Ancient Scepticism (Ancient Philosophies)

Ancient Scepticism (Ancient Philosophies)

Harald Thorsrud

Language: English

Pages: 264

ISBN: 0520260260

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Scepticism, a philosophical tradition that casts doubt on our ability to gain knowledge of the world and suggests suspending judgment in the face of uncertainty, has been influential since its beginnings in ancient Greece. Harald Thorsrud provides an engaging, rigorous introduction to the central themes, arguments, and general concerns of ancient Scepticism, from its beginnings with Pyrrho of Elis (ca. 360 B.C. -ca. 270 B.C.) to the writings of Sextus Empiricus in the second century A.D. Thorsrud explores the differences among Sceptics and examines in particular the separation of the Scepticism of Pyrrho from its later form—Academic Scepticism—the result of its ideas being introduced into Plato's Academy in the third century B.C. Steering an even course through the many differences of scholarly opinion surrounding Scepticism, the book also provides a balanced appraisal of the philosophy's enduring significance by showing why it remains so interesting and how ancient interpretations differ from modern ones.

Copub: Acumen Publishing Limited

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type of objection is aptly described by the Greek term apraxia (inaction). In responding to apraxia objections the Sceptics describe various positive attitudes one may take towards appearances without compromising the suspension of judgement. (We should note that in these discussions, intellectual seemings are counted as appearances along with ordinary perceptual seemings – so it may appear that the book is green, and it may appear that two arguments are equally compelling.) There is no standard

against dogmatic ethical theories, he finds it useful to claim that it does: “Fire, which heats by nature, appears heating to everyone; and snow, which chills by nature, appears chilling to everyone” (PH 3.179; see M 8.189, 197–99). This makes it seem quite reasonable to expect that the natural property of goodness should also affect everyone the same way. But in another passage, Sextus offers an important modification to [A], apparently in order to block the objection that fire does not warm

would expect from “mad” dogmatists who have been captivated by the alluring promise of reason. But even if the dogmatist rejects the offer of therapy, he will have a strong incentive to engage the sceptic in argument. He does not need to see the proceedings as therapeutic. He should see it, in accordance with his acceptance of the obligations of rational agency, as an opportunity to put his position to the test. Refusing to debate the sceptic, the dogmatist abandons his own rational standards.

According to the KK thesis, in order to know that one’s belief p is true, one must be aware of the reasons that establish, reveal, entail or justify that p is true. Externalists, by contrast, oft en provide causal accounts of justification that do not require the agent to be aware of the justifying grounds. If my belief is formed in the right way then I can be said to know it. I need not be aware of how my belief was formed: the justification is a matter of the external relationship between my

(ed.) Cicero the Philosopher: Twelve Papers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). Reed, B. “The Stoics’ Account of the Cognitive Impression”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 23 (2002), 147–80. Reinhardt, T. “Rhetoric in the Fourth Academy”, Classical Quarterly 50(2) (2000), 531–47. Striker, G. “Sceptical Strategies”, in Doubt and Dogmatism, M. Schofield, M. Burnyeat & J. Barnes (eds), 54–83 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980). [Reprinted in her Essays on Hellenistic Epistemology

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