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Summary

Pyrrhonism was one of the two main skeptical traditions in ancient philosophy. It originated in the Hellenistic era and continued into the Imperial age. The history of ancient Pyrrhonism is commonly divided into the early Pyrrhonism of Pyrrho of Elis (360–270 BC) and his leading disciple Timon of Phlius (320–230 BC), and the later Pyrrhonism (sometimes called “neo-Pyrrhonism” particularly in French scholarship) of Aenesidemus of Cnossos (first century BC) and Sextus Empiricus (late second century AD).

Key works Hankinson 1995 and Thorsrud 2009 offer a useful overview of ancient Pyrrhonism in English. Bett 2000 is the best book-length study of Pyrrho and his possible forerunners.
Introductions Machuca 2011
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  1. Hume's Scepticism: Pyrrhonian and Academic by Peter S. Fosl. [REVIEW]Charles Goldhaber - 2020 - Hume Studies 46 (1):171-174.
    Peter Fosl's new monograph offers a bold reading of Hume as a "radical," "coherent," and "hybrid" skeptic, who draws influence from both the Pyrrhonian and Academic skeptical traditions. I press some concerns about whether Fosl's reading of Hume can accommodate his scientific ambitions.
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  2. Dialectical Pyrrhonism: Montaigne, Sextus Empiricus, and the Self-Overcoming of Philosophy.Roger Eichorn - 2022 - Sképsis: Revista de Filosofia 24 (13):24-46.
    In her book Michel de Montaigne: Accidental Philosopher, Ann Hartle argues that Montaigne’s thought is dialectical in the Hegelian sense. Unlike Hegel’s progressive dialectic, however, Montaigne’s thought is, according to Hartle, circular in that the reconciliation of opposed terms comes not in the form of a newly emergent term, but in a return to the first term, where the meaning of the first is transformed as a result of its dialectical interaction with the second. This analysis motivates Hartle’s claim that (...)
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  3. (R.) Bett (Trans.) Sextus Empiricus. How to Keep an Open Mind. An Ancient Guide to Thinking Like a Skeptic. Pp. L + 225. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2021. Cased, £13.99, US$16.95. ISBN: 978-0-691-20604-2. [REVIEW]Johanna Schmitt - 2022 - The Classical Review 72 (1):360-360.
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  4. Is Pyrrhonian Suspension Incompatible with Doubt?Diego E. Machuca - 2021 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 45:27-55.
    The Pyrrhonian skeptic’s stance, as described by Sextus Empiricus, is in good part defined by his suspending judgment or belief about all the matters he has so far investigated. Most interpreters of Pyrrhonism maintain that it is a mistake to understand this form of skepticism in terms of doubt because suspension as conceived of by the Pyrrhonist is markedly different from the state of doubt. In this article, I expound the reasons that have been offered in support of that prevailing (...)
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  5. Sextus Empiricus, Maxime, How to Keep an Open Mind: An Ancient Guide to Thinking Like a Skeptic. [REVIEW]Álvaro Silva - 2021 - Mayéutica 47 (103):214-215.
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  6. Once Again From the Beginning: On the Relationship of Skepticism and Philosophy in Hegel's System.Miles Hentrup - 2016 - Dissertation, Stony Brook University
    This dissertation examines the relationship of skepticism and philosophy in the work of G.W.F. Hegel. Whereas other commentators have come to recognize the epistemological significance of Hegel's encounter with skepticism, emphasizing the strength of his system against skeptical challenges to the possibility of knowledge, I argue that Hegel develops his metaphysics in part through his ongoing engagement with the skeptical tradition. As such, I argue that Hegel's interest is not in refuting skepticism, but in defining its legitimate role within the (...)
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  7. Sextus Empiricus on Isotheneia_ and _Epoche: A Developmental Model.Roger Eichorn - 2020 - Sképsis: Revista de Filosofia 21 (11):188-209.
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  8. Disturbance in the Outlines of Sextus Empiricus.Svavar Hrafn Svavarsson - forthcoming - Phronesis:1-24.
    Sextus seems to offer inconsistent accounts of the sceptics’ achievement of tranquillity, apparently saying both that the sceptics’ tranquillity is achieved by suspending judgement on all issues and that it is achieved by suspending judgement only on the issue of there being objective goods and evils. It is argued that Sextus does not make the latter claim. The reason for the sceptics’ achievement of tranquillity is to be found in the original perplexity that instigated scepticism and left them immune to (...)
