A Struggle With Skepticism: First Draft

"I say this struggle with skepticism, with its threat or temptation, is endless ...[ Wittgenstien's Philosophical] Investigations ... confronts this temptation and finds its victory exactly in never claiming a final philosophical victory over ... skepticism, which would mean a victory over the human." (Cavell, 1989)

Doubt, suspicion, hesitancy - these are key qualities of a type of intellectual skepticism. The knowledge that there may be another possible action or form of life or explanation makes any idea or practice or commitment appear arbitrary. To abide by any set of propositions is to marginalise another set of practices, until the skeptical mind intervenes to shut down any commitment to ideals at all. Placed in a political space in which there is cultural diversity, a skeptic would be loathe to claim any privileged position of one set of ideas over another.  This is the personal struggle with skepticism that people are engaged in. It begins with the question, "how would I be able to commit?"

A struggle with skepticism is an overall struggle with doubt. As Cavell points out, "a final philosophical victory over ... skepticism ... would mean a victory over the human," which means that it is human to doubt and to hesitate and to demand. In my opinion, that which should remain firm is "the form of life" and the values, practices and systems of knowledge that give this life shape. This is in itself problematic, but it is something that I must be willing to accept. “The conditions that make a practice, any practice, possible, are not arbitrary … They must be replicable from generation to generation of practitioners.” (Burbles and Smeyers, 2010, pg 176 - 177). If anything, the skeptic in us all must be willing to challenge/question these inherited practices so they can grow, find new forms of expression and be more equitable whilst retaining the core values which permitted their rise in the first place. That is what philosophy is for, but - in the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein - "the real discovery is the one which enables me to stop doing philosophy when I want to. The one that gives philosophy peace, so that it is no longer tormented by questions which bring itself into question." (Philosophical Investigations, #133) 

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