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Skepticism is a term used to designate the philosophical directions that elevate systematic questioning, not bare doubt , to the principle of thinking and question or in principle exclude the possibility of knowledge of reality and truth . The modern use of the word, however, often only designates doubt instead of investigation and research as the outcome of thinking.

About the term

Concept history

The word skepticism is a scholarly borrowing derived from the ancient Greek term σκεπτικός skeptikós, which is derived from σκέψις sképsis ; sképsis means "contemplation, investigation, examination"; it is based on the verb σκέπτεσθαι sképtesthai "look, peek, look at, examine". Correspondingly, ancient skeptics were those who examined a thing from all sides in order to determine its nature. With regard to their investigations and deliberations, they became “experts”, ancient Greek. σοφοί ( sophoi ) called, later also known as sophists ( σοφισταί ) or philosophers ( φιλόσοφοι ).

The tendency of the skeptics to examine things closely led to concerns of principle about anything that could not be examined. This included all statements that went beyond sensory phenomena. Hence, human knowledge has been called into question. In order not to commit oneself, impartial language was used and empty phrases like “it is certain”, “I am sure that” were avoided.

Even for Erasmus von Rotterdam , a skeptic was not a doubt. He wrote at the turn of the 15th to the 16th century:

“The name 'skeptic' corresponds to what skeptics do: they research and think carefully. They find it hard to commit to anything, and they don't defend what they suspect. The skeptics follow what has proven itself, but non-skeptics follow what they consider to be certain. "

Contemporary philosophers, who refer to the ancient Greek word meaning of skepticism, characterize skepticism as the "joint investigation of a variety of aspects" of an object and consider this objectivity to be the best way to learn to philosophize.

In the centuries between 700 and 1000, ancient skepticism was almost forgotten. The leading Doctor of the Church Augustine , who had familiarized himself with skepticism before his baptism, criticized it soon afterwards. "Skeptics are unhappy because they do not know the truth," wrote Augustine in 386 in his early philosophical writing On Happiness . It was his personal conclusion from the time he was part of the academics. In his work Against the Academics, which was written shortly afterwards, Augustine refuted the skeptical views in detail. In the centuries that followed, this script served as a treasure trove for arguments against skepticism. Science, morality and life practice were dominated by the Christian religion and its certainties. In the transition period from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the modern era , the ancient skepticism was resumed.

Skepticism and dogmatism

The dialogue between skeptics and dogmatists ran through all the time from antiquity to the time of the Hellenistic philosophers. The skeptics assumed that while human sensory perception allowed the only philosophically acceptable objectivity, our senses did not provide a true picture of the world. Dogmatists like the Stoic Zeno, on the other hand, assumed the opposite. Almost all philosophers had in common that the world of the gods is not accessible to man. Plato was the exception: in his theory of ideas he postulated that man had access to “eternal truths”. His successors in the Academy, Arkesilaos and Karneades , rejected this view as untenable and practiced their own skepticism.

Since the advocates of skepticism doubt that there is a truth criterion, skepticism of any kind is in opposition to dogmatism . The skeptics describe all directions as dogmatism, the representatives of which claim to be able to make provable, correct statements about an objective reality. The skeptical contradiction is formulated logically and argumentatively as follows: In order to prove a hypothesis, something unproven must always be assumed. This requirement must also be provable. This leads to an infinite chain of evidence. In addition, for every assertion there is an assertion to the contrary, which can be supported with just as plausible arguments ( isostheny ); thus all knowledge of the dogmatists is to be exposed as pseudo-knowledge. In contrast to the empiricists , rationalists, and realists , skeptics deny that there are fundamental, evident truths that are so obvious that they are accessible to everyone. Richard Rorty formulated the following on this subject somewhat differently : The interest in Plato's truth has waned. Today human action is no longer based on ontology. People today start from 'intuitive ideas' that relate to 'decent behavior'.

Skepticism is not limited to a statement as to whether there is any truth; Skepticists only make statements about the various aspects of something that are being considered. Skeptics do not make object-language claims about real facts because they would have to provide evidence of the truth. They make metalinguistic claims about statements made by their opponents. I.e. the dogmatic use of language is criticized against the standard of the matter.

Proponents of German idealism assumed that the skeptics were actually dogmatists. Fichte interpreted the skeptical idea of ​​starting from the things and subsequently of excluding the knowledge of the truth as a skeptical dogma.

