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The Importance of Skepticism

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posted on Apr, 3 2015 @ 11:35 PM
Skepticism is, in my opinion, one of the most necessary and useful tools of the philosopher, scientist, any type of person that uses thinking and research.

I also am an existentialist. There are many ways to define someone who considers his/her-self as an existentialist.
for sake of me typing ( sorry lol), I am going to shorten existentialist/existentialism to "EX".

EX is self-deterministic. The main points of EX that I talk about are the

1) Philosophically libertarian mindset. Not hard deterministic, soft determinism if anything.
Even politically libertarian is compatible, in that everyone should practice free-will until it infringes the rights of other people.

2) Only judging what you experience. Subjectivity is very important.

The demand of evidence is a premise. Not only being presented evidence, but further looking into the evidence, the source of the evidence.

Many people on ATS practice both of these with/without realizing it. This is the place of ultimate skepticism, it is why I love these forums. If someone presents something absolutely ludicrous they usually get torn to pieces. lol.
Unless, of course, they supply the needed evidence from an actual source.

One of my friends at college, I'll name him R, thinks that we should dismiss metaphysics all together. He believes since by definition it means outside of the natural world, and not measurable, it is a waste to even discuss it.
We have been in countless philosophy classes together.

As you guess, he is an atheist, he is one of the smartest people I have ever come across when it comes to history (west/east/ancient/premodern), philosophy, well educated in all branches of science. But yet, I am not sure if it is because he is more militant in his views or what, but I do not believe metaphysics should be dismissed all together.

We often have quite a few people get involved in our discussions of philosophy and/or whatever comes up.
Quantum theory obviously comes up a lot.

I usually get a kick out of the quantum woo that people come up with. BUT, regardless of people going overboard. Certain aspects of quantum theory are "weird" are they not?

Isn't the idea of "quantum entanglement" absolutely mystical and metaphysical if it would have been discussed a few hundred years ago?
(not saying it hasn't, I just don't want to open up that can of worms)

Isn't Plato's idea of The Forms becoming more reasonable the closer we get to a "multi-verse" type of discovery?

I like metaphysics. They are why I got involved with philosophy in the first place. I love the weird branch that deals with vibes, the eastern chakra system, the idea of reincarnation, etc. Whether or not they are quantifiable or not, I believe they are a fun topic to explore with people.

So I ask you ATS, should metaphysics be dismissed all together? Or do you believe that one day, through quantum theory and science, some of the ideas we consider "metaphysical" could be proved.

Example I gave R to ponder. Before the discovery of bacteria, viruses, etc. If someone came up with the idea that instead of evil spirits causing humans illness, it was these tiny tiny tiny tiny (they didn't have the word microscopic lol) alive "things"
that caused illness, would that be or not be considered metaphysics to that time/place?

Thank you for the time.

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 12:29 AM

So I ask you ATS, should metaphysics be dismissed all together?

the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space.

All of those things are inherently unknowable (at least as of now)

Should we stop discussing?


posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 12:34 AM

Before the discovery of bacteria, viruses, etc. If someone came up with the idea that instead of evil spirits causing humans illness, it was these tiny tiny tiny tiny (they didn't have the word microscopic lol) alive "things" that caused illness,

All that has really changed is an increase in knowledge and the names changed.

Some if not many of the remedies still work. Ok, so we now know that it is bacteria or a virus instead of a particular evil spirit, but the cure and the symptoms remain the same. I don't think it really matters what the names are.

One of the things people simply do not understand is that you can never prove that something does not exist.

In the future we may well have a spirit or ghost detector. Then, that which we now call the supernatural will simply become another branch of science. It will do so because we will have the instruments to measure these things just as the microscope gave us the ability to see the little demons that make us sick.

Whatever we cannot understand is called magic or religion and religion is just another form of magic.


posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 12:43 AM
a reply to: rockintitz

Okay so by your statement "at least as of now" you are agreeing with the notion that certain metaphysical theories may one day be measureable.

It seems a lot of metaphysics can just be debated and argued depending on the predisposed positions of dualism/materialism.'

Identity for example, we are given a picture of someone in their teenage years, and a picture of the "same" person 40 years later.

We have to prove to someone it is the same person.
Materialism would argue DNA, supporter of John Locke would say memory/experiences, dualist would say the soul.

The body itself changes overtime. Not everyone is a memory theorist to the extend of Locke, and of course not everyone believes that we posses and/or have/are souls. Souls are metaphysics themselves.

