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Augustine and Academic SkepticismA Philosophical Study$
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Blake D. Dutton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452932

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452932.001.0001

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The Apprehensible Truths of Philosophy

The Apprehensible Truths of Philosophy

(p.165) Chapter 8 The Apprehensible Truths of Philosophy
Augustine and Academic Skepticism

Blake D. Dutton

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the three things that Augustine of Hippo sets out to do in the monologue of Against the Academics to directly establish the possibility of knowledge. First, Augustine presents three dilemmas concerning Zeno's definition of an apprehensible impression to force the Academics to acknowledge that something can be apprehended or, at the very least, to abandon their claim that nothing can be apprehended. Second, he puts forward an argument to show that Zeno's definition not only correctly specifies the conditions of apprehensibility, but is also something that can be apprehended. Finally, he describes a set of truths in each of the divisions of philosophy—physics, ethics, and dialectic—that he claims to know and whose apprehensibility he believes the Academics cannot plausibly deny. This chapter analyzes Augustine's discussion of the apprehensible truths of physics, ethics, and dialectic, along with a fourfold classification of the apprehensible truths of philosophy: tautological truths, mathematical truths, dialectical truths, and presentational truths.

Keywords:   possibility of knowledge, Augustine of Hippo, Against the Academics, apprehensible impression, Academics, apprehensibility, truths of physics, truths of ethics, truths of dialectic, truths of philosophy

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