The Deconstruction of Skepticism

The skeptics evolved an arsenal of arguments that subvert virtually all the statements that philosophers and scientists would ever wish to make about anything.  The original motive for this thinking was to fight dogmatism.  These arguments are called the "modes" or "tropes".  The four-volume chronicle of ancient skepticism by Sextus Empiricus (c.200BC) is almost entirely devoted to these arguments.  To many it is an encyclopedia of negation.  The skeptics use the tropes to provide only enough subversion to establish a suspension of judgment, not to affirm or deny anything outright.  Philosophically the skeptics wanted truth (certainty) and shunned belief (Certitude), fighting dogmatism, focusing on the nature of belief.  However, since truth is "believed", and what is believed is thought to be true, the skeptic is bound to dreaded indecision. 

Pure, methodological skepticism is empty.  The pathological skeptic admits that anything learned in the process is up to the opponent resulting from the skeptic's mastery. 

There are categories of skepticism which can be distinguished according to motive:
1)  If our purpose is to build something, it is "constructive" skeptical methodology; and, it is useful in focusing attention to aspects of weakness in an ideological structure.  For this reason, we should all be skeptical of our beliefs, if we are properly trained.  This is called "methodological" skepticism. 
2)  If our purpose is to gut something to rebuild a more substantial foundation, it is called: "deconstructive".  This methodology (deconstruction) takes logic down to the bare roots of an ideological structure to test it's very foundation.  The origins revealed by this method are sometimes irreducible, but revealed just the same.  One must be careful not to uncover a certainty and mistakenly turn it into a dogmatism. 
3)  If our purpose is to gut something with no objective in reconstruction, it is "destructive" skeptical methodology.  This is the focus of the smug skeptic who imagines him/herself as launching against the very basis of civilization, relishing the writhing pained souls strewn behind, who are left with nothing but the smoldering remains of a shattered faith.  Any belief can best be held with understanding, and with the knowledge that it works as a creative foundation for continued inquiry. 

Beliefs that have complete lack of independent support are called "faith".  Faith provides knowledge of those presently unknowable areas of our cognizance that exist due to the nature of one's intelligence and humanity.  The destructive skeptic revels in its ruin; and, in the final analysis, finds him/herself lost and adrift with no faith left.  The point is that the value of faith is mortally necessary to people.  Once realized, the attacker of such is also open to skeptical criticism, and counter-attack.  Promoting attacks without considering alternate beliefs is philosophical malpractice.  This is the activity of the destructive skeptic. 

I would be the first to say that the skeptical view of the Bible, though mostly shallow, is an excellent adjunct for the study of the scriptures.  But, why do so many skeptics concentrate on the Bible? "Love your neighbor", for instance.  Where did that come from? The destructive skeptic recites "I am NOT my brothers keeper" everyday in the mirror till they reach personal despair.  I wonder if the attitude of the destructive skeptic would lighten if they recognized the damage that they were doing to this bit of civilized morality.  Certainly there are babies in the bath water of the bible that should not be thrown out. 

In essence, the deconstruction of skepticism is dishing out a little of itself, to itself, by itself.  

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Copyright©Alden Bacuzmo