The purpose of skepticism is not to defend the correct answer; rather to defend the integrity of the Knowledge Development Process, and to challenge the imposition of ignorance. The Ethical Skeptic, in keeping with this underlying philosophy must ever be vigilant for employment of the Masquerade or Abrogation of the scientific method, M’ , or the surreptitiously promoted religion q.
The Epignosis – The Knowledge Development Process
British philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell laments in his work The Problems of Philosophy, “Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it?”¹ Well yes, there exists such knowledge. But that is not the preeminent issue we face as a society and culture of man. To the sense of the Ethical Skeptic, an over focus on the hoarding of authorized knowledge, and one’s perfect role in knowing such, is not the purpose of our science. Rather, the prevailing ethos benefits of value and clarity (ethics) demands that we stand watch over the processes which feed (the Epignosis) this authorized knowledge set (or Gnosis). Our first priority is not necessarily to seek perfection of the Gnosis itself by personal sheer will, acumen and study. It is indeed the watch, the diligence by which we sponsor, screen and prepare that which is accepted to the body of knowledge, or even that which is demoted from the body of knowledge, which merits our first fealty. Phi Beta Kappa Emerson Award winning Philosopher Robert Nozick defines the Knowledge Development Process as being a way of determining how we arrive, via facts, to the state where our belief of what is true and what is not true aligns with the actuality of what it true and not true. Truth in the Nozick context being what is called Condition Statement 1:²1. p is true.
Gnosis is the state at which our collective mind S, via M, has arrived at p is true. The Epignosis is the method M contrasted with errant methods of ignorance M’, by which our collective mind arrives at p is true, constituted by hopefully the full, and not partial, scientific method. The Knowledge Development Process is what Nozick deems to be what he calls Condition Statement 2:²2. S believes, via method or way of coming to believe M, that p is true.
Defending Knowledge Development from The Masquerade: M’
Ethical Skepticism demands that those who would seek to act as authorities in the Knowledge Development Process challenge and examine the integrity of method M, and resist the condition wherein tampered method M‘ and the following Condition Statements 1 and X‘ are employed in abuse of the Knowledge Development Process. The Ethical Skeptic understands that any effort to deny or block actions of scientific method, or to proactively intervene on behalf of the scientific method, are suspect. Especially when the excuse is tendered that such can be done because the proponent is ‘rational,’ ‘skeptical,’ a ‘critical thinker,’ or because the doctrine of a ‘smarter or more knowledgeable than you’ group of people dictates that you must accept their conclusions. This in philosopher’s set terms is structured opinion set q. And q is anything outside the ethical rigor of knowledge development, presumed to be necessarily true:³
Methodical Cynicism and How it is Misadvertised as ‘Skepticism’
q is The Illusion of Absolute, i.e. a religion.
M’ is an abrogation of or substitution for the scientific method
SS is the Social Skeptic1. p is true. 2‘. SS knows q to be necessarily true, and reconstructs method or way of coming to believe M‘, such that q is true. 3‘. SS believes, via method or way of coming to believe M or M’, that not-p then q 4′. ∴ Rationality ≡ Knowledge of q entails Knowledge of not-p (post hoc ergo propter hoc).
By reaching modified Condition Statement 4′, I am now logically armed with the ‘rational ability’ to dismiss something which is disliked, through a method other than science. I defend this method by falsely calling it or being taught that it is ‘skepticism.’
As a Methodical Cynic I use this method incorrectly to intervene and speak on behalf of science. In other words, not-p is proved by valid or invalid method M or M’, as being congruent with q. However q is proved to be true by errant or modified method M‘. It is this M’ and its employment which bears the opportunity for sleight-of-hand activity. It is the arena in which the Ethical Skeptic must first keep diligent watch. The practitioner of pseudo-skepticism and plausible deniability often will not disclose his fealty to q, nor even q itself in 2′ and 3′. He cannot, as q is true, broaches review of M’. This lack of disclosure of method, constitutes the central broach of ethics to the Ethical Skeptic. Given the Hegel criteria wherein Religion is the Illusion of the Absolute,³ then∴ not-p Is introduced by interloping M‘ and post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy with q and subjunctives q is necessarily a religion for two reasons (see What Constitutes a Religion)
1. The condition that q, which is defined as not-p, is therefore necessarily rational in 2′ through 4′. 2. That q is true, can be made in absence of falsification. This is the genesis of the domain framing which affords the Ethical Skeptic the only possible definition of religion: “The compulsory adherence to an idea which is prohibited testing for falsification.”
and Interloping M‘ consists of three error taxonomy groupings:
M‘a – Skepticism is employed as acting in lieu of method M, AND where q is not disclosed.A. Pseudo-skepticism E. Plausible Deniability
M‘b – Method M modified so as to be executed only in part, or such that predictive methodologies are employed to screen out potential falsification pathways, such that q is true.B. Credulity D. Denial H. Doctrine
M‘c – Social control mechanism are employed such that q is true, in absence of M. q may or may not be disclosed.
It is the job of the Ethical Skeptic to understand keenly the process of M the Epignosis. Moreover, to watch for, in himself, his peers, and in organizations, the condition wherein method M, has been abrogated, eliminated or is tampered with (M’x).
That which serves us in advancing mankind, and that which the Ethical Skeptic defends, regardless of what answers arise.
¹ Russell, Bertrand, The Problems of Philosophy; The Public Domain, Project Gutenberg, Release Date: May 2, 2009 [EBook #5827].
² Nozick, Robert; Philosophical Explanations, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1981, ISBN 0-674-66448-5; pp. 179-187. Note: Here we depart from Nozick’s Condition Statements 3. and 4., necessary compliments in the establishment of ethical knowledge, in order to elicit the errant versions of the same.
³ Rosen, Stanley, Editor; The Philosopher’s Handbook: A User’s Guide to Western Philosophy, Random House, Inc., New York, NY, 2000; ISBN 978-0-375-72011-6; pp. 165-169.