Reason in Check: the Skepticism of Sextus Empiricus

Hermathena (186):43-57 (2009)
Many philosophers have challenged the problem of skepticism. I argue that none of them successfully dispute the system established by Sextus Empiricus. But not just that; the main thesis proposed is that this kind of skepticism is unsolvable. I maintain that there are two fundamental strategies in Sextus' Outlines of Phyrrhonism. One of them is that the basic description of skepticism has a paradoxical character. The other focuses on the Five Modes of Agrippa that comprise a system of dialectical moves for suspending judgment. The modes have, as a system, the capacity to reposition in any circumstance, so it is impossible to justify to the skeptic why he needs to abandon his skepticism. I explain, in brief, why the most important objections to skepticism do not solve this challenge. In opposition to common view, I argue that Sextus' phyrrhonism is practicable, coherent and consistent. Although there is no possible solution to skepticism, there is at least a general way to answer it without contradiction, infinite regression or becoming a skeptic.
Keywords Scepticism  Epistemology  Ancient Philosophy  Agrippa trilemma  Meta-epistemology
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