The psychology behind skepticism

Author: dylancatlow ,

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  • dylancatlow
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    Most people are uncomfortable with the idea of absolute certainty. No matter how firmly any fact can be established, at the back of their mind they will always think "There is nothing of which I am so certain that I am unwilling to consider the possibility of my being wrong. There have been times when I've been wrong when I felt certain that I was correct, and I'm not smart enough to think of all the possible counterarguments to any position, so how can I know for sure that none of them have validity? The very fact that I don't know whether I can know anything for sure is surely proof of this". 

    In fact, there is something about which one can be certain, namely truth itself. One is never going to be put into a situation of being rationally forced to admit that truth is not true, for what would this even mean? In order for it to be untrue, there must be some "truth" to which it does not correspond. But truth is just defined as whatever that thing is. That is to say, the definition of truth is so general that its interpretation can always be changed to accommodate whatever "truth" it is claimed to lack. In fact, the very concept of "uncertainty" requires that we be certain of at least truth itself, because understanding truth and accepting it as absolute cannot be separated. Without the concept of truth, "uncertainty" cannot be meaningfully interpreted. 

    Therefore, one can state without fear that there is a basis for absolute certainty, and that the basis is truth itself. A denial that there is such a concept as "truth" that makes no reference to the concept (which would be to admit its existence) has no relevance to truth, and even if true proves nothing about it. Therefore, the only way to deny that there is a concept of "truth" is to deny that there are any concepts at all. This runs into the same problem as denying that among the possible concepts is the concept of "truth", for now the concept of "concept" must be referred to in the course of declaring it meaningless, and the impossibility of doing so has the same implications for "concept" as for "truth". 

    It should come as no surprise to anyone that at the end of the day, it is true to say that truth is true according to a true definition of truth. Anyone who denies it and expects to occupy the logical high-ground is a fool, and their denial can be explained only in terms of a flawed human psychology. Skepticism should be viewed as a psychological phenomenon driven by human emotions. 
  • Fallaneze
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    In other words, anyone who says that we can never be certain that anything is true has a self-defeating statement.
  • dylancatlow
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    --> @Fallaneze
    It's even simpler than that. Everything I've said is contained in the term "truth", and at some level this is immediately recognized by our minds even if at the human semantic level we think we deny it. As parts of reality we can't help but understand this. 
  • disgusted
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    --> @dylancatlow
    Everything you wrote is untrue.
  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @dylancatlow
    Most people are uncomfortable with the idea of absolute certainty.
    In my experience it is way more common for people to be unjustifiably confident in their beliefs and generally in love with the idea of absolute certainty.

  • Mopac
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    There is only one thing that I am 100% certain of. In fact, more certain of than any perception of reality that I may have.

    The Ultimate Reality exists.


    In other words, The Truth.


    You can be so sure of other things. Even as they relate to this.


    For example, I know that I am wrong because The Truth is right. I know that my understanding, close as it may be to The Truth, is not The Truth itself.

    There is a real humility that comes with that, accepting reality. A great compassion for others who are as trapped in their own delusions as you know you have been.



    But there are some, because they think they know better, reject all knowledge. They know that they don't know, so they say they are agnostic. However, since they know that they don't know, and they know that they can't know, they are not really agnostics. In fact, they take pride in their knowledge of their ignorance, and take themselves as being better than others for realizing that they don't know while everybody else hasn't figured it out yet. They fancy themselves as modern incarnations of Socrates or something.

    But as I said, these are not truly agnostics, they are in fact gnostics. Not gnostics in the sense that they have true knowledge, or epignosis, but gnostic in the sense that they have faith in their understanding.

    A real agnostic?

    They say, "I don't know, maybe."


    They don't say, "I know I don't know, I know I can't know, I know that nobody can know."


    The former are real agnostics, the later are actually gnostics disguised as agnostics.


    The former have a much better attitude, they are like inquisitive and humble minded children. The later are destructive, arrogant, fools who have put themselves in an epistemological black hole. Full of pride and devoid of any true reason. Their hearts have been hardened, and The Truth has been hidden from them. Even staring them in the face, they can't see it. They have blinders on.


    That is why it is not written in vain, "God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud."





  • ethang5
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    --> @dylancatlow @secularmerlin
    Another classy and lucid post.

    Without the concept of truth, "uncertainty" cannot be meaningfully interpreted. 
    SecMer should read this. Dylan, your posts may be too upscale for our site. But please continue, we may rise to meet them.
  • keithprosser
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    --> @dylancatlow
    Are you sure about that?

  • Mopac
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    --> @ethang5
    There is an argument that I read St. Augustine use once to prove the existence of truth.


    Do you have doubts? Then you at least know one thing is true, you have doubts.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @ethang5

  • mustardness
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    --> @dylancatlow
    Most people are uncomfortable with the idea of absolute certainty. No matter how firmly any fact can be established, at the back of their mind they will always think "There is nothing of which I am so certain that I am unwilling to consider the possibility of my being wrong.
    There can only exist five regular/symmetrical and convex polyhedra of Universe. Eternal {inviolate } absolute truth/principle/law. Of this those in the know are certain.

    Change is certain. Taxes are not.

    Space is certain via nervous system.

    Time is certain via nervous system.

    All the above is certain via human access to metaphysical-1, mind/intellect/concepts.

    The minimal 2D enclosure is a triangle is a certainty.

    The minimal 3D polyhedron is a tetra{4}hedron is a certainty.