Augustine and Skepticism






Augustine and Skepticism

PHI/105
March 28, 2013



Augustine and Skepticism
Augustine did not lead a straight and narrow life. In fact, his younger years were spent being promiscuous and tended to hang out with the wrong crowd. He made a few bad decisions in life but eventually turned it around, became a professor of Rhetoric and was baptized into Christianity. Augustine later became Bishop. But the main thing he was known for was refuting total skepticism . Even though others may not agree, I am generally a skeptic but can relate to Augustine because his opinion makes sense and the examples confirm the possibility of a rebuttal.
Augustine noted that there was three ways of refruting total skepticism. They were through the principle of non-contradiction, the act of doubting, and the sense of perception. He thought these three things were very important and would disprove skepticism but others would still not believe. I think his arguments make sense and his examples help me to understand exactly what he is saying.
“First, skepticism is refuted by the principle of noncontradiction, which we explained earlier more informally. According to this principle, a proposition and its contradiction cannot both be true—one or the other must be true. The propositions “The stick is straight” and “It is false that the stick is straight” cannot both be true.” (Moore & Bruder, 2011, pg. 81). If something is true and not true, it cannot be perceived to be valid. If they contradict, it is said to be false. We know in life, what is, is. So I agree with his concept here.
“Second, Augustine held that the act of doubting discloses one’s existence as something that is absolutely certain: from the fact I am doubting, it follows automatically that I am.” (Moore and Bruder, 2011, pg. 82). Being a skeptic, I have always felt comfortable doubting something because if make me feel I had made the right decision once I evaluated everything. I see what he is saying regarding the “I am doubting” conflicting with the “I am” To have doubt means the statement does not show true meaning that is clear to begin with.