Skepticism in Soviet Philosophical Dictionaries


Scepticism, a philosophical conception questioning the possibility of objective knowledge of reality. Consistent S. is close to agnosticism (q.v.). S. is most widespread in periods of social development when the old social ideals are already tottering, but the new ones have not yet asserted themselves. As a philosophical doctrine, S. emerged during the crisis of antique society (4th century B.C.) as a reaction to the preceding philosophical systems which had tried to explain the sensual world by means of contemplative arguments and in so doing had often contradicted one another. S. reached its peak in the teachings of Pyrrho, Arcesilaus, Carneades, Aenesidemus, Sextus Empiricus (qq.v.), and others. Following the traditions of the sophists (q.v.), the first sceptics drew attention to the relativity of human knowledge, the impossibility of proving it formally and its dependence on various circumstances (living conditions, the state of the sense‑organs, the influence of traditions and habits, etc.). Doubt as to the possibility of any generally recognised and demonstrable knowledge underlay the moral conception of antique S. The sceptics of old preached abstention from judgements for the sake of achieving complete peace of mind (ataraxia) and thereby happiness, the objective of philosophy. But the sceptics themselves by no means refrained from judgements. They wrote works criticising the contemplative philosophical dogmas and putting forward their tropes (q.v.), or arguments, in support of S. There were various sceptic tendencies in the philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries. On the whole, S. played an important role in refuting the dogmas of medieval ideology. The works of Montaigne, Charron, Bayle (qq.v.), and others questioned the arguments of the theologians, thus preparing the ground for the adoption of materialism. On the other hand, the S. of Pascal, Hume, Kant (qq.v.), and others restricted the possibilities of reason in general and cleared the way for religious faith. In modern philosophy, the traditional arguments of S. have been adopted for its own aims by positivism (q.v.), which considers all judgements, generalisations, and hypotheses as useless if they cannot be tested by experience.

SOURCE: A Dictionary of Philosophy, edited by M. Rosenthal [Rozental´, M. M. (Mark Moiseevich), 1906-1975] & P. Yudin (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967), p. 398.


Scepticism, a philosophical conception questioning the possibility of knowledge of objective reality. Consistent S. is close to agnosticism and nihilism (qq.v.). S. is most widespread in periods of social development when the old social ideals are already tottering, while new ones have not yet asserted themselves. As a philosophical doctrine, S. emerged during the crisis of antique society (4th century B.C.) as a reaction to the preceding philosophical systems which had tried to explain the sensual world by means of speculative reasoning and in so doing had often contradicted one another. S. reached its peak in the teachings of Pyrrho, Arcesilaus, Carneades, Aenesidemus, Sextus Empiricus (qq.v.) and others. Following the traditions of the sophists (q.v.), the first sceptics drew attention to the relativity of human knowledge and its dependence on various circumstances (living conditions, the state of the sense‑organs, the influence of traditions and habits, etc.). Doubt as to the possibility of any generally recognized and demonstrable knowledge underlay the moral conception of antique S. The sceptics of old preached abstention from judgments for the sake of achieving complete peace of mind (see Ataraxia) and thereby happiness, the objective of philosophy. But the sceptics themselves by no means refrained from judgments. They wrote works criticising the speculative philosophical dogmas and putting forward their arguments in support of S. S. played an important role in refuting the dogmas of medieval ideology. The works of Montaigne, Charron, Bayle (qq.v.) and others questioned the arguments of the theologians, thus preparing the ground for the adoption of materialism. On the other hand, the S. of Pascal, Hume, Kant (qq.v.) and others restricted the possibilities of reason in general and cleared the way for religious faith. In modern philosophy, the traditional arguments of S. have been adopted for its own aims by positivism (q.v.), which considers all judgments, generalisations, and hypotheses pointless if they cannot be tested by experience. Dialectical materialism recognises S. as an element of knowledge (doubt, self‑criticism, and the like) but does not absolutise it to the point of agnosticism.

SOURCE: Dictionary of Philosophy, Edited by I. Frolov, translated & edited by Murad Saifulin & Richard R. Dixon [from 4th Russian ed. 1980] (Moscow: Progress Publishers [2nd rev. ed.]; New York: International Publishers [1st ed.], 1984), pp. 368-369.


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Offsite:

Skepticism (Skeptikoi: The Free Online Encyclopedia: TheFreeDictionary)
includes entry from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979).

Great Soviet Encyclopedia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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