Essential Philosophy

Lesson 3

Lesson 3: Skepticism about Truth

In this introductory session, Dr. Schenk presents his third lecture on skepticism about truth.

Outline of Session
Discussion Questions
  • In what areas of American culture, or in academia, do you see the attitude of Skepticism About Truth surface? (Example: “There is no absolute truth. There are only personal truths.”) How does this attitude affect the areas or situations that come to mind?
  • Why is the argument of Skepticism About Truth so popular? What are the psychological motives behind those who support it?
  • How does a Christian understanding of objective values interact with the Skepticism About Truth argument?
Philosophers Mentioned in this Lecture

In this lecture Dr. Schenk references the work of several philosophers, writers, and logicians you might be interested in reading more about. Below are brief introductions to these philosophers, along with links if you wish to learn more.

Gottlob Frege

Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was a German philosopher, logician, and mathematician. Many consider him to be the father of analytic philosophy, or a method of approaching philosophical problems through analysis of the terms in which they are expressed. You can read more about Frege in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, available online here.

Jean-Francois Lyotard

Jean-Francois Lyotard (1924-1998) was a French philosopher, sociologist, and literary theorist. He was a leading figure in the postmodern intellectual movement. You might recall from Dr. Schenk’s lecture that Lyotard would support Skepticism About Truth, as he suggested that everyone has their own “lived truth.” You an read more about him in the Encyclopedia Britannica, available online here.

Roderick Chisholm

Roderick Chisholm (1916-1999) was a highly influential American philosopher whose work spanned epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and other branches of philosophy. In this lecture Dr. Schenk mentioned Chisholm’s work in regards to the set of criteria that must already exist if one wishes to attempt reducing truth, which contradicts the Skepticism About Truth argument. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers a wonderful overview of Chisholm’s life and works here.


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