I recently published two blog posts on the book Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Hecht, which I had read for my Humanist book club. In my initial post, I identified 13 recurring ideas from the history of doubt and juxtaposed the ideas of the ancient philosophers with those of more familiar, modern atheist intellectuals. In a second post, I developed similar juxtapositions without the ancients, to give greater representation to later sages and female voices in particular. In this post I return to the ancients for historical continuity, adjusting the geographic perspective for a less eurocentric perspective. Cosmopolitan doubt is one of the categories described by Hecht. The title of this post, however, invokes the colloquial usage.
The following classes of doubt are not intended to be representative of the traditions from which they are taken. The Cynics, for example, might be better known for their rejection of obscurantism than immortality, but contemporary Humanism also rejects both. Likewise, the Cynics and Stoics both rejected immortality and embraced virtue for its own sake, but these ideas are also shared by contemporary Humanism. I've isolated a recurring idea from each movement with the goal of associating each idea with its own movement.
Everything and nothing is sacred; everything and nothing is profane.
There are no miracles; awe is just mystery without the ignorance.
Determined faith is wishful thinking.
Discovery trumps revealed faith; prophesy is hearsay.
Immortality is a narcissistic fantasy.
Faith calls for resignation of the will.
Rival faiths are mutually contradictory; sectarian dogma is internally inconsistent.
Divine intervention is a nepotism fantasy; there is no ultimate meaning or plan.
Certainty licenses coercion; compulsory faith is often insincere and obscurantist.
Compassion is a human quality; faith calls for acquiescence to an arbitrary moral code.
The incorporeal is immaterial; where there is no mass there is no substance.
Civil law trumps religious law; reason is the common currency of civil society.
Faith calls for suspension of the intellect.