Thus leading to just arguments based either on logic or faith depending on which path is taken.

And you can always argue against logic or faith and will never be a definitive answer until there is absolute evidence.

So why should the discussion continue?
I agree with you by the way, just for the sake of using logic I think metaphysics should remain talked about, but I was wondering why you say we shouldn't stop.

Thank you.

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 12:47 AM
a reply to: pheonix358

Thank you for thought out reply!

Wouldn't that be interesting to fathom a ghost detector haha.

But based on the premise that before microscopes sickness was sometimes to be believed spirits, then the ghost detector logic would follow.

But that is subjective because there was tangible evidence of something causing sickness.

I personally do not deny ghost etc but have never personally experience any supernatural phenomena.

I wish I have tho!

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 12:51 AM
a reply to: MyEyesSeeTooClear

The body itself changes overtime. Not everyone is a memory theorist to the extend of Locke, and of course not everyone believes that we posses and/or have/are souls. Souls are metaphysics themselves.

Materialism would argue DNA, supporter of John Locke would say memory/experiences, dualist would say the soul.

A sensible person would allow that DNA would show the person to be the same entity. It is the same person but with added memory/experience and thus the soul is the same soul with added life experience.

Why do they have to be right At the expense of the other two?

They are all correct and I am very happy to look at all three points of view and agree with them all.

It is only common sense, but this is sadly lacking today.


posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 12:56 AM
a reply to: pheonix358

Because not everyone would agree with all of them?

Locke would say if the pictured person experiences amnesia then it would no longer be the same person as identity is reliant on memory.

If you can believe that people posses souls then great but why do you have to come at me with a common sense jab when I'm simply trying to have a discussion. I in no way came at you and applauded you for the response.

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 01:01 AM
a reply to: MyEyesSeeTooClear

And you can always argue against logic or faith and will never be a definitive answer until there is absolute evidence.


And we still argue. It's really amazing if you think about it.

I just replied to a discussion with someone who I've never known, for reasons unknown.

Self justified chaos.

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 01:03 AM
a reply to: rockintitz

Okay so for the sake of argument,

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 01:15 AM
a reply to: MyEyesSeeTooClear

The jab was not intended for you but for those with blinkers that can only consider a narrow point of view.

I have seen a ghost and at that point the supernatural became Fact rather than belief. That story should you wish to read it is Here


edit on 4/4/2015 by pheonix358 because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 01:23 AM
a reply to: pheonix358

Oh okay sorry sir.

I will read it thank you, see I wish I could be subjected to a supernatural experience. Or at least a ufo sighting.

Do you think the statement "metaphysics are subjective" is a statement with any value? As in they are real to those who experience ?

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 03:22 AM
a reply to: MyEyesSeeTooClear

Most of accepted fact is taught to us by teachers and scientists.

I have never looked at a virus through a microscope. For all I know, the images I have seen, could be photo shopped. Much of what we take as fact, we have simply accepted in good faith.

Is it then a question of who we choose to believe. A huge percentage of the world’s population believes is some kind of big daddy in the sky. It is a belief with no material proof and yet those people accept the Divine as fact and cannot separate their beliefs from facts. To them they are one and the same.

Much of what we all 'Know' is in fact a series of beliefs, in what other people tell us. That holds true for science, religion and the Supernatural.

Therefore I would say, our individual Reality is subjective! That is why we can argue or discuss anything.


posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 03:58 AM
a reply to: MyEyesSeeTooClear

Skepticism is, in my opinion

It is a useful tool at times in my opinion, that is all. If not you fall in to another form of religion, maybe not organized but none the less a fixed point of view. A fixed point of view is limited! so why would one want to work with limited perceptions? Its like closing one eye, wink wink.

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 08:32 AM
a reply to: MyEyesSeeTooClear

I think your friend is probably just failing to explain completely why he has determined that devoting a lot of time and energy toward mystical phenomena, as an empirical scientist, is a fool's errand.

This is not to say that everyone shouldn't be interested in it but, it is necessarily not independently verifiable and therefore bunk from the theoretical standpoint.

Ironically, my interest in metaphysics increases with the volume of false and unsupported claims, maybe some day you will prove us both wrong. Until then, ask him if he can add just a little faith to his equation, it makes it all much more fun.
edit on 4-4-2015 by greencmp because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 09:08 AM
a reply to: MyEyesSeeTooClear

I think metaphysics is ultimately rooted in the empirical claims of contemplatives/mystics during altered states of consciousness. So before one such as R dismisses them, one should endeavor to replicate the techniques used by contemplatives, and see for oneself. Sam Harris used the metaphor of building your own telescope.

