Scepticism, a philosophical tradition that casts doubt on our ability to gain knowledge of the world and suggests suspending judgment in the face of uncertainty, has been influential since its beginnings in ancient Greece. Harald Thorsrud provides an engaging, rigorous introduction to the central themes, arguments, and general concerns of ancient Scepticism, from its beginnings with Pyrrho of Elis to the writings of Sextus Empiricus in the second century A.D. Thorsrud explores the differences among Sceptics and examines in (...) particular the separation of the Scepticism of Pyrrho from its later form—Academic Scepticism—the result of its ideas being introduced into Plato's Academy in the third century B.C. Steering an even course through the many differences of scholarly opinion surrounding Scepticism, the book also provides a balanced appraisal of the philosophy's enduring significance by showing why it remains so interesting and how ancient interpretations differ from modern ones. _Copub: Acumen Publishing Limited _. (shrink)
Harald Thorsrud - Cicero on his Academic Predecessors: the Fallibilism of Arcesilaus and Carneades - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:1 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.1 1-18 Cicero on his Academic Predecessors: the Fallibilism of Arcesilaus and Carneades Harald Thorsrud IN AN IMPORTANT PAPER, Couissin argued for what has come to be called the dialectical interpretation of Academic skepticism. On this interpretation, Arcesilaus and Carneades practiced the same, purely dialectical method -- they would elicit assent (...) to premises characteristic of their interlocutor's position and then derive unacceptable consequences exclusively on the basis of those premises. This method allowed them to remain uncommitted to the premises as well as the conclusions of their arguments. They would simply draw logical consequences from their opponents' own premises for the sake of refutation. This is in keeping with the current consensus that an ancient skeptic is one who has no beliefs, or at least no beliefs of a problematically dogmatic sort. Consequently, the methods of ancient skeptics, including Academic skeptics, are thought to be strictly negative, seeking only the elimination of belief. So when we come to Cicero's Philonian version of Academic methodology and find that it explicitly includes provisions for the acquisition of fallible beliefs, it is no surprise that commentators who are sympathetic to the dialectical interpretation tend to view.. (shrink)
coherent historical narrative. 1 As Thorsrud himself recognizes, this is not an easy enterprise, since virtually every part of that narrative could be challenged. Although it is primarily aimed at undergraduate and graduate students, the book is by no means lacking in interest to specialists, since Thorsrud does not sacrifice scholarly analysis and rigor for accessibility. An attractive aspect of his exposition is that he continuously reflects on the sense and soundness of the ancient skeptical stances and explains (...) them both in their own terms and with reference to our current way of seeing things. In other words, he adopts a more philosophic approach by considering the problems addressed by the ancient skeptics or posed by their outlooks, instead of providing an exclusively historical or doxographical presentation of past philosophical views. Thorsrud's interest in ancient skepticism has been motivated by an as yet unfulfilled "desire to find a satisfactory explanation of pervasive disagreement" -- a question that lately has attracted a great deal of attention from epistemologists. He finds that study of the ancient skeptical arguments has helped him think more clearly about the limits of reason, the nature of rational belief and appearances, and the part these play in action, and he expresses the hope that the book will have the same effect on others. Written in a style which is straightforward and readable, this volume is a valuable addition to the ever growing literature on ancient skepticism. (shrink)
David Furley's work on the cosmologies of classical antiquity is structured around what he calls "two pictures of the world." The first picture, defended by both Plato and Aristotle, portrays the universe, or all that there is (to pan), as identical with our particular ordered world-system. Thus, the adherents of this view claim that the universe is finite and unique. The second system, defended by Leucippus and Democritus, portrays an infinite universe within which our particular kosmos is only one of (...) countless kosmoi. Aristotle's argument in De caelo I.9 that the world is necessarily unique is an important contribution to this debate. This argument holds interest because it shows Aristotle wrestling with an apparent inconsistency in his own philosophy, as deeply-held convictions within his cosmology collide with an equally deeply-held conviction within his metaphysics. The following three principles, each of which Aristotle appears committed to, are inconsistent: -/- The cosmic uniqueness principle. The world is necessarily unique. The cosmic form principle. The world is an ordered, structured unity. As such, the world has a form. The possibility of multiple instantiation principle. For all F, if F is a form, it is possible that there exist multiple Fs. In De