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A Sceptic, in the original sense of the Greek term, is simply an «inquirer» or investigator. But inquiry often leads to an impasse, and end in increduly or despair of a solution, so that the inquirer becomes a dobter or a disbeliver, and Scepticism receives its usual connotation. All down the history of Greek philosophy we have found traces of sceptical thought in the repeated discrediting of sense-perception and the frequent insistence on the folly of vulgar opinion. But, with the exception of Sophists like Protagoras and Gorgias, all the philosophers agreed in asuming that truth existed and that knowledge of it was possible. When Scepticism was revived and reorganized under the name of «Pyrrhonism» its main task was to challenge this assumption and to mantain, if not the impossibility of knowledge, at least the impossibility of positively affirming its possibility. Its watchword was «Suspend judgement» (Assentionis retentio). The history of Scepticism, as a definite tradition or School, may conveniently be divided into four periods or stages:

1) Practical Scepticism of Pyrrho of Elis (360 ~ 275 B.C.), and his pupil Timon of Phlius (315 ~ 225 B.C.)
2) Critical Scepticism and probabilism of the New Academy, Arcesilas of Pitane (315 ~ 241 B.C.) and Carneades of Cyrene (213 ~ 129 B.C.). This ended in the Eclecticism of Philo and Antiochus (ob. 69 B.C.)
3)Pyrrhonism revived, systematized and developed dialectically by Aenesidemus of Cnossus (100 ~ 40 B.C.) and Agrippa (first century A.D.)
4) Final development of Empiric Scepticism, culminating in Sextus Empiricus (160 ~ 210 A.D.).

We start here a brief account of each of these stages: Pyrrho of Elis, in spite of some later traditions about him, was probably not at all a full blown Sceptic, but rather a moralist of an austere and ascetic type, as Cicero represents him (Acad.Pr.ii.130, De Fin. iv. 43, 49), who cultivated insensibility to externals and superiority to environment. Probably he derived from Democritus a deep distrust of the value of sense-perception, but otherwise he seems to have ben imbued with dogmatism, though it was the dogmatism of the will rather than of the intellect. We may fairly assume that the causes which led to the Scepticism of Pyrrho and his immediate followers were twofold, firstly, the intellectual confusion which resulted from the number of conflicting doctrines and rival Schools, and secondly, the political confusion and social chaos which spread through the Hellenic world after Alexander's death, together with the new insight into strange habits and customs which was given by the opening up of the East. The natural result of the situation at the close of the fourth century was to shake men's belief in tradition and custom, to dissolve the old creeds and loyalties, and to produce the demand for a new way of salvation in the midst of a crumbling world. Pyrrho, it would seem, shared this attitude, and stood out as the apostle of disillusionment. He would not seek or promise «happiness», in the usual sense of the word, but he sought and taught the negative satisfaction of freedom from care and worry by the cultivation of a neutrsl, non-committal attitude towards all the problems of life and thought. In self-defence he sought refuge within himself, there to achieve a seif-centred «apathy» which his disciples were to acclaim, under the name of «ataraxy»,as the Chief End of Man. Probably, then, the main, if not the only, interest of Pyrrho was in the ethical and practical side of Scepticism as the speediest cure for the ills oflife. Timon of Phlius spent the latter part of his long life at Athens. In his earlier days he is said to have sat under Stilpo at Megara, as well as under Pyrrho at Elis. His admiration for the latter was unbounded, although it would seem that he did not copy his ascetic habits too closely. He was a voluminous writer of both prose and poetry-epics, tragedies, satires-but only a few fragments of two of his works have survived, as the «Images» or «Illusions» (Hindalmoi), and the «Silli» or «Lampoons» (Silloi). The latter emdently became very popular because of its mordant wit. It consisted of three books, all deriding the professors of philosophy, and written in hexameters in the Homeric style, beginning thus: «Come now, listen to me, the polypragmatical Sophists. The second and third books were in the form of a dialogue between Timon and Xenophanes, in which the latter expresses his contempt for nearly all the rival schools of thought. It appears, then, that the only philosophers for whom Timon entertained any respect were the Eleatics, Democritus and Protagoras, the most severe critics of knowledge in the form of sense-perception. This exposure of the futility of philosophizing served to support the indifferentist attitude of Pyrrho; and Timon by his writings (for Pyrrho wrote nothing) popularized the Sceptical view that the way to make the best of life is to eschew dogma and to cultivate'mental repose. It is probably a mistake of Sextus (Adv. Math. iii. 2, vi. 66) to ascribe to Timon formal argumentation concerning «hypotheses» and the «divisibility of time», considering his ridicule of dialectic and his avoidance of «the strife of tongues»; and it is very doubtful whether he (or Pyrrho) invented or used any of the technical vocabulary of Scepticism (i.e. «Suspension» «No more» «Equipollence») which is commonly ascribed to him or his master.
