Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Seeds of True Knowledge

But in this age of ours, when we see none who are philosophers — for I do not consider those who merely wear the cloak of a philosopher to be worthy of that venerable name — it seems to me that men (those, at least, whom the teaching of the Academicians has, through the subtlety of the terms in which it was expressed, deterred from attempting to understand its actual meaning) should be brought back to the hope of discovering the truth, lest that which was then for the time useful in eradicating obstinate error, should begin now to hinder the casting in of the seeds of true knowledge.

Augustine, Letter 1, to Hermogenianus. The letter is interesting for understanding Augustine's criticism of Academic skepticism in his work Contra Academicos: he claims that Academic skepticism was valuable in its time because the state of debate among the different philosophical schools was such that there was too much danger that in the heat of argument people would rush into affirming errors. Now that debate has cooled, however, people are using skepticism as an excuse not to inquire, or else taking it as a message of despair, and thus a countervailing push is now necessary.

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