HE paradox of skepticism— skepticism is a seemingly-irrelative modifier that in a global sense is usually relative, in which case one can no more be labeled skeptic than opposite sex.
But if this is true doesn’t the same reasoning (hence lack of meaning) also apply to the converse epithet, in adjective form— gullible? Or the two sides, again in the form of adjectives, only this time complimentarily rather than unfavorably— cagey and open-minded? Surely these have meaning, at least in some circumstances.
It seems the paradox is operational only in linear, dipolar forms. And not even all of these. In a few forms, in reference to negatives that can’t be proved, the skeptic-adjective is objective— existing independent of mind.
For example, because of the voids in our knowledge of the world, something that could possibly be residing in one of those voids can’t be said to definitely not exist.
The paradox of skepticism is best approached with skepticism.
Some metaphysical systems, like some religions, have a built-in slant toward anti-worldly bias that their proponents have been slow to acknowledge or counterbalance. Many of these individuals never married, despite in some cases being fairly good-looking.
(Could it be that their occasional tendency toward disparagement of the sensual, particularly the erotic, is due to their refusal to acknowledge the latter’s connection to spiritual ecstasy, or in a few cases a possible lack of success in achieving highest romantic love, wherein they might experience both? ;-)-
Sages throughout history have tended to be rebellious and often isolated, whereas extroverts might find themselves too busy with life to reflect upon ultimate matters, much less collect jazz on old 78’s, watch black and white television, or have Crumb for a last name— “...Everything has to be old-fashioned.” “No, oh (laugh) it just looks better like that.”
Feelings of rejection cut both ways, insidiously luring less-mature but otherwise reasonably-balanced thinkers into thinly disguised sour-grape testimonies and sometimes outright bitterness, thereby according these perspectives airings out of proportion to the population ratios of their adherents.
Which in turn tends to attract others so inclined, fortifying the tendency and breeding crackpots.
Despite this consolidating influence, a significant core body of agreement among either divines or metaphysicians coming from different faiths and cultures seems to be lacking, especially when compared to analogous circles of experts in other than these less empirical disciplines.
(This also afflicts, though perhaps to a lesser degree, dowsers, palmists, scryers— even phrenologists, mesmerists, and automatic-writing practitioners.)
Although every branch of learning has its frontier of knowledge where even the best minds can and do reasonably disagree, groupings comprised of the most distinguished echelon of just about any field except ontology, gathered from places as diverse as New York, Tokyo, Calcutta, or Moscow, will find substantial commonality of detail.
This being born of long-term observation, verification, discussion, and mutual acceptance, as well as fine cigars.
About the only way for philosophers from different regions and cultures to find even some areas of agreement is by reduction to the most elemental forms: for example, ultimate reality could refer to anything from basis of being to universal law—
Details regarding the nature and even the existence of things like gods, purposes, souls, or cigar-shaped UFO’s being as various as the schools of thought that propagate them.
Transcultural progress (unification of cultures) is thought to evolve from the most to the least rational of disciplines: math to physics, physics to metaphysics, metaphysics to cigar-appreciation. Perhaps ontology is only now beginning to be so affected.
In addition to incongruities in the scrappy amount of non-suspect data being a factor, unconscious resistance to objectivity in areas that touch on ingrained religious issues must be as well.
The faiths of our planet diverge on many matters, yet during the entirety of our lifetimes few of us stray far from that in which we were brought up and socialized, especially if as kids in Sunday school we enjoyed the cut-and-paste projects.
We know that dreams lack the consistency from one to another and between individuals that our awake states possess, indicating that there does seem to be an objective, unique world external to our consciousnesses, and that cigars and other material objects, apart from different viewpoints, assume generally unvarying forms.
While belief is in one sense a truth unto itself, so long as we’re in life’s realm as we normally experience it (rather than a universe so transcendent that in it things can simultaneously have both being and nonbeing, like overbooked airline seats) no more than one metaphysic, in an objective sense, can be wholly right.
More likely, only different elements of various systems will withstand the test of time.
In striving to ascertain reality, it’s not humanly possible to be completely unbiased, as all information coming to us has, if not a deliberate viewpoint or angle, an innocuous slant or aroma, and there’s no supervisory entity, as far as is known, to evenly balance the flow from all sides.
Returning briefly to cigars: If we happen to be in Castro’s Cuba, there is a supervisory entity, but it does the opposite— increase the bias, in favor of the governmental ideology.
Maybe the best approach for zeroing-in on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (I do) is to try to be open-minded and skeptical, as much doubters as disciples (state your name) before each decision (not guilty).
The question is as important as the answer.
Just as a chess player makes the best move only after determining what his opponent’s reply would be, or an art critic becomes more insightful when she considers the space surrounding the central focus (woman, breasts, cigar, etc.) of a work, as well as the positive area occupied by that subject—
So are we that much further ahead in analyzing the various ideologies vying for our hearts if we remember to use negative-space epistemology, available in fine humidors everywhere.