The skepticism was a movement or doctrine of nature philosophy that was in charge of defending the idea stating that the truth did not exist , and that to exist, there was no way that man could get to know her . The philosophers who followed this doctrine were skeptical , doubting and denying everything that was conventionally accepted as true .


What is skepticism?

Skepticism is a type of attitude based on doubt towards what other people proclaim as truths or facts . It is a tendency not to believe in the opinions of others or in statements that come from third parties if they are not based on true evidence .

  • Definition
  • Characteristics of skepticism
  • Background
  • History
  • Founder
  • Types
  • How skepticism views truth and ethics
  • How it differs from Stoicism
  • Importance
  • Representatives
  • Examples of skepticism


The skepticism is known as an attitude that holds all suspicion and doubt to a supposed truth. It was also seen as a stream of thought of a philosophical nature which ensured that the human being should doubt about all things, about all the phenomena and the facts that arose throughout life and also assured that the truth did not exist .


It can also be viewed as a propensity type pessimistic that makes things to be seen at all times so unfavorable and also refers to a kind of attitude of disbelief regarding the value moral and ethical found in all actions taken the human being.

Characteristics of skepticism

The main characteristics that can be found in skepticism are the following:

  • Any type of statement made by third parties is doubted , especially if there is no evidence of the veracity of the matter.
  • It calls into question absolutely everything that exists, including the relationship of the human being with the world .
  • For the movement, the truth simply does not exist .
  • It ensures that there is no certain method to know if something that is said is true.
  • It does not deny the obvious but ensures that, to be able to affirm that something is true, objective data are needed and that, since everything is subjective , objective truth does not exist.
  • To a certain extent, it can generate peace of mind .
  • Consider that there is no sense in arguing for opinions and that with this you can achieve spiritual peace .
  • He does not see things as good or bad, but as indifferent .
  • Calls into question all kinds of scientific knowledge


The antecedents and origin of skepticism are found in the philosophy established by the sophists during the 5th century BC . At that time, his main representative was Gorgias , who claimed that there was nothing that could be truly known. Another of its important antecedents was the Eleatic school in which the attention was mainly focused on knowledge of a sensitive type, which could vary and which also did not guarantee any kind of absolute truth.


Skepticism as a type of philosophical movement arose in ancient Greece and India . It was a movement that was against currents like Buddhism . In Greece and Rome, two important schools arose that were based on skepticism, one of them was the Pirroinista founded by Pyrrho and the one that focused on academic skepticism .

With the arrival of the Late Roman Empire , ancient skepticism faded, mainly thanks to Saint Augustine and his work “Against the Academics . ” In the Renaissance and the Modern Age , the current began to take on a new importance. During the 18th century , David Hume , an empiricist, claimed that sense impressions were the basis of the senses and further argued that there were no true and logical reasons to believe in God, the soul, or the external world. Today, skepticism continues to be a topic of discussion and study among philosophers and human beings.


Pyrrho is considered the true founders of this current of thought.


There are several types of skepticism, among which we mention the following:

  • Philosophical skepticism : this thinking focuses on doubt and requires above all a large amount of objective evidence to be able to accept or believe the statements that are made.
  • Moral skepticism: it is a type of meta- ethical theory in which it is ensured that no person has moral knowledge. They further affirm that this type of knowledge is practically impossible and is opposed above all to moral realism, opinions and objective truths.
  • Scientific skepticism : it is also called empirical skepticism and raises a series of questions related to beliefs based on scientific knowledge. It is important to remember that scientists use the scientific method to prove the claims, however in skepticism, these are considered as pseudoscientific.
  • Religious skepticism : it focuses on the doubts that exist about the different beliefs or statements that are made in the field of religion. Currently, this type of skepticism places greater importance on the scientific method and the evidence. It is not the same as atheism .
  • Methodical skepticism : This type of skepticism is based on questioning all those that are presented to us as true in order to eliminate the false and thus achieve a knowledge that is considered safe.
  • Radical skepticism : in this case, it is claimed that knowledge is completely impossible and considers that knowledge as fact. This kind of thinking makes radical skepticism totally contradictory.
  • Ethical skepticism : the thought affirms that it is not possible to get to know moral values ​​in a rational way because they will always depend on the subject . It indicates that value judgments have no possibility of being able to objectively access morality and that for this reason, morality cannot be rationally justified.
  • Legal skepticism : it is considered the main source of transgression and destruction of trust by citizens that allows us to see the different conflicts of interest that originate from inappropriate decision-making. This causes fear on the part of those who seek help in justice.
  • Professional skepticism : it is a type of attitude that contains an inquisitive mind. It is the ability to give greater attention to those situations that may indicate incorrect acts, errors or fraud.

How skepticism views truth and ethics

For skepticism the truth is subjective and for this reason only opinions are not made judgments. For the current, nothing is absolute or real and all things are subject to doubt, so concrete evidence will always be necessary and only in this way can a certain fact be seen as a truth.

Regarding ethics , it is skepticism that affirms that there is no type of method that can be considered as rational that manages to determine the total validity of moral or evaluative judgments and that for this reason, they do not exist. It states that bigger and better arguments will be needed to defend beliefs.

How it differs from Stoicism

The difference is that Stoicism is a philosophical doctrine that sought to dominate the passions that caused disturbances in life, taking into account virtue and reason . For this reason, the main objective was to achieve happiness and wisdom, leaving aside fortune and material goods. It is more related to the strength of the human being and the equanimity of the individual’s character.


Skepticism is important because it is a way of thinking that allows you to go against lies and deception that can arise from certain pernicious beliefs . It is a means by which critical thinking and the scientific field can be put into practice in order to develop criteria based on the truth.


Among its main representatives the following characters are mentioned:

  • David Hume: an important historian, economist and philosopher who was part of the most important figures in Western philosophy and who is also known as one of the most influential men in skepticism.
  • Pirrón de Elis : he is considered the main representative of skepticism and doubted many of the supposed truths that existed in his town.
  • Timon the Siligraph : he was a Greek philosopher and a poet who based his works on satire , a disciple of Pyrrho.
  • Sixth Empirical : a Greek physician and philosopher who established most of the known precepts on Pyrrhian skepticism. He was the creator of the important work known as Esbozos Pirrónicos.

Examples of skepticism

Some examples of skepticism are:

  • Doubts about whether there is life after death.
  • Skepticism about the existence of extraterrestrial life.
  • After an important conversation, a series of doubts are generated regarding the agreements that were made.
  • Doubts about the existence of God.

Leave a Comment