• José R. Maia Neto
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 144)


Ancient scepticism has been used in Christian apologetics since the time of the Church Fathers. They used ancient scepticism instrumentally, citing the sceptics’ objections to the dogmatist philosophies for the purpose of showing their vanity. Among the main modem authors who also used ancient scepticism in association with religion, two groups must be sharply distinguished. Those I call the Sceptical Fideists (Montaigne and some of his disciples) made a similar instrumental use of scepticism against the dogmatist philosophies but went a step further in holding scepticism as the true philosophical position and its moral stance as the most proper for the Christian philosopher. Assent to religious faith is explained either as resulting from the infusion of supernatural grace or by regarding religion a tradition which they follow regardless of the truth of its doctrines. Pascal dissents from the Sceptical Fideism of Montaigne and his disciples and begins a new tradition of use of scepticism in religious thought. Pascal Christianizes the ancient philosophy by construing it in terms of Christian doctrines. Kierkegaard carries Pascal’s Christianization of Pyrrhonism further by developing some of its basic features in terms of new sceptical (Hume) and dogmatic (Hegel) developments of secular philosophy. Shestov, also influenced by contemporary philosophical views (Neo-Kantianism), ends the tradition begun by Pascal by rejecting what was left of Pyrrhonism in Pascal’s and Kierkegaard’s Christianization of the ancient philosophy (epistemological scepticism) and by radicalizing those features of the Christianized ataraxia).


Christian Faith Ethical Commitment Ancient Philosophy Religious Thought Christian Doctrine 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • José R. Maia Neto
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de FilosofiaUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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