The Rocket: a warm embrace of the depressing art of skepticism

Published by adviser, Author: Jonathan Janasik - News Editor, Date: May 1, 2014

In ancient Greece, there was a school of thought dedicated to the practice of skepticism. Philosophers rarely agree with each other, so the specific beliefs of the skeptics differed from person to person. If taken to the fullest extent, skepticism is the belief that it is not possible to know anything.

There’s an obvious problem with this belief. If you believe that you can’t know anything, then it’s impossible know that you can’t know anything. It’s a contradiction.

More importantly, the skeptics were probably seen as being complete idiots. I imagine some skeptic guy getting ready to have sex. His ladyfriend asks him if he has a condom, and even though he has one he says, “Nobody knows.” He misses out on sex because he wanted to prove some bullshit metaphysical point about how our understanding of all matter depends on the use of the senses, but the senses are unreliable, so you can’t really know that the condom exists. Skepticism is depressing like that.

Pure skepticism is a silly thing, but Socrates practiced it as more reasonable belief. If you don’t know something, then you shouldn’t act like you know it. He would walk around Athens and ask everybody why they did the things that they did, as if he was a toddler fixated on annoying parents by repeatedly asking, “Why?” He was put to death for being too annoying. So, skepticism was still depressing.

The phrase “rock n’ roll, saved my soul” is romantic. It brings up imagery of bar-hopping while riding on a motorcycle and being covered in the smell of cigarette smoke. I’d like to say that skepticism helped me get through college more than anything else. There’s no cool way to say that, so I didn’t even attempt to use alliteration.

When I came to college, I was an incompetent geology major. Nobody ever said, “If you stay a geology major, you’re not going to get a job because you suck.” I honestly wish that somebody would have said that. If you don’t question yourself, you can end up living a life without contributing anything of value. 

I took an introductory philosophy class in my freshman year and it initially ruined my life. I just began to question everything. I lost my girlfriend, I quit my major, and I had to see a therapist. I realize that this sounds like I’m telling a joke, but it’s true. I took Socrates’ skepticism to heart, and it broke me. Not being able to be certain about anything is terrifying. Looking back, it was for the best because it saved me from embarrassing myself in several science classes that I simply didn’t understand.

If that sounds worse than being a skeptic, then why not join The Rocket? You get to ask people questions that they may not answer. Better yet, you can ask questions that you personally find interesting. People grow up being trained that they shouldn’t ask questions because their parents are the ultimate authority. That’s poppycock, asking questions is something that should be celebrated. Free yourself from that childish way of thinking, become a reporter. There is literally no reason to not write for The Rocket. Think about it.


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