17 Oct 2011 /

sextus empiricus and greek scepticism

By mary mills patrick (introduction and translation)

Sextus Empiricus (c. 160-210 AD) is writing down the body of thought of  Greek Skepticism as it developed over the centuries before him, especially in the work of Aenesidemus,  who coined the term Pyrrhoian Skepticism and stated the tropes and method used by Sextus. The name "Pyrrhoian" comes from the name of the philosopher Pyrrho, who lived from 360 to 270 BC and travelled with Alexander the Great to Central Asia where he came in touch with Eastern philosophies and therefore developed his first doubts about the certainty of Greek dogmatic and academic knowledge and developed what we call pyrrhonian skepticism. The goal of the skeptic is to research truth about reality (skepsis=inquiry) by comparing and considering opposing and different truths, in order to reach the peace of mind ("atarraxia") through achieving the suspension of judgement ("Epoke").

"It is probable that those who seek after anything whatever, will either find it as they continue the search, will deny that it can be found and confess it to be out of reach, or will go on seeking it. Some have said, accordingly, in regard to the things sought in philosophy, that they have found the truth, while others have declared it impossible to find, and still others continue to seek it. Those who think that they have found it are those who are especially called Dogmatics, as for example, the Schools of Aristotle and Epicurus, the Stoics and some others. Those who have declared it impossible to find are Clitomachus, Carneades, with their respective followers, and other Academicians. Those who still seek it are the Sceptics. It appears therefore..."

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