DOMINIK PERLER: RADICAL DOUBTS: THE EMERGENCE OF SKEPTICISM IN MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPH

Laszlo E. Szabo leszabo at philosophy.elte.hu
Mon Oct 31 21:41:00 CET 2005


The CEU Philosophy Department and the CEU Humanities Center
Cordially invite you to a Public Lecture on

"RADICAL DOUBTS: THE EMERGENCE OF SKEPTICISM IN MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY"

By Professor DOMINIK PERLER, Department of Philosophy, Humboldt University 
(Berlin)

Chair:  GYÖRGY GERÉBY, Visiting Professor, Medieval Studies department, 
Central European University

Wednesday, November 9th, 6:45 P.M. 
CEU Gellner Room


Abstract:

Since the time of Descartes, skepticism has become one of the central problems 
of epistemology. But why has skepticism become such a serious problem? And 
why do many philosophers conceive of knowledge as a relation between an 
"inner" world of thoughts and an "outer" world of material objects - a 
relation that can always be manipulated by a powerful demon? This 
presentation intends to show that this type of skepticism is not a "natural" 
philosophical problem that inevitably arises in every context, but is rather 
the outcome of a certain epistemological theory that opens up a radical gap 
between an inner and an outer world. This gap is not to be found in ancient 
skepticism, nor is it just the invention of Descartes. A number of 
transformations in late medieval philosophy and theology led to the creation 
of this gap. In particular, two theoretical shifts were responsible for the 
emergence of radical doubts: (a) a shift from a model that takes the human 
mind to be a cognitive faculty "assimilating" objects in the world and 
becoming somehow identical to them, to a model that conceives of it as the 
place of inner representations, (b) a shift from a theory that takes God to 
be the last guarantee for successful cognition, to a theory that presents him 
as an absolutely free and omnipotent being, unlimited in his power and able 
to intervene in every cognitive process.

~*~

Dominik Perler is Professor for Theoretical Philosophy at Humboldt-Universität 
in Berlin. Professor Perler received his Ph.D. from the University of 
Fribourg (Switzerland). He was Fellow and Lecturer at All Souls College, 
Oxford University in 1996-7 and Professor of Philosophy at the University of 
Basel between 1997 and 2003. He held a number of visiting positions at 
Cornell University, UCLA (Los Angeles), the University of Göttingen and 
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. His research focuses on medieval and early 
modern philosophy in the areas of the philosophy of mind, epistemology and 
ontology. Professor Perler is the author of several monographs including Der 
propositionale Wahrheitsbegriff im 14. Jahrhundert (de Gruyter 1992), 
Repräsentation bei Descartes (Klostermann 1996),  Theorien der 
Intentionalität im Mittelalter (Klostermman 2002, also in French by Vrin 
2003). He has also edited and contributed to several anthologies and 
published countless articles in leading journals.

~ Reception to Follow ~


-- 
L a s z l o   E.   S z a b o
Theoretical Physics Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Eotvos University, Budapest
http://hps.elte.hu/leszabo

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