The Pretense of Skepticism and Its Nonepistemological Relevance in Early
by Anik Waldow
Early modern philosophers
after René Descartes are commonly distinguished as either rationalists
or empiricists: rationalists are understood to agree with Descartes that
reason is the source of knowledge, while empiricists are seen to emphasize
the role of the senses within processes of knowledge acquisition. In recent
years, this classic distinction has increasingly come under scrutiny.
It is objected that, in its simplicity, the distinction tends to conceal
the various cross-categorial influences thinkers of the early modern era
had on each other. In The History of Scepticism, Richard Popkin provided
an alternative approach to early modern philosophy: instead of focusing
on the opposition between the two rival camps of empiricists and rationalists,
he tells us to concentrate on la crise pyrrhonienne, for it
is this crisis that lay at the heart of early modern philosophy and preoccupied
rationalists as much as empiricists.