Close icon
Close icon

New book from MIC academic explores ancient conceptions, uses and moral implications of suspension of belief

Dr Daniel Vazquez

A new book from MIC’s Head of the Department of Philosophy, Dr Daniel Vázquez, tackles the suspension of belief in ancient Greek philosophy. 

The latest publication from Dr Vázquez, entitled Suspension of Belief, offers a systematic outline of ancient conceptions and uses of suspension of belief while engaging with contemporary philosophy. The book tackles this in four thematic sections, each of which addresses one central question. Dr Vázquez begins by exploring what it means to suspend our belief before asking when it happens. The scope of suspension of belief is then examined before the book finishes by questioning the moral and practical implications of suspending one’s beliefs.

In the book, Dr Vázquez uses suspension of belief as an umbrella term for a variety of states and attitudes including the sceptical notion of suspension of judgement (epochē), ignorance, agnosticism, and philosophical puzzle (aporia). It examines what the Stoics say about suspension of belief and how Socrates, Plato, Plotinus, Protagoras and Aristotle talk about the limits and conditions for suspending their belief. 

According to Dr Vázquez: “We get constantly bombarded with conflicting information, arguments, and opinions. People follow different principles and criteria to judge what to trust and reject. Sometimes, however, we form beliefs without sufficient grounds, and at other times we disbelieve when we ought to believe. These cases make us wonder if sometimes the appropriate response is to suspend our belief. But what kind of arguments or situations could lead to suspension? And what kind of epistemic attitude or state of mind is that? Is the suspension of belief a helpful stage in the search for truth? Should we always aim at getting out of it? Given the world we live in, with more information than we can process and evaluate, these are crucial questions. Today, philosophers have been engaged in lively discussions about these topics and have advanced interesting arguments and distinctions that help us find some answers but the question and concerns are not new. This book offers a systematic outline of ancient conceptions and uses of suspension of belief (understood broadly) while also engaging with current discussions in epistemology and philosophy of mind.”

Suspension of Belief, published by Cambridge University Press, is available here and is free to access until Thursday 9 May. Click here to watch Dr Vázquez talk about the book.

Dr Vázquez is the author of Escepticismo, metafísica y argumentación (NUN 2023), and the coeditor of Cause and Explanation in Ancient Philosophy (Routledge 2023), Plato on Time and the World (Palgrave Macmillan 2023) and Time and Cosmology in Plato and the Platonic Tradition (Brill 2022).