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  9. Experimental Evidence Against Pyrrhonism: Attacking a Straw Man.Diego E. Machuca - forthcoming - Dialogue.
    In a recent article, Mario Attie-Picker maintains that a number of experimental studies provide evidence against Sextus Empiricus’s empirical claims about both the connection between belief and anxiety and the connection between suspension of judgement and undisturbedness. In this article, I argue that Sextus escapes unharmed from the challenge raised by the studies in question for the simple reason that he does not make the claims ascribed to him. In other words, I argue that Attie-Picker is attacking a straw man.
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  10. Sextus Empiricus on Religious Dogmatism.Mate Veres - 2020 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 58:239-280.
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  11. From Proto-Sceptic to Sceptic in Sextus' Outlines of Pyrrhonism.Robb Dunphy - forthcoming - Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science.
    This is an account of Sceptical investigation as it is presented by Sextus Empiricus. I focus attention on the motivation behind the Sceptic’s investigation, the goal of that investigation, and on the development Sextus describes from proto-Sceptical to Sceptical investigator. I suggest that recent accounts of the Sceptic’s investigative practice do not make sufficient sense of the fact that the Sceptic finds a relief from disturbance by way of suspending judgement, nor of the apparent continuity between proto-Sceptical and Sceptical investigation. (...)
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  12. Of Dreams, Demons, and Whirlpools: Doubt, Skepticism, and Suspension of Judgment in Descartes's Meditations.Jan Forsman - 2021 - Dissertation, Tampere University
    I offer a novel reading in this dissertation of René Descartes’s (1596–1650) skepticism in his work Meditations on First Philosophy (1641–1642). I specifically aim to answer the following problem: How is Descartes’s skepticism to be read in accordance with the rest of his philosophy? This problem can be divided into two more general questions in Descartes scholarship: How is skepticism utilized in the Meditations, and what are its intentions and relation to the preceding philosophical tradition? -/- I approach the topic (...)
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  13. Five Modes of Scepticism: Sextus Empiricus and the Agrippan Modes. By Stefan Sienkiewicz. [REVIEW]Roger E. Eichorn - 2021 - Ancient Philosophy 41 (1):237-240.
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  14. Sextus, Montaigne, Hume: Pyrrhonizers.Brian C. Ribeiro - 2021 - Brill.
    Brian C. Ribeiro’s _Sextus, Montaigne, Hume: Pyrrhonizers_ invites us to view the Pyrrhonist tradition as involving all those who share a commitment to the activity of Pyrrhonizing and develops fresh, provocative readings of Sextus, Montaigne, and Hume as radical Pyrrhonizing skeptics.
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  15. Can the Skeptic Search for Truth?Diego E. Machuca - 2021 - Elenchos: Rivista di Studi Sul Pensiero Antico 42 (2):321–349.
    Sextus Empiricus associates the skeptical stance with the activity of inquiry or investigation. My purpose in this paper is to examine the Pyrrhonist's involvement in that activity because getting an accurate understanding of the nature and purpose of skeptical inquiry makes it possible to delineate some of the distinctive traits of Pyrrhonism as a kind of philosophy. I defend the minority view among specialists according to which (i) Sextus describes both the prospective Pyrrhonist and the full-fledged Pyrrhonist as inquirers into (...)
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  16. Stoic Logic and the Text of Sextus Empiricus.Benson Mates - 1949 - American Journal of Philology 70 (3):290.
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  17. The Evident and the Non-Evident: Buddhism Through the Lens of Pyrrhonism.Adrian Kuzminski - 2020 - In Oren Hanner (ed.), Buddhism and Scepticism: Historical, Philosophical, and Comparative Perspectives. Freiburg/Bochum: pp. 109-19.
  18. Agrippan Problems.Robb Dunphy - 2020 - Logos and Episteme 11 (3):259-282.
    In this article I consider Sextus’ account of the Five Modes and of the Two Modes in his Outlines of Pyrrhonism. I suggest that from these we can derive the basic form of a number of different problems which I refer to as “Agrippan problems,” where this category includes both the epistemic regress problem and the problem of the criterion. Finally, I suggest that there is a distinctive Agrippan problem present at the beginning of Hegel’s Science of Logic.
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  19. Pyrrhonism and the Dialectical Methods.Justin Vlasits - 2020 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 23 (1):225-252.
