The writings of Sextus Empiricus, and especially his Pyrrhonism, have played a remarkably influential role in the history of Western philosophy. Their rediscovery and publication in the sixteenth and seventeenth century led directly to the skepticism of Montaigne, Gassendi, Descartes, Bayle, and other major thinkers, and eventually to the preoccupation of modern philosophy with attempts to refute or otherwise combat philosophical skepticism. In recent years, however, it has become apparent that Pyrrhonism--the form of skepticism professed by Sextus--is in several important (...) aspects different from the modern forms to which his writings have given rise. These differences are of particular philosophical interest since they seem to render this ancient form of skepticism immune to many of the standard counter-arguments to skepticism. Accordingly, Mates's book, which includes an analytic introduction, a modern translation, and an in-depth commentary, presents Pyrrhonism not merely as a historical curiosity, but as a philosophical position worthy of serious consideration. (shrink)
This is the first, and indeed the definitive systematic account of the wide-ranging philosophical ideas of Leibniz. The author, a highly respected analytical philosopher, has brought his own formidable abilities to bear on the unwieldy and inaccessible corpus of Leibniz's work.
"In philosophy," the author writes in his preface, "we have learned to get our satisfaction from showing that the other fellow is mistaken rather than from establishing the truth of our own positive tenets." The impeccably professional work of a mature and distinguished logician and scholar, Skeptical Essays propounds the view that the principal traditional problems of philosophy are genuine intellectual knots; they are intelligible enough, but at the same time the are absolutely insoluble. The problems Mates discusses are: the (...) Liar paradox and Russell's Antinomy of the class of all nonself-membered classes; the problem of determinism and moral responsibility; and the existence of the external world. Clearly written and effectively organized, the book will be an excellent text for advanced students. (shrink)
Philosophers have given various reasons for denying the existence of sense data. A number of these reasons are examined in the present paper. The claim that ?no sufficient purpose is served by positing such objects? is deemed irrelevant to the issue; the complaint that ?we do not know what it would be like to find that there were no such objects? is found to be confusedly formulated, mistaken, and irrelevant; and the charge that there is something improper, extraordinary, or defective (...) about the way in which philosophers have introduced the term ?sense datum? into their discourse is pronounced false. (shrink)