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Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 56$
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Victor Caston

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198851059

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198851059.001.0001

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Augustine’s Defence of Knowledge Against the Sceptics

Augustine’s Defence of Knowledge Against the Sceptics

(p.215) Augustine’s Defence of Knowledge Against the Sceptics
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 56

Tamer Nawar

Oxford University Press

In his Contra Academicos, Augustine offers one of the most detailed responses to scepticism to have come down to us from antiquity. In this paper, I examine Augustine’s defence of the existence of infallible knowledge in Contra Academicos 3, focusing on his semantic response to external world scepticism and his appeal to mathematical knowledge to argue against the sceptical thesis that nothing is known. I challenge a number of established views concerning the nature and merit of Augustine’s defence of knowledge and propose a new understanding of several important elements of Augustine’s thought concerning signification, cognition, and object-directed thought. I argue that once we properly understand Augustine’s views on these matters his arguments in defence of knowledge are more interesting and more successful than usually thought.

Keywords:   Augustine, Academic Scepticism, External World Scepticism, Semantics, Reference, Object-Directed Thought, Intentionality, Mathematical Knowledge, Divine Illumination

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