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Sextus Empiricus and Greek Scepticism
by Mary Mills Patrick
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Sextus claims that all things can be included in these Tropes, whether sensible or intellectual.[1] For whether, as some say, only the things of sense are true, or as others claim, only those of the understanding, or as still others contend, some things both of sense and understanding are true, a discord must arise that is impossible to be judged, for it cannot be judged by the sensible, nor by the intellectual, for the things of the intellect themselves require a proof; accordingly, the result of all reasoning must be either hypothetical, or fall into the regressus in infinitum or the circulus in probando.[2] The reference above to some who say that only the things of sense are true, is to Epicurus and Protagoras; to some that only the things of thought are true, to Democritus and Plato; and to those that claimed some of both to be true, to the Stoics and the Peripatetics.[3] The three new Tropes added by Agrippa have nothing to do with sense-perception, but bear entirely upon the possibility of reasoning, as demanded by the science of logic, in contrast to the earlier ones which related almost entirely, with the exception of the tenth, to material objects. Sextus claims that these five Tropes also lead to the suspension of judgment,[4] but their logical result is rather the dogmatic denial of all possibility of knowledge, showing as Hirzel has well demonstrated, far more the influence of the New Academy than the spirit of the Sceptical School.[5] It was the standpoint of the older Sceptics, that although the search for the truth had not yet succeeded, yet they were still seekers, and Sextus claims to be faithful to this old aim of the Pyrrhonists. He calls himself a seeker,[6] and in reproaching the New Academy for affirming that knowledge is impossible, Sextus says, "Moreover, we say that our ideas are equal as regards trustworthiness and untrustworthiness."[7] The ten Tropes claim to establish doubt only in regard to a knowledge of the truth, but the five Tropes of Agrippa aim to logically prove the impossibility of knowledge. It is very strange that Sextus does not see this decided contrast in the attitude of the two sets of Tropes, and expresses his approval of those of Agrippa, and makes more frequent use of the fifth of these, [Greek: ho diallelos], in his subsequent reasoning than of any other argument.[8]

[1] Hyp. I. 169.

[2] Hyp. I. 170-171.

[3] Adv. Math. VIII. 185-186; VIII. 56; VII. 369.

[4] Hyp. I. 177.

[5] Hirzel Op. cit. p. 131.

[6] Hyp. I. 3, 7.

[7] Hyp. I. 227.

[8] See Index of Bekker's edition of Sextus' works.

We find here in the Sceptical School, shortly after the time of Aenesidemus, the same tendency to dogmatic teaching that—so far as the dim and shadowy history of the last years of the New Academy can be unravelled, and the separation of Pyrrhonism can be understood, at the time that the Academy passed over into eclecticism—was one of the causes of that separation.

It is true that the Tropes of Agrippa show great progress in the development of thought. They furnish an organisation of the School far superior to what went before, placing the reasoning on the firm basis of the laws of logic, and simplifying the amount of material to be used. In a certain sense Saisset is correct in saying that Agrippa contributed more than any other in completing the organisation of Scepticism,[1] but it is not correct when we consider the true spirit of Scepticism with which the Tropes of Agrippa were not in harmony. It was through the very progress shown in the production of these Tropes that the school finally lost the strength of its position.

Not content with having reduced the number of the Tropes from ten to five, others tried to limit the number still further to two.[2] Sextus gives us no hint of the authorship of the two Tropes. Ritter attributes them to Menodotus and his followers, and Zeller agrees with that opinion,[3] while Saisset thinks that Agrippa was also the author of these,[4] which is a strange theory to propound, as some of the material of the five is repeated in the two, and the same man could certainly not appear as an advocate of five, and at the same time of two Tropes.

[1] Saisset Op. cit. p. 237.

[2] Hyp. I. 178.

[3] Zeller III. 38; Ritter IV. 277.

[4] Saisset Op. cit. p. 231.

The two Tropes are founded on the principle that anything must be known through itself or through something else. It cannot be known through itself, because of the discord existing between all things of the senses and intellect, nor can it be known through something else, as then either the regressus in infinitum or the circulus in probando follow.[1] Diogenes Laertius does not refer to these two Tropes.

In regard to all these Tropes of the suspension of judgment, Sextus has well remarked in his introduction to them, that they are included in the eighth, or that of relation.[2]

[1] Hyp. I. 178-179.

[2] Hyp. I. 39.

The Tropes of Aetiology. The eight Tropes against causality belong chronologically before the five Tropes of Agrippa, in the history of the development of sceptical thought. They have a much closer connection with the spirit of Scepticism than the Tropes of Agrippa, including, as they do, the fundamental thought of Pyrrhonism, i.e., that the phenomena do not reveal the unknown.

The Sceptics did not deny the phenomena, but they denied that the phenomena are signs capable of being interpreted, or of revealing the reality of causes. It is impossible by a research of the signs to find out the unknown, or the explanation of things, as the Stoics and Epicureans claim. The theory of Aenesidemus which lies at the foundation of his eight Tropes against aetiology, is given to us by Photius as follows:[1] "There are no visible signs of the unknown, and those who believe in its existence are the victims of a vain illusion." This statement of Aenesidemus is confirmed by a fuller explanation of it given later on by Sextus.[2] If phenomena are not signs of the unknown there is no causality, and a refutation of causality is a proof of the impossibility of science, as all science is the science of causes, the power of studying causes from effects, or as Sextus calls them, phenomena.

It is very noticeable to any one who reads the refutation of causality by Aenesidemus, as given by Sextus,[3] that there is no reference to the strongest argument of modern Scepticism, since the time of Hume, against causality, namely that the origin of the idea of causality cannot be so accounted for as to justify our relying upon it as a form of cognition.[4]

[1] Myriob. 170 B. 12.

[2] Adv. Math. VIII. 207.

[3] Hyp. I. 180-186.

[4] Ueberweg Op. cit. p. 217.

The eight Tropes are directed against the possibility of knowledge of nature, which Aenesidemus contested against in all his Tropes, the ten as well as the eight.[1] They are written from a materialistic standpoint. These Tropes are given with illustrations by Fabricius as follows:

I. Since aetiology in general refers to things that are unseen, it does not give testimony that is incontestable in regard to phenomena. For example, the Pythagoreans explain the distance of the planets by a musical proportion.

II. From many equally plausible reasons which might be given for the same thing, one only is arbitrarily chosen, as some explain the inundation of the Nile by a fall of snow at its source, while there could be other causes, as rain, or wind, or the action of the sun.

III. Things take place in an orderly manner, but the causes presented do not show any order, as for example, the motion of the stars is explained by their mutual pressure, which does not take into account the order that reigns among them.

IV. The unseen things are supposed to take place in the same way as phenomena, as vision is explained in the same way as the appearance of images in a dark room.

V. Most philosophers present theories of aetiology which agree with their own individual hypotheses about the elements, but not with common and accepted ideas, as to explain the world by atoms like Epicurus, by homoeomeriae like Anaxagoras, or by matter and form like Aristotle.

VI. Theories are accepted which agree with individual hypotheses, and others equally probable are passed by, as Aristotle's explanation of comets, that they are a collection of vapors near the earth, because that coincided with his theory of the universe.

VII. Theories of aetiology are presented which conflict not only with individual hypotheses, but also with phenomena, as to admit like Epicurus an inclination or desire of the soul, which was incompatible with the necessity which he advocated.

VIII. The inscrutable is explained by things equally inscrutable, as the rising of sap in plants is explained by the attraction of a sponge for water, a fact contested by some.[2]

[1] Hyp. I. 98.

[2] Hyp. I. 180-186; Fabricius, Cap. XVII. 180 z.

Diogenes does not mention these Tropes in this form, but he gives a resume of the general arguments of the Sceptics against aetiology,[1] which has less in common with the eight Tropes of Aenesidemus, than with the presentation of the subject by Sextus later,[2] when he multiplies his proofs exceedingly to show [Greek: meden einai aition]. Although the Tropes of Aenesidemus have a dialectic rather than an objective character, it would not seem that he made the distinction, which is so prominent with Sextus, between the signs [Greek: hypomnestika] and [Greek: endeiktika],[3] especially as Diogenes sums up his argument on the subject with the general assertion, [Greek: Semeion ouk einai],[4] and proceeds to introduce the logical consequence of the denial of aetiology. The summing up of the Tropes of Aenesidemus is given as follows, in the Hypotyposes, by Sextus:—"A cause in harmony with all the sects of philosophy, and with Scepticism, and with phenomena, is perhaps not possible, for the phenomena and the unknown altogether disagree."[5]

It is interesting to remark in connection with the seventh of these Tropes, that Aenesidemus asserts that causality has only a subjective value, which from his materialistic standpoint was an argument against its real existence, and the same argument is used by Kant to prove that causality is a necessary condition of thought.[6]

Chaignet characterises the Tropes of Aenesidemus as false and sophistical,[7] but as Maccoll has well said, they are remarkable for their judicious and strong criticism, and are directed against the false method of observing facts through the light of preconceived opinion.[8] They have, however, a stronger critical side than sceptical, and show the positive tendency of the thought of Aenesidemus.

[1] Diog. IX. 11, 96-98.

[2] Hyp. III. 24-28.

[3] Adv. Math. VIII. 151.

[4] Diog. IX. 11, 96.