caelo I.9, Aristotle argues that we can establish the uniqueness of the universe, reject the multiple instantiation principle, yet still retain the distinction between 'this world' and 'world in general,' if the following is true (as it is): the world takes up all the matter that exists. Aristotle illustrates this argument with one of the stranger analogies in his corpus: imagine an aquiline nose that takes up all the flesh in the universe. If this were so, then there could not exist any other aquiline objects whatsoever. (For this reason, we dub the De caelo I.9 argument the 'Cosmic Nose argument.') This paper is an interpretation of how this argument is supposed to proceed and an assessment of its success. The first section states the problem Aristotle is confronted with, sorts through Aristotle's various statements of the Cosmic Nose argument, which exhibit some sloppiness, and reconstructs charitably a single argument. We also spend some time examining the significance of Aristotle's example of a gigantic aquiline nose. We argue that, even charitably reconstructed, the argument appears to commit a serious modal fallacy. The remainder of the paper explores whether this modal fallacy can be overcome. We conclude that, although not a cogent argument for the uniqueness of the world (as this would require a significant revision of our current astronomy), the Cosmic Nose argument does succeed on its own terms. However, it should not be regarded as a free-standing argument for the uniqueness of the world. Instead, it depends crucially on the earlier argument in De caelo I.8 for the universe's uniqueness; De caelo I.9 should be viewed as an attempt to extend the conclusion of De caelo I.8 and to show how this conclusion can be made consistent with Aristotle's metaphysical principles about the nature of form. (shrink)
In this book, Harold Langsam argues that consciousness is intelligible -- that there are substantive facts about consciousness that can be known a priori -- and that it is the intelligibility of consciousness that is the source of its ...
This is a modern, annotated translation of antiquity's only extant commentary on Plato's moral and political dialogue Gorgias , in which the author defends ancient Greek philosophy and culture at a time when Christianity has almost replaced it. The first translation into any modern language of a central work in Platonic studies is accompanied by annotations which guide the reader in understanding the obscurities of the text, an introduction to the main issues raised by it, and a bibliography of the (...) modern literature. (shrink)
The fundamental issue regarding Arcesilaus’ skepticism is whether it should be understood as a philosophical position or as a strictly dialectical practice with no doctrinal content. In this paper I argue that it is both by providing an account of the epistemic principles informing his practice along with a positive doxastic attitude that he may consistently take towards those principles. I further show how Arcesilaus may have reasonably derived his Socratic project, including the epistemic principles and his distinctive cognitive attitude, (...) from his reading of Plato’s dialogues, and that this approach enables us to better understand the function of his practical criterion, the reasonable (to eulogon). And finally, I note that since Arcesilaus’ great successor Carneades confronts the same problem regarding the coherence of his Socratic project, a similar interpretative approach may be taken to his practical criterion, the persuasive (to pithanon). (shrink)
In this paper I explore some ways in which Cicero does not merely report Chrysippus’ view of psychotherapy and mental health in the Tusculan Disputations, but rather adapts them to suit his own Academic and practical purposes. In particular, I argue Cicero is unwilling to wholeheartedly endorse three key Stoic principles: (1) the uniformly rational nature of the mind, (2) the exclusive goodness of virtue, and (3) the possibility of attaining Stoic wisdom. As a result, he allows for greater ethical (...) significance to the removal of psychological disturbances and to the admittedly vulnerable tranquility and constancy achievable by those who fall short of Stoic wisdom. (shrink)
This book will be of considerable interest to those familiar with Hellenistic philosophy generally and with Cicero’s philosophical dialogues in particular. Maso’s close readings of the primary texts produce many valuable insights into Cicero’s philosophical worldview and his complex and nuanced attitude toward Epicurean physics, theology, epistemology, and ethics. One of the central themes of the work is the tempering of Cicero’s devotion to the primacy of the political life. Maso aims to show how this is reflected over time in (...) his attitude toward Epicureanism, while he struggles against the political realities that excluded him from playing the civic role he craved and that eventually cost him his life. Indeed, we... (shrink)
By understanding the sense in which Sextus thinks reason is deceptive we may clarify his attitude towards ordinary life. The deception, like that of the Siren's song, is practical rather than epistemic. It is not a matter of leading us to assent to false or unjustified conclusions but is rather a distraction from, or even corruption of, ordinary life.
