OK now we're getting somewhere. I like what this guy is on about. A bit from Wik below - but there is lots more on the wik page. I like this stuff, and wouldn't mind having a discussion about this further from those interested or who can express their own understanding of this philosophical perspective - and it's implications for life generally and personally.

This from Wik:

Sextus Empiricus raised concerns which applied to all types of knowledge. He doubted the validity of induction[2] long before its best known critic David Hume, and raised the regress argument against all forms of reasoning:

Those who claim for themselves to judge the truth are bound to possess a criterion of truth. This criterion, then, either is without a judge's approval or has been approved. But if it is without approval, whence comes it that it is truthworthy? For no matter of dispute is to be trusted without judging. And, if it has been approved, that which approves it, in turn, either has been approved or has not been approved, and so on ad infinitum.[3]
Because of these and other barriers to acquiring true beliefs, Sextus Empiricus advises[4] that we should suspend judgment about virtually all beliefs, that is, we should neither affirm any belief as true nor deny any belief as false. This view is known as Pyrrhonian skepticism, as distinguished from Academic skepticism, as practiced by Carneades, which, according to Sextus, denies knowledge altogether. Sextus did not deny the possibility of knowledge. He criticizes the Academic skeptic's claim that nothing is knowable as being an affirmative belief. Instead, Sextus advocates simply giving up belief: that is, suspending judgment about whether or not anything is knowable.[5] Only by suspending judgment can we attain a state of ataraxia (roughly, 'peace of mind'). Sextus did not think such a general suspension of judgment to be impractical, since we may live without any beliefs, acting by habit.

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Comment by MCT on March 24, 2011 at 2:10am
While we agree that events are determined, we are at odds when you insist that choice is not an example of a determined event. I am opposed to this because without choice being a determined event, there is contradiction.
Comment by Alice on March 24, 2011 at 2:07am

Michael – no, I wasn’t talking about choice in the first paragraph, I was trying to find some common ground and build up things we can agree upon.


Michael – when you say that ‘the impossibility of foreknowledge makes room for logically plausible future scenarios’ you must qualify what you are saying in order for it to make sense – it is all from your perspective.  I know this is obvious – but when you don’t qualify it, it isn’t true – because you are implying that there are logically plausible future scenarios – plural – which we all know isn’t possible and also that you might know what they are – which also isn’t possible.


Vince – no, because it hasn’t happened yet – you are talking about the future as if it’s predetermined – when it hasn’t been.  No-one has predetermined the future and you are a fully caused casual factor in your own future.  I’m not talking about guessing what’s going to happen, as if I’m outside of the causal web making a gamble – I’m in the causal web and I’m guessing at other possibilities with reference to my own preferences – then I’m ‘pretending’ to make those choices that are fully caused based on my imaginings about other possibilities and my own personal preferences.  I am therefore a part of the web – which I think you may be in denial about.  You are not outside of the web – you are part of it.

Comment by Vince Watkins on March 24, 2011 at 2:06am

"Vince – so you agree with me – that we go around ‘pretending’ to make choices because it is the way we were made – it’s in our DNA – it’s what our brains do."


Yes, but we tend to be so good at it that we tend not to recognize that we are pretending unless we've had a night like tonight where we deal with the silliness of will... even still, we tend not to think about it in those terms. The ego does not like to be compared to a domino.

Comment by MCT on March 24, 2011 at 2:05am
If this 'pretending' gets the same results done, it is not pretending. Its choosing. We don't just pretend to pick the beer, we actually pick it. Out of the hundred different beers behind the counter, the one we pick is the one we choose.
Comment by Vince Watkins on March 24, 2011 at 2:02am

Alice, choice means that there are at least two possible paths. The illusory thought process is just running code.


Michael... if nothing in the universe can change what will be, then we are not at odds... because there is nothing in the universe that can change what will be.

Comment by Alice on March 24, 2011 at 1:58am

Vince – so you agree with me – that we go around ‘pretending’ to make choices because it is the way we were made – it’s in our DNA – it’s what our brains do.  We ‘pretend’ to make choices because it’s a useful part of our survival as a species and quite probably many if not all life forms do this to some extent or another.

Comment by Alice on March 24, 2011 at 1:55am

Vince – 44 years hey - LMHO… : )


Well I agree that on many occasions based on past experience we can do lots that we know will work again – such as boil an egg or fly a plane or talk with words and be understood at a shop and so on… we’re lucky that the laws of the universe are so stable and reliable.  This gives us much to rely on.  And we don’t even have to understanding modern science to do it.  I’ve watched my children grow and learn through their own natural inherent scientific enquiry, inbuilt from birth, they try and try again a different way, until they gain success – this is how they learn to move, get food, crawl, walk and talk and how we all continue to learn about what works for us so that we can do what we do and survive and procreate and have fun and generally meet all our needs – which doesn’t involve knowing all these is to know about the nature of reality for most people.

Comment by MCT on March 24, 2011 at 1:51am


Those words serve important functions. They are valid concepts. If defined with essential qualities only.


I never suggested that guessing the future changes it. Nothing in the universe can change what will be. There is no getting away from what one will choose. The brain can act as an agent of change within the universe though. It does it very well by considering logically plausible scenarios and reacting accordingly towards the ends of a goal.

Comment by Alice on March 24, 2011 at 1:47am

Vince – LOL…  my judgment of your comments as slurs was not reflective of negative feelings on my part – only of amusement at our predicament.  I do accept my destiny : )

Comment by Alice on March 24, 2011 at 1:45am

All human made words – choice / decision / possibility – all useful to describe something – all put into question by determinism.  Can we keep these words but redefine their meaning – or do we need to get rid of them – or can we make up new words to describe what we mean by these processes?


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