The Ways of Knowing: Or, the Methods of Philosophy

By Wm. Pepperell Montague | Go to book overview
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SCEPTICISM is the negative member of the group of logical theories. It is itself a method of logic only in the sense that anarchism is a theory of government, or atheism a kind of theology. The sceptic, in short, denies that any or all of the five methods of deriving ideas and justifying beliefs can give genuine knowledge.

The four principal arguments which have been urged in support of scepticism may be called (after Weber): I. The Historical Argument; II. The Dialectical Argument; III. The Physiological Argument; and IV. The Psychological Argument. Let us consider them in order.


The historical argument for scepticism rests on the fact that there are few opinions that have been advanced on any subject that have not been doubted or rejected by someone at sometime, and that in all questions of philosophical or fundamental importance history shows a hopeless diversity of beliefs among those who are regarded as experts no less than among men in general. It is indeed true that there is a fundamental opposition in philosophy between the materialistic or naturalistic, and the idealistic or spiritualistic world views; and this primary opposition of philosophical attitudes includes most of the lesser divergencies, and applies in some degree to each of the principal types of philosophical inquiry which were enumerated in our introductory chapter. It is likewise


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