Augustine and Academic Skepticism: A Philosophical Study by Blake D. Dutton

By Blake D. Dutton

Among crucial, yet often ignored, figures within the historical past of debates over skepticism is Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE). His early discussion, Against the Academics, including sizeable fabric from his different writings, constitutes a sustained try to reply to the culture of skepticism with which he used to be ordinary. This used to be the culture of educational skepticism, which had its domestic in Plato's Academy and used to be transmitted to the Roman international throughout the writings of Cicero (106–43 BCE). Augustine and educational Skepticism is the 1st complete therapy of Augustine’s critique of educational skepticism. In transparent and obtainable prose, Blake D. Dutton offers that critique as a significant paintings of philosophy and engages with it accurately as such.

While Dutton offers an intensive overview of educational skepticism and Augustine’s stumble upon with it, his fundamental problem is to articulate and assessment Augustine’s technique to discredit educational skepticism as a philosophical perform and vindicate the opportunity of wisdom opposed to the tutorial denial of that hazard. In doing so, he sheds enormous mild on Augustine’s perspectives on philosophical inquiry and the purchase of knowledge.

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To live in such a way would be to act in violation of the command of Apollo, who has charged him with the duty of examining his fellow Athenians. In addition, it would be to abandon the good life. As Socrates here makes clear, there is no better life than that spent conversing about such matters as virtue and testing the opinions of others as well as one’s own. To forsake it is unimaginable. He would rather die than give it up. What is striking about all this, and immensely important for our purposes, is the absence of any requirement of knowledge.

On the problems associated with the reconstruction of Socrates as a philosopher, see Brickhouse and Smith 2000, 11–52; and Guthrie 1971, 5–57. For a review of the history of the so-called Socratic Problem, see Dorion 2010. org/terms S O C R AT ES , T H E A C A D E M I CS , A N D T H E G O O D L I F E 37 having attained knowledge of the matters he has spent his life investigating. 4 That life is best characterized, not as one of continuous contemplation of truth attained, but as one of ceaseless inquiry into truth unattained.

He would rather die than give it up. What is striking about all this, and immensely important for our purposes, is the absence of any requirement of knowledge. As the rest of the dialogue makes clear, Socrates is confident that he has led a good life, and he goes to his death with the satisfaction of having done so. Yet he famously denies 3. Any reconstruction of Socrates as a philosopher is complicated by the fact that the three authors who knew him—Aristophanes, Xenophon, and Plato—paint very different and often-conflicting portraits.

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