Skepticismabout the World

Naturally,individuals tend to have a lot of knowledge about their own mentaland psychological lives. However, part of it can be known afterseveral years of therapy. It is, therefore, much easier for someoneto tell if he is having a headache, if he is thirsty, believing thatit is cloudy, and believing that what he is seeing is a cat.Conversely, philosophers who solely study knowledge have laidemphasis on the different forms of knowledge. According to Huemer(2009), this kind of knowledge is known as the knowledge about theenvironment that one gains through perception- experience and skillthat there is milk in the glass, that the weather it is sunny, thatthe cow is on the grass, and much more. The major reason for theemphasis on the external world knowledge is the skepticism threat.According to the arguments advocated in the skepticism, about theworld, every human is totally ignorant of about the environment.Philosophers in this field argue that we know nothing about theenvironment (Huemer, 2009). Skeptics about the world argue that asmuch as we may know a lot of things from our minds but as to whetherthere is water in the pool or whether the pool is there we arecompletely ignorant. Huemer (2009) further argues that since severalphilosophers are of the notion that the skeptic’s case is complexto solve they assert that there is something deep that puzzles theknowledge we have about our environment. Logically, the real puzzlingphenomenon of a human person is not about the knowledge he has aboutthe environment but rather the problem of the mind. In any case,Huemer (2009) posits that the facts supporting skepticism about theworld are rather weak and they do not hold water the same wayskepticism about the mind do hence, they should be disregarded sinceif they continue being adopted more confusing arguments will arise.Based on the above underpinning evidence, it is justifiable to arguethat any present skeptics about the external world are misleadingone does not need sensory experiences to embrace the knowledge of theworld.

Skepticismabout the world

Descartesin his FirstMeditation arguesthat up to this time he still accepts as the utmost truth and iscertain to have learned not only through senses but also from thesenses. He goes ahead to point out that in some cases the senses aredeceptive and it is, therefore, wiser for individuals not to trustsenses, which at sometimes mislead them. Descartes (1993) continue toargue that as a matter of fact, though senses tend to cheat us in anumber of times and ways, touching on issues that are barelyobservable, or far beyond our reach, he asserts that there areseveral different things to be encountered that individuals cannotlogically doubt even though we can identify them using other means.

Additionally,he reflects that he possibly he is not sitting around the fire with apiece of paper as he is but rather he is in his bed having a funnydream (Descartes, 1993). He argues that plainly he is seeing plainlyand there is no sure way in which one can differentiate between beingawake and being asleep. In that case, he jumps to conclusionprovisionally that he is not aware if he is awake and sitting next tothe fire. What is put across by Descartes can apply to us today. Forinstance, let`s say if he is right, then it could be right that I amnot aware that I am seated at a desk, with a laptop typing myassignment. In some cases, one may be moved to conclude that he isactually right since if I was having a vivid dream, and in the dreamI was sitting on a chair it is clear that things would not have beenany different from what is happening in reality.

Withclose examination of the skeptical argument put forward by Descartes,it is not clear to him why there is the absence of obvious signs toindicate that he is actually awake and seated by the fire instead ofhis bed.

Barry Stroud (2010) tries to explain the first meditation and bringsout some of the aspects one can learn from it. He argues that in caseone is faced with the same predicament, which Descartes was in duringthe first meditation, then it will be impossible for the person totell by means of his senses if he was dreaming or was in reality. Heargues that all the senses that individuals have are compatible withmere dreaming. The knowledge of individuals is in a way restrained tothe experiences of their senses. He finally concludes that it isimpossible to break these restrictions to have knowledge of the worldas it is as opposed to the way we think it is (Stroud, 2010).

Forinstance, let us put ourselves in the shoe of detective carrying outan investigation into a murder case of a teacher who has been foundstabbed in the school library, in which two individuals, Major Johnand Mr. Howard, are the chief suspects. The two wanted the teacherdead and they lack a concrete explanation of their whereabouts duringthe night the brutal murder took place. One of the witnesses affirmsthat he saw a short bald man in the library having a knife in theright hand, during the night of the incidence. In such a case, thewitness cannot be of any help since there are no fingerprints norblood stains to support his allegations. Another puzzle is that bothJohn and Howard are short and bald it is, therefore, clear that bothmay be compatible with the murder case. There is no way to go beyondwhat the witness`s say, testify, or assert that one of them is guiltyof the offense. The detective`s knowledge is restricted to theevidence provided that the murderer was a short bald man and used aknife. He is not allowed to find Major John and Howard guilty of thecharge, even though their physical description or characteristicsmatches that of the victim or murder.

Stroudputs up the following discussion about skepticism about the world.Generally, the argument starts by pointing out that the evidence forclaims touching on the world consists in the facts about the sensoryexperiences of an individual. For instance, the evidence behind theclaim that one is sitting on a chair is the ability of the person tofeel the arms of the chair and the pressure of the seat on him.However, such evidence can be compatible with the claim of one lyingin bed dreaming of that they are seated. The case is puzzling as onecannot tell whether he is dreaming or is seated on a chair inreality. This argument generalizes one to others and the claim ofsitting to other claims about the external world.


Undeniably,knowledge about the environment has, in the past, and continues, inthe present, to attract varied skepticism from differentphilosophers. However, the problem of the mind seems to attract morearguments than the knowledge possessed by individuals concerning theenvironment. The aforementioned discussion concentrates on opposingthe ideas of the skeptics of the world. This argument, behind sensoryexperiences by skeptics, can be challenged by the use of non-humananimals in dogs. It is clear that dogs have sensory experiencesthough there is nothing to support the thought that they haveknowledge of their sensory experiences. In fact, for one to haveknowledge of his mind he must possess a sophistication of which dogsdo not have (DE rose, 2015). Therefore, in case a dog detects arabbit in the bushes by the use of the eyes, it does not mean that ithas knowledge of its sensory experiences. In that case, the dog doesnot need knowledge of sensory experiences to know about the externalworld. In other words, such experiences are also not needed for us tobe able to know about the world. One can easily tell whether he issitting on a chair, from mere observations or knowledge, withoutnecessary seeking evidence of sensory experiences.


DeRose,K. (2015).&nbspSkepticism:A Contemporary Reader.New York: Oxford UP.

Descartes,R. (1993).&nbspMeditationson First Philosophy.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Huemer,M. (2009).&nbspSkepticismand the Veil of Perception.Lanham, MD: Row man&amp Littlefield.

Stroud,B. (2010). `The problem of the external world` in Sosa et al (eds)Epistemology:an anthology,Oxford Blackwell.