The Archeology of Skepticism

Skepticism is a central aspect of our intellectual heritage, even if many of us do not recognize it. Only in recent decades has the intellectual archeology been done that enables to see this part of our heritage and its role in how we came to think the way we do. Gianni Paganini's Skepsis . Le debat des modernes sur le scepticisme (2008) is the most important recent work in this archeology, bringing out the role of early modern thinkers from Montaigne to Bayle in the development of the contemporary world view. Some of these thinkers helped us accept and learn to live with skepticism, such as Montaigne and Bayle. Others, such as Campanella and Descartes, thought they could refute skepticism, but their encounters with it accomplished two things: one, bringing skeptical arguments to the attention of the philosophical world, and two, giving skepticism renewed life by their failures to refute it. All of this is great background to understanding what Barack Obama means when he calls himself a skeptic
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