Further definitions

Hegel called the skepticism in connection with his remarks on skepticism "the free side of every philosophy". In 1793 Karl Leonhard Reinhold had mentioned that there had never been so many ambiguous definitions of skepticism as in his time. Often skepticism is equated with a mere epistemological doctrine of doubt or with relativism. It is also used as a synonym for the actual philosophy or identified with a certain, distinguished form of philosophy or viewed as a variant of non- or unphilosophy.

Most historians of philosophy consider doubt to be a central feature of skeptical philosophizing. Michel de Montaigne and René Descartes were among the first to philosophize in this sense. Both came to different conclusions based on the doubt. The term 'skepticism' has been used in the history of philosophy as a philosophical-historical category since the 17th century.

The methodical doubt on the principle "To all, to doubt" (Latin De omnibus dubitare ) of Descartes not necessarily mean that the doubter is a representative of skepticism. Anyone who, like Descartes, only uses doubt as a means of searching for certain knowledge is not a skeptic in the strict sense of the word. Skeptics are those who judge the chances of success of such a search to be negative for reasons of principle, as z. B. was the case with David Hume. In a broader, academic sense, Descartes et al. a. but often assigned to skepticism. He not only challenged and practiced methodological doubt, but also doubted the human ability to grasp the objective or the truth. He therefore - like Augustin Thagaste - set God as the objective principle that should compensate for this disadvantage.

Skeptical perspectives, as they were later expressed by skepticists, appeared in more or less radical or moderate variants even in antiquity. They are in writing with Sextus Empiricus , Cicero and Diogenes Laertios . Radicals, that is, consequent skeptics, rejected not only the objectivity of factual assertions, but also probability or credibility assertions; Since there is no criterion for the reliability of an objective knowledge, one cannot make any meaningful statements about the extent of a possible approach to the truth. Moderate skeptics such as B. Platonic academics, allowed credibility or probability statements, at least from a pragmatic point of view, or used truth criteria, according to which under certain circumstances something that is not absolutely certain may be described as true.




From most of the works of the ancient skeptics only fragments in the form of quotations, summaries or paraphrases have been preserved by other authors. However, two fundamental writings by the skeptic Sextus Empiricus have been preserved , the “ Basic features of Pyrrhonism ” (three books) and “Against the Mathematicians” (eleven books). These works were based on a rich, skeptical literature. Important sources are also the philosophical writings of Cicero , who professed a variant of skepticism, and the work of the doxographer Diogenes Laertios .


The skeptical thinking in Greece had a history. One looked for beginnings with the pre-Socratics as well as with Socrates and the Sophists . The pre-Socratics did not advocate modern skepticism as a fundamental stance. Instead, they referred to their own observation and exploration and their own reflection, to which they only assigned provisional valid results. The proverbial “ I know that I know nothing ” of Socrates should be a transition stage in the search for truth. This search often led to aporia (helplessness, hopelessness) - this is why many Platonic dialogues are called aporetic dialogues - but this was no reason for Socrates or the Socratic and early Platonists to give up the pursuit of knowledge of truth. The philosophy and rhetoric of sophists like Gorgias and Protagoras , which could be used to substantiate contradicting claims, challenged traditional assumptions of truth.

Together with the assertion of Parmenides von Elea that the common perception and judgment formation represent reality fundamentally wrongly, and the resulting attempt by Zenon von Elea to prove the flawedness of all statements about the general nature of the existing things ( being ), of time and movement , the aspects mentioned can be regarded as descriptions of the beginning of skeptical thinking in Europe. About the value of skepticism, Popkin said: "Since the Greek times, skepticism served as a stumbling block for dogmatic, metaphysical philosophy and thus ensured its honesty."

Main directions

The ancient skepticism is divided into two main directions, the "pyrrhonic skepticism" ( Pyrrhonism ), whose founder was Pyrrhon von Elis (about 365 / 360-275 / 270 BC), and the "academic skepticism", which is in the Platonic Academy was represented. The Pyrrhonic skepticism, which was not an institutional “school”, but a movement that was still alive at the end of the 2nd century AD, proved to be more durable.