[5] Hyp. I. 185.

[6] Compare Maccoll Op. cit. p. 77.

[7] Chaignet Op. cit. 507.

[8] Maccoll Op. cit. p. 88.



CHAPTER IV.

Aenesidemus and the Philosophy of Heraclitus.

A paragraph in the First Book of the Hypotyposes which has given rise to much speculation and many different theories, is the comparison which Sextus makes of Scepticism with the philosophy of Heraclitus.[1] In this paragraph the statement is made that Aenesidemus and his followers, [Greek: hoi peri ton Ainesidemon], said that Scepticism is the path to the philosophy of Heraclitus, because the doctrine that contradictory predicates appear to be applicable to the same thing, leads the way to the one that contradictory predicates are in reality applicable to the same thing.[2] [Greek: hoi peri ton Ainesidemon elegon hodon einai ten skeptiken agogen epi ten Herakleiteion philosophian, dioti proegeitai tou tanantia peri to auto hyparchein to tanantia peri to auto phainesthai]. As the Sceptics say that contradictory predicates appear to be applicable to the same thing, the Heraclitans come from this to the more positive doctrine that they are in reality so.[3]

[1] Hyp. I. 210.

[2] Hyp. I. 210.

[3] Hyp. I. 210.

This connection which Aenesidemus is said to have affirmed between Scepticism and the philosophy of Heraclitus is earnestly combated by Sextus, who declares that the fact that contradictory predicates appear to be applicable to the same thing is not a dogma of the Sceptics, but a fact which presents itself to all men, and not to the Sceptics only. No one for instance, whether he be a Sceptic or not, would dare to say that honey does not taste sweet to those in health, and bitter to those who have the jaundice, so that Heraclitus begins from a preconception common to all men, as to us also, and perhaps to the other schools of philosophy as well.[1] As the statement concerning the appearance of contradictory predicates in regard to the same thing is not an exclusively sceptical one, then Scepticism is no more a path to the philosophy of Heraclitus than to other schools of philosophy, or to life, as all use common subject matter. "But we are afraid that the Sceptical School not only does not help towards the knowledge of the philosophy of Heraclitus, but even hinders that result. Since the Sceptic accuses Heraclitus of having rashly dogmatised, presenting on the one hand the doctrine of 'conflagration' and on the other that 'contradictory predicates are in reality applicable to the same thing.'"[2] "It is absurd, then, to say that this conflicting school is a path to the sect with which it conflicts. It is therefore absurd to say that the Sceptical School is a path to the philosophy of Heraclitus."[3]

[1] Hyp. I. 211.

[2] Hyp. I. 212.

[3] Hyp. I. 212.

This is not the only place in the writings of Sextus which states that Aenesidemus at some time of his life was an advocate of the doctrines of Heraclitus. In no instance, however, where Sextus refers to this remarkable fact, does he offer any explanation of it, or express any bitterness against Aenesidemus, whom he always speaks of with respect as a leader of the Sceptical School. We are thus furnished with one of the most difficult problems of ancient Scepticism, the problem of reconciling the apparent advocacy of Aenesidemus of the teachings of Heraclitus with his position in the Sceptical School.

A comparison with each other of the references made by Sextus and other writers to the teachings of Aenesidemus, and a consideration of the result, gives us two pictures of Aenesidemus which conflict most decidedly with each other. We have on the one hand, the man who was the first to give Pyrrhonism a position as an influential school, and the first to collect and present to the world the results of preceding Sceptical thought. He was the compiler of the ten Tropes of [Greek: epoche], and perhaps in part their author, and the author of the eight Tropes against aetiology.[1] He develops his Scepticism from the standpoint that neither the senses nor the intellect can give us any certain knowledge of reality.[2] He denied the possibility of studying phenomena as signs of the unknown.[3] He denied all possibility of truth, and the reality of motion, origin and decay. There was according to his teaching no pleasure or happiness, and no wisdom or supreme good. He denied the possibility of finding out the nature of things, or of proving the existence of the gods, and finally he declared that no ethical aim is possible.

[1] Hyp. I. 180.

[2] Photius 170, B. 12.

[3] Adv. Math. VIII. 40.

The picture on the other hand, presented to us by Sextus and Tertullian, is that of a man with a system of beliefs and dogmas, which lead, he says, to the philosophy of Heraclitus. In strange contradiction to his assertion of the impossibility of all knowledge, he advocates a theory that the original substance is air,[1] which is most certainly a dogma, although indeed a deviation from the teachings of Heraclitus, of which Sextus seemed unconscious, as he says, [Greek: to te on kata ton Herakleiton aer estin, hos physin ho Ainesidemos]. Aenesidemus dogmatised also regarding number and time and unity of the original world-stuff.[2] He seems to have dogmatised further about motion,[3] and about the soul.[4]

If Sextus' language is taken according to its apparent meaning, we find ourselves here in the presence of a system of beliefs which would be naturally held by a follower of the Stoic-Heraclitan physics,[5] and absolutely inexplicable from the standpoint of a man who advocated so radical a Scepticism as Aenesidemus. Sextus in the passage that we first quoted,[6] expresses great indignation against the idea that Scepticism could form the path to the philosophy of Heraclitus, but he does not express surprise or indignation against Aenesidemus personally, or offer any explanation of the apparent contradiction; and while his writings abound in references to him as a respected leader of the Sceptical School, he sometimes seems to include him with the Dogmatics, mentioning him with the [Greek: dogmatikon philosophon].[7] In fact, the task of presenting any consistent history of the development of thought through which Aenesidemus passed is such a puzzling one, that Brochard brilliantly remarks that possibly the best attitude to take towards it would be to follow the advice of Aenesidemus himself, and suspend one's judgment altogether regarding it. Is it possible to suppose that so sharp and subtle a thinker as Aenesidemus held at the same time such opposing opinions?

[1] Adv. Math. X. 233.

[2] Adv. Math. IX. 337; X. 216.

[3] Adv. Math. X. 38.

[4] Adv. Math. VII. 349.

[5] Compare Zeller Op. cit. III. p. 33.

[6] Hyp. I. 210-212.

[7] Adv. Math. VIII. 8; X. 215.

The conjecture that he was first a Heraclitan Stoic, and later a Sceptic, which might be possible, does not offer any explanation of Sextus' statement, that he regarded Scepticism as a path to the philosophy of Heraclitus. Nor would it be logical to think that after establishing the Sceptical School in renewed influence and power, he reverted to the Heraclitan theories as they were modified by the Stoics. These same theories were the cause of his separation from the Academy, for his chief accusation against the Academy was that it was adopting the dogmatism of the Stoics.[1] The matter is complicated by the fact that Tertullian also attributes to Aenesidemus anthropological and physical teachings that agree with the Stoical Heraclitan doctrines. It is not strange that in view of these contradictory assertions in regard to the same man, some have suggested the possibility that they referred to two different men of the same name, a supposition, however, that no one has been able to authoritatively vindicate.

Let us consider briefly some of the explanations which have been attempted of the apparent heresy of Aenesidemus towards the Sceptical School. We will begin with the most ingenious, that of Pappenheim.[2]

Pappenheim claims that Sextus was not referring to Aenesidemus himself in these statements which he joins with his name. In the most important of these, the one quoted from the Hypotyposes,[3] which represents Aenesidemus as claiming that Scepticism is the path to the philosophy of Heraclitus, the expression used is [Greek: hoi peri ton Ainesidemon], and in many of the other places where Sextus refers to the dogmatic statements of Aenesidemus, the expression is either [Greek: hoi peri ton Ainesidemon], or [Greek: Ainesidemos kath' Herakleiton], while when Sextus quotes Aenesidemus to sustain Scepticism, he uses his name alone.

[1] Compare Zeller Op. cit. III. p. 16.

[2] Die angebliche Heraclitismus des Skeptikers Ainesidemos, Berlin 1889.

[3] Hyp. I. 210-212.

Pappenheim thinks that Sextus' conflict was not with the dead Aenesidemus, who had lived two centuries before him, but with his own contemporaries. He also seeks to prove that Sextus could not have gained his knowledge of these sayings of Aenesidemus from any of Aenesidemus' own writings, as neither by the ancients, nor by later writers, was any book spoken of which could well have contained them. Neither Aristocles nor Diogenes mentions any such book.

Pappenheim also makes much of the argument that Sextus in no instance seems conscious of inconsistency on the part of Aenesidemus, even when most earnestly combating his alleged teachings, but in referring to him personally he always speaks of him with great respect.

Pappenheim suggests, accordingly, that the polemic of Sextus was against contemporaries, those who accepted the philosophy of Heraclitus in consequence of, or in some connection with, the teachings of Aenesidemus. He entirely ignores the fact that there is no trace of any such school or sect in history, calling themselves followers of "Aenesidemus according to Heraclitus," but still thinks it possible that such a movement existed in Alexandria at the time of Sextus, where so many different sects were found. Sextus use Aenesidemus' name in four different ways:—alone, [Greek: hoi peri ton Ainesidemon], [Greek: Ainesidemos kath' Herakleiton], and in one instance [Greek: hoi peri ton Ainesidemon kath' Herakleiton].[1]

[1] Adv. Math. VIII. 8.

