Saturday, February 4, 2017
"The Art of Skepticism"
"The Art of Skepticism"
by Daniel Talamantes
"Skepticism wagers that it is unfathomably possible to obtain ultimate truth or knowledge. Etymologically derived from the Greek verb skeptomai, meaning “to search,” skepticism is the practice of learning, of making the sincere effort to obtain full truth and knowledge. This line of philosophical inquiry follows in the tradition of Plato. In Plato’s works, he’d often establish a setting where Greek philosophers (particularly curated by Socrates), politicians, and other notable individuals debated over topics as broad as love, government, and purpose.
In this setting, he’d set up a method in which truth and understanding could be approached through debate and the development of ideas. While each individual involved in the scenario could demonstrate superior knowledge of their position, likewise another individual could argue and validate claims as effectively.
What may seem frustrating to some in this generation is that these works were never meant to be handbooks for meaning and truth. They weren’t even necessarily providing you guidance. They were nearly templates for learning a method of achieving knowledge and steering towards truth. In modern times, belief and knowledge seem directly aligned with a preferred source or party. It is a time when the tyranny of ideas is controlled by a fixed narrative. The blending and questioning of one’s own beliefs is as radical as accepting and listening to the opposition’s.
Skepticism can be an unsettling practice, for it requires that an individual abandons the faith that their held truths, morals, and beliefs are as vulnerable as any other individuals. In a way, it seems to knock the world topsy-turvy. But, the method itself is one that we vitally need in the modern polemical landscape. The dualist détente that is routinely touted and inherited by parties’ belief portfolios makes for a world that tosses in the wake, but never proceeds forward.
In the art of skepticism beliefs, ideas, and morals become qualitative. A whole theory can be mined until gold is extracted from the mass of granite. Living skeptically, allows your attention and concentration to become modal. Based on any certain encounter, the quality of a belief or idea can be defined. This is a more fruitful way to measure your understanding of truth and your knowledge of any topic.
What skepticism dismantles is the ability to live in a world of simple truths. In an era plagued with ideologies that merely exist off of an emotional foundation, off of a mere declaration to oppose anything the other party has to offer, we have become a plateau of ideas and a desolation of progress. Mostly, our current belief systems are perpetuated by private entities, often with shadow agendas for profit or exposure. The ability for an individual to question those who are questioning is a heretical act. Beliefs, including progressive beliefs, are religiously supported.
In sculpting there are two ways work: one is to chisel away the matter and the other is to add matter onto less matter. Skepticism is the chiseling away of the unnecessary to define the art and beauty hidden beneath. It is about refining your beliefs and your understanding and your method for obtaining truth.
Try being skeptical. Be skeptical of skepticism. You’ll trim the fat off your beliefs and obtain a purer idea."