20-21 PY2004/PY3104: Varieties of Scepticism: Hope, Desire and Tragedy

What is knowledge? Is it possible for us to acquire it? If so, how do we do so? This course approaches these questions by looking at the history of attempts to show that we perhaps don’t in fact have knowledge – the history of scepticism. Starting with the Ancient Greek concern with knowledge of how to live the Good Life, the first sceptics aimed to show that the search for such knowledge actually stood in the way of the very path to happiness it promised. The Ancient sceptical arguments were rediscovered in the Sixteenth Century and along with the emergence of modern science led to both a new conception of knowledge and of sceptical doubt to accompany it. This course traces the fate of the Cartesian concern with certainty through the sceptical naturalism of Hume and Kant’s attempt to rescue the idea of metaphysics through to the contemporary revival of interest in scepticism.
Teacher (Course Author): Suki Finn, Neil Gascoigne, Fathima Uddin