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 Scepticism challenged by the Age of Reason?

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PostSubject: Scepticism challenged by the Age of Reason?   Fri 22 Sep 2017, 22:58

Did some research on the internet about Temperance's quote from a book of Wilson

"Wilson's fascinating and challenging account shows how the decline of religious certainty in Victorian times had its origins with the eighteenth-century sceptics - but brought a devastating sense of emotional loss which extends to our own times".

First of all I had some difficulties with the term "scepticism". I thought first that it was the sane criticism with a reasonable approach to anything that was not logical...And so I thought that the 17th/18th age of reason which sparked enlightenment was the elaboration of it...
How wrong I was? The age of reason/enlightenment seems to be instead a reaction on the sceptics?
But also:

And also:
"The aim of the collection is to show that skepticism played a more important role in the eighteenth century than is usually thought, either because a number of thinkers adopted a skeptical stance or because the main rationalist systems must be regarded as responses to skeptical challenges."

And also:
The Age of Enlightenment has often been portrayed as a dogmatic period on account of the veritable worship of reason and progress that characterized Eighteenth Century thinkers. Even today the philosophes are considered to have been completely dominated in their thinking by an optimism that leads to dogmatism and ultimately rationalism. However, on closer inspection, such a conception seems untenable, not only after careful study of the impact of scepticism on numerous intellectual domains in the period, but also as a result of a better understanding of the character of the Enlightenment. As Giorgio Tonelli has rightly observed: “the Enlightenment was indeed the Age of Reason but one of the main tasks assigned to reason in that age was to set its own boundaries.” Thus, given the growing number of works devoted to the scepticism of Enlightenment thinkers, historians of philosophy have become increasingly aware of the role played by scepticism in the Eighteenth Century, even in those places once thought to be most given to dogmatism, especially Germany. Nevertheless, the deficiencies of current studies of Enlightenment scepticism are undeniable. In taking up this question in particular, the present volume, which is entirely devoted to the scepticism of the Enlightenment in both its historical and geographical dimensions, seeks to provide readers with a revaluation of the alleged decline of scepticism. At the same time it attempts to resituate the Pyrrhonian heritage within its larger context and to recapture the fundamental issues at stake. The aim is to construct an alternative conception of Enlightenment philosophy, by means of philosophical modernity itself, whose initial stages can be found herein. ​

About the base for linking the 17th and 18th century as the "age of reason":

The Age of Reason period of the Modern era of philosophy is generally regarded as the start of modern philosophy, and roughly equates to the 17th Century.
It includes the following major philosophers:
Hobbes, Thomas (1588 - 1679) English
Descartes, René (1596 - 1650) French
Pascal, Blaise (1623 - 1662) French
Spinoza, Baruch (Benedict) (1623 - 1677) Dutch-Jewish
Locke, John (1632 - 1704) English
Malebranche, Nicolas (1638 - 1715) French
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm (1646 - 1716) German
The Age of Reason saw a continuation of the move away from theology and faith-based arguments, and marks the shaking off of medieval approaches to philosophy such as Scholasticism, in preference for more unified philosophical systems like Rationalism and British Empiricism. The advances in science, the growth of religious tolerance and the rise of philosophical liberalism also led to a revival in Political Philosophy in general.
Along with the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th Century, which the Age of Reason gave rise to, it is also know as the Early Modern period.
(for the blue...go with the cursor over it and it becomes light blue and white)

I learned a lot from this article:

About the Enlightenment and the Reason behind it

And the excesses of the Age of Reason:

PS:"but brought a devastating sense of emotional loss which extends to our own times".
And the following period of "Romanticism" which brought again the "feelings" in the picture?

Tomorrow more elaboration.

And hoping for a reaction Wink , kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Scepticism challenged by the Age of Reason?   Mon 09 Oct 2017, 14:51

Is this the thread you referred to yesterday, Paul?

You'll get tied up in knots if you chase every definition of "scepticism" in an effort to find a common element - there isn't one. However there is a fundamental difference between how it was used in an ancient philosophical sense and how it came to be used in a scientific sense (neither of which correspond to how it is used in the vernacular) which was one of those issues that helped define the Age of Enlightenment - an Age so bloody obviously happening while it was happening that even those luminaries who were involved in it adopted the term and used it proudly as a label for the cultural and academic revolution of which they were a part. In a sense "Age of Enlightenment" is a sceptical conclusion in fact. I'll explain ...

The Greek version of the term - regardless of which school of philosophy adopted it - hinges on the fact that a person who uses strict inquiry, experimentation etc in attempting to arrive at a conclusive answer eventually hits a brick wall and cannot go any further. Since this method basically forbids hypothesis which cannot be tested, "scepticism" (meaning just "inquiry") by definition imposes a limit on knowledge.

This idea of a natural limit, however badly defined, was anathema to the Enlightenment lads and lassies. In the 18th century it was becoming more and more obvious that the vast bulk of such limits were simply down to a lack of opportunity to communicate with others. The individual might soon reach a limit to what they can find out about something, but the more who took part in an inquiry into comprehending something previously deemed "unknowable" the more probable it was that such a boundary could simply just keep extending further, as philosophers and mathematicians etc during the Age of Reason had postulated and which their descendants in the Age of Enlightenment could easily demonstrate from the results of their concerted inquiries alone. In this way the latter day inquirers could be seen as having been "opposed to" or "a reaction to" this old definition, but really their attitude was just that the old definition was fine as it once had applied to an individual but just didn't hold water any more the way things were now being investigated and in the new ways knowledge and its limits were being defined.

In fact the ancient Greek sceptics were held in very high regard indeed by many scientists and philosophers during the Enlightenment as brilliant examples of people who adopted a systematic method and as much logic as they could muster when conducting their inquiries, and for whom no human authority existed which could artificially curtail that inquiry until an actual "real" limit was identified. For both the ancients and the modern knowledge-seekers hypothesis in this process was totally acceptable if it fuelled and advanced inquiry, and though never an end in itself in fact was considered not just a handy but a crucial stepping stone in the pursuit of knowledge.

Crucially, Enlightenment philosophy introduced the popular notion that in fact so porous was the boundary of knowledge that it was simply best not to set the location of it as an aim at all, or even assume its whereabouts, as the Greeks had once done. This was the key difference between the Greeks and the new practitioners, and the one which helped define "science" as we know it (another concept borrowed from the ancients with a crucially different interpretation in the modern world).

Best to avoid Google on this one I'd say, let alone quote chunks from what you found wading through the Google swamp - too many definitions for the term "sceptic" which search engines don't distinguish between ...
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PostSubject: Re: Scepticism challenged by the Age of Reason?   Mon 09 Oct 2017, 23:11


I spent all my time in the tumbleweed café Embarassed Embarassed ...
But I had read it all already this evening first of all...

You are really an excellent source of knowledge, again I learned a lot from you...
Thank you so much for that.

Kind regards, Paul.
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