Philosophy in Question: Essays on a Pyrrhonian Theme by David R. Hiley PDF

By David R. Hiley

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Gillispie reduced the subjects of Francis Bacon's writings to three categories: demonstrations of the value and dignity of learning; analysis of the obstacles to it; and prescriptions for its reformation and advancement. In addition to the fact that Gillispie fails to include in this classification a great deal of Bacon's historical and religious writing, he dismisses the first category of Bacon's c~ncerns, stating that "It is not, perhaps, necessary to insist much on the first point-indeed, it was not so necessary in the early seventeenth century as Bacon would imply.

The process must be the necessary outcon1e of the psychical and social nature of man; it must not be at the mercy of any external will; otherwise there would be no guarantee of its continuance and its issue, and the idea of Progress would lapse into the idea of Providence. 8 It has been a subject of scholarly debate lately whether belief in progress originated with the Enlightenment. The position taken by late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historians-the position represented by Bury-was that while fragments of the idea may have existed in ancient and medieval thought, a fully articulated idea of progress had not existed prior to the eighteenth century.

It did not entail the rejection of what nature compelled. l'he result is that Hume's was a merely verbal victory over Pyrrhonian skepticism. The Pyrrhonians used counterarguments to undermine dogmatic assent to truth beyond appearance so they could perpetuate suspended judgment and accept and act on the way things appear. The second phase of the Pyrrhonian activity remains untouched by Hume's direct arguments against Pyrrhonism. VII Far from defeating Pyrrhonism or rejecting its relevance for conduct, Hume's own position turned out to be far more at home in the older Pyrrhonist tradition.

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