    The aim of this paper is to show how Outlines of Pyrrhonism II constitutes an original, ambitious, and unified skeptical inquiry into logic. My thesis is that Sextus’ argument in Book II is meant to accomplish both its stated goal and an unstated goal. The unstated goal is, in my view, interesting in itself and sheds new light on Sextus’ methodology. The goal is: to suspend judgement on the effectiveness of dogmatic methodologies.
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  20. Can the Pyrrhonian Sceptic Suspend Belief Regarding Scientific Definitions?Benjamin Wilck - 2020 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 23 (1):253-288.
    In this article, I tackle a heretofore unnoticed difficulty with the application of Pyrrhonian scepticism to science. Sceptics can suspend belief regarding a dogmatic proposition only by setting up opposing arguments for and against that proposition. Since Sextus provides arguments exclusively against particular geometrical definitions in Adversus Mathematicos III, commentators have argued that Sextus’ method is not scepticism, but negative dogmatism. However, commentators have overlooked the fact that arguments in favour of particular geometrical definitions were absent in ancient geometry, and (...)
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  21. How to Be a Pyrrhonist: The Practice and Significance of Pyrrhonian Skepticism, by Richard Bett. [REVIEW]Roger E. Eichorn - 2020 - Ancient Philosophy 40 (2):520-524.
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  22. Sextus on Ataraxia Revisited.Diego E. Machuca - 2020 - Ancient Philosophy 40 (2):435-452.
    My purpose in this article is to revisit an issue concerning the state of undisturbedness or tranquility (ἀταραξία) in ancient Pyrrhonism as this skeptical stance is depicted in Sextus Empiricus’s extant works. The issue in question is whether both the pursuit and the attainment of undisturbedness in matters of opinion should be regarded as defining features of Pyrrhonism not merely from a systematic standpoint that examines Pyrrhonism as a kind of philosophy, but mainly according to Sextus’s own account of that (...)
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  23. El escepticismo ético de Sexto Empírico.Diego E. Machuca - 2006 - Dissertation, Universidad de Buenos Aires
  24. Review of K. Vogt & J. Vlasits (Eds.), Epistemology After Sextus Empiricus (OUP, 2020). [REVIEW]Diego E. Machuca - 2020 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    This review of mine includes an illuminating note by the new NDPR editor.
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  25. Stefan Sienkiewicz, "Five Modes of Scepticism: Sextus Empiricus and the Agrippan Modes". [REVIEW]Justin Vlasits - 2020 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (8):813-814.
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  26. Pyrrhonism Past and Present: Inquiry, Disagreement, Self-Knowledge, and Rationality.Diego E. Machuca - 2022 - Cham: Springer.
    This book explores the nature and significance of Pyrrhonism, the most prominent and influential form of skepticism in Western philosophy. Not only did Pyrrhonism play an important part in the philosophical scene of the Hellenistic and Imperial age, but it also had a tremendous impact on Renaissance and modern philosophy and continues to be a topic of lively discussion among both scholars of ancient philosophy and epistemologists. The focus and inspiration of the book is the brand of Pyrrhonism expounded in (...)
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  27. Pyrrhonism and Protagoreanism.Verity Harte & Melissa Lane - 1999 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 2 (1):157-172.
  28. A Note on a New Polish Translation of Outlines of Pyrrhonism.Zbigniew Nerczuk - 2020 - Sképsis: Revista de Filosofia 11 (20):31-37.
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  29. Pyrrhonism and the Dialectical Methods: The Aims and Argument of PH II.Justin Vlasits - forthcoming - Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy.
    The aim of this paper is to show how PH II constitutes an original, ambitious, and unified skeptical inquiry into logic. My thesis is that Sextus’s argument in Book II is meant to accomplish both its stated goal (to investigate the topics typically grouped together by dogmatists under the heading of “logic”) and an unstated goal. The unstated goal is, in my view, interesting in itself and sheds new light on Sextus’s methodology. The goal is: to suspend judgement on the (...)
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  30. The Systematic Use of the Five Modes for the Suspension of Judgement.Daniel Vázquez - 2019 - Manuscrito 42 (3):47-85.
    The five modes are a list of tools used by ancient sceptics to guide dogmatic people towards suspending their judgement. Attributed to Agrippa and used extensively by Sextus Empiricus, these modes are still widely discussed today by epistemologists and specialists in ancient philosophy. Scholars disagree, however, on how to understand the way the five modes are used together and what the logical form of the sceptical strategy behind their deployment is. This paper offers a reconstruction of the system of the (...)
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  31. How to Be a Pyrrhonist: The Practice and Significance of Pyrrhonian Skepticism. [REVIEW]Roger E. Eichorn - 2019 - The Classical Review 70:67-69.
