Moore and Descartes on Skepticism


Skepticism is basically probing attitude towards certain line of knowledge, thought, opinion, beliefs or doubts in regard to certain claims perceived for granted. Great philosophers like Descartes, Moore, and many others tend not to agree on existence of certain facts (Landesman & Meeks, 2003). Therefore, in this paper, I will critically evaluate skepticism and authenticate the view where Moore is simply ignoring Descartes’ skeptical challenge and its effects on determining an individual’s being.

In his most influential masterpiece, Rene Descartes meditates on doubt, his belief on the non-existence of God rather on existence of a malicious demon which controls him, external realities and doubting as an unintended method of perception. However, Moore ignores these alluded meditations as it will be clearly illustrated in the following literature document.

For instance, Descartes assumes the existence of external actuality that is; a universe that is quite independent of his intellect and his beliefs about that universe. Rationally, although Descartes asserts that the controlling malicious demon belief implies that he is in doubt of the presence of external things, it does not imply that at all. What it implies is that we ought to be in doubt on the subject of the nature of external reality. After all, what Descartes contends is that he cannot be certain whether the external grounds of his perception are external objects consistent with his perception, hence alludes that these are mere hypothetical thinking of thinkable opinions that were deliberated. On the other hand, Moore believes in the existence of external reality and this can be shown on the perceived respond to Descartes doubtful work as he puts in writing on the subject of common sense.  In his words Moore asserts that “No human being has ever acknowledged the existence of other human beings”. This a metaphorical statement that Moore uses to disregard  Descartes  belief on the existence of peripheral realities based on the subject of use of common sense which Moore allegorically reveals that Descartes has failed to use hence proving the thesis Moore is simply ignoring Descartes skeptical work.

The first meditation opens with Descartes meditating on falsehoods he has believed during his life time since his childhood and on the ensuing faultiness of knowledge he has been able to build from these falsehoods. Consequently, we see Descartes resolving to erase all he thinks he knows and to commence all over again from the basic and building up his knowledge once again. On the other hand, Moore firmly believes on what he has learned. This is evident when he appreciates the presence of a living human body.

Descartes’ primary task in the First Meditations was to formulate a system that would in the long run bring him to the truth. He wanted to devise a foundational philosophy: a basic structure from which all further philosophical masterpiece could be built on. On the contrary, Moore essay is founded on disapproving already stated philosophical. This is evident  when he asserts” the strange thing is that philosophers should have been able to hold sincerely, as part of their philosophical creed, propositions inconsistent  with that they themselves knew to be true; and yet, so far as I can make out this has really frequently happened”. With such sentiments, it is prudent to note that Moore is simply ignoring Descartes skeptical challenge as he bases his facts on belief unlike his counterpart Descartes as he bases not his data in belief but full of uncertainties.

Besides, Descartes bases his view on perception where he asserts that perception is brought about with casual progression where an external image is first created. Hence, an external image is created then the object and lastly from the source where rays of light are reflected to. Contrary, Moore focuses his doubts on internal trust of oneself to determine if something is right or wrong.

Moreover, Descartes argues that there is an all-powerful omnipresent demon that controls his insight, and through that control is causing him to vision that he is in the universe. As Descartes  asserts”’I will suppose that therefore not God is supremely good and the source of truth, but rather  some malicious demon of the utmost power and cunning has employed all his energies to deceive me. On the contrary, although Moore exhibits his lack of trust on his fact, he goes further to base his assumption on the basis of the evil spirit is unjustified hence given mandate by supreme God therefore not clearly outlining on the existence of an all-powerful omnipresent God. Furthermore, Moore’s assumptions are based on things that are tangible and based on the space and they are associated with space.

However, Descartes and Moore tend to come into agreement on certain issues like external reality for instance; Descartes uses a tree to demonstrate his fact. Therefore, when he sees an object let’s say a tree he immediately recognizes the image as a tree. More so, Moore demonstrates these by use of hand. When he is shows his hands he gives a clear separation of the hands from other body parts.


Basing on above facts, there emerges difference in point of view by those who support skepticism and those who do not has developed into a tag of arguing so as to come with the best way of viewing thoughts. Therefore, skepticism is in illusion on whether to believe on certain domain of facts or not. Indistinguishability brings about the issue of reality, hence need to believe on external objects whereas not to believe in the dreamworld such as existence of a devil. Besides, arguing from lack of evidence requires one to obtain information from definite premises which may be hard to obtain information leading to failure in our beliefs concerning the dreamworld.

Furthermore, various philosophers base their assumptions basing on objects located in space and those that are not in space. For instance, Moore tends to believe in objects present in space but does not account for those objects in the space as he looks forward to meet them in future thus proving anti-skeptical. It’s more evident when he fails to prove existence of a supreme a supreme being. Thus, Moore who is positive about skepticism is in dilemma as regards degree of certain opinion as opposed to other facts. However, some other facts are within our limit of understanding hence, one is given the option on either to support the belief or not to second the belief.

On the other hand, anti-skeptical philosophers base their opinions on facts for instance, Descartes proves a number of facts; he manages to ascertain his facts for that are based upon reason hence need to trust in the facts. Descartes asserts that, skepticism failed due to its nature of trying to coarse individuals in epistemology hence misleading those who believe further. Extraordinary qualms are self-referentially illogical. In regard, it corrupts peoples thinking leading to them developing worries that eventually lead them into believing the false nation develeloped by the skeptical. Therefore, unsuspecting individuals should be very conversant with what to agree with.

Besides, hypothesis developed by the skeptical is metaphysically impossible to achieve due to its nature reference, truth and belief. The theories leave no basis of belief hence a dilemma in embracing the thoughts significantly. Consequently, it frustrates any attempts to come into agreement with wild thoughts.

Generally, those who support skeptical belief try to predispose anti-skeptical belief. Hence, owing to the eluded factors above it is eminent for one to base his or her factors basing on well researched evidence about certain issues as Moore fails to stand by his though and relies on assumptions which when looked upon well offer no substantial prove to rely. I recommend that one bases his belief with great comparison of facts before deciding on certain issues.



Landesman, C., & Meeks, R. (2003). Philosophical skepticism. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.


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