Re: Our beliefs are in our power...was re why I am here
- Hi Steve,
--- In email@example.com, Steve Marquis <stevemarquis@...> wrote:
> Now the absolute skeptic is not what I mean when I say âskeptic' either.
> Absolute skepticism, which is the extent to which we may have to ago to actually
> logically oppose the Stoic dogmatist, holds that no true knowledge is ever
> possible period (rather dogmatically once again).
> Rational conviction, as you have stated, is not a belief that something is
> certainly true. It is a belief that something is probably true, or most likely
> true. I believe the sun will come up tomorrow. I am quite convinced of it. It
> is a rational conviction, but it is not certain knowledge. To the best of all
> indications it most likely will happen and I plan my life accordingly. This is
> not absolute skepticism. It is the same rational conviction you are so fond of.
I thought that what the skeptics had against dogmatists, was that the dogmatists believed that certain things were true. They argued that they themselves were not dogmatists because they made no truth claims. They didn't believe that certain things were true.
You claim that you are a moderate skeptic. I'm still having a hard time understanding what that means. (I note that you didn't respond to my request for evidence of other Stoics holding Stoic beliefs with "moderate skepticism.") You say that one needs to be moderately skeptical about ones beliefs in order to make progress. If that is true, I would like to be moderately skeptical. But I first will need to know what it means to be moderately skeptical and how it is practiced.
You've proposed variously that Stoics should believe things pragmatically, or believe that things are true, but only provisionally, or that they should believe things, but only with reservation. Are you saying that these ways of believing are equivalent to believing that certain things are true by virtue of rational conviction. If not, how is your moderate skepticism an example of rational conviction.
Believing things pragmatically doesn't equate to believing by rational conviction, because the pragmatist is not concerned with the truth of the belief, so much as that holding the belief is useful.
Believing that things are true, but only provisionally, isn't the same as what I understand rational conviction to be. When one believes that something is true by virtue of rational conviction, one believes that the thing will be true for all time, that one has no reason to believe that it won't be.
My belief that the sun will probably rise tomorrow, or that the other driver will probably obey the traffic signal, is not by rational conviction, as I understand it. These are not the kinds of beliefs that will be true for all time, that one has no reason to believe that they won't.
For Stoics, the idea of believing "with reservation" doesn't make sense. We act with reservation because, while our impulse to act, our intention, is in our power, the outcome of our impulse, or intention, is not in our power.
But, as I have argued, our beliefs, like our impulses, are in our power. Our choice (our act) to believe something to be true results always in the belief that the thing is true. Because the belief (outcome) _is_ in our power, and automatically results from the choice to believe, it doesn't make any sense to act (believe) "with reservation". The idea of believing with reservation is nonsense.
- On 1/3/2011 2:55 PM, Amos wrote:
> Your distinction between fundamental and derived ethical truths is very useful. Now the problem seems to be to decide which ethical truths are fundamental and which are derived: there could be a lot of argument about that.
> Best, Amos
I completely agree--I never suggested that
Ethics didn't require any hard work. :)