Throughout the history of philosophy, some thinkers have defended the idea that there is no ultimate knowledge . In other words, there cannot be a secure opinion about anything. This intellectual position is known as skepticism, which is the view contrary to dogmatism in any of its forms.
It should be noted that the term skeptic comes from the Greek skeptesthai, which literally means “what he investigates”. This means that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about something and the only thing that can be done is to investigate a matter, because the definitive truth is unattainable.
Skeptics of all times consider that if there really were firm and secure knowledge there would be no change in its content. Critics of this current highlight an internal contradiction in skepticism by asserting that no proposition is true, but that a true one already exists. This paradox is one of skepticism’s weakest points.
In Greek Philosophy and the Renaissance
In the IV century; C the Greek Pyrrhus inaugurates the skeptical current in Western philosophy. His thoughts are known through the testimony of some commentators, especially the Sixth Empiricus.
Pyrrhic’s fundamental thesis is this: any idea or statement presents one or more contrary ideas. So the fact that there is no definitive knowledge shows that nothing can be said conclusively. Consequently, it is absurd to have a firm and definitive assessment of something.
In the Renaissance , philosophers such as Descartes and Montaigne maintained their skeptical positions. Descartes left systematic or methodical doubt in relation to any source of knowledge (sensible impressions, reason or beliefs). Montaigne said that the conclusive answers are mere illusions of reason, since any form of knowledge is based on subjectivity.
The sense of confirmation confirms the central thesis of skepticism
The sense of confirmation is the tendency to reaffirm what was previously believed. The origin of previously elaborated beliefs may be in childhood and, therefore, they are solidly installed in our brain . In this way, our mind deceives us and makes us believe that we affirm something objectively, but in reality we start from preconceived beliefs and convictions.
The sense of confirmation comes to say that we look for opinions that confirm our initial ideas. This mechanism of “self-deception” of the human mind connects with the skepticism approach, as it confirms the impossibility of objective knowledge about reality.
Despite the skepticism and intellectual attitude to be a brake to avoid dogmatism and fanaticism, permanent doubt leads to a pathological skepticism that prevents any kind of belief that is firm or personal conviction.