Academic skepticism

The founder of the academic skepticism was the scholarch (headmaster) Arkesilaos , who lived from approx. 266 to 241/240 BC. Was head of the academy. From the time of the Arkesilaos on, the prevailing view for about 180 years was that final judgments were not possible and that abstinence from judgment was practiced, epoché . This period is known as the “Younger Academy”. Neither thinking nor perceiving leads to certainties because there is no criterion for truth. According to one anecdote, Arkesilaos is said to have said about the uncertainty of human perception:

Nothing is certain, and even that is not certain.

Karneades - one of his successors - is seen as a moderate skeptic. He put forward a theory of possible probabilities of certainties.

A moderate skeptic was the last scholarch of the Younger Academy, Philon von Larisa (approx. 158–83). His exact views have not been passed down. There are different assumptions about this in research. Philo fled in 88 BC. Because of political conflicts in Athens to Rome; soon afterwards - in 86 at the latest - the academy went under in the turmoil of the first Mithridatic war . With this, academic skepticism in Greece came to an end. In Rome he was still represented by Cicero, who had taken part in Philon's lectures.

Pyrrhonic skepticism

Pyrrhon assumed that it was completely unknowable how things are for themselves. Therefore one must refrain from presenting one's own observations as knowledge that is valid for all or as objective judgments.

The mainstream of university-educated philosophers assumes that Greek philosophers strived for a state of "bliss" ( eudaimonia ) through philosophizing , for which the achievement of equanimity or peace of mind ( ataraxia , apathy ) was considered a prerequisite. Pyrrhon, too, professed his goal of achieving peace of mind; He said that one could achieve it through the skeptical distance from unknowable reality, since everything that could trigger a desire is also subject to uncertainty. Sextus Empiricus uses the image of the undisturbed and "calm sea of ​​the soul". Thus, skepticism also stands for a direction in life, a basic ethical attitude, not just for a point of view in epistemology . Diogenes Laertios describes the objective as follows: "As the ultimate goal, the skeptics assume the restraint of the judgment, which like a shadow follows the unshakable calmness (...)."

In the Roman Empire , the Pyrrhonic skepticism found a significant representative for the last time in Sextus Empiricus, who lived in the late 2nd century. He compiled the arguments of the ancient skeptical traditions and the opposing doctrines of the dogmatists. His skepticism was radical; he considered moderate academic skeptics to be inconsistent.

The Pyrrhonics named tropes, after a term used in rhetoric, those reasons which could be cited for the impossibility of knowing reality and truth. Two lists of tropes were known; the "Ten Tropics" were ascribed to Ainesidemos of Knossos (1st century BC), the "Five Tropics" to Agrippa , who lived in the 1st or 2nd century AD. Little more is known of both than the name handed down from Diogenes Laertios. Even in antiquity, there was no agreement about the sequence of the tropics. The ninth trope can be understood as the essential summary of all previous tropes. The tenth trope seems to have been relatively independent.

The starting point of an argument named after the Pyrrhonian Agrippa (“Agrippin Skepticism”) is the assertion of the skeptics that there are well-founded opposing opinions on almost all questions. Agrippa denies that deduction could adequately justify a belief . With the justification one is inevitably compelled either to go back further and further in search of reasons, so that one gets into an infinite recourse , or to break off the justification procedure at an arbitrary point or to argue circularly. This situation is therefore also referred to as the Agrippa trilemma or, following Hans Albert, the Münchhaus trilemma .

middle Ages

In the Latin-speaking scholarly world of the Middle Ages, ancient skepticism was known from Cicero's statements, but above all through the extraordinarily influential late ancient church father and writer Augustine . Augustine had polemicized against skepticism in a work "Against the Academics" ( Contra Academicos ), by which he meant academic skepticism. For medieval philosophers, skepticism was hardly a serious alternative thought; Not only the authority of Augustine opposed this, but above all the fact that a consistent skepticism would also have called Christian teaching as a form of dogmatism into question. Therefore, in the Middle Ages there were methodological doubts in the sense of the Socratic ignorance, which ultimately aims at the acquisition of knowledge, but no real skepticism that would have shaken the certainty of belief. In the late Middle Ages, skeptical arguments for the purpose of a Christian criticism of rationalism were welcome (as in Thomas Aquinas ; Duns Scotus and Wilhelm von Ockham emphasized the fundamental limits of human knowledge), but no conclusions in the sense of skepticism were drawn from them.