Pappenheim advances the theory that some of these contemporaries against whom Sextus directed his arguments had written a book entitled [Greek: Ainesidemos kath' Herakleiton], to prove the harmony between Aenesidemus and Heraclitus, and that it was from this book that Sextus quoted the dogmatic statements which he introduced with that formula. He claims, further, that the passage quoted from Hypotyposes I. even, is directed against contemporaries, who founded their system of proofs of the harmony between Aenesidemus and Heraclitus on the connection of the celebrated formula which was such a favourite with the Sceptics: "Contrary predicates appear to apply to the same thing," with the apparent deduction from this, that "Contrary predicates in reality apply to the same thing." Sextus wishes, according to Pappenheim, to prove to these contemporaries that they had misunderstood Aenesidemus, and Sextus does not report Aenesidemus to be a Dogmatic, nor to have taught the doctrines of Heraclitus; neither has he misunderstood Aenesidemus, nor consequently misrepresented him; but on the contrary, these dogmatic quotations have nothing to do with Aenesidemus, but refer altogether to contemporaries who pretended to be Sceptics while they accepted the teachings of Heraclitus. Sextus naturally warmly combats this tendency, as he wishes to preserve Pyrrhonism pure.

Brochard advocates a change of opinion on the part of Aenesidemus as an explanation of the difficulty in question.[1] He starts from the supposition, the reasonableness of which we shall consider later, that Aenesidemus had passed through one change of opinion already when he severed his connection with the New Academy; and to the two phases of his life, which such a change has already made us familiar with, he adds a third. Aenesidemus would not be the first who has accepted different beliefs at different periods of his life, and Brochard claims that such a development in the opinions of Aenesidemus is logical. He does not accuse Aenesidemus of having, as might seem from the perusal of Sextus, suddenly changed his basis, but rather of having gradually come to accept much in the teachings of Heraclitus. Aenesidemus modifies his Scepticism only to the extent of pretending to know something of absolute reality. The Sceptic says, "Contradictory predicates are apparently applicable to the same thing," and Aenesidemus accepts the Heraclitan result—"Contradictory predicates are in reality applicable to the same thing." From Sextus' report, Aenesidemus would seem to have renounced his position as a Sceptic in saying that Scepticism is the path to the philosophy of Heraclitus. He does not, however, renounce Scepticism, but he finds it incomplete. In deliberating concerning the appearance of contradictory predicates in regard to the same object, he would naturally ask, "Whence come these contradictory appearances?" After having doubted all things, he wished to know wherefore he doubts. The system of Heraclitus offers a solution, and he accepts it. Contradictory predicates produce equilibrium in the soul because they are an expression of reality.

[1] Brochard Op. cit. 272.

As a Sceptic he claims that knowledge is impossible, and he does not find that the statement of Heraclitus disproves this, but rather that it supports his theory. He had denied the existence of science. He still does so, but now he knows why he denies it. Brochard asks why it is any more impossible that Aenesidemus should have been a follower of Heraclitus than that Protagoras was so, as Protagoras was after all a Sceptic. In conclusion, Brochard claims that the dogmatic theories attributed to Aenesidemus relate to the doctrine of the truth of contradictory predicates, which seemed to him a logical explanation of the foundation theories of Scepticism. It is right to call him a Sceptic, for he was so, and that sincerely; and he deserves his rank as one of the chiefs of the Sceptical School.

Coming now to the opinion of Zeller,[1] we find that he advocates a misconception of Aenesidemus on the part of Sextus. The whole difficulty is removed, Zeller thinks, by the simple fact that Sextus had not understood Aenesidemus; and as Tertullian and Sextus agree in this misconception of the views of Aenesidemus, they must have been misled by consulting a common author in regard to Aenesidemus, who confused what Aenesidemus said of Heraclitus with his own opinion. Zeller maintains that the expression so often repeated by Sextus—[Greek: Ainesidemos kath' Herakleiton]—shows that some one of Aenesidemus' books contained a report of Heraclitus' doctrines, as Aenesidemus was in the habit of quoting as many authorities as possible to sustain his Scepticism. To justify his quotations from Heraclitus, he had possibly given a short abstract of Heraclitus' teachings; and the misconception advocated by Zeller and found both in Tertullian and Sextus, refers rather to the spirit than to the words quoted from Aenesidemus, and is a misconception due to some earlier author, who had given a false impression of the meaning of Aenesidemus in quoting what Aenesidemus wrote about Heraclitus. That is to say, Heraclitus was classed by Aenesidemus only among those who prepared the way for Scepticism, just as Diogenes[2] mentions many philosophers in that way; and that Soranus[3] and Sextus both had the same misunderstanding can only be explained by a mistake on the part of the authority whom they consulted.

[1] Zeller Op. cit. III, pp. 31-35; Grundriss der Geschichte der Griechischen Phil. p. 263.

[2] Diog. Laert. IX. 11, 71-74.

[3] Tertullian.

This explanation, however, makes Sextus a very stupid man. Aenesidemus' books were well known, and Sextus would most certainly take the trouble to read them. His reputation as an historian would not sustain such an accusation, as Diogenes calls his books [Greek: ta deka ton skeptikon kai alla kallista].[1] Furthermore, that Sextus used Aenesidemus' own books we know from the direct quotation from them in regard to Plato,[2] which he combines with the ideas of Menodotus[3] and his own.

[1] Diog. IX. 12, 116.

[2] Hyp. I. 222.

[3] Following the Greek of Bekker.

Sextus' references to Aenesidemus in connection with Heraclitus are very numerous, and it is absurd to suppose that he would have trusted entirely to some one who reported him for authority on such a subject. Even were it possible that Sextus did not refer directly to the works of Aenesidemus, which we do not admit, even then, there had been many writers in the Sceptical School since the time of Aenesidemus, and they certainly could not all have misrepresented him. We must remember that Sextus was at the head of the School, and had access to all of its literature. His honor would not allow of such a mistake, and if he had indeed made it, his contemporaries must surely have discovered it before Diogenes characterised his books as [Greek: kallista]. Whatever may be said against the accuracy of Sextus as a general historian of philosophy, especially in regard to the older schools, he cannot certainly be accused of ignorance respecting the school of which he was at that time the head.

The opinion of Ritter on this subject is that Aenesidemus must have been a Dogmatic.[1] Saisset contends[2] that Aenesidemus really passed from the philosophy of Heraclitus to that of Pyrrho, and made the statement that Scepticism is the path to the philosophy of Heraclitus to defend his change of view, although in his case the change had been just the opposite to the one he defends. Saisset propounds as a law in the history of philosophy a fact which he claims to be true, that Scepticism always follows sensationalism, for which he gives two examples, Pyrrho, who was first a disciple of Democritus, and Hume, who was a disciple of Locke It is not necessary to discuss the absurdity of such a law, which someone has well remarked would involve an a priori construction of history. There is no apparent reason for Saisset's conjecture in regard to Aenesidemus, for it is exactly the opposite of what Sextus has reported. Strange to say, Saisset himself remarks in another place that we owe religious respect to any text, and that it should be the first law of criticism to render this.[3] Such respect to the text of Sextus, as he himself advocates, puts Saisset's explanation of the subject under discussion out of the question.

[1] Ritter, Op. cit. p. 280. Book IV.

[2] Saisset, Op. cit. p. 206.

[3] Saisset Op. cit. p. 206.

Hirzel and Natorp do not find such a marked contradiction in the two views presented of the theories of Aenesidemus, nor do they think that Sextus has misrepresented them. They rather maintain, that in declaring the coexistence of contradictory predicates regarding the same object, Aenesidemus does not cease to be a Sceptic, for he did not believe that the predicates are applicable in a dogmatic sense of the word, but are only applicable in appearance, that is, applicable to phenomena. The Heraclitism of Aenesidemus would be then only in appearance, as he understood the statement, that "Contradictory predicates are in reality applicable to the same thing," only in the phenomenal sense.[1] Hirzel says in addition, that contradictory predicates are in reality applicable to those phenomena which are the same for all, and consequently true, for Aenesidemus considered those phenomena true that are the same for all.[2] As Protagoras, the disciple of Heraclitus, declared the relative character of sensations, that things exist only for us, and that their nature depends on our perception of them; so, in the phenomenal sense, Aenesidemus accepts the apparent fact that contradictory predicates in reality apply to the same thing.

[1] Natorp Op. cit. 115, 122.

[2] Adv. Math. VIII. 8; Hirzel Op. cit. p. 95.

This explanation entirely overlooks the fact that we have to do with the word [Greek: huparchein], in the statement that contradictory predicates in reality apply to the same thing; while in the passage quoted where Aenesidemus declares common phenomena to be true ones, we have the word [Greek: alethe], so that this explanation of the difficulty would advocate a very strange use of the word [Greek: huparchein].

All of these different views of the possible solution of this perplexing problem are worthy of respect, as the opinion of men who have given much thought to this and other closely Belated subjects. While we may not altogether agree with any one of them, they nevertheless furnish many suggestions, which are very valuable in helping to construct a theory on the subject that shall satisfactorily explain the difficulties, and present a consistent view of the attitude of Aenesidemus.

