To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Heir to a shared Indo-European eudaimonist thoughtworld, Shakespeare’s Hamlet dramatizes the interplay of Buddhist, Skeptic, and Stoic philosophies at the affective-cognitive interface indispensable for virtue in action. Hamlet’s search for appropriate response — in the role of “scourge and minister” thrust upon him to redress regicide — requires equanimity, and equanimity, as the play suggests, ultimately requires other-focused compassion to counteract affective-cognitive affliction: the emptying of self-engrossed mental proliferation prepares the mind for virtuous action. Our ability in Greco-Buddhist wisdom traditions to stand firm by judgment and detachment from destructive emotions and mental disturbances is encapsulated in Hamlet’s famous line in banter with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: “There’s nothing either good / or bad but thinking makes it so” (2.2.244-45). This key idea from Buddhist, Skeptic, and Stoic philosophies compresses therapy for emotional control through skepticism, or suspension of judgment. This equanimity in Buddhist-Stoic spiritual practices, moreover, interacts closely with two primary virtues: compassion and wisdom. Throughout most of the play, Hamlet’s quandary is exacerbated by his overactive ruminations until finally in Act 5, his feelings of compassion toward another, Laertes, relieves and releases Hamlet from his psychohumoral affliction and lends him the emotional equanimity and mental clarity to take virtuous action.
I propose the notion of ‘epistemic sanity’, a property of parsimony between the holding of true but not false beliefs and the consideration of our cognitive limitations. Where ‘alethic value’ is the epistemic value of holding true but not false beliefs, the ‘alethic potential’ of an agent is the amount of extra alethic value that she is expected to achieve, given her current environment, beliefs, and reasoning skills. Epistemic sanity would be related to the holding of (true or false) beliefs that increase the agent's alethic potential (relevant beliefs) but not of beliefs that decrease it (this is related to cognitive parsimony). Suspension of judgment, forgetting, and clutter avoidance are the main contributors to an agent's epistemic sanity, where this paper focuses on suspension. I argue that rational suspension favors the holding of true and relevant beliefs, which is not the case for the extremes of opinionation (no suspension) and skepticism (general suspension). In the absence of evidence, opinionated agents are often forced to rely on principles such as the principle of indifference, but suspension dominates indifference in terms of alethic value in some conditions. A rational agent would only find it beneficial to adopt skepticism if she considers herself to be an anti-expert about her entire agenda, but then ‘flipping’ beliefs maximizes expected alethic value in relation to skepticism. The study of epistemic sanity results in an ‘impure’ veritism, which can deal with some limitations of veritism (e.g., explaining the existence of false but relevant beliefs).
In this paper, I defend an epistemic requirement on fitting hopes and worries: it is fitting to hope or to worry that p only if one’s epistemic position makes it rational to suspend judgment as to whether p. This view, unlike prominent alternatives, is ecumenical; it retains its plausibility against a variety of different background views of epistemology. It also has other important theoretical virtues: it is illuminating, elegant, and extensionally adequate. Fallibilists about knowledge have special reason to be friendly to my view; it can help them explain why it can be unfitting to hold on to hope and worry in the face of overwhelming evidence, and it can also help them explain the sense in which knowledge that p and hope that –p are in tension with one another.
Is it ever rational to suspend judgment about whether a particular doxastic attitude of ours is rational? An agent who suspends about whether her attitude is rational has serious doubts that it is. These doubts place a special burden on the agent, namely, to justify maintaining her chosen attitude over others. A dilemma arises. Providing justification for maintaining the chosen attitude would commit the agent to considering the attitude rational—contrary to her suspension on the matter. Alternatively, in the absence of such justification, the attitude would be arbitrary by the agent's own lights, and therefore irrational from the agent's own perspective. So, suspending about whether an attitude of ours is rational does not cohere with considering it rationally preferable to other attitudes, and leads to a more familiar form of epistemic akrasia otherwise.
The chapter traces statements on Cicero’s philosophical position from his earliest treatise (on rhetorical theory) to the philosophical works of the 40s bce, while attending to the literary form of Cicero’s oeuvre. It argues that Cicero’s stance is stable over time, that it exhibits a number of features that would warrant calling it mitigated skepticism, but that, given the way different Academic positions are conceptualized in Cicero’s texts, notably the Academica, his position is formally one of radical skepticism. The chapter tries to identify features of the evidence from Cicero which are distinctive compared to other texts (e.g. by Sextus Empiricus and Numenius), notably an unusual wealth of comments on the practice of Academic skepticism (i.e. on what being an Academic skeptic was like, at least on Cicero’s construal and to what extent it was compatible with being a fully functioning Roman of a certain social class and with a particular occupation).
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.