5 Jul, 2012 100 Philosophy

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Scepticism, the idea that it may be impossible to know anything with complete certainty. Scepticism was first outlined by ancient Greek philosophers: Socrates is reported to have said that the only thing he knew for certain was that he knew nothing. Later, Scepticism was taught at the Academy founded by Plato, and learnt by students who included the Roman statesman Cicero. The central ideas of Scepticism were taken up by later philosophers and came to the fore during the Renaissance, when thinkers including Rene Descartes and Michel de Montaigne took up its challenge. A central plank of the philosophical system of David Hume, Scepticism had a powerful influence on the religious and scientific debates of the Enlightenment.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Peter Millican 5 episodes
    Professor of Philosophy at Hertford College, Oxford
  • Melissa Lane 10 episodes
    Professor of Politics at Princeton University
  • Jill Kraye 3 episodes
    Professor of the History of Renaissance Philosophy and Librarian at the Warburg Institute, University of London

Related episodes

Programme ID: b01kblc3

Episode page:

Auto-category: 100 (Philosophy and psychology)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In one of his earliest works, the Pensée Philosophique of 1746, the French philosopher Denis Diderot wrote, a thing is not proved just because no one has ever questioned it.