In the epoch of scholasticism , an examination of ancient skepticism was included in the philosophical and theological endeavors of scholars. Heinrich von Gent followed Augustine's argument against academic skepticism , but accepted a very strict truth criterion in the interests of the skeptics. This earned him the criticism of Duns Scotus, who believed that such a criterion must lead to as great uncertainty as the ancient skeptics had claimed. Nikolaus von Autrecourt considered the consequences of the assumptions of the ancient skeptical academics absurd, but admitted that their arguments were formally flawless. Neither sensory perception nor the mind that is dependent on it is in a position to deliver reliable knowledge about the external material world, and humans do not even have reliable knowledge of their own mental acts.

Early modern age


The solution of dependencies on mythical and religious ideas has been a central concern of ancient skeptics since Hegel . It is part of philosophical freedom and skeptical serenity not to be bound by anything.

The rediscovery of this skeptical view in the Renaissance came about in the context of the currents of humanism and the Reformation . Their representatives have questioned what was valid and powerful up to now. So z. B. the truth of the Aristotelian-scholastic philosophy no longer dominate the teaching at the universities and in the sciences. Humanistic thinkers and reformers advocated self-determination for the individual. Everyone can basically determine their own thoughts and actions instead of submitting to dogmas and authorities. Nikolaus von Kues , with his “Doctrine of Ignorance” (De docta ignorantia) in the 15th century, called for an empirical study of nature. The research of natural scientific philosophers like Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and Baco von Verulam (1561-1628) followed.

In the sixties of the 16th century, the two surviving writings of the Sextus Empiricus were translated into Latin by humanists . Henri Estienne translated in 1562 the "Principles of Pyrrhonism"; In 1569, Gentian Hervet translated the text “Against the Mathematicians”, who arranged a complete Latin edition of the works of Sextus.

The fact that the skeptical writings of the Sextus Empiricus became known gave rise to many questions in the world of the Renaissance, which was dominated by Christian belief, which led to doubts about religion and science. The newly awakened skepticism became a threat to the Christian faith and the Christian theological sciences. The skeptics have been called 'the new academics' .

The Portuguese philosopher and physician Francisco Sanches , who lives in France , published a work in Toulouse in 1581 with the title “That nothing is known” ( Quod nihil scitur ). The central message of this scripture is: There are no definitive answers. He criticized the theoretical overload of the sciences by the truth claims of the Aristotelian-scholastic philosophy. Sanches had a firm knowledge of the Pyrrhonic skepticism, which he used correctly in disputes with ruling theories.

In an initial reaction to the skeptical criticism, Italian humanists such as Pico della Mirandola emphasized belief as the only reliable source of knowledge and philosophy. From these beginnings the fideism developed , as it z. B. represented Blaise Pascal in the 17th century. In religion Pascal gave priority to feeling over reason, because reason did not provide a reliable criterion either. In the 16th century the skeptic Michel Montaigne considered fideism and reason to be equally uncertain. He left the religious dispute to the theologians.

Michel de Montaigne showed consistently skeptical thinking in his essays. His skepticism was shaped by the contradictions of scholastic theories and the diverse possibilities for thinking. In view of the simultaneous religious wars, Montaigne doubted the possibility that people could know "God" and his will. He gave his skepticism the open character of his essays and placed them in a modern way - unlike Sextus Empirikus - in the context of his own observations. He stuck to the Pyrrhonic skepticism. Typically skeptical, he abstained from taking sides with one of the traditional interpretations of the world and discovered the productivity of human thought. This called Hugo Friedrich in his study of Montaigne "disclosive skepticism". From his observations, Montaigne drew his conclusions for human thought and action. Contradictions broaden our horizons, show the richness of human existence, the philosopher is similar to the painter, said Montaigne. Despite all criticism, the skeptic accepts the social conditions that he finds. He fits in, but he does not take over the cultural judgments and values. So, according to a more recent publication, Montaigne productively transformed the Pyrrhones' extensive doubts into a skeptical acknowledgment of the respective lifeworld.