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  32. Epistemology After Sextus Empiricus.Justin Vlasits & Katja Maria Vogt (eds.) - 2020 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Sextus Empiricus was the voice of ancient Greek skepticism for posterity. His writings contain the most subtle and detailed versions of the ancient skeptical arguments known as Pyrrhonism, adding up to a distinctive philosophical approach. Instead of viewing philosophy as valuable because of the answers it gives to important questions, Sextus considered the search for answers itself to be fundamental and offered a philosophy centered on inquiry. Assuming the point of view of an active inquirer, Sextus developed arguments concerning conflicting (...)
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  33. Barnes The Toils of Scepticism. Cambridge UP, 1990. Pp. Xiii + 161. £25.Richard Bett - 1993 - Journal of Hellenic Studies 113:199-200.
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  34. Scepticisme, apraxia et rationalité.Diego E. Machuca - 2019 - In Diego E. Machuca & Stéphane Marchand (eds.), Les raisons du doute: études sur le scepticisme antique. Paris: Classiques Garnier. pp. 53-87.
    La présente étude a deux objectifs. Le premier est d’examiner les différentes formulations de l’objection de l’ἀπραξία telle qu’elle fut soulevée contre le scepticisme académicien et le pyrrhonisme, ainsi que les réponses à cette objection proposées par Arcésilas et Sextus Empiricus. Le second objectif consiste à évaluer la force de la version de l’objection de l’ἀπραξία selon laquelle le sceptique ne peut réaliser les actions rationnelles propres à l’être humain.
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  35. Scepticism - Julia Annas, Jonathan Barnes: The Modes of Scepticism. Pp. 204. Cambridge University Press, 1985. £20.R. W. Jordan - 1987 - The Classical Review 37 (1):57-58.
  36. Sextus Empiricus - J. Annas, J. Barnes: Sextus Empiricus: Outlines of Scepticism. Pp. Xviii+249. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Cased, £32/$54.95. [REVIEW]Christopher Kirwan - 1995 - The Classical Review 45 (2):252-253.
  37. Les raisons du doute: études sur le scepticisme antique.Diego E. Machuca & Stéphane Marchand (eds.) - 2019 - Paris: Classiques Garnier.
    Le scepticisme est une véritable constante de l’histoire de la philosophie depuis l’Antiquité. En se nourrissant des désaccords philosophiques, il ne cesse de se transformer pour mieux remettre en cause les certitudes du dogmatisme. Ce volume présente des contributions en langue française de spécialistes de la pensée sceptique dans l’antiquité, domaine qui s’est considérablement développé ces dernières années. Les études ici présentées portent aussi bien sur le pyrrhonisme que sur la nouvelle Académie ou l’empirisme médical ; elles utilisent une variété (...)
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  38. The Sceptics - Thorsrud Ancient Scepticism. Pp. Xvi + 248. Stocksfield: Acumen, 2009. Paper, £14.99 . ISBN: 978-1-84465-131-3. [REVIEW]Suzanne Obdrzalek - 2010 - The Classical Review 60 (2):376-378.
  39. Os céticos gregos: radicalização do exame filosófico.Jaimir Conte - 2010 - Critica (Misc) 1 (1).
    Apresentação da tradução do livro Os Céticos Gregos, de Victor Brochard. São Paulo: Odysseus Editora, 2010, 464 pp. [ISBN: 8578760034].
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  40. Pirro e o ceticismo primitivo.Victor Brochard & Jaimir Conte - 2014 - Revista Litterarius 13 (1):01-16.
    Tradução para o português do artigo "Pyrrhon et le scepticisme primitif”, de Victor Brochard. Artigo publicado na Revue philosophique de la France et de l’Étranger, Ano 6, 1885, p. 517-532.
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  41. Sexto Empírico e o ceticismo pirrônico.Jaimir Conte - 2011 - Revista Cult 1 (121).
    Artigo de caráter introdutório publicado na Revista CULT, número 121, caracterizando superficialmente a obra de Sexto Empírico.
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  42. Sexto Empírico.Charlotte Stough & Jaimir Conte - 2012
    Tradução para o português do verbete sobre Sexto Empírico, de Charlotte Stough, retirado de Jonathan Dancy e Ernest Sosa (org.) A Companion to Epistemology (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), pp. 475-477.
