Ethics and Epistemology in Sextus Empiricus [Book Review]

Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 22 (2):216-218 (2001)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

For a few decades now there has been a minor gigantomachia going on in the study of ancient skepticism, especially as regards the interpretation of Sextus Empiricus and Pyrrhonianism. Or perhaps, since Burnyeat and others bring out big guns like Hume as allies for their position, it could be better characterized as an ongoing attempted patricide, which, of course, also has a long and well-established tradition in ancient thought. If the ‘mainstream’ interpretation regards Sextus, and thereby a whole strain of skepticism, as having as part of his project the radical undermining of belief, then the father-killers in this episode of the story have their hero in Michael Frede. It is Frede who is responsible for the latest attempt at defending Sextus, and thus the possibility of a coherent skepticism, from the charge that it is ultimately self-refuting insofar as it would finally reduce its practitioner to the condition of absolute stasis. The only real skeptic, so the charge goes, would be some form of inanimate object. This problem has dogged skepticism since its inception. Witness the perhaps apocryphal or even malicious stories about Pyrrho attempting to withhold judgment about any and every impression as his more practical—though strangely ambivalent regarding their master’s teachings—followers kept him from the rather embarrassing end that various passing vehicles, etc., would have provided. Frede has attempted to show that the skeptical position as it is put forward by someone like Sextus is almost the exact reverse of this interpretation. It is the skeptic who is most willing to engage the world as it is presented to us and the first to resist attempts to ‘pull back the veil’ in order to reveal this world as it ‘actually’ is, with all the attendant revisions to our ethics, politics, etc. that this would entail.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,726

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Sextus Empiricus and Pyrrhonean Scepticism.Richard Bett - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (1):100-102.
Montaigne and the Skeptical Tradition.Charles E. Bashaw - 2001 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
A Pyrrhonian Interpretation of Hume on Assent.Donald L. M. Baxter - 2018 - In Diego E. Machuca & Baron Reed (eds.), Skepticism: From Antiquity to the Present. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 380-394.
Pragmatic Inconsistency of Sextan Skepticism.Renata Ziemińska - 2013 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 7 (1):71-86.
Epistemology after Sextus Empiricus.Justin Vlasits & Katja Maria Vogt (eds.) - 2020 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.

Analytics

Added to PP
2011-01-09

Downloads
29 (#551,588)

6 months
5 (#879,562)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references