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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Skepticism is the Fountainhead of Philosophy

Depiction of the Stone Age
by Viktor Vasnetsov
In his book Way to Wisdom,  Karl Jaspers writes, “The source of philosophy is to be sought in wonder, in doubt, in a sense of forsakenness. In any case it begins with an inner upheaval, which determines its goal.” ~ (Chapter 2: “Sources of Philosophy”)

I think this is correct. Till about 70,000 years ago the human beings were more or less like animals—they did not have the ability to doubt anything and they had to believe all the information that they received through their senses. In such a condition there could be no philosophy.

Philosophy came into being when language become so advanced that the human beings had the ability to communicate to themselves and share with others their doubts about the nature of the world that they perceived around them. The first spark of philosophy must have been lit by the man who for the first time propagated the idea that the things that he and others see can be something else or may not even exist.

This means that the idea that there is a reality outside the mind and that the world that we perceive through our senses is real has been gained through skepticism itself. We can then say that skepticism is the fountainhead of philosophy. Human beings philosophize because we wonder about things, we are filled with doubt and a sense of forsakenness.

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