I have an aversion to innovation, whatever form it appears; and I am not wrong after having experienced such harmful consequences. ... The fruit of confusion is seldom the reward of whoever instigated it; it stirs and muddies the water for other fishermen. "


In the Age of Enlightenment , skepticism became a broad, complex current. The French early enlightenment artist Pierre Bayle made a strict distinction between the possibility of a true knowledge, which he denied, and religious beliefs, which are always based on belief, not on knowledge. Voltaire made doubt one of the maxims of his thinking. Denis Diderot took over the article "Pyrronienne" (skepticism) for his encyclopedia from the historical-source-critical lexicon Dictionnaire historique et critique Pierre Bayles, first published 1695-97 . Many authors of the encyclopedia were skeptical.

David Hume

The advocates of skepticism gained greater influence when the English bourgeoisie made a historic compromise with the aristocracy after the revolution .

Following the sensualist George Berkeley , the empirical - sensualist philosopher and historian David Hume systematically pursued skepticism. In his essay On Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding ( An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding ) ( 1748 ) put Hume - unlike John Locke - is that all performances of humans are based on sensory perceptions and there is all knowing only links these ideas, one of which man could not know whether something corresponded to them in reality.

Hume commented on skepticism both in his debut A Treatise on Human Nature and in The Inquiry into Human Mind . In contrast to the widespread judgment of religious and strictly metaphysical philosophers, he does not know anyone who acts without making any considerations or implementing principles. He therefore assumes that such skeptics do not exist at all. From Hume's point of view, the Cartesian doubt is such a dead end of doubting or philosophizing. Descartes and the Cartesians needed a chain of conclusions for their way out of doubt, which can be traced back to an original principle that excludes any further doubt. This principle is not accessible to humans and therefore doubts cannot be removed.

Philosophizing with 'moderate doubts' is still possible if one accepts that human knowledge and abilities are always subject to error according to human nature. For this skeptical philosophizing, Hume recommends practicing impartial judgment, freeing yourself from acquired or derogatory prejudices and starting with clear and understandable initial reasons. Furthermore, proceed in a prudent and cautious manner, review your own considerations again and again and carefully consider the consequences of these considerations. This path is indeed time-consuming, but it seemed to him to be the way in which a reliability and security of opinions appropriate to the people is possible. Hume recommended his own way of philosophizing here: There are philosophers who have difficulties with this approach. Because the results are not decided or determined enough for them. They therefore consider it of little value, become confused by it and believe that they cannot trade with it. They therefore want to distance themselves from it and stick to their previous views with vehement and persistent claims. This could be avoided if philosophers could admit that the minds of the best thinkers have their limits.

Hume denied the objective-real character of the causal relationships and viewed them only as a subjective-psychological ordering principle that arises from familiar causal perspectives (see causality ). He only recognized necessity and certainty for mathematical relationships, which in his opinion are "to be discovered through the pure activity of thinking" and are therefore closed systems , while "all deductions from experience [...] are the effect of habit". For Hume, in this respect, “the consideration of human blindness and weakness was the result of all philosophy”. He based his skeptical theory of perception on the assertion that the mind is never presented with anything other than the ideas ("impressions") that are evoked by sensations. For this reason, the existence of material things outside of consciousness, objective reality in general, is nothing more than an assumption that people habitually express as certainty. This results - theoretically - in the doubtfulness of the existence of material things and at the same time their non-recognizability.

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant also represented a certain skepticism or agnosticism , at least with regard to metaphysical questions, such as the questions about God, free will and immortality of the soul, in which it is not possible to gain objective knowledge or knowledge with the help of experience and therefore only those can be justified as subjectively or intersubjectively valid belief. A skeptical attitude and distinction in the sense of Descartes' methodological doubt is also involved in his conception of the unknowability of " things in themselves ". In contrast to Hume, Kant was not only convinced of the objective existence of "things in themselves" outside of human consciousness, but also defended the possibility of objective knowledge of the properties of substances and the causal interactions between objects (and persons) in space and time, how they z. B. was given in Newton's mechanics. However, he insisted that, prima facie, one always had to do with appearances of things in themselves and not with things in themselves that were not given to us as such in experience, but only with the help of experiment, logical consideration and mathematical calculations based on their causal effects. For these reasons, according to Kant, actual science only extends as far as mathematics can be applied (then in physics and later also in chemistry), so that not only our anthropological knowledge of human nature (since the 19th century in psychology and sociology), but also our experience of the organic nature of humans (in anatomy) and other living beings (later in biology) can lead to all kinds of knowledge, assumptions and inductive generalizations, but does not enable objective knowledge or knowledge in the strict sense. According to Kant, real science in the strict sense only exists where, as in logic and mathematics as well as in the a priori foundations of the natural sciences, absolute necessity and general validity can be achieved. All improper “presumptive knowledge” based on human experience, however, is based only on generalizing assumptions that are not always reliable because they are partly determined by a lack of or limited experience and the limited capabilities of the human senses.


