not. This will be known the more they get ...

... middle of paper ... up in skepticism that it becomes too difficult to distinguish truth from lie, and this fills one’s life with uncertainty which only leads to unhappiness.
In conclusion, skepticism does have its advantages. One who is skeptical of something or someone can protect themselves from harm. It also allows one to be a free thinker, or be able to use logic to determine their actions. This is not to say it doesn’t have disadvantages, because it does. If one becomes so serious about skepticism that they question everything, then they could suffer a life of unhappiness. But if one chooses to use skepticism lightly and distinguish what they are told as truth or lies, then this will allow them to be fair as well as live a life of happiness.

Works Cited

Ariew, R. Rene Descartes: Philosophical Essays and Correspondence. Hackett Publishing
Company. Cambridge, MA.
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