I don’t care what anybody says, just gotta appreciate a guy who has an answer for a question, that doesn’t do anything but make another question inevitable, and this......
radical skepticism differs from regular doubt in that it is not just: how to identify a goldfinch from a robin, but: how do we know that is (an instance of) a table, or a piece of wax? — Antony Nickles
....answers my question unmistakably. And it follows, that if no further query is necessary for some sufficient understanding of an original, the way is left open for a counterpoint consistent with the answer to it. So saying, initially at least, the distinction between radical skepticism and mere doubt may be characterized as a matter of degree. The degree is, of course, knowledge, insofar as there would be little additional knowledge needed to differentiate between like kinds, re: finch/robin, but much more to differentiate between kinds, re: table/wax.
Skepticism is, at bottom, the consciousness of ignorance, and ought, instead of forming the conclusion of my inquiries, to be the strongest motive to the pursuit of them. All ignorance is either ignorance of things or of the limits of knowledge. If my ignorance is accidental, in which case I may not know a thing, or if my ignorance is necessary, in which case I have not the capacity to know a thing, it must incite me, in the first case, to a dogmatical inquiry regarding the objects of which I am ignorant; in the second, to a critical investigation into the limits of knowledge itself.
But I understand that’s not what you intend for me to derive from your answer. Just my preliminary counterpoint. The main point is here.....
Once we get to that question (taken from your “how do we know that is (an instance of) a table”), the fear is that there needs to be an answer or we end up in a place where we are asking how do we know what is real at all. — Antony Nickles
....to which I would counter with, superficially, it’s easy: in the first place, we know an instance of a thing from experience, and in the second, we know a real thing from the affect it has on us. Care must be given to temporal separations here, nonetheless, in that if an object has a word representing it, like table, the experience of it is not necessarily mine, but is necessarily the experience of the subject that assigned that representation objectively to it. It follows that I know an instance of a table because I already know what a table is, because somebody else gave it that name and I merely carried on with it. On the other hand, if it was possible I never had any experience whatsoever, in any way, shape or form, of this object otherwise represented as a table, it would be my first instance of it, its first affect on me, and as such, wouldn’t even be a table, to me. It would be nothing more than an “undetermined object of perception”. The implication of my radical skepticism regarding the “table” is invalid, insofar as I don’t even know it as anything.
Now it is the question becomes, to whom does the fear intrinsic to radical skepticism belong? It cannot be the subject that represented the object as “table”, because he said it was that, and it makes no sense for him to be skeptical of that which he himself declares to be the case. It cannot be he who is subsequently affected by the same object, because it has already been established that that thing is a table, which will serve as the consistent representation in all its instances, and it makes no sense for that subsequent perceiver to represent it as anything else, for if he does, he is more irrational than radically skeptical.
That which makes radical skepticism a valid conception, is epistemic certainty combined with the logic of the human cognitive system. We can think radical skepticism without contradiction, but it does nothing for us except stretch reason beyond its proper limits.
Wittgenstein and others found is that the skeptic's abstraction from tables and goldfinchs to generalized terms like appearance and particular and meaning and true, stripped away our criteria for each thing and a context in which to apply them. — Antony Nickles
All the more substance for demurring from skepticism in general, and radical skepticism certainly, for they got the proverbial horse on the wrong end of the cart. We don’t abstract from, we assign to. Finches don’t inform us as to what they are, but only provide the data from which we tell them how they are to be known. That feat is accomplished with such speculative metaphysical predicates as appearances, particulars, meanings and truths, along with that which unites them all under a logical system, which doesn’t strip away, but PROVIDES our criteria for each thing and the context under which they are applied. All found out long before W and the others, and stemmed from Hobbes and Hume, moreso than others.
All we should ever be radically skeptical of, is the incantation of absolutes, which no proper rational agency does anyway.
What I was tracking was that if we want to ensure that the world is "real" (certain), then the fallible part must be me, my perspective, my individuality, my irrationality — Antony Nickles
That is.....er......absolutely.....most agreeable. Although, on another note, I must say your “real” is not my “certain”. My certain is true, from which arises the possibility that the world can be very real without me being knowledgeable about the certainty of it.
Math and formal logic and science are grounded within themselves. — Antony Nickles
That seems to be the current paradigm, but it overlooks the intrinsic necessity for human reason. What if the human cognitive system is itself a logical system? If that is the case, how could the certainty of math and logic occur, if not by that which is of its own kind? Maybe math and logic broke no falsity because they arise from a system that cannot permit it. Maybe we use math and logic as a standard for any truth because our system is mathematically logical. Maybe there’s only mathematical objects in Nature because we put them there. And so on......
There’s your groundlessness and radical skepticism writ large
. What ground do we have to prove certainty, when what we use to prove it, isn’t certain.
Toljaso.....we’re not so far apart.