This week’s episode is the first in a new six-part series on the topic of Intellectual Humility. We tackle the big question, whether we can know what we know and what we don’t, since knowing what you do and don’t know is the first step to true intellectual humility.
What Is It
我们似乎知道很多关于我们自己和我们周围世界的事实，即使还有很多我们不知道的事实。但是我们怎么知道我们所相信的是真的知识呢?我们的信仰是否既正确又真实，但仍然不能算作真正的知识?如果是这样，那么我们到底应该对自己的信仰有多少信心呢?有没有一种方法可以在麻痹的怀疑主义和教条的信念之间取得平衡?John and Ken know that their guest is Baron Reed from Northwestern University, co-editor ofSkepticism: From Antiquity to the Present.
Part of a six-part series onIntellectual Humility.
How can we avoid dogmatic arrogance but also avoid the paralysis of doubt? We ought to avoid cutting ourselves from opposing viewpoints, but at the same time we ought to avoid becoming susceptible to invalid viewpoints -- like those of climate denial. How can we balance skepticism and dogmatism?
John and Ken are joined by Baron Reed, associate professor of philosophy at Northwestern University and author of The Long Road to Skepticism. Baron discusses his early fascination with David Hume’s skepticism and how his line of questioning radically destabilized people’s worldviews and sense of reality. Baron also argues that there are varying kinds of knowledge and how competence in one kind does not transfer onto others.
Ken brings into the conversation recent psychological research that appears to demonstrate that the human brain is not wired to accept new points of view. Baron, however, responds that this impulsive nature to close our minds can be overcome, especially if one pays attention to instances when we have to rethink our positions.
Baron further argues that knowledge need not be defined in terms of absolute certainty, as you could claim to have knowledge even if there is potential room for doubt. This is important when it comes to issues that are complicated by “merchants of doubt,” like organizations that deny climate change or the harmful effects of smoking. In these cases, it’s not always 100% provable without any sliver of doubt, but that does not mean that the positive claims put forward are valid.
In this domain, philosophy can be understood as one of the most practical fields of study, as it trains individuals to come up with the best possible argument for a given point of view and to thoroughly address an opposing argument in its most convincing form. Philosophy in this sense is less an accumulation of doctrines and more an attitude and orientation of questioning toward the world.