First, in regard to the Greek expression [Greek: hoi peri] in connection with proper names, upon which Pappenheim bases so much of his argument. All Greek scholars would agree that the expression does not apply usually only to the disciples of any teacher, but [Greek: hoi peri ton Ainesidemon], for instance, includes Aenesidemus with his followers, and is literally translated, "Aenesidemus and his followers." It is noticeable, however, in the writings of Sextus that he uses the expression [Greek: hoi peri] often for the name of the founder of a school alone, as Pappenheim himself admits.[1] We find examples of this in the mention of Plato and Democritus and Arcesilaus, as [Greek: hoi peri ton Platona kai Demokriton][2] and [Greek: hoi peri ton Arkesilaon],[3] and accordingly we have no right to infer that his use of the name Aenesidemus in this way has an exceptional significance. It may mean Aenesidemus alone, or it may signify Aenesidemus in connection with his followers.

[1] Pappenheim Op. cit. p. 21.

[2] Adv. Math. VIII. 6.

[3] Adv. Math. VII. 150.

In reply to Zeller's position, that Sextus and Tertullian have misunderstood Aenesidemus, and quote from some common author who misrepresents him, we would admit that such a misunderstanding might be possible where Sextus gives long explanations of Heraclitus' teachings, beginning with quoting Aenesidemus, and continuing in such a way that it is not always possible to distinguish just the part that is attributed to Aenesidemus; but such a misunderstanding certainly cannot be asserted in regard to the direct statement that Aenesidemus regarded Scepticism as the path to the philosophy of Heraclitus, for the reasons previously given. Neither would we agree with Brochard, whose solution of the difficulty is on the whole the most logical, i.e., that Aenesidemus had necessarily already passed through two phases of philosophical belief. It is possible to admit a gradual evolution of thought in Aenesidemus without supposing in either case a change of basis. His withdrawal from the Academy is an argument against, rather than in favor of a change on his part, and was caused by the well-known change in the attitude of the Academy.

Many of the teachings of the Sceptical School were taken directly from the Academy, belonging to those doctrines advocated in the Academy before the eclectic dogmatic tendency introduced by Antiochus. In fact, Sextus himself claims a close relation between the Middle Academy and Pyrrhonism.[1] Aenesidemus, although he was a Sceptic, belonged to the Academy, and on leaving it became, as it were, a pioneer in Pyrrhonism, and cannot be judged in the same way as we should judge a Sceptic of Sextus' time.

It seems a self-evident fact that during the two centuries which elapsed between the time of Aenesidemus and Sextus, the standpoint of judgment in the Sceptical School had greatly changed. An example illustrating this change we find in a comparison of the presentation of Scepticism by Diogenes with that of Sextus. The author Whom Diogenes follows, probably one of the Sceptical writers, considers Xenophanes, Zeno, and Democritus, Sceptics, and also Plato,[2] while Sextus, in regard to all of these men, opposes the idea that they were Sceptics.[3] Diogenes also calls Heraclitus a Sceptic, and even Homer,[4] and quotes sceptical sayings from the Seven Wise Men;[5] he includes in the list of Sceptics, Archilochus, Euripides, Empedocles, and Hippocrates,[6] and, furthermore, says that Theodosius, probably one of the younger Sceptics, objected to the name 'Pyrrhonean' on the ground that Pyrrho was not the first Sceptic.[7]

[1] Hyp. I. 232.

[2] Diog. IX. 11, 17-72.

[3] Hyp. I. 213-214; I. 223-225.

[4] Diog. IX. 11, 71.

[5] Diog. IX. 11, 71.

[6] Diog. IX. 11, 71-73.

[7] Diog. IX. 11. 70.

We have given the testimony from many sources to the effect that before the time of Sextus the Empirical School of Medicine was considered identical with Scepticism, although not so by Sextus himself. From all of these things we may infer a narrowing of the limits of Pyrrhonism in the time of Sextus.

Let us accept with Brochard the development of thought seen in Aenesidemus from the beginning to the end of his career, without agreeing with him that Aenesidemus ever consciously changed his basis. He was a Sceptic in the Academy. He left the Academy on that account, and he remained a Sceptic to the end, in so far as a man can be a Sceptic, and take the positive stand that Aenesidemus did.

Two things might account for his apparent dogmatism—

(i) The eclectic spirit of his time.

(ii) The psychological effect upon himself of this careful systemisation of the Sceptical teachings.

Let us consider the first of these causes. Aenesidemus, although not the first of the later Sceptics, was apparently the first to separate himself from the Academy. He was the founder of a new movement, the attempt to revive the older Scepticism as taught by Pyrrho and Timon, and separate it from the dogmatic teachings of the Stoics which were so greatly affecting the Scepticism of the New Academy. It was the spirit of his time to seek to sustain all philosophical teaching by the authority of as many as possible of the older philosophers, and he could hardly escape the tendency which his training in the Academy had unconsciously given him. Therefore we find him trying to prove that the philosophy of Heraclitus follows from Scepticism. It is not necessary either to explain the matter, as both Hirzel and Natorp so ingeniously attempt to do, by claiming that the truth of contradictory predicates which Aenesidemus accepted from Heraclitus referred only to phenomena. The history of philosophy gives us abundant proof of the impossibility of absolute Scepticism, and Aenesidemus furnishes us with one example of many of this impossibility, and of the dogmatism that must exist in connection with all thought. In the case of Aenesidemus, who evidently gave the best efforts of his life to establish the Sceptical School, the dogmatism was probably unconscious. That he remained to the end a Sceptic is shown by the fact that he was known as such to posterity. Nowhere do we find a change of basis referred to in regard to him, and Sextus, in refuting the mistakes which he attributes to Aenesidemus, does it, as it were, to point out something of which Aenesidemus had been unconscious.

Let us consider here the second cause of Aenesidemus' Dogmatism, the psychological effect upon himself of formulating Sceptical beliefs. The work that he did for the Sceptical School was a positive one. It occupied years of his life, and stamped itself upon his mental development. In formulating Scepticism, and in advocating it against the many enemies of the School, and amidst all the excitement of the disruption from the Academy, and of establishing a new School, it was inevitable that his mind should take a dogmatic tendency. He remained a Sceptic as he had always been, but must have grown dogmatic in his attitude towards the Sceptical formulae, and was thus able to adopt some of the teachings of Heraclitus, unconscious of their inconsistency.

Where should we find a modern writer who is consistent in all his statements? Could we read the works of Aenesidemus, we might better understand the connection between the apparently contradictory ideas in his teaching, but the inconsistencies in statement would probably remain. It is necessary to remember the position of Aenesidemus in breaking away from the Academy and in founding a new school, the full significance of which he could not foresee. There must necessarily be some crudeness in pioneer work, and some failure to see the bearing of all its parts, and a compiler like Sextus could point out the inconsistencies which the two centuries since the time of Aenesidemus had made plain. Aenesidemus was too positive a character to admit of absolute Sceptical consistency. He was nevertheless the greatest thinker the Sceptical School had known since the age of Pyrrho, its founder. In claiming a union between Pyrrhonism and the philosophy of Heraclitus, he recognised also the pre-Socratic tendency of the Sceptical School. The name of Socrates was all powerful in the Academy, but Aenesidemus comprehended the fact that the true spirit of Pyrrhonism was of earlier origin than the Academic Scepsis.



CHAPTER V.

Critical Examination of Pyrrhonism.

The distinct philosophical movement of which Pyrrho was the author bore his name for five centuries after his death. It had an acknowledged existence as a philosophical tendency, if indeed not a sect, for a great part of that time. Yet, when we carefully analyse the relation of Pyrrhonism, as presented to us by Sextus, to the teachings of Pyrrho himself, in so far as they can be known, we find many things in Pyrrhonism for which Pyrrho was not responsible.

The foundation elements of the movement, the spirit of Empirical doubt that lay underneath and caused its development in certain directions rather than others, are due to Pyrrho. The methods of the school, however, were very foreign to anything found in the life or teachings of Pyrrho. Pyrrho was eminently a moralist. He was also to a great degree an ascetic, and he lived his philosophy, giving it thus a positive side wanting in the Pyrrhonism presented to us by Sextus. Timon represents him as desiring to escape from the tedious philosophical discussions of his time—

[Greek: o geron o Purrhon, pos e pothen ekdusin heures latreies doxon te kenophrosunes te sophiston;]

and again he speaks of his modest and tranquil life—

[Greek: touto moi, o Purrhon, himeiretai etor akousai pos pot' aner et' ageis panta meth' hesuchies mounos d'anthropoisi theou tropon hegemoneueis ..... pheista meth' hesuchies aiei aphrontistos kai akinetos kata tauta me prosech' indalmois hedulogou sophies.][1]

Pyrrho wished more than anything else to live in peace, and his dislike of the Sophists[2] may well have made him try to avoid dialectic; while, on the contrary, in the Pyrrhonean School of later times discussion was one of the principal methods of contest, at least after the time of Agrippa. Pyrrhonism seems to have been originally a theory of life, like the philosophy of Socrates, to whom Pyrrho is often compared,[3] and Pyrrho, like Socrates, lived his philosophy. Our knowledge of Pyrrho is gained from Aristocles, Sextus Empiricus, and Diogenes, and from the Academic traditions given by Cicero. Diogenes gives us details of his life which he attributes to Antigonus of Carystius, who lived about the time of Pyrrho.[4] Pyrrho was a disciple and admirer of Democritus,[5] some of whose teachings bore a lasting influence over the subsequent development of Pyrrhonism. He accompanied Alexander the Great to India, where he remained as a member of his suite for some time, and the philosophical ideas of India were not without influence on his teachings. Oriental philosophy was not unknown in Greece long before the time of Pyrrho, but his personal contact with the Magi and the Gymnosophists of the far East, apparently impressed upon his mind teachings for which he was not unprepared by his previous study and natural disposition. In his indifference to worldly goods we find a strong trace of the Buddhistic teaching regarding the vanity of human life. He showed also a similar hopelessness in regard to the possibility of finding a satisfactory philosophy, or absolute truth. He evidently returned from India with the conviction that truth was not to be attained.[6]

[1] Diog. IX. 11, 65. Given from Mullach's edition of Timon by Brochard, Pyrrhon et le Scepticism primitive, p. 525.

