Tim O'Keefe
Georgia State University
This paper focuses on two questions: (I) why do the Cyrenaics deny that we can gain knowledge concerning "external things," and (II) how wide-ranging is this denial? On the first question, I argue that the Cyrenaics are skeptical because of their contrast between the indubitable grasp we have of own affections, versus the inaccessibility of external things that cause these affections. Furthermore, this inaccessibility is due to our cognitive and perceptual limitations--it is an epistemological doctrine rooted in their psychology--and not (pace Zilioli) due to any metaphysical theses regarding the external world. On the second question, I argue (pace Tsouna and Warren) that the scope of the Cyrenaics' skepticism is quite wide. Our reports on the Cyrenaics are inconsistent, but the most charitable and plausible reading results in attributing to the Cyrenaics skepticism not merely about the properties of external things (e.g., that the fire that warms me is really hot) of also of their nature and identity (e.g., that the object that warms me is a fire). However, it does not extend to skepticism regarding the existence of an external world.
Keywords Cyrenaics
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