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 (...) Montaigne is not a skeptic at all, let alone a Pyrrhonian skeptic. In this paper, I argue that Hartle’s circular-dialectical interpretation of Montaigne is not only compatible with Pyrrhonism, but is in fact an ideal model for understanding Sextus Empiricus’s skeptical therapy. (shrink)
This paper pursues two tasks: first, to criticize a number of prominent contemporary interpretations of the Pyrrhonism of Sextus Empiricus, especially Jonathan Barnes’s; and second, to outline an alternative interpretation of Sextus that (a) reconciles the opposing sides of the long-standing dispute over the scope of Pyrrhonian suspension of judgment, and (b) suggests a sympathetic alternative to some of the most influential accounts of the Pyrrhonian way of life.
Thompson Clarke’s seminal paper “The Legacy of Skepticism” (1972) is notoriously difficult in both substance and presentation. Despite the paper’s importance to skepticism studies in the nearly half-century since its publication, no attempt has been made in the secondary literature to provide an account, based on a close reading of the text, of just what Clarke’s argument is. Furthermore, much of the existing literature betrays (or so it seems to me) fundamental misunderstandings of Clarke’s thought. In this essay, I attempt (...) to explain—concisely but comprehensively—Clarke’s overall argument in “The Legacy of Skepticism.”. (shrink)
I argue in this paper that, like the Pyrrhonism of Sextus Empiricus, Wittgenstein’s response to negative–dogmatic skepticism in On Certainty turns on the attempt to free us from the demands of traditional philosophy and is therefore not a philosophical position, strictly speaking. Rather, it is a therapeutic metaphilosophy designed to bring into view (i.e., to illumine) the relationship between our everyday epistemic practices and those of philosophy such that we simultaneously come to recognize (a) what I call the pragmatic–transcendental self–standingness (...) of the everyday and (b) its philosophical–rational groundlessness. The Pyrrhonian illumination of the everyday is therapeutic in that it aims to purify our metadoxastic attitudes of dogmatism. (shrink)