Skepticism

Skepticism

ARYEH BOTWINICK
Copyright Date: 1990
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14bt6f9
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  • Book Info
    Skepticism
    Book Description:

    Aryeh Botwinick argues for the recovery of a radical democratic tradition that emphasizes the role of individual participation in the development and control of social and political institutions. Such involvement implies philosophical skepticism-the assumption that the truth about what is the best course of action cannot be known with certainty and that, therefore, every person's opinion has an equal claim to be considered. The crucial stumbling block to reappropriating this radical egalitarian tradition is the supposed unviability of a consistent skepticism. In an effort to chart a new course of philosophical inquiry into political matters, Botwinick grapples with the formulation of a consistent version of skepticism, claiming that it provides "a continually renewing impetus for the expansion of political participation."

    Twentieth-century philosophers have, for the most part, opted for some version of mitigated skepticism, which, the author argues, "has blinded them to the radical political implications of skepticism." Underscoring a pattern of convergence between Anglo-American and Continental philosophy, Botwinick proposes a number of strategies to rehabilitate the rationality of participatory democratic political institutions by articulating an acceptable version of consistent skepticism.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0410-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-24)

    And if the one is absolutely without participation in time, it never had become, or was becoming, or was at any time, or is now become or is becoming, or is, or will become, or will have become, or will be, hereafter.

    Most true.

    But are there any modes of partaking of being other than these?

    There are none.

    Then the one cannot possibly partake of being?

    That is the inference.

    Then the one is not at all?

    Clearly not.

    Then the one does not exist in such way as to be one; for if it were and partook of...

  5. CHAPTER 2 A Neopragmatist Defense of Democratic Participation
    (pp. 25-42)

    A number of democratic theorists have argued that given the precise ways in which democratic institutions and values are articulated in late-capitalist societies, the best way to preserve equality is through a participatory translation of those institutions and values.¹ This chapter addresses questions that fall outside current radical defenses of participation. Is it possible to transcend pragmatism? Can one provide a secure, objectivist foundation for the doctrine of equality and its institutional translation as participation? In order to answer these questions I shall have to explore the epistemological ramifications of liberal-democratic theory.

    My conclusion will be that an objectivist foundation...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Political Implications of Wittgenstein’s Skepticism
    (pp. 43-60)

    A unifying perspective to bring to bear on Wittgenstein’s thought is that it represents a continual grappling with the problem of formulating a consistent version of skepticism—one that would not succumb to the charge of being self-refuting. His ultimate resolution of this problem hinges upon the precise content to be invested in his famous philosophical doctrine of the priority ofGezeigt(showing) overGezagt(saying). I will argue for a democratic participatory gloss of this doctrine as offering the most satisfactory resolution to the skeptical dilemmas haunting Wittgenstein.

    Recent commentators have argued that a dominant animating impulse behind Wittgenstein’s...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Participation and Tacit Knowledge in Plato, Machiavelli, and Hobbes
    (pp. 61-118)

    The concept of tacit knowledge helps to disclose a remarkable continuity between Plato, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. In several key areas in their respective political theories, the concept of tacit knowledge illuminates obscurities and mitigates incoherencies in their thought.¹ Moreover—independently of the role that “tacit knowledge” plays in their work—it provides a promising avenue for resolving a central epistemological problem that has occupied Western philosophy from its inception, and that has received, as we have seen, renewed urgency and prominence in the writings of Davidson, Putnam, and Rorty, among others. The problem has to do with formulating a consistent...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Role of Tacit Knowledge in the Argument of Federalist Number Ten
    (pp. 119-132)

    The nature of the problem that Madison proposes to solve in Federalist Number Ten is posed in the idiom of classical political philosophy. “The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils,” Madison writes, “have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished, as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations.”¹ Madison thus defines his problem by invoking a cyclical conception of political time. Democratic regimes always have been doomed to political instability by the factious predominance of their public councils,...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Leadership, Knowledge, and Truth in Gramsci’s Political Thought
    (pp. 133-180)

    I propose to locate the concept of leadership within the broad theoretical context of Gramsci’s political philosophy. In doing so, I hope to achieve a double illumination. Leadership is a central category in Gramsci’s political thought, and by exploring its patterns of interconnection to other phases of Gramsci’s thought I hope to exhibit that centrality. Second, the ways in which leadership emerges as central in Gramsci’s thought throw light on current political dilemmas relating to vast power imbalances existing in advanced industrial civilizations—particularly the United States.

    The difficulties confronting the expositor of Gramsci are presciently stated by Gramsci himself...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Nietzsche, Foucault, and the Prospects of Postmodern Political Philosophy
    (pp. 181-212)

    I wish to suggest that the resources of Nietzsche’s thought are such that they are sufficient to resolve the problem of reflexivity. Nietzsche in his epistemology and moral theory appears as an uncompromising skeptic and relativist. These positions, as we have seen, appear to be problematic because a consistent skepticism and relativism seem to compel one to be skeptical of one’s own skepticism and to be relativistic about one’s own relativism, which means that the extremeness of the original positions has to be modified in the light of the requirements of consistency. Postmodernist thought, with its suspicion of “metanarrativity,” appears...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Maimonides and Lyotard: Convergences between the Premodern and the Postmodern
    (pp. 213-234)

    A parallelism exists between Maimonides’ articulation and defense of monotheism inThe Guide of the Perplexed¹ and the structure of Lyotard’s skeptical and relativist arguments inThe Postmodernist Conditionthat gives rise to analogous logical dilemmas and conundrums. I wish to suggest two approaches for resolving these dilemmas. The first involves what Lyotard would probably consider a version of modernism in extremis: invoking a multivalued (in my case, an intuitionist) logic in order to be able to map the suspension of the law of excluded middle and then having recourse to reverse causation by way of upholding intuitionism. The second...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 235-258)
  13. Index
    (pp. 259-264)