I defend the view that Cicero writes the Academica from the perspective of an aspirationalist radical skeptic. In section 2 I examine the textual evidence regarding the nature of Cicero’s skeptical stance in the Academica. In section 3 I consider the textual evidence from the Academica for attributing aspirationalism to Cicero. Finally, in section 4 I argue that while aspirationalist radical skepticism is open to a number of philosophical objections, none of those objections is decisive.
According to Plato’s Apology of Socrates, a humanly wise person is distinguished by her ability to correctly assess the epistemic status and value of her beliefs. She knows when she has knowledge or has mere belief or is ignorant. She makes no unjustified knowledge claims and considers her knowledge to be limited in scope and value. This means: A humanly wise person is intellectually modest. However, when interpreted classically, Socratic wisdom cannot be modest. For in classical epistemic logic, modelling second-order knowledge of knowing something or not, i.e. positive and negative introspection, requires a degree of self-transparency that would at most be attributed to an omniscient and infallible agent. If intellectual modesty is part of Socratic wisdom, we have to look for another epistemic model. I will offer three proposals and argue that an intuitionist reading of the classical concept of knowledge is best suited for this purpose.
The paper provides a reconstruction of proof by contradiction in Kant’s pure general logic. A seemingly less-explored point of view on this topic is how apagogical proof can account for the formal truth of a judgement. Integrating the argument held by Kjosavik (2019), I intend to highlight how one can use proof by contradiction, conceived as a modus tollens, to establish the logical actuality (logical or formal truth) of a cognition. Although one might agree on the capacity of the proof to prove formal falsity, the logical actuality of a judgement is assessable based on a logically grounded judgement and, as for transcendental logic, this cognitive operation has to presuppose the real possibility of an object.
In this essay, I discuss three readings of Descartes’ Meditations. According to the first reading, “I exist” is for Descartes the foundation of our knowledge. This reading is dismissed on the grounds that, in his view, as long as God’s existence is not proven there is a good reason to doubt this proposition. Proponents of the second reading claim that there are two kinds of Cartesian knowledge: perfect and imperfect knowledge. The meditator has imperfect knowledge of “I exist” before God’s existence is proven. Subsequently, she acquires perfect knowledge of various metaphysical theorems. This reading is repudiated, too. I argue for a third reading, according to which “I think” – and not “I exist” – is the foundation of our knowledge.