The internet needs more Pyrrhonian scepticism.

People on the internet are constantly bickering about ‘who is right’ and ‘who is wrong’. Well, here is a novel approach. Neither of you. Or both! Or who gives a shit, nothing is real!

That is a bit of a rapid deduction, but where it leads changed my life for the better.

Pyrrhonian scepticism. Sure, I have picked and chosen a few bits of it and left some logical holes in it, but this is not about being right and actually, that is missing the whole point here.

Pyrrho, born on the island of Elis in the 4th century BC, was a travelling companion of Alexander the Great during the latter’s conquest of the East. After returning from India, he became the first philosopher of the skeptic school of thought- one of three most influential schools of philosophical thought of the ancient world.

The goal in Pyrrhonian scepticism is to reach a state where you are free of worry. They call it ‘ataraxia’, and it is an important concept in both Pyrrhonian scepticism and Epicureanism, though they have differing interpretations of it. In Pyrrhonian scepticism, ataraxia outlines that feeling when you just kinda don’t give a shit. This is distinct from Epicurus’ definition, where ataraxia is interpreted as freedom from mental/spiritual pain and stress, and is one of two key requirements to lead a good life (the other being aponia, freedom from physical pain).  It also differs from ‘apatheia’, as the Stoics would push for, which removes emotion from the dynamic. For the Pyrrhonian sceptic, ataraxia means removing the idea of truth.

Truth is a bitch. Once you have your truth, you have to defend it. You are right, the other person is wrong. When you are wrong, you lose. When you are right, you win. My father also coined a term, the ‘winner/loser world’, from which you can remove yourself in order to approach life without dogmatic beliefs and take a creative approach to solving problems.

So, here we are. Now we are not defending a truth claim all the time, things get easier. Less arguments, more constructive conversation, more happiness. But isn’t this a bit of blind faith?

To put it in a more structured term, they said that there was ‘no criterion of truth’. Kinda like Descartes saying that ‘I think therefore I am’, and nothing outside of him could be confirmed (except God but I think he was just avoiding the gallows with that one) and therefore there is no truth.

Well, if there is no starting point of truth to build a truth, then there is nowhere to go. Except God.

I understand people of faith may see a truth in God, but even this philosophy can work for you. Cause you are not God! So you still don’t know shit! So stop worrying!

Dogmatism is a sickness. Dogmatism is the state of belligerent stubbornness that makes you lose friends, lose hair and lose sleep. What’s the point? Nothing that you hold dear in your heart is necessarily true anyway. Finger pointing and yelling is rarely a positive move, and almost always in defence of dogmatic views.

So have a discussion. Have an argument even! But don’t argue in absolute points. Argue in maybes. Argue in possibilities. As if you know what is best for society, but you can sure have a belief. And you don’t have a clue about how earth began, but the big bang is the best guess you have.

You can posit on it. You can discuss it. But what do you have to defend?

And while this sounds like a long way of saying ‘ignorance is bliss’, it is not. The pursuit of knowledge is always strongly encouraged. But if, on this basis, you avoid dogmatic beliefs, you may find yourself a much less finger pointy person than before. It worked for me.

Joel Hill

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