I distinguish two varieties of ancient skepticism on the basis of their competing attitudes towards reason. Pyrrhonian skeptics, according to Sextus Empiricus, not only doubt our ability to arrive at true beliefs, but also the value of doing so, whereas the Academics, as portrayed by Cicero, are committed to the view that true beliefs are as beneficial as they are difficult to acquire. Next, I examine Academic epistemology, focusing on one of Cicero's most important and problematic philosophical coinages---probabilitas . He (...) offers this term as the Academic's fallible criterion of judgment and as an alternative to the Stoic criterion which even more problematically guarantees certainty. The Academic, following Plato's Socrates, subjects his beliefs to close scrutiny in order to see whether they can survive refutation. By seeking out these 'dialectical survivors' the Academic seeks to eliminate the false beliefs from the set of beliefs that seem probabile. ;After discussing Academic epistemology, I examine some ethical implications of this view. The Stoics claim that no amount of non-moral goods can add to the eudaimonia of the sage, for he is in possession of the only genuine good, virtue. And virtue, for the Stoics is the healthy state of the psyche which results from deep, systematic knowledge. Here again, Cicero offers an Academic alternative. He maintains the Stoic's naturalistic ethical formula that a virtuous life is one lived in accordance with nature, but his interpretation reflects his epistemic modesty. To live in accordance with nature turns out to mean 'insofar as it is morally intelligible'. ;Finally, I argue for the plausibility of Cicero's claim to practice a method which originates with Socrates and after its revival in the third century BCE continuosly flourished to his own age . I conclude that Cicero's account of the Academy is both historically plausible and philosophically interesting; and thus Cicero should be taken seriously as a philosopher in his. own right and not merely as a doxographer. (shrink)
What is the self? And how does it relate to the body? In the second edition of Personal Identity, Harold Noonan presents the major historical theories of personal identity, particularly those of Locke, Leibniz, Butler, Reid and Hume. Noonan goes on to give a careful analysis of what the problem of personal identity is, and its place in the context of more general puzzles about identity. He then moves on to consider the main issues and arguments which are the (...) subject of current debate, including the work of Bernard Williams and Derek Parfit, and makes new and challenging interpretations of them. This new edition contains additional material assessing the biological approach which has become increasingly popular in recent years, and extends the treatment of indeterminate identity to take account of the epistemic view of vagueness. This book covers the problem of personal identity from its origin in Locke's work to the most recent debates in the philosophical literature, and will be invaluablereading for any student of the topic. (shrink)
When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts--indeed, so great that the sum far transcends the parts and represents something utterly new and different--we call that phenomenon emergence. When the chemicals diffusing in the primordial waters came together to form the first living cell, that was emergence. When the activities of the neurons in the brain result in mind, that too is emergence. In The Emergence of Everything, one of the leading scientists involved in the study of (...) complexity, Harold J. Morowitz, takes us on a sweeping tour of the universe, a tour with 28 stops, each one highlighting a particularly important moment of emergence. For instance, Morowitz illuminates the emergence of the stars, the birth of the elements and of the periodic table, and the appearance of solar systems and planets. We look at the emergence of living cells, animals, vertebrates, reptiles, and mammals, leading to the great apes and the appearance of humanity. He also examines tool making, the evolution of language, the invention of agriculture and technology, and the birth of cities. And as he offers these insights into the evolutionary unfolding of our universe, our solar system, and life itself, Morowitz also seeks out the nature of God in the emergent universe, the God posited by Spinoza, Bruno, and Einstein, a God Morowitz argues we can know through a study of the laws of nature. Written by one of our wisest scientists, The Emergence of Everything offers a fascinating new way to look at the universe and the natural world, and it makes an important contribution to the dialogue between science and religion. (shrink)