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  43. Does Pyrrhonism Have Practical or Epistemic Value?Diego E. Machuca - 2019 - In Giuseppe Veltri, Racheli Haliva, Stephan Franz Schmid & Emidio Spinelli (eds.), Sceptical Paths: Enquiry and Doubt from Antiquity to the Present. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 43-66.
    My purpose in this paper is to examine whether Pyrrhonian skepticism, as this stance is described in Sextus Empiricus’s extant works, has practical or epistemic value. More precisely, I would like to consider whether the Pyrrhonist’s suspension of judgment (ἐποχή) and undisturbedness (ἀταραξία) can be deemed to be of practical or epistemic value. By ‘practical’ value I mean both moral value and prudential value. Moral value refers to moral rightness and wrongness; prudential value to the value of well-being, personal or (...)
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  44. Sources of Doxastic Disturbance in Sextus Empiricus.Diego E. Machuca - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 56:193–214.
    In his account of Pyrrhonism, Sextus Empiricus talks about the disturbance concerning matters of opinion that afflicts his dogmatic rivals and that he himself was afflicted by before his conversion to Pyrrhonism. The aim of the present paper is to identify the distinct sources of doxastic disturbance that can be found in that account, and to determine whether and, if so, how they are related. The thesis to be defended is that it is possible to discern three sources of doxastic (...)
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  45. Sekstus Empiryk, Zarysy Pyrrońskie, ks I (1-30), z języka greckiego przetłumaczył i opracował Zbigniew Nerczuk.Zbigniew Nerczuk - 2018 - Studia Philosophica Wratislaviensia (4):105-116.
    Jest to początek Zarysów Pyrrońskich Sekstusa Empiryka, ks. I (1-30) w nowym przekładzie. Całość tekstu ukaże się w Wydawnictwie UMK w połowie roku 2019. -/- This is the opening part of Sextus' Outlines of Pyrrhonism (I 1-30). The translation of the treatise will be published by Wydawnictwo UMK in the 2019.
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  46. Review of R. Bett (Trans.), Sextus Empiricus: Against the Physicists (CUP, 2012). [REVIEW]Diego E. Machuca - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (3):614-617.
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  47. Descartes and the Suspension of Judgment–Considerations of Cartesian Skepticism and Epoché.Jan Forsman - 2018 - In Konstantinos Boudouris (ed.), Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy. Greek Philosophical Society. pp. 15-20.
    In this paper I will argue how Descartes in the First and Second Meditation of the Meditations uses a very clear suspension of judgments or assent that in many ways resembles the epoché of the ancient skepticism, especially that of pyrrhonistic variant. First I show how the pyrrhonistic epoché works and what purpose it was used. After that I show how this Cartesian epoché both resembles and differs from the ancient epoché. My main argument is that Descartes, when using the (...)
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  48. Pyrrhonian Argumentation: Therapy, Dialectic, and Inquiry.Diego E. Machuca - 2019 - Apeiron 52 (2):199-221.
    The Pyrrhonist’s argumentative practice is characterized by at least four features. First, he makes a therapeutic use of arguments: he employs arguments that differ in their persuasiveness in order to cure his dogmatic patients of the distinct degrees of conceit and rashness that afflict them. Secondly, his arguments are for the most part dialectical: when offering an argument to oppose it to another argument advanced by a given dogmatist, he accepts in propria persona neither the truth of its premises and (...)
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  49. Self-Completing Skepticism: On Hegel's Sublation of Pyrrhonism.Miles Hentrup - 2018 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (1):105-123.
    In his 1802 article for the Critical Journal, “Relationship of Skepticism to Philosophy,” Hegel attempts to articulate a form of skepticism that is “at one with every true philosophy.” Focusing on the priority that Hegel gives to ancient skepticism over its modern counterpart, Michael Forster and other commentators suggest that it is Pyrrhonism that Hegel views as one with philosophy. Since Hegel calls attention to the persistence of dogmatism even in the work of Sextus Empiricus, however, I argue that it (...)
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  50. Early Pyrrhonism as a Sect of Buddhism? A Case Study in the Methodology of Comparative Philosophy.Monte Ransome Johnson & Brett Shults - 2018 - Comparative Philosophy 9 (2):1-40.
    We offer a sceptical examination of a thesis recently advanced in a monograph published by Princeton University Press, entitled Greek Buddha: Pyrrho’s Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia. In this dense and probing work, Christopher I. Beckwith, a professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, argues that Pyrrho of Elis adopted a form of early Buddhism during his years in Bactria and Gandhāra, and that early Pyrrhonism must be understood as a sect of early Buddhism. In making (...)
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