Descartes proseminar - second half breakdown

Skepticism and its Legacy (first 1 1/2 weeks) i) Skepticism about the external world: Skepticism in some form or another is a philosophical perennial, but even so it is not unreasonable to suggest that with Descartes, skepticism of an entirely new form made its first appearance on stage. Descartes deployed a radical doubt about the external world, with methodical ambitions, and in doing so he might be taken to have raised the stakes for epistemology. What if the Cartesian response to Skepticism fails? Is our ordinary knowledge of the world impeached if we cannot refute the hypothesis that we are dreaming, or that we are the playthings of a malign demon? There is also a historical question: is Cartesian skepticism interestingly different from the Pyrrhonian and academic skepticism that was "in play" long before Descartes?
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