Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.11.29

If the later Middle Ages may reasonably be considered the high point of Aristotelianism in western Europe, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are the high point of the renewal of Hellenistic philosophy. Scepticism, Stoicism, and Epicureanism all make powerful appearances, and indeed debates between the adherents of the modern variations on these schools echo and mirror the debates that took place in the third and second centuries BCE. Not surprisingly, the ancient philosophies (to the extent that they were stable in any case) did not remain unchanged: Stoic natural law, Epicurean atomism, and Pyrrhonist doubt all are employed in new and different ways, and the arguments are often strengthened, or at least changed. Comparison of the old and new versions is often illuminating: to see the Christian Epicureanism of Gassendi can improve one's understanding of the original form; to see how Hume deals with Academic scepticism makes the process of sceptical doubt clearer on both sides.
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