[2] Diog. IX. 11, 69.

[3] Lewes Op. cit. p. 460.

[4] Diog. IX. 11, 62.

[5] Diog. IX. 11, 67.

[6] Compare Maccoll Op. cit.

After the death of Alexander and Pyrrho's return to Greece, he lived quietly with his sister at Elis, and Diogenes says that he was consistent in his life, asserting and denying nothing, but in everything withholding his opinion, as nothing in itself is good or shameful, just or unjust.[1] He was not a victim of false pride, but sold animals in the market place, and, if necessary, washed the utensils himself.[2] He lived in equality of spirit, and practised his teachings with serenity. If one went out while he was talking he paid no attention, but went calmly on with his remarks.[3] He liked to live alone, and to travel alone, and on one occasion, being knocked about in a vessel by a storm at sea, he did not lose his imperturbability, but pointed to a swine calmly eating on board, and said that the wise man should have as much calmness of soul as that. He endured difficult surgical operations with indifference,[4] and when his friend Anaxarchus was once unfortunate enough to fall into a morass, he went calmly by without stopping to help him, for which consistency of conduct Anaxarchus afterwards praised him. There are two instances given by Diogenes when he lost control of himself; once in getting angry with his sister, and once in trying to save himself when chased by a dog. When accused of inconsistency, he said it was difficult to entirely give up one's humanity.[5] He was greatly venerated by the people among whom he lived, who made him high priest, and on his account exempted all philosophers from taxation,[6] and after his death erected a statue to his memory. These facts testify to his moral character, and also to fulfil the functions of high priest a certain amount of dogmatism must have been necessary.

[1] Diog. IX. 11, 61, 62.

[2] Diog. IX. 11, 66.

[3] Diog. IX. 11, 63.

[4] Diog. IX. 11, 67.

[5] Diog. IX. 11, 66.

[6] Diog. IX. 11, 64.

According to Diogenes, "We cannot know," said Pyrrho, "what things are in themselves, either by sensation or by judgment, and, as we cannot distinguish the true from the false, therefore we should live impassively, and without an opinion." The term [Greek: epoche], so characteristic of Pyrrhonism, goes back, according to Diogenes, to the time of Pyrrho.[1] Nothing is, in itself, one thing more than another, but all experience is related to phenomena, and no knowledge is possible through the senses.[2] Pyrrho's aim was [Greek: ataraxia] and his life furnished a marked example of the spirit of indifference, for which the expression [Greek: apatheia] is better suited than the later one, [Greek: ataraxia]. The description of his life with his sister confirms this, where the term [Greek: adiaphoria] is used to describe his conduct.[3] He founded his Scepticism on the equivalence of opposing arguments.[4]

[1] Diog. IX. 11, 61.

[2] Diog. IX. 11, 61-62.

[3] Diog. IX. 11. 66.

[4] Diog. IX. 11. 106.

The picture given of Pyrrho by Cicero is entirely different from that of Diogenes, and contrasts decidedly with it.[1] Cicero knows Pyrrho as a severe moralist, not as a Sceptic. Both authors attribute to Pyrrho the doctrine of indifference and apathy, but, according to Cicero, Pyrrho taught of virtue, honesty, and the summum bonum, while Diogenes plainly tells us that he considered nothing as good in itself, "and of all things nothing as true."[2] Cicero does not once allude to Pyrrhonean doubt. We see on the one hand, in Cicero's idea of Pyrrho, the influence of the Academy, perhaps even of Antiochus himself,[3] which probably colored the representations given of Pyrrho; but, on the other hand, there is much in Diogenes' account of Pyrrho's life and teachings, and in the writings of Timon, which shows us the positive side of Pyrrho. Pyrrho, in denying the possibility of all knowledge, made that rather a motive for indifference in the relations of life, than the foundation thought of a philosophical system. His teaching has a decided ethical side, showing in that respect the strong influence of Democritus over him, who, like Pyrrho, made happiness to consist in a state of feeling.[4] The one motive of all of Pyrrho's teaching is a positive one, the desire for happiness.

[1] De orat. III, 62.

[2] Diog. IX. 11, 61.

[3] Compare Natorp Op. cit. p. 71.

[4] Zeller Grundriss der Griechischen Phil. p. 70.

The essence of Pyrrhonism as given by Timon is as follows:[1] Man desires to be happy. To realise his desire he must consider three things:

(i) What is the nature of things?

(ii) How should man conduct himself in relation to them?

(iii) What is the result to him of this relation?

The nature of things is unknown. Our relation to them must be one of suspension of judgment, without activity, desire, or belief,—that is, an entirely negative relation. The result is that state of having no opinion, called [Greek: epoche], which is followed in turn by [Greek: ataraxia].

[1] Aristocles ap. Eusebium Praep. Ev. XIV. 18.

[1]The problem of philosophy is here proposed very nearly in the terms of Kant, but not with the positive motive, like that of the great philosopher of Germany, of evolving a system to present the truth. Yet the importance of these questions shows the originality of Pyrrho. The earnestness of Pyrrho is further shown by an example given by Diogenes. Once on being found talking to himself alone, he said, when asked the reason, that he was meditating how to become a good man ([Greek: chrestos]),[2] thus showing an entirely different spirit from anything found in Sextus' books. The explanation of his life and teachings is to be found largely in his own disposition. Such an attitude of indifference must belong to a placid nature, and cannot be entirely the result of a philosophical system, and, while it can be aimed at, it can never be perfectly imitated. One of his disciples recognised this, and said that it was necessary to have the disposition of Pyrrho in order to hold his doctrines.[3] Diogenes tells us that he was the first to advance any formulae of Scepticism,[4] but they must have been very elementary, as Pyrrho himself wrote nothing. We find no trace of formulated Tropes in Pyrrho's teachings, yet it is probable that he indicated some of the contradictions in sensation, and possibly the Tropes in some rudimentary form. Of the large number of sceptical formulae, or [Greek: phonai], the three which seem to have the oldest connection with Scepticism are the [Greek: antilogia], the [Greek: ouden horizo], and the [Greek: ou mallon].[5] We know from Diogenes that Protagoras is the authority for saying that in regard to everything there are two opposing arguments.[6] The saying "to determine nothing" is quoted from Timon's Python by Diogenes,[7] and the other two mentioned are also attributed to him by Aristocles.[8] We have also in the [Greek: ou mallon] a direct connection with Democritus, although the difference in the meaning which he attributed to it is shown by Sextus.[9] So while the expression is the same, the explanation of it given by Pyrrho must have been different. It would seem probable that Pyrrho used all of these three sayings, from the account of Diogenes, and that even then they gave rise to the accusation of the Dogmatics, that simply by possessing such sayings the Sceptics dogmatised,[10] for the refutation of this used by Sextus occurs in the old account of the sayings, namely, that these formulae include also themselves in the meaning, as a cathartic removes itself together with other harmful objects.[11]

[1] Compare Maccoll Op. cit. p. 21.

[2] Diog. IX. 11, 64.

[3] Diog. IX. 11, 70, 64.

[4] Diog. IX. 11, 69; IX. 11, 61.

[5] Hyp. I. 202; Diog. IX. 8, 51; Photius Bekker's ed. 280 H.

[6] Photius Bekker's ed. 280 H.

[7] Hyp. I. 197; Diog. IX. 11, 76.

[8] Aristocles ap. Eusebium, Praep. Ev. XIV. 18.

[9] Hyp. I. 213.

[10] Diog. IX. 11, 68-76.

[11] Diog. IX. 11, 76; Hyp. I. 206.

In comparing the later Pyrrhonism with the teachings of Pyrrho, we would sharply contrast the moral attitude of the two. With Pyrrho equilibrium of soul was a means to be applied to his positive theory of life; with the later Pyrrhoneans it was the end to be attained. We would attribute, however, the empirical tendency shown during the whole history of Pyrrhonism to Pyrrho as its originator. He was an empirical philosopher, and the result of his influence in this respect, as seen in the subsequent development of the school, stands in marked contrast to the dialectic spirit of the Academic Scepsis. The empiricism of the school is shown in its scientific lore, in the fact that so many of the Sceptics were physicians, and in the character of the ten Tropes of [Greek: epoche]. We may safely affirm that the foundation principles of Pyrrhonism are due to Pyrrho, and the originality which gave the school its power. The elaborated arguments, however, and the details of its formulae belong to later times.

