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Skepticism is a term developed by early philosophers to define the act of questioning knowledge viewpoints developed in various fields. Skeptics have disputed the sufficiency or dependency of such viewpoints by questioning what principles they are anchored upon or what they seek to determine. Skeptics have challenged if such claims are valid or reliable, and they have disputed the perceived rational foundations of conventional assumptions (Bronstein 35). Undoubtedly, in everyday activities, all individuals express a certain degree of skepticism regarding some knowledge claims. Contrary, philosophical skeptics have challenged the prospect of any knowledge apart from that is achieved from directly felt experience.
However, it is more evidence that a non-skeptical viewpoint that expounds on human intuitions is overly desirable. This assertion is preferable because non-skeptical reasoning explains human common sense intuitions regarding what is known by proving that they are largely empirical. Contrary, skeptics account for such intuitions merely by indicating that they are dubious or unreliable and often provide an explanation concerning why non-skeptics fail to recognize that intuitions are misleading. In this light, this paper seeks to support the argument that knowledge is possible regardless of the drawbacks instigated by the skeptical theorists. For the purpose of this paper, an assumption that skepticism is false will hold, and the argument will seek to provide evidence.
The regress viewpoints
In a bid to understand a proposition, it should possess a definite reason to support it. For instance, to understand a proposition Q1, there must be a justification Q2 that accounts for Q1 by offering evidence for it. Therefore, a proposition is a rationale only when another proposition supports it. This relation indicates that there has to be a reason Q2 to justify Q1. In essence, the nature of such relations is contestable, but that does not advance the theory related to the regress problem. Skeptics argue that this chain would lead to circular reasoning. Thus no belief is true unless it is backed by unending series of other beliefs (Goldin 199). Skeptics go further to claim that such infinity presents humanity with an impossible challenge to solve. Basing on this claim, skeptics argue that there is no knowledge. An immediate challenge to this assertion would suggest that if such a conclusion were valid, then without knowing people would not realize that the conclusion is valid.
Why the regress problem raises a skeptical challenge
When foundationalists and coherent dispute radical skepticism, they do not imply that skepticism is non-existence; rather, they intend to prove that their viewpoints justify the belief regarding knowledge in a consistent manner. Foundationalists and coherent form groups of theorists who support scientific knowledge. The regress argument might be valid, but according to the skeptics’ conclusion that there is no knowledge, it is unrealistic to realize that any of the assumptions are valid.
Therefore, in any case, the regress argument is granted an audience; its conclusion undermines the rationality of accepting. The foundationalism approach argues that beliefs are divided into two sections, including non-basic and basic beliefs (BonJour and Sosa 29). Aristotle defined non-basic beliefs as those that depend on other beliefs to create meaning. Most of the human knowledge is based on these non-basic beliefs. Basic beliefs are viewed as finite, hence no need for justification. In other words, basic beliefs are accounted for by intuitions and experiences. Each non-basic belief is supported by other non-basic beliefs, and the series widens until the basic beliefs are attained (Colman 211).
Skeptics claim that foundationalists or rather the pioneers of scientific knowledge encourage circular reasoning. In this light, foundationalism has to prove the existence of God as the basic belief that is supported by rational insights alone. Descartes argues that any proposition that is clearly understood results in human knowledge (BonJour and Sosa 57). The Coherent refutes the regress argument on the basis that those beliefs follow a circular trend. This group of theorists does not share the view that non-basic beliefs must be supported by basic beliefs. In their view, a belief can be fully accounted without necessarily claiming support from the basic beliefs. Therefore, the foundationalist approach offers the best account of human knowledge since the coherentism fails to provide an alternative but rather builds on foundationalism.
Aristotle’s account of human knowledge begins with describing the nature of wisdom as emanating from the sense of perception that needs to be analyzed into scientific expertise (Goldin 202). His quest for human knowledge is presented in the analysis provided in his work in metaphysics. In his work of natural philosophy, Aristotle supports the idea of basic beliefs by indicating that there is an unmoved mover. He argues that the unmoved mover is the origin of the universe and needs no justification for its cause. Aristotle uses the term unmoved mover to refer to God. Aristotle argued that radical skeptics do not sufficiently account for the existence of change. Besides, the theorist cannot explain the creation of new knowledge. Aristotle observed metaphysics as a desirable factor for distinguishing between matter and form (Zalabardo 32).
Aristotle provided an informed presentation of the dynamic process of change. He defined dynamism as the active capability by beings to cause a change in other elements in predictable ways (Goldin 196). Thus, Aristotle concluded that change of any form needs the real existence of substance or something that triggers the change. Because human knowledge is an aggregate whose form and matter have been joined by a specific cause, therefore, every event that occurs is due to a common universal cause. However, Aristotle explains this universal cause as the basic belief that justifies the non-basic beliefs that create knowledge. Sensation thought and desire is some of the causes of non-basic desire discussed by Aristotle.
The sensation is developed when the passive capacity of a being is triggered via contact with external factors. Every form of sensation influences the usual functioning of the specific organ of sense in a bid to determine the external object (Colman 204).
Therefore, the soul recognizes the form of the object. For instance, when one feels the texture of an object, its shape creates a picture of the figure, manifesting this form to the sensitive soul hence generating information. The thought is the active way of delving in the manipulation of forms without making contact with the elements. Therefore, thinking is independent of the elements of thought, from which it generates the form (Battery 216). Desire is the actual shift towards a defined destiny. Aristotle argued that even movement is attained as an evocation of a specific desire. These natural processes form the foundation upon which humanity retrieves knowledge.
Aristotle’s theory of form and matter provides a better analysis of coherence and objective knowledge. Aristotle aimed at giving a better understanding of a subject that he thought Plato had failed to communicate. He successfully explained how things could change and how humanity acquires knowledge. While skeptics try to argue that there is no basic belief, Aristotle gives an account of God in his theory of nature and theory of form. Aristotle views God as the external cause of all events and the source of the basic belief. To Aristotle, motion is external; hence, it is implausible that there could be a cause of motion (Battaly, 219).
Everything should shift or change because of a cause. The external motion needs an unmoved cause, which to Aristotle, the unmoved cause is God. This explanation offers the best account of the basis of human knowledge. Therefore, Aristotle offers the best explanation for the development of knowledge since the skeptics’ options fail to offer congruent conclusions.
Although this paper provides a detailed account of refuting regress argument, the foundationalism and coherence theories cannot offer explicit conclusions to show that skepticism is false. However, the non-skepticism theory offers a more consistent and distinct account of human knowledge. The regress problem is a huge challenge to the potentiality of some of the main assumptions about human knowledge and justified belief.
However, every assumption is compelling, and a solution cannot be attained cheaply without evaluating works of philosophers such as Aristotle. In a bid to eliminate the regress problem, there must be a reason to refute at least one proposition that supports skepticism. Nonetheless, this does not imply that skepticism is winning since its theorists only give conclusions that lack empirical support.
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BonJour, Laurence, and Ernest Sosa. Epistemic Justification, Malden: Blackwell Pub., 2003. Print.
Bronstein, David. “The Origin and Aim of Posterior Analytics II.19.” Phronesis Journal 57.1 (2012): 29-62. Print.
Colman, Warren. “Reflections on Knowledge and Experience.” Journal of Analytical Psychology 58.2 (2013): 200-218. Print.
Goldin, Owen. “Circular Justification and Explanation in Aristotle.” Phronesis Journal 58.3 (2013): 195-214. Pint.
Zalabardo, José. Scepticism and Reliable Belief, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.