The Specter Of Skepticism In The Age Of Enlightenment by Anton M. MatytsinThe Specter Of Skepticism In The Age Of Enlightenment by Anton M. Matytsin

The Specter Of Skepticism In The Age Of Enlightenment

byAnton M. Matytsin

Hardcover | October 3, 2016

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The ancient Greek philosophy of Pyrrhonian skepticism spread across a wide spectrum of disciplines in the 1600s, casting a shadow over the European learned world. The early modern skeptics expressed doubt concerning the existence of an objective reality independent of human perception. They also questioned long-standing philosophical assumptions and, at times, undermined the foundations of political, moral, and religious authorities. How did eighteenth-century scholars overcome this skeptical crisis of confidence to usher in the so-called Age of Reason?

In The Specter of Skepticism in the Age of Enlightenment, Anton Matytsin describes how skeptical rhetoric forced philosophers to formulate the principles and assumptions that they found to be certain or, at the very least, highly probable. In attempting to answer the deep challenge of philosophical skepticism, these thinkers explicitly articulated the rules for attaining true and certain knowledge and defined the boundaries beyond which human understanding could not venture. Matytsin explains the dialectical outcome of the philosophical disputes between the skeptics and their various opponents in France, the Dutch Republic, Switzerland, and Prussia. He shows that these exchanges transformed skepticism by mitigating its arguments while broadening the learned world’s confidence in the capacities of reason by moderating its aspirations. Ultimately, the debates about the powers and limits of human understanding led to the making of a new conception of rationality that privileged practicable reason over speculative reason.

Matytsin also complicates common narratives about the Enlightenment by demonstrating that most of the thinkers who defended reason from skeptical critiques were religiously devout. By attempting either to preserve or to reconstruct the foundations of their worldviews and systems of thought, they became important agents of intellectual change and formulated new criteria of doubt and certainty. This complex and engaging book offers a powerful new explanation of how Enlightenment thinkers came to understand the purposes and the boundaries of rational inquiry.

Anton M. Matytsin is an assistant professor of history at Kenyon College.
Title:The Specter Of Skepticism In The Age Of EnlightenmentFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:376 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.15 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 1.15 inPublished:October 3, 2016Publisher:Johns Hopkins University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:142142052X

ISBN - 13:9781421420523

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction: The "Age of Reason" and the Specter of Skepticism

Part 1: The Spectrum of Anti-Skepticism Chapter 1: The Walking Ignorant: The Skeptical "Epidemic" in the Eighteenth Century Chapter 2: Pierre Bayle— Bete Noire and the Elusive Skeptic Chapter 3: The Specter of Bayle Returns to Haunt France Chapter 4: Secret Skepticism: Huet’s Fideistic Fumbles Chapter 5: A New Hope: The Critics of Pyrrhonism Strike Back Chapter 6: The Berlin Compromise: Mitigated Skepticism and Probability Part II: Disciplining Doubt Chapter 7: Matter over mind: Dualism, Materialism, and Skepticism in Eighteenth-Century Epistemology Chapter 8: A Matter of Debate: Conceptions of Material Substance in the "Scientific Revolution"Chapter 9: War of the Worlds: Cartesian Vortices and Newtonian Gravitation in Eighteenth-Century Astronomy Chapter 10: Historical Pyrrhonism and its Discontents

Conclusion Bibliography Notes Index

Editorial Reviews

While we reflexively apply Kant’s adage, "dare to know," to the Enlightenment, Anton Matytsin argues, in this brilliant and recondite book, that eighteenth-century philosophy is better understood as a response to the opposite injunction: the skeptical call " not to know," and to doubt all knowledge. Faced with the prospect of general uncertainty, Enlightenment philosophers devised new arguments and probabilistic methods for grounding knowledge. This book will be required reading for anyone grappling with questions about epistemology in the so-called Age of Reason.