Coming now to the relation of Pyrrhonism to the Academy, the connection between the two is difficult to exactly determine, between the time of Pyrrho and that of Aenesidemus. Scepticism in the Academy was, however, never absolutely identical with Pyrrhonism, although at certain periods of the history of the Academy the difference was slight. We can trace throughout the evolution of doubt, as shown to us in Pyrrhonism, and in Academic Scepticism, the different results which followed the difference in origin of the two movements, and these differences followed according to general laws of development of thought. Arcesilaus, who introduced doubt into the Academy, claimed to return to the dialectic of Socrates, and suppressing the lectures,[1] which were the method of teaching in the later schools of philosophy, introduced discussions instead, as being more decidedly a Socratic method. Although, according to Sextus, he was the one leader of the Academy whose Scepticism most nearly approached that of Pyrrhonism,[2] yet underneath his whole teaching lay that dialectic principle so thoroughly in opposition to the empiricism of Pyrrho. The belief of Socrates and Plato in the existence of absolute truth never entirely lost its influence over the Academy, but was like a hidden germ, destined to reappear after Scepticism had passed away. It finally led the Academy back to Dogmatism, and prepared the way for the Eclecticism with which it disappeared from history.

[1] Compare Maccoll Op. cit. p. 36.

[2] Hyp. I. 232.

The history of Pyrrhonism and that of Academic Scepticism were for a time contemporaneous. The immediate follower of Pyrrho, Timon, called by Sextus the "prophet of Pyrrho,"[1] was a contemporary of Arcesilaus. That he did not consider the Scepticism of the Academy identical with Pyrrhonism is proved from the fact that he did not himself join the Academy, but was, on the contrary, far from doing so. That he regarded Arcesilaus as a Dogmatic is evident from his writings.[2] One day, on seeing the chief of the Academy approaching, he cried out, "What are you doing here among us who are free?"[3] After the death of Timon, the Pyrrhonean School had no representative till the time of Ptolemy of Cyrene,[4] and Greek Scepticism was represented by the Academy. That Pyrrho had a strong influence over Arcesilaus, the founder of the Middle Academy, is evident[5]; but there was also never a time when the Academy entirely broke away from all the teachings of Plato, even in their deepest doubt.[6] It is true that Arcesilaus removed, nominally as well as in spirit, some of the dialogues of Plato from the Academy, but only those that bore a dogmatic character, while those that presented a more decided Socratic mode of questioning without reaching any decided result, men regarded as authority for Scepticism.

[1] Adv. Math. I. 53.

[2] Diog. IV. 6, 33, 34.

[3] Diog. IX. 12, 114.

[4] Diog. IX. 12, 115.

[5] Diog. IV. 6, 33.

[6] Diog. IV. 6, 32.

Sextus does not deny that Arcesilaus was almost a Pyrrhonean, but he claims that his Pyrrhonism was only apparent, and not real, and was used as a cloak to hide his loyalty to the teachings of Plato.[1] As Ariston said of him,[2] "Plato before, Pyrrho behind, Diodorus in the middle." Sextus also characterises the method of Arcesilaus as dialectic,[3] and we know from Cicero that it was his pride to pretend to return to the dialectic of Socrates.

It is interesting to note that Sextus, in his refutation of the position that the Academy is the same as Pyrrhonism, takes up the entire development of Academic thought from the time of Plato till that of Antiochus, and does not limit the argument to Scepticism under Arcesilaus. The claim made by some that the two schools were the same, is stated by him,[4] and the word 'some' probably refers to members of both schools at different periods of their history. Sextus recognises three Academies, although he remarks that some make even a further division, calling that of Philo and Charmides, the fourth, and that of Antiochus and his followers, the fifth.

[1] Hyp. I. 234.

[2] Diog. IV. 6, 33.

[3] Hyp. I. 234.

[4] Hyp. I. 220.

That many in the Academy, and even outside of it, regarded Plato as a Sceptic, and an authority for subsequent Scepticism, we find both from Sextus and Diogenes.[1] As Lewes justly remarks, one could well find authority for Scepticism in the works of Plato, as indeed the Academicians did, but not when the sum total of his teachings was considered. The spirit of Plato's teachings was dogmatic, as Sextus most decidedly recognises, and as Aenesidemus and Menodotus[2] recognised before him.[3] Sextus himself shows us that Plato's idealism and ethical teachings can have nothing in common with Scepticism, for if he accepts the desirability of the virtuous life, and the existence of Providence, he dogmatises; and if he even regards them as probable, he gives preference to one set of ideas over another, and departs from the sceptical character. Sextus characterises the sceptical side of Plato's writings as mental gymnastics,[4] which do not authorise his being called a Sceptic, and affirms that Plato is not a Sceptic, since he prefers some unknown things to others in trustworthiness. The ethical difference underlying the teachings of the Academy and Pyrrhonism, Sextus was very quick to see, and although it is very probable that the part of the Hypotyposes which defines the difference between the Academy and Pyrrhonism may be largely quoted from the introduction to Aenesidemus' works, yet Sextus certainly gives these statements the strong stamp of his approval. He condemns the Academy because of the theory that good and evil exist, or if this cannot be decidedly proved, yet that it is more probable that what is called good exists than the contrary.[5]

[1] Hyp. I. 221; Diog. IX. 11, 72.

[2] Bekker's edition of Hyp. I. 222.

[3] Hyp. I. 222.

[4] Hyp. I. 223.

[5] Hyp. I. 226.

The whole Academic teaching of probabilities contradicted the standpoint of the Sceptics—that our ideas are equal as regards trustworthiness and untrustworthiness,[1] for the Academicians declared that some ideas are probable and some improbable, and they make a difference even in those ideas that they call probable.

Sextus claims that there are three fundamental grounds of difference between Pyrrhonism and the Academy. The first is the doctrine of probability which the Academicians accept in regard to the superior trustworthiness of some ideas over others.[2] The second is the different way in which the two schools follow their teachers. The Pyrrhoneans follow without striving or strong effort, or even strong inclination, as a child follows his teacher, while the Academicians follow with sympathy and assent, as Carneades and Clitomachus affirm.[3] The third difference is in the aim, for the Academicians follow what is probable in life. The Sceptics follow nothing, but live according to laws, customs, and natural feelings undogmatically.[4]

The difference between the later teaching of the Academy and Pyrrhonism is evident, and Sextus treats of it briefly, as not requiring discussion,[5] as Philo taught that the nature of facts is incomprehensible, and Antiochus transferred the Stoa to the Academy. It is therefore evident, from the comparison which we have made, that we do not find in the Academy, with which Scepticism after the death of Timon was so long united, the exact continuance of Pyrrhonism. The philosophical enmity of the two contemporaries, Timon and Arcesilaus, the Academician who had most in common with Pyrrhonism, is an expression of the fundamental incompatibility between the two schools.

[1] Hyp. I. 227.

[2] Hyp. I. 229.

[3] Hyp. I. 230.

[4] Hyp. I. 231.

[5] Hyp. I. 235.

During all the chequered history of the Academy the dormant idealism was there, underlying the outward development. Although during the time of Arcesilaus and Carneades the difference was so slight as to seem a mere matter of form of expression, yet the different foundations on which the two schools stood was always recognisable. On the one hand there was the germ of idealism which was destined to awake to a new life, and on the other, the attempt at absolute negation which was to result in the final extinction of Pyrrhonism. We find in both, it is true, especially in the time of Arcesilaus, the aim of [Greek: epoche].[1] Both placed great weight on [Greek: isostheneia], or the equal value of opposing arguments.[2] The foundation of the [Greek: epoche] was, however, different in the two cases. Arcesilaus founded his on dialectic, while Pyrrho's was empirical.

[1] Hyp. I. 232.

[2] Diog. IX. 73; Hyp. II. 130; III. 65.

The Pyrrhonean believed that ideas give us no knowledge of the outer world; the Academic Sceptic believed that we cannot distinguish between true and false ideas, so such knowledge is impossible. The Pyrrhonean denied that truth could exist in ideas because of their contradictory nature, and consequently the existence of all truth, [Greek: meden einai te aletheia epi panton].[1] The Academic Sceptic granted that the truth was possibly contained in ideas, but affirmed that it could never be known to us. The Pyrrhoneans prided themselves on still being seekers, for although ordinary ideas are too contradictory to give knowledge of the outer world, they did not deny that such knowledge might be possible, but simply suspended the judgment regarding it. To the Pyrrhonean the result corresponded to the method. All ideas thus far known revealed nothing of the truth, therefore he still sought. The Academician tried logically to prove that the truth is impossible to find. It is the relation of the dialectician to the empiricist, and the two varieties of Scepticism are explained by their difference in origin. In Pyrrhonism there was no constructive element. In the Academic Scepsis such an element was found throughout all its history in the theory of Probability. Arcesilaus himself laid great stress upon this doctrine, which Sextus carefully shows us[2] is utterly inconsistent with Pyrrhonism. Arcesilaus plainly teaches that, having suspended one's judgment in regard to matters of knowledge, one should control his choices, his refusals, and his actions by the probable.[3]

[1] Diog. IX. 11, 61.

[2] Hyp. I. 229.

[3] Compare Maccoll Op. cit. 39.

After Antiochus introduced Eclecticism into the Academy, Pyrrhonism was the only representative of Greek Scepticism, and it flourished for over two centuries after our era, and then also disappeared, no more to exist as a regular philosophical school.

