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PHILOS 1E03 Lecture Notes - Hellenistic Philosophy, Ataraxia, Circular Reasoning

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Stefan Rodde

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Philosophy Lecture – Oct. 22
Doubt (I)
Descartes and Epistemology
- Hellenistic Philosophy
oThe aim of philosophy: ataraxia
(state of well-being, freedom from disturbance)
- Hellenistic Skepticism
oSkepticism as a means to ataraxia
Freedom from disturbance with respect to matters of belief
oEpoche: withholding assent
Strategy: “for every argument another argument of equal [weight]
is opposed”
oEg. The claim that “the tomato is quite red” is either
Decidable (there is a fact of the matter) or
Undecidable (there is not fact of the matter)
oIf it is undecidable, then we suspend judgment,
oIf it is decidable (if there is a fact of the matter…), then it is decidable in
virtue of some principle (criterion)
But: we can only appeal to a criterion to resolve this problem if we
already know that it is a true/good one
- Agrippa’s Trilemma
oHow can we justify a claim?
oI) Regress of reasons
We give reasons for it, and reasons for our reasons, and reasons for
our reasons for our reasons, ad infinitum
oII) Circular reasoning
This criterion is good because it shows us that it is good
oIII) A dogmatic statement
A mere declaration is not a justification
- Modern Skepticism
oThe issue is not ataraxia
oThe issue is to decisively answer the sceptical challenge
- The Problem
oThe collapse of Aristotelianism
From teleology to mechanism
Experiments and knowledge
The Heliocentric universe
The Scientific Revolution
Crisis of authority and knowledge
- The Project
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