brain & mind – where matter meets metaphysics

Skepticism

It is unfortunate that in common use, the word skepticism refers to an attitude that is not so much about questioning assumptions as it is about disbelieving anything outside of scientific materialism. Today’s ‘skeptics’ disbelieve UFOs, psychic ability, the astral travel, near death experiences and so on. Today’s ‘skepticism’ is more of an assumption than questioning assumptions.

Skepticism (if the word is correctly used) is actually far deeper. Skepticism is actually a philosophy from ancient Greece. Skepticism does not believe or disbelieve in anything. Skepticism is not the dismissal of questions about the unknown but an intense investigation into the unknown and all that we assume we know. Real skepticism involves intellectual work and a goal. Skepticism taken to its logical conclusion results in a state of tranquility called ataraxia.

To quote Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche;

“Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect, Santayana declared, and the metaphor is apt. The mind that seeks the deepest intellectual fulfillment does not give itself up to every passing idea. Yet what is sometimes forgotten is the larger purpose of such a virtue. For in the end, chastity is something one preserves not for its own sake, which would be barren, but rather so that one may be fully ready for the moment of surrender to the beloved, the suitor whose aim is true…Without this capacity, at once active and receptive, the long discipline would be fruitless. The carefully cultivated skeptical posture would become finally an empty prison, an armored state of unfulfillment, a permanently confining end in itself rather than the rigorous means to a sublime result.”

Today’s society has forgotten that skepticism is supposed to lead to ataraxia, a state of clarity and tranquility and perfection.

More on this in Ataraxiom – the Philosophy of Ataraxia as an Axiom.

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