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Volume 27 • Number 1

January 2010



The Pretense of Skepticism and Its Nonepistemological Relevance in Early Modern Philosophy

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.

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ISSN: 2152-1026