Skeptical or agnostic views of current epistemology, which are linked to the ideas of Hume and Kant, are z. B. to be found in Neo-Kantianism . Only knowledge that is absolutely true, irrefutable and unquestionable can be called knowledge. But since all our knowledge is historically relative, dependent on the concrete historical conditions of the knowledge process, real knowledge is not possible.

The thesis of Leonard Nelson ( On the so-called knowledge problem , The impossibility of the epistemology ), that every recognition of a knowledge already presupposes a criterion for its truth, which either already recognizes a knowledge itself or that as correct and applicable , also aims in the same direction must be. This leads to an internal contradiction, to an infinite regress. The "Nelson paradox" is often used by neopositivist- oriented epistemologists in particular as a support for their agnostic views and as evidence that the concept of knowledge can be determined arbitrarily.

In contemporary philosophy, skeptical position references play an important role not so much in the field of epistemology but in practical philosophy. A strong skeptical pulse goes from that in Odo Marquard publicized departure from of principle from. Marquard's approach was further developed by Andreas Urs Sommer in particular . The skeptical direction in practical philosophy renounces attempts to establish a final justification and implements the specifications of ancient Pyrrhonism, which were originally aimed at everyday life, for the present.

In the 17th century, René Descartes, who practiced methodological doubt but was not a believer in skepticism, discussed the possibility that what people think they know about reality is being faked to them by an evil demon . This idea was picked up in the modern age. Hilary Putnam brought up the “ brain in the tank ” hypothesis as a philosophical thought experiment . The possibility is being considered that an evil scientist deceives humans with the help of a supercomputer. To do this, he surgically removes its brain, puts it in a nutrient solution, connects it to a supercomputer and erases the memories of this entire process.

As a template for films and novels, skeptical hypotheses are well known even beyond the narrow circle of philosophers and those interested in philosophy.

Text output


Philosophy-historical representations

Systematic discussion

  • Keith DeRose, K. and T. Warfield (Eds.): Skepticism. A Contemporary Reader. Oxford University Press, New York / Oxford 1999.
  • RJ Fogelin: Pyrrhonian Reflections on Knowledge and Justification. New York / Oxford 1994.
  • R. Fumerton: Metaepistemology and Skepticism. Lanham 1995.
  • Thomas Grundmann , cards Stüber (Hrsg.): Philosophy of Skepticism. Schöningh, Paderborn u. a. 1996 (UTB 1921), ISBN 3-506-99482-4
  • P. Klein: Skepticism. In P. Moser (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2002, pp. 336-361.
  • M. Williams: Skepticism without Theory. In: The Review of Metaphysics 41 (1988), pp. 547-588.
  • M. Williams: Unnatural Doubts. Princeton 1992.
  • Barry Stroud : The Significance of Philosophical Skepticism. Oxford 1984.
  • Peter Unger: Ignorance: A Case for Skepticism. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1975.

Skepticism in Contemporary Practical Philosophy

  • Odo Marquard: Farewell to the principle. Reclam, Stuttgart 1981.
  • Odo Marquard: Apology of the Accidental. Philosophical Studies. Reclam, Stuttgart 1987.
  • Odo Marquard: Skepticism and approval. Philosophical Studies. Reclam, Stuttgart 1994.
  • Odo Marquard: Philosophy of Instead. Studies. Reclam, Stuttgart 2000.
  • Christoph Bördlein: The sock-eating monster in the washing machine. An introduction to skeptical thinking. Alibri, Aschaffenburg 2002, ISBN 3-932710-34-7 .
  • Andreas Urs Sommer : The Art of Doubt. Instructions for skeptical philosophizing. CH Beck, Munich 2005, 2nd edition 2007, special edition 2008.
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb : The Black Swan: The Power of Highly Unlikely Events. Hanser Wirtschaft, Munich 2008.
  • Markus Gabriel: At the limits of epistemology. The necessary finitude of objective knowledge as a lesson from skepticism. Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg / Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-495-48318-3 .

