Philosophical skepticism started with Phyrro of Elis. (approx. 360 BC – 270 BC) according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). He was exposed to eastern philosophy through his travels to India and other places in the Orient and he learnt some interesting things. I don’t know much about this school of thought but one of the main principles of this philosophy is that nothing can be known for certain. That is why it was crucial for them to withhold their judgement. The skeptics were always in a state of doubt, they were always questioning things, hence why they don’t fully trust their senses. Through this state of constant doubt they claimed that the only way to face this world where nothing can be known is to adopt an attitude of “ataraxia” which means”freedom from worry”.
Phyrro sometimes found himself in comical situations because he truly did live his life according to his philosophical theories . For instance, one day, there was a large hole on the path he was walking on. Being the true skeptic that he was, he questioned the existence of the hole so he kept walking with no intention of avoiding it. The hole did in fact exist and he fell in it.
Descartes was another philosopher who turned to skepticism for a little while. He questioned everything he knew and saw and went through something called methodological skepticism or Cartesian doubt. However he had a goal, he was trying to find the first truth, the first true statement that could serve as a solid foundation on which we could build our knowledge on. This statement would turn out to be the famous “I think, therefore I am.”
Their approach is quite extreme but I believe there is method to their madness. If you leave out all their (sometimes crazy) theories, I believe there is one important thing that we can take away from their work which is the fact that it is totally human to question things. In fact, the first big question most of us have probably asked ourselves already is “Why are we here?”
Asking questions also is a huge component of minimalism. In fact minimalism starts with questioning yourself and your life. Every once in a while I think that we should evaluate the different areas of our lives. Examining the different aspects of your life helps you figure out what is truly important and essential to you. So here are a three areas of your life that you can evaluate right now. This is not a complete list by any means, but in my opinion, these are key areas that deserve to be looked at:
1. Question everything you own.
Do you really need this? Do you use this every day, every week or every month? Does this object hold any sentimental value? Does it generate revenue for you? Do you have enough things to satisfy your needs? Do you have too much stuff?
2. Look your relationships.
Are your relationships weak or healthy? Can you improve them? Can you eliminate the weak relationships?
3. Evaluate the things that you do on a daily or weekly basis.
Do you perform well in these activities? Do you enjoy them? Do they make you happy?
These are all big question that you can ask yourself. You might not find answers to all of them right away which is normal. The important thing is that you took a step back from your life and analysed it a little.