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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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Defense of the Senses

Defense of the Senses

(p.214) Chapter 10 Defense of the Senses
Augustine and Academic Skepticism

Blake D. Dutton

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines resources in Augustine of Hippo's thought for those wishing to counter skeptical attacks on sensation. Despite his unwillingness to countenance sensation as a means of apprehension, Augustine insists that the senses are reliable instruments of cognition. Most important, he thinks that the senses warrant our trust to such a degree that we are right, as a general practice, to accept their deliverances as true. This chapter begins with a discussion of two arguments—contained in the monologue of Against the Academics and aimed directly at the Academics—in defense of the general truthfulness of the senses. It then considers the remarks made by Augustine in Literal Commentary on Genesis concerning the distinguishability of bodies and the sense impressions that present them from images as well as the vacuous impressions that present them. It also comments on Augustine's overall assessment of the cognitive value of sensation.

Keywords:   sensation, Augustine of Hippo, apprehension, senses, cognition, Against the Academics, Academics, Literal Commentary on Genesis, sense impressions, vacuous impressions

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