Web links

Commons : Skepticism  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Nikolaus Egel; Skepticism as a way of life:


  1. See Wilhelm Pape: Greek-German hand dictionary , vol. 2. Hans Jörg Sandkühler (ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy. Hamburg 2000. New edition 2010. - Duden: The dictionary of origin. Etymology of the German language. 3. Edition. Mannheim, Leipzig, Vienna, Zurich: Dudenverlag 2006.
  2. Cf. Dietmar Heidemann: The concept of skepticism: its systematic forms, the pyrrhonic skepticism and Hegel's challenge. Berlin / New York (Gruyter) 2007, pp. 1–12. - AA Long, DN Sedley: The Hellenistic Philosophers. Stuttgart / Weimar 2006, pp. 15-19. - "Towards the end of the second century AD there was a formal school of" empirical physicians "in Alexandria, who gave up the discussions of their" dogmatic "colleagues about the causes of the disease as hopeless and based on experience, ie. H. exact and frequent observation kept. “Karl Vorländer: History of Philosophy. Volume 1, Leipzig 51919, pp. 171-177. - On the language used by a skeptic, cf. also the utterances of Hume in Treatise. : 'Sometimes, when something catches my eye, a spontaneous momentary sensation overwhelms me and then I write: that is clear, that is certain, that is beyond dispute , ... etc. But it is only this momentary sensation that makes me do it and not because I think dogmatically, as one might imply here. '
  3. ^ Elisabeth Gutjahr: Studies on didactic guiding principles in the traditions of skepticism and rhetoric. Würzburg 2004, p. 94.
  4. Cf. Erwin Schadel: Skepticism - Enabling or Preventing Human Original Experience? A comparison of ancient and modern positions. P. 101. In: Martin Götze u. Albert Mues: Philosophy as a thinking tool: on the topicality of transcendental philosophical argumentation. Festschrift for Albert Mues for his 60th birthday. Würzburg 1998, pp. 101-118. - Raúl Richter : Introduction to Philosophy. Berlin / Leipzig 1920, p. 6
  5. On Happiness, 2: 13–15
  6. See Richard Popkin , The History of Skepticism from Erasmus to Descartes. Assen, 1960. Various, expanded new editions. Most recently as: The History of Skepticism from Savanarola to Bayle. 2003, pp. 17-43.
  7. Cf. AA Long, DN Sedley: The Hellenistic Philosophers. Stuttgart / Weimar 2006, pp. 1–8. - The same can be found in many common philosophical stories.
  8. See Richard Rorty: Truth and Progress. Translated by Joachim Schulte. Frankfurt am Main 2003, pp. 246-249.
  9. Modern philosophers such as David Hume , Ernst Mach , Fritz Mauthner , Richard Rorty and others. a. are examples of this.
  10. How far-reaching such investigations are is shown by the example of the work of Fritz Mauthner: Contributions to a Critique of Language, 3 vols., 1901 ff. - The ancient language investigations of Protagoras and Gorgias have been lost.
  11. Klaus Hammacher, Richard Schottky, Wolfgang H. Schrader, Johann Gottlieb Fichte Society (eds.): Theoretical reason. Amsterdam 1993 p. 7 f.
  12. Klaus Vieweg : The free side of every philosophy - skepticism and freedom. In Brady Bowman and Klaus Vieweg (eds.): The free side of philosophy. Skepticism from a Hegelian perspective. Würzburg 2006, p. 9.
  13. Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy. Hamburg 2000. New edition 2010. Keyword: skepticism.
  14. ↑ However , it does not have the meaning of skepticism, which sets itself no other goal than the doubt itself, that one should stop at this indecision of the spirit that has its freedom in it, but rather it has the meaning that one must renounce all prejudice [ …] ( Descartes . In: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel : Works in twenty volumes. New edition based on the works from 1832–1845. Volume 20, p. 127, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1979)
  15. This is what David Hume described and criticized: An Inquiry into the Human Mind. Berlin 1869, pp. 138-144. Chapter XII, Section 3.
  16. Cf. AA Long, DN Sedley: The Hellenistic Philosophers. Stuttgart / Weimar 2006, pp. 13-19.