Otherwise, R is in the unfortunate position of dismissing empirical claims on the basis of his belief-system, not on empiricism.


edit on 637Saturday000000America/ChicagoApr000000SaturdayAmerica/Chicago by BlueMule because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 11:17 AM
a reply to: MyEyesSeeTooClear
I agree with you that skepticism is necessary - as long as such doubt does not become one's actual fixed stance in life so that it causes one to always be abstracting from everything and everyone, through objectification of all - rather than fully participating in life.

There are many benefits the scientific method has afforded us, but it is limited in its scope because it can only account for physically quantifiable objects and processes. There are some self-evident arguments that science just cannot deal with:

We never directly experience anything apart from awareness. Everything we experience is a perception in awareness. We are self-aware but science cannot account for awareness. Do we dismiss awareness?

No one has ever known what a single thing actually IS in reality. We can give endless descriptions of everything, but in the end we do not know what any thing or any being actually is in reality. Scientific study does not tell us what anything actually IS.

Our real condition here is a great mystery, and to actually discover its truth in reality requires more than the limits of scientific-methodologies and materialism - but that is beyond the scope of at least this post.

Scientific-materialism has its place in our world, but given its limits, there should rather be a healthy, even skeptical, agnosticism (rather than an absolute dismissal) relative to matters outside the domain of science.

Why should scientific-materialists dictate a belief system of dismissal of everything outside of its realm of study? That sounds like some kind of religious system to believe in - and unfortunately, such a belief system of dismissal is fast becoming our world religion. We should have GREAT skepticism about scientific-materialism becoming that!

edit on 4/4/2015 by bb23108 because:

posted on Apr, 4 2015 @ 02:54 PM
Scepticism is a necessary doubt concerning claims, although scepticism comes in varying forms, any rational agent should always be weary of claims as even the most fanciful of claims can be false. Just to touch on a few things briefly as I'm really tired; I'm going to take a sceptical position here, and begin by doubting that this forum is the 'place of ultimate scepticism' as you maintained, part of the outline of scepticism which you advanced represented it as some form of an evidential position, either enquiring for or producing evidence. I've encountered a few threads now where many arguments advance fancy claims which provide zero evidence apart from 'feelings' and 'beliefs' and whatnot, and are embraced by others without doubt, their only grounds of acceptance being nothing more than "I feel a deep resonance with what you said". So, even without evidence, there have been instances where scepticism appeared to have become something completely estranged from some people, and credulity managed to creep its way in.

In addition, your friend, R, is severely mistaken in dismissing metaphysical propositions on the grounds of some arbitrary definition such as "being outside of the natural world". Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of metaphysics knows that metaphysical questions also include problems of causation, existence (i.e., the existence of a free will), and identity for example. These are things in which we have experience of in the 'natural world' (causation, existence and identity). If he takes metaphysical propositions to be reducible to only those regarding God or the immortal soul for example, then I understand his justification to an extent for dismissing them. But he is still mistaken as that is not just what metaphysical speculation -- broadly construed in its philosophical sense -- concerns. Consider some metaphysical proposition p, every proposition has a truth-value (either true or false) but is not necessarily known to be so. Therefore, one can assent to p or assent to ~p (not p) or withhold assenting to both p and ~p. Take for instance p, to stand for 'God does exist', this is the affirmative, the theist assents to p, the atheist assents to ~p and the agnostic withholds assent to both p and to ~p. The truth value of metaphysical --construed narrowly -- claims cannot be known, this is where scepticism plays in when it comes to approaching particular propositions.

Also, just briefly, I believe that metaphysics has been misunderstood by some people in the philosophy and metaphysics forum. I think a few Bobby Hemmitt lectures have confused people into thinking it has something to do entirely with occult stuff; magic, demons, angels, you name it, when it doesn't actually concern any of that. Pick up any philosophical classic, or anthology, although there might be something which could be deemed as remotely mystical in Platonic philosophy and throughout the works of the medieval philosophers for example. Speculations about mystical stuff was primarily a religious endeavour and had its place in the philosophy of religion, this was partly due to philosophy being emphasized in a religious context. I'm not denying the possibility of metaphysics, surely we can speculate about the existence of God for example, it is a very important question in a person's life but we have to stress that scepticism must also remain.

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