Having considered at length the essence of Pyrrhonism as presented by Sextus Empiricus, it now remains to briefly note the characteristics that formed its strength and weakness, and the causes of its final downfall. Herbart says that every philosopher is a Sceptic in the beginning, but every Sceptic remains always in the beginning. This remark may well be applied to Pyrrhonism. We find in its teachings many fundamental philosophical truths which might have formed the beginning of great philosophical progress, but which were never developed to any positive results. The teachings of Pyrrhonism were some of them well fitted to prepare the way to idealism. The great idea of the relativity of Vorstellungen is made very prominent by the ten Tropes of [Greek: epoche]. Aenesidemus, in his eight Tropes against aetiology, shows the absurdity of the doctrine of causality when upheld on materialistic grounds. That was to him final, [Greek: epei ouk estai aition.] He could not divine that although the result which he presented was logical, it only led to a higher truth. It was reserved for the greatest of modern philosophers to reveal to the world that causality is a condition, and a necessary condition, of thought. When Aenesidemus proved by his seventh Trope that causality is subjective, he regarded it as fatal to the doctrine; yet this conclusion was a marked step in advance in critical philosophy, although Aenesidemus could not himself see it in all its bearings. The great difference between Aenesidemus and Kant is the difference between the materialist and the believer in subjective reality. Both agreed in the unknown nature of the Ding an sich, but this was to the Pyrrhonist the end of all his philosophy; to Kant, however, the beginning.

Pyrrhonism has rendered, notwithstanding its points of fatal weakness, marked service to the world in science, philosophy, ethics, and religion. It quickened scientific thought by emphasising empirical methods of investigation, and by criticising all results founded without sufficient data upon false hypotheses. If, instead of denying the possibility of all science because of the want of a criterion of the truth of phenomena, the Pyrrhonists had comprehended the possibility of a science of phenomena, they might have led the world in scientific progress.[1] Their service to philosophy lay in the stimulus to thought that their frequent attacks on dogmatic beliefs occasioned. Pyrrhonism brought together all the most prominent theories of the old schools of philosophy to test their weakness and expose their contradictions, and this very process of criticism often demonstrated the power of the truth which they contained.

Sextus Empiricus was often charged by the Church Fathers with corrupting religious belief, and yet the greatest service which Pyrrhonism has rendered the world was in religious and ethical lines. This service did not, naturally, consist in destroying belief in absolute truth, as the Sceptic professed to do, but in preparing the way to find it. The bold attacks of Scepticism on all truth led men to investigate ethical and religious teachings, to examine the grounds of their belief, and to put in practical use the right of reason and free discussion.

Scepticism was the antecedent of freedom of conscience and rational criticism,[2] and the absolute right of scientific thought. The Sceptics, however, reaped none of the benefits of their own system. They remained, as it were, always on the threshold of possible progress. With the keys to great discoveries in their hands, the doors of philosophical and scientific advancement were for ever closed to them by the limitations of their own system. The inherent weakness of Pyrrhonism lay in its psychological inconsistency and in its negative character. I think that we may safely say that Pyrrhonism was the most consistent system of Scepticism ever offered to the world, and yet it proves most decidedly that complete Scepticism is psychologically impossible. A man may give up his belief in one set of ideas, and, if they are ideas that are popularly accepted, he will be called a Sceptic, as was the case with Hume. He must, however, replace these ideas by others equally positive, and then he is no longer a Sceptic, but a Dogmatic, for he believes in something.

[1] Compare Lewes Op. cit. p. 463.

[2] Compare Chaignet Op. cit. p. 460.

We have shown that the greatest thinkers of Pyrrhonism, Pyrrho, Aenesidemus, and Agrippa, were not examples of absolute Scepticism, and although Sextus Empiricus realised what consistency demanded in this respect, and affirmed on almost every page that he was asserting nothing, yet there is not a paragraph of his books in which he does not, after all, dogmatise on some subject. Complete Scepticism is contrary to the fundamental laws of language, as all use of verbs involves some affirmation. The Pyrrhonists realised this, and therefore some of them wrote nothing, like Pyrrho, their leader, and others advocated [Greek: aphasia][1] as one of the doctrines of their system.

[1] Hyp. I. 192.

The very aim of Pyrrhonism was an inconsistent one. [Greek: Ataraxia] was only another name for happiness, and in one instance, even, is given as [Greek: hedone], and thus, in spite of themselves, the Sceptics introduced a theory of happiness. Pyrrho, like others of his time, sought the highest good, and thought that he had found it in [Greek: ataraxia], the peace of mind that appears in other systems of philosophy in other forms. The difference of aim between the Pyrrhonists, Stoics, and Epicureans was more apparent than real. To them all philosophy was a path to lead to happiness. The method of Pyrrhonism was, however, negative. Its strength consisted in its attacks on Dogmatism, and not in any positive aim of its own, for its positive side could not be recognised according to its own doctrines. Therefore there was no real development in Pyrrhonism, for a negative thought cannot be developed.

We find, accordingly, from the time of Pyrrho to Sextus, no growth in breadth of philosophical outlook, only improvement in methods. Philosophical activity can never have doubt as its aim, as that would form, as we have shown, a psychological contradiction. The true essence of Pyrrhonism was passivity, but passivity can never lead to progress. Much of the polemical work of Pyrrhonism prepared the way for scientific progress by providing a vast store of scientific data, but progress was to the Pyrrhonists impossible. They sounded their own scientific death-knell by declaring the impossibility of science, and putting an end to all theories.

The life of all scientific and philosophic progress is in the attempt to find the hidden truth. To the Sceptic there was no truth, and there could be no progress. As progress is a law in the evolution of the human race, so Scepticism as a philosophy could never be a permanent growth, any more than asceticism in religion can be a lasting influence. Both of them are only outgrowths. As the foundation principles of Scepticism were opposed to anything like real growth, it was a system that could never originate anything. Pyrrho taught from the beginning that the Sceptic must live according to law and custom; not, however, because one law or custom is better than another in itself, but simply for the sake of peace. This basis of action was itself a death-blow to all reform in social or political life. It was a selfish, negative way of seeking what was, after all, a positive thing, the [Greek: ataraxia] that the Sceptic desired. Life with the Pyrrhonist was phenomenal, and not phenomenal simply in regard to the outer world, but also subjectively, and no absolute knowledge of the subjective life or of personal existence was possible.

The cause of the downfall of Pyrrhonism lay in the fact that it had nothing to offer to humanity in the place of what it had destroyed. It made no appeal to human sympathies, and ignored all the highest motives to human action. The especial materialistic standpoint from which Pyrrhonism judged all that pertains to knowledge and life shut out the ideal, and all possibility of absolute truth. It was an expression of the philosophic decadence of the age when it flourished, and although it possessed some philosophic worth, yet it bore in itself the causes of its decay.



PYRRHONIC SKETCHES

BY

SEXTUS EMPIRICUS.

BOOK I.



CHAPTER I.

The Principal Differences between Philosophers.

It is probable that those who seek after anything whatever, will 1 either find it as they continue the search, will deny that it can be found and confess it to be out of reach, or will go on seeking it. Some have said, accordingly, in regard to the things sought in philosophy, that they have found the truth, while 2 others have declared it impossible to find, and still others continue to seek it. Those who think that they have found it are those who are especially called Dogmatics, as for example, the Schools of Aristotle and Epicurus, the Stoics and some others. Those who have declared it impossible to find are Clitomachus, 3 Carneades, with their respective followers, and other Academicians. Those who still seek it are the Sceptics. It appears therefore, reasonable to conclude that the three 4 principal kinds of philosophy are the Dogmatic, the Academic, and the Sceptic. Others may suitably treat of the other Schools, but as for the Sceptical School, we shall now give an outline of it, remarking in advance that in respect to nothing that will be said do we speak positively, that it must be absolutely so, but we shall state each thing historically as it now appears to us.



CHAPTER II.

Ways of Treating Scepticism.

One way of treating the Sceptical philosophy is called 5 general, and the other special. The general method is that by which we set forth the character of Scepticism, declaring what its idea is, what its principles are, its mode of reasoning, its criterion, and its aim. It presents also, the aspects of doubt, [Greek: hoi tropoi tes epoches], and the way in which we should understand the Sceptical formulae, and the distinction between Scepticism and the related Schools of philosophy. The special method, on the contrary, is that by which we 6 speak against 6 each part of so-called philosophy. Let us then treat Scepticism at first in the general way, beginning our delineation with the nomenclature of the Sceptical School.



CHAPTER III.

The Nomenclature of Scepticism.

The Sceptical School is also called the "Seeking School," from 7 its spirit of research and examination; the "Suspending School," from the condition of mind in which one is left after the search, in regard to the things that he has examined; and the "Doubting School," either because, as some say, the Sceptics doubt and are seeking in regard to everything, or because they never know whether to deny or affirm. It is also called the Pyrrhonean School, because Pyrrho appears to us the best representative of Scepticism, and is more prominent than all who before him occupied themselves with it.



CHAPTER IV.

What is Scepticism?