  17. See Richard Popkin: The History of Skepticism: From Erasmus to Descartes. Assen (Netherlands) 1960, pp. 17-19. In the second chapter of this book, Popkin describes in detail the revival of skeptical ideas in the 16th century.
  18. Cf. Rudolf Eisler : Dictionary of Philosophical Terms [1] - "Greek science had sought knowledge of the cosmos and ended in skepticism with the insight that any knowledge of the objective basis of the phenomena was impossible. From this the skeptics had ... the Impossibility of all knowledge opened up. Wilhelm Dilthey : Gesammelte Schriften. Volume 1, Leipzig and others 1914 ff., P. 265.
  19. ^ Richard Popkin: The Value Of Skepticism. Philosophical Society paper.
  20. ^ Karl Vorländer: History of Philosophy. Volume 1, 5th edition, Leipzig 1919, pp. 164–177.
  21. Frank Schweizer: Only one person understood me ... anecdotes of philosophy. Stuttgart 2006, p. 144.
  22. See the previous section: Eisler, Rudolf: Dictionary of philosophical terms. Berlin 1904, Volume 2, 2nd edition, pp. 385-388. See also:
  23. See e.g. B. Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy . Hamburg 2010, Rudolf Eisler  : Dictionary of Philosophical Terms. Berlin 21904, Volume 2, pp. 385-388. Furthermore Malte Hossenfelder : The Philosophy of Antiquity: Stoa, Epicureanism and Skepticism. History of Philosophy III. Munich 1995, 2nd edition. Likewise Karl Vorländer : History of Philosophy. Volume 1, Leipzig 5th edition, 1919, pp. 164–166.
  24. ^ Lives and Opinions of Famous Philosophers IX, 107.
  25. Gerhard Ernst: Introduction to Epistemology , Darmstadt 2007, pp. 20 ff.
  26. ^ Hegel: Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel-Werke Vol. 19, p. 369.
  27. It was about "the liberation of the individual from third-party immaturity". Enno Rudolph, Richard Faber: Humanism in the past and present. Tübingen 2002, p. 3. - Cf. on the spiritual crisis of the Reformation and the reawakening of ancient skepticism: Richard Popkin: The History of Skepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza. Berkeley / Los Angeles / London 1997, pp. 1-41. - Furthermore: Karl Vorländer: History of Philosophy. Volume 1, Leipzig 1919, pp. 310-316.
  28. See Pierre Galland: Contra novam academiam Petri Rami. 1551; Guy de Brués: Dialoges against the Nouveaux Académiciens. 1557. Augustine had written Contra Academicos in 386 against the academic skeptics to whom he had belonged for a while.
  29. See Kaspar Howald: Introduction to “That nothing is known” by Francisco Sanches. German / Latin. Hamburg 2007, pp. XXI-LVII.
  30. Cf. Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, Examen vanitatis doctrinae gentium, 1520.
  31. Blaise Pascal: Thoughts. Transferred by Wolfgang Rüttenauer. Hamburg / Bielefeld / Stuttgart 1953: About the Pyrrhonism, pp. 156–182.
  32. Martin Gessmann: Montaigne and the modern age. Hamburg 1997, pp. 47-72.
  33. Markus Wild: Montaigne as a Pyrrhonic skeptic. In: Carlos Spoerhase , Dirk Werle , Markus Wild (eds.): Uncertain knowledge: Skepticism and probability 1550-1850. Berlin / New York 2009. pp. 109–158.
  34. Jörn Garber, Heinz Thoma (eds.); Between empiricization and construction: anthropology in the 18th century. Tübingen 2004, p. 183, note 46.
  35. See: Tanja Zeeb: The dynamics of friendship: A philosophical investigation of the conceptions of Montaignes, La Rochefoucaulds, Chamforts and Foucaults. Göttingen 2011, pp. 32-64. Google book. Accessed September 15, 2016.
  36. Essais I, 2.
  37. ↑ For reference to Pyrrho, see the previous section on Montaigne
  38. David Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding , chap. XII, Section I.
  39. ^ David Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding , Section III.
  40. ^ " Abre los ojos " (1997) and its remake " Vanilla Sky " (2001) and " Matrix " (1999).
  41. Specifically on M. as a skeptic: Jean Firges , Michel de Montaigne - The "happiness of this world". Skeptical humanism in the 16th century. Sonnenberg, Annweiler 2001.