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Our Philosophy

Our Philosophy

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Published by Sam Derion

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Published by: Sam Derion on May 17, 2011
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In the fifth century B.C., a wave of sophistry pervaded
Greek thought at a time in which the method of disputation
spread in the fields of rhetoric and law, and philosophical
views and non-empirical assumptions strongly clashed.
Philosophical thought had not yet crystallized, nor had it

reached a high degree of intellectual maturity. Thus, such a
conflict and clash among the contradictory philosophical
views were the cause of .intellectual confusion and deep
fear. The habit of disputation nourished that situation by
means of ambiguities and invalid syllogisms which it
provided to its disputant heroes. On the basis of such
ambiguities and invalid syllogisms, these heroes denied the
world by rejecting all the human intellectual principles as
well as the sensible and intuitive propositions.

Gorgias, [35] one of the prominent leaders of this school,
wrote a book on non-existence. In this work, he tried to
prove a number of points: (1) nothing exists; (2) if anything
exists, one cannot know it; (8) if we assume that one can
know it, one cannot communicate it to others. (p. 110)

For quite a while, sophistry had expressed in various ways
its disregard for philosophy and science, until Socrates,
Plato and Aristotle emerged and held strong positions
against it. Aristotle laid down his well-known logic for
discovering the sophistical fallacies and for organizing
human thought. His epistemological doctrine may be
summarized as follows.

Sense knowledge and primary or secondary rational
knowledge, which are acquired by taking into consideration
logical principles, are truths with an absolute value. Due to
this, Aristotle permits in demonstration (the absolute
evidence in his logical sense) the use of both sense
knowledge and rational knowledge.

Later, an attempt was made to reconcile the two opposite
tendencies - that is, the tendency leaning toward absolute
denial (sophistry), and the tendency asserting affirmation
(Aristotelian logic). This attempt was represented in the
skeptical doctrine thought to have been founded by Pyrrho
[36] who is known for his ten proofs for the necessity of
absolute doubt. According to Pyrrho, every proposition can
be stated in one of two ways: it can be either affirmed or
denied with equal force.

But the doctrine of certitude finally prevailed in the
philosophical field, and reason mounted the throne given to
it by Aristotle, judging and making decisions while bound
by the logical criteria. The fire of doubt died down for

centuries, until around the sixteenth century when the
natural sciences became active and made discoveries of
unexpected truths, especially in astronomy and the general
order of the universe. These scientific developments were
similar to the force of disputation in the Greek period. Thus,
they revived the doctrines of doubt and denial which
resumed their activities with various methods. A conflict
arose among the upholders of certitude themselves
concerning the limits of certainty on which human beings
must depend. (p.111)

Descartes emerged in this atmosphere, which was saturated
with the spirit of doubt and rebellion against the authority of
mind. He presented the world with a philosophy of certitude
that had a great influence on bringing back some degree of
certitude to the philosophical tendency.

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