The [Greek: dynamis] of the Sceptical School is to place the 8 phenomenal in opposition to the intellectual "in any way whatever," and thus through the equilibrium of the reasons and things ([Greek: isostheneia ton logon]) opposed to each other, to reach, first the state of suspension of judgment, [Greek: epoche] and afterwards that of imperturbability, [Greek: ataraxia]. We do not use the word [Greek: dynamis] in any 9 unusual sense, but simply, meaning the force of the system. By the phenomenal, we understand the sensible, hence we place the intellectual in opposition to it. The phrase "in any way whatever," may refer to the word [Greek: dynamis] in order that we may understand that word in a simple sense as we said, or it may refer to the placing the phenomenal and intellectual in opposition. For we place these in opposition to each other in a variety of ways, the phenomenal to the phenomenal, and the intellectual to the intellectual, or reciprocally, and we say "in any way whatever," in order that all methods of opposition may be included. Or "in any way whatever" may refer to the phenomenal and the intellectual, so that we need not ask how does the phenomenal appear, or how are the thoughts conceived, but that we may understand these things in a simple sense. By "reasons opposed to each other," we do not by any means 10 understand that they deny or affirm anything, but simply that they offset each other. By equilibrium, we mean equality in regard to trustworthiness and untrustworthiness, so that of the reasons that are placed in opposition to each other, one should not excel another in trustworthiness. [Greek: epoche] is a holding back of the opinion, in consequence of which we neither deny nor affirm anything. [Greek: ataraxia] is repose and tranquillity of soul. We shall explain how [Greek: ataraxia] accompanies [Greek: epoche] when we speak of the aim.



CHAPTER V.

The Sceptic.

What is meant by a Pyrrhonean philosopher can be understood from 11 the idea of the Sceptical School. He is a Pyrrhonean, namely, who identifies himself with this system.



CHAPTER VI.

The Origin of Scepticism.

Scepticism arose in the beginning from the hope of attaining 12 [Greek: ataraxia]; for men of the greatest talent were perplexed by the contradiction of things, and being at a loss what to believe, began to question what things are true, and what false, hoping to attain [Greek: ataraxia] as a result of the decision. The fundamental principle of the Sceptical system is especially this, namely, to oppose every argument by one of equal weight, for it seems to us that in this way we finally reach the position where we have no dogmas.



CHAPTER VII.

Does the Sceptic Dogmatise?

We say that the Sceptic does not dogmatise. We do not say 13 this, meaning by the word dogma the popular assent to certain things rather than others (for the Sceptic does assent to feelings that are a necessary result of sensation, as for example, when he is warm or cold, he cannot say that he thinks he is not warm or cold), but we say this, meaning by dogma the acceptance of any opinion in regard to the unknown things investigated by science. For the Pyrrhonean assents to nothing that is unknown. Furthermore, he does not dogmatise even when 14 he utters the Sceptical formulae in regard to things that are unknown, such as "Nothing more," or "I decide nothing," or any of the others about which we shall speak later. For the one who dogmatises regards the thing about which he is said to dogmatise, as existing in itself; the Sceptic does not however regard these formulae as having an absolute existence, for he assumes that the saying "All is false," includes itself with other things as false, and likewise the saying "Nothing is true"; in the same way "Nothing more," states that together with other things it itself is nothing more, and cancels itself therefore, as well as other things. We say the same also in regard to the other Sceptical expressions. In short, if he who 15 dogmatises, assumes as existing in itself that about which he dogmatises, the Sceptic, on the contrary, expresses his sayings in such a way that they are understood to be themselves included, and it cannot be said that he dogmatises in saying these things. The principal thing in uttering these formulae is that he says what appears to him, and communicates his own feelings in an unprejudiced way, without asserting anything in regard to external objects.



CHAPTER VIII.

Is Scepticism a Sect?

We respond in a similar way if we are asked whether 16 Scepticism is a sect or not. If the word sect is defined as meaning a body of persons who hold dogmas which are in conformity with each other, and also with phenomena, and dogma means an assent to anything that is unknown, then we reply that we have no sect. If, however, one means by sect, a school 17 which follows a certain line of reasoning based on phenomena, and that reasoning shows how it is possible to apparently live rightly, not understanding "rightly" as referring to virtue only, but in a broader sense; if, also, it leads one to be able to suspend the judgment, then we reply that we have a sect. For we follow a certain kind of reasoning which is based upon phenomena, and which shows us how to live according to the habits, laws, and teachings of the fatherland, and our own feelings.



CHAPTER IX.

Does the Sceptic Study Natural Science?

We reply similarly also to the question whether the Sceptic 18 should study natural science. For we do not study natural science in order to express ourselves with confidence regarding any of the dogmas that it teaches, but we take it up in order to be able to meet every argument by one of equal weight, and also for the sake of [Greek: ataraxia]. In the same way we study the logical and ethical part of so-called philosophy.



CHAPTER X.

Do the Sceptics deny Phenomena?

Those who say that the Sceptics deny phenomena appear to me to 19 be in ignorance of our teachings. For as we said before, we do not deny the sensations which we think we have, and which lead us to assent involuntarily to them, and these are the phenomena. When, however, we ask whether the object is such as it appears to be, while we concede that it appears so and so, we question, not the phenomenon, but in regard to that which is asserted of the phenomenon, and that is different from doubting the phenomenon itself. For example, it appears to us that honey is sweet. This we concede, for we experience sweetness through 20 sensation. We doubt, however, whether it is sweet by reason of its essence, which is not a question of the phenomenon, but of that which is asserted of the phenomenon. Should we, however, argue directly against the phenomena, it is not with the intention of denying their existence, but to show the rashness of the Dogmatics. For if reasoning is such a deceiver that it well nigh snatches away the phenomena from before your eyes, how should we not distrust it in regard to things that are unknown, so as not to rashly follow it?



CHAPTER XI.

The Criterion of Scepticism.

It is evident that we pay careful attention to phenomena from 21 what we say about the criterion of the Sceptical School. The word criterion is used in two ways. First, it is understood as a proof of existence or non-existence, in regard to which we shall speak in the opposing argument. Secondly, when it refers to action, meaning the criterion to which we give heed in life, in doing some things and refraining from doing others, and it is about this that we shall now speak. We say, consequently, that the criterion of the Sceptical School is the phenomenon, and in calling it so, we mean the idea of it. It cannot be doubted, 22 as it is based upon susceptibility and involuntary feeling. Hence no one doubts, perhaps, that an object appears so and so, but one questions if it is as it appears. Therefore, as we cannot be entirely inactive as regards the observances of daily life, we live by giving heed to phenomena, and in an unprejudiced way. But this observance of what pertains to the 23 daily life, appears to be of four different kinds. Sometimes it is directed by the guidance of nature, sometimes by the necessity of the feelings, sometimes by the tradition of laws and of customs, and sometimes by the teaching of the arts. It is directed by the guidance of nature, for by nature we are 24 capable of sensation and thought; by the necessity of the feelings, for hunger leads us to food, and thirst to drink; by the traditions of laws and customs, for according to them we consider piety a good in daily life, and impiety an evil; by the teaching of the arts, for we are not inactive in the arts we undertake. We say all these things, however, without expressing a decided opinion.



CHAPTER XII.

What is the aim of Scepticism?

It follows naturally in order to treat of the aim of the 25 Sceptical School. An aim is that for which as an end all things are done or thought, itself depending on nothing, or in other words, it is the ultimatum of things to be desired. We say, then, that the aim of the Sceptic is [Greek: ataraxia] in those things which pertain to the opinion, and moderation in the things that life imposes. For as soon as he began to 26 philosophise he wished to discriminate between ideas, and to understand which are true and which are false, in order to attain [Greek: ataraxia]. He met, however, with contradictions of equal weight, and, being unable to judge, he withheld his opinion; and while his judgment was in suspension [Greek: ataraxia] followed, as if by chance, in regard to matters of opinion. For he who is of the opinion that anything is either 27 good or bad by nature is always troubled, and when he does not possess those things that seem to him good he thinks that he is tortured by the things which are by nature bad, and pursues those that he thinks to be good. Having acquired them, however, he falls into greater perturbation, because he is excited beyond reason and without measure from fear of a change, and he does everything in his power to retain the things that seem to him good. But he who is undecided, on the contrary, regarding 28 things that are good and bad by nature, neither seeks nor avoids anything eagerly, and is therefore in a state of [Greek: ataraxia]. For that which is related of Apelles the painter happened to the Sceptic. It is said that as he was once painting a horse he wished to represent the foam of his mouth in the picture, but he could not succeed in doing so, and he gave it up and threw the sponge at the picture with which he had wiped the colors from the painting. As soon, however, as it touched the picture it produced a good copy of the foam. The Sceptics likewise hoped to gain [Greek: ataraxia] by forming judgments 29 in regard to the anomaly between phenomena and the things of thought, but they were unable to do this, and so they suspended their judgment; and while their judgment was in suspension [Greek: ataraxia] followed, as if by chance, as the shadow follows a body. Nevertheless, we do not consider the Sceptic wholly undisturbed, but he is disturbed by some things that are inevitable. We confess that sometimes he is cold and thirsty, and that he suffers in such ways. But in these things even the ignorant are beset in two ways, from the feelings themselves, 30 and not less also from the fact that they think these conditions are bad by nature. The Sceptic, however, escapes more easily, as he rejects the opinion that anything is in itself bad by nature. Therefore we say that the aim of the Sceptic is [Greek: ataraxia] in matters of opinion, and moderation of feeling in those things that are inevitable. Some notable Sceptics have added also suspension of judgment in investigation.

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