I'm trying to dive into the doubts and so I'm searching about philosophers having worked on the doubts, and related books.

I'm talking about generic/existential/thinking doubts, not about scientific one as Descartes did (unless I'm too much restricting Descartes' work).


I'm really beginner in philosophy, and my question is, indeed, broad. For me, I'd say that I wanna read what has been said about human nature vs the doubts, and understanding the reasons of the doubts and usefulness.

More specifically, I'm also interested in evaluating the needs of making doubts appearing in human relations and exchanges - Is the doubt something needed to be "trustable" or can humans trust peers who are not doubting? Is is something to show/hide, and to which extend?

  • Camus? His absurdism seems to fit your specifications.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Feb 28, 2016 at 12:26
  • Thanks. I'll have a look at this. BTW, I realize now that Descartes is not only about science... Feb 28, 2016 at 13:08
  • 2
    Kierkegaard? But this is a really broad question. Can you make it more specific?
    – virmaior
    Feb 29, 2016 at 9:04
  • I'm not sure that even Descarte worked on doubt; he after all was searching for certainty; it's possibly confusing 'means' with 'ends', or a journey with its beginning point. Feb 29, 2016 at 11:55
  • Richard H Popkin has published various books (history, anthology, popular) on Scepticism which is the other word for Doubt. A good place to start researching.
    – sand1
    Feb 29, 2016 at 12:24

2 Answers 2


Kant's work, and in particular his Critique of Pure Reason, might be what you are looking for: Like Descartes, he starts out from a position of doubting everything (based on Hume's empiricism and the problem of induction). However, he explores a much broader set of questions than those examined by Descartes, including not just epistemic issues, but questions of morality and human dignity as well.


Your question is really too broad. To express or vanquish "doubts" and, by contrast, to demonstrate what can be shown "beyond doubt" could apply not only to all of philosophy, but to religion and science as well.

Beginning with Plato, much of philosophy has struggled with doubt as to the validity of appearances. If what we know about the world comes through our senses, and yet we know our senses cannot always be trusted, how can we arrive at real knowledge? This line of thinking about the difference between "seeming" and "being" developed into various strands of skepticism and remains one basis of modern science.

Descartes was the first to commence his "modern turn" in philosophy by carrying out "doubt" on a systemic basis to discover what, if anything, could not be doubted. His meditations would be your obvious starting point. His famous answer, of course, was that he could not doubt he was doubting. Others, naturally, doubted that.

Such methodical doubting continued in the skepticism of Hume and in the "critical" philosophy of Kant, who used liberated "reason" not only to critique existing dogmas and authority, in the manner of the Enlightenment, but to critique reason itself. Carried further, nihilism throws all into doubt and loss of faith sinks into "existential dread," upon which so many modern texts gleefully expound.

But the employment of "doubt" and "critical judgment" and "skepticism" is so intrinsic to philosophy that it hard to point to any one philosopher or to isolate it as some special subtopic. You should try to fix upon a few specific pathways of disbelief. That way things can get hopeless faster.

  • Thanks. I have edited the question, but the approach is, indeed, broad Feb 29, 2016 at 21:43

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