Doubt Everything

Feb 20

Pick your Professor

We’ve been considering trust (in traditions, in religions, in communities, in friends, in yourself) as a virtue. Today we’ll consider whether it is also a vice. We’ll look at a defense of skeptical philosophical inquiry, one introduced by Enlightenment philosopher Rene Descartes. Descartes thought that a scientific approach to life requires rooting out all of one’s potential biases. But how far can this go? Are we biased toward believing we are awake and not dreaming? Biased toward believing 2+2=4? What’s the role of doubt in the good life?

We have three main learning goals for this day. You will:

  1. Appreciate the distinction between “global” and “local” skepticism
  2. Understand Descartes’ “method of doubt” and “cogito” argument
  3. Critically engage Descartes’ dreaming argument for skepticism, and understand why he makes this argument.

Read This:

PrimaryInteractive Essay: Doubt Everything (Descartes)

SecondaryWhat are the limits of skepticism?

Do This:


  • Make sure you’ve completed the “How We Argue” (ThinkerAnalytix) course up through lesson 8 by today’s class.
  • After you’ve finished today’s reading, make sure you complete the reading quiz, which you can access through your section’s Canvas page.

Suggested: Think about it and then post on social media –> What are the benefits (and dangers) of being super skeptical in your everday life? Do you think people are more or less skeptical in the age of COVID and online conspiracy theories? Is this a good thing or a bad thing, in general?

Watch This: