Thursday, August 14, 2008

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,'—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

In class exercise: 30 words or less. Define the word "Skeptic." Just your working, go-to, this-is-how-I-use-this-word definition of "skeptic." 5 minutes.


Okay. Fingers away from keyboards. No one googled a definition? What'd you come up with?

I have "someone who is critical of a/some subject/subjects. A detective. A scientist."

Don't worry, my definition is wrong.

OED has four definitions. They're really long-winded but:
1. someone who, like pyrrho, doubts the possibility of real knowledge, and subsequent claims to such
2. A critic, either in a specific field or in general.
3. someone who doubts the possibility of knowledge in the supernatural, specifically Christian supernaturalism.
4.someone who has yet to reach a conclusion, but remains a seeker of, and believer in, truth.

Is it possible then, that skeptic means nothing? I mean, it seems like 4. is opposed to 1. Maybe it just means whatever we think it means.
And yet, Logic was made by 4's to prevent 1's from wasting away worrying about what would happen if they were found out for 3's. And yet, 4's depend on "skeptic" meaning 1. and not 2,3, or 4.

And that smells.


Squid said...

you've made my head spin...I am skeptical of how you interpret meanings 1 and 4 to contradict eachother...actually I just wanted to be skeptical. The appropriate word is confused.

misanthropic bastard said...

Hey Squid,
It would be nice if I could say something smooth and poppish like "1's are Scullys. 4's are Mulders."
And 4's are totally Mulders. And 1's are Scullys in that first season sense that they don't believe, but they won't believe, ever, in anything, because it'll never be fully understood and subsequently known. 1's think knowledge is impossible because you'll never know the thing without your experience is attaching to the thing. 1's are stupid.