Revolutionizing received opinion of Taoism's origins in light of historic new discoveries, Harold D. Roth has uncovered China's oldest mystical text--the original expression of Taoist philosophy--and presents it here with a complete translation and commentary. Over the past twenty-five years, documents recovered from the tombs of China's ancient elite have sparked a revolution in scholarship about early Chinese thought, in particular the origins of Taoist philosophy and religion. In _Original Tao,_ Harold D. Roth exhumes the seminal text of (...) Taoism--_Inward Training _--not from a tomb but from the pages of the _Kuan Tzu,_ a voluminous text on politics and economics in which this mystical tract had been "buried" for centuries. _Inward Training_ is composed of short poetic verses devoted to the practice of breath meditation, and to the insights about the nature of human beings and the form of the cosmos derived from this practice. In its poetic form and tone, the work closely resembles the _Tao-te Ching_; moreover, it clearly evokes Taoism's affinities to other mystical traditions, notably aspects of Hinduism and Buddhism. Roth argues that _Inward Training_ is the foundational text of early Taoism and traces the book to the mid-fourth century B.C.. These verses contain the oldest surviving expressions of a method for mystical "inner cultivation," which Roth identifies as the basis for all early Taoist texts, including the _Chuang Tzu_ and the world-renowned _Tao-te Ching._ With these historic discoveries, he reveals the possibility of a much deeper continuity between early "philosophical" Taoism and the later Taoist religion than scholars had previously suspected. _Original Tao_ contains an elegant and luminous complete translation of the original text. Roth's comprehensive analysis explains what _Inward Training_ meant to the people who wrote it, how this work came to be "entombed" within the _Kuan Tzu,_ and why the text was largely overlooked after the early Han period. (shrink)
This paper considers two reasons that might support Russell’s choice of a ramified-type theory over a simple-type theory. The first reason is the existence of purported paradoxes that can be formulated in any simple-type language, including an argument that Russell considered in 1903. These arguments depend on certain converse-compositional principles. When we take account of Russell’s doctrine that a propositional function is not a constituent of its values, these principles turn out to be too implausible to make these arguments troubling. (...) The second reason is conditional on a substitutional interpretation of quantification over types other than that of individuals. This reason stands up to investigation: a simple-type language will not sustain such an interpretation, but a ramified-type language will. And there is evidence that Russell was tacitly inclined towards such an interpretation. A strong construal of that interpretation opens a way to make sense of Russell’s simultaneous repudiation of propositions and his willingness to quantify over them. But that way runs into trouble with Russell’s commitment to the finitude of human understanding. (shrink)
In this volume, leading philosophers of psychiatry examine psychiatric classification systems, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, asking whether current systems are sufficient for effective diagnosis, treatment, and research. Doing so, they take up the question of whether mental disorders are natural kinds, grounded in something in the outside world. Psychiatric categories based on natural kinds should group phenomena in such a way that they are subject to the same type of causal explanations and respond similarly to (...) the same type of causal interventions. When these categories do not evince such groupings, there is reason to revise existing classifications. The contributors all question current psychiatric classifications systems and the assumptions on which they are based. They differ, however, as to why and to what extent the categories are inadequate and how to address the problem. Topics discussed include taxometric methods for identifying natural kinds, the error and bias inherent in DSM categories, and the complexities involved in classifying such specific mental disorders as "oppositional defiance disorder" and pathological gambling. -/- Contributors George Graham, Nick Haslam, Allan Horwitz, Harold Kincaid, Dominic Murphy, Jeffrey Poland, Nancy Nyquist Potter, Don Ross, Dan Stein, Jacqueline Sullivan, Serife Tekin, Peter Zachar. (shrink)
It has long been thought that science is our best hope for realizing objective knowledge, but that, to deliver on this promise, it must be value free. Things are not so simple, however, as recent work in science studies makes clear. The contributors to this volume investigate where and how values are involved in science, and examine the implications of this involvement for ideals of objectivity.