Scepticism in the New Academy (cf. Pyrr. Hyp. i. 220 ff.).
With Arcesilas Scepticism entered upon a new stage of development. It ceased to be purely practical, and became mainly theoretical. Arcesilas succeeded Crates as Hesd of the Academy about 270 B.C. He appears to have been influenced by the Megarics as well as by Pyrrho, and was eminent as a dialectician and controversialist. His delight was to argue in utramque partem and balance argument against argument; and he took up the position that to know we know is an impossibility, and to seek for absolute truth an absurdity. His polemic was chiefly directed against the Stoic Epistemology and its doctrine of the «apprehensive presentation» as the «Criterion». He maintained that we can «assent» to no sense-impression as carrying conviction and indubitably true, and that the objective realities are consequently incognizable, and we can only «suspend judgrement» about them, unless we content ourselves with fallible «opinion» instead of scientific «knowledge». But the Stoic «Sage» never «opines» neither can he «know»; therefore he must suspend judgement and turn Sceptic. False and true presentations are indistinguishable: no valid criterion exists, we have no guide but opinion, and we can only think, believe, and act in accordance with what seems reasonable (Heulogon) or probably right. Thus, while Pyrrho had renounced and Timon flouted the Dogmatics, Arcesilas started the practice of refuting them scientifically and systematically, and earned thereby the abuse of Timon for his lapse from pure Pyrrhonism. Carneanes of Cyrene, like Arcesilas and Pyrrho, left no writings, but his views were preserved by his disciple Cleitomachus (Hasdrubal). He was a brilliant teacher, a formidable dialectician, and perhaps the most talented philosopher of the post-Aristotelian period. His energies were mainly devoted to negative criticism of the theories of the Dogmatists, especially the Stoics. He resumed and developed the arguments with which Arcesilas had attacked the Stoic theory of knowledge, and which Chrysippus had, in the meanwhile, attempted to rebut. Neither the senses nor the reason, he argued, can supply any infallible «criterion»: there is no specific difference between false «presentation» and true: besides any true presentation you can set a false one which is in no wise different. The dreamer, the drunkard, the madman have illusions of the truth of which they are convinced: you see two eggs or two hairs and cannot tell the one from the other: you cannot distinguish the true impression from the false, or assert that the one rather than the other is produced by a real object. It is in vain, then, to look to the senses for certainty; and it is equally vain to look to the reason since it (as the Stoics held) is wholly dependent on the senses and based on experience. Logic, the product of the reasoning faculty, is discredited because of the number of insoluble fallacies for which it is responsible, such as «The Liar» ("The Cretan says 'I lic': is he a liar ?"), «The Cornutus» ("Have you shed your horns, yes or no ?"), «The Sorites» or Chain-argument ("How many grains make a heap ? Take 10, 20, 30, etc.; away, is it still a heap ?"). Chrysippus when confronted with the Sorites in a dialectical discussion is said to have called a halt and refused to answer, thus giving in to the Sceptic by «suspending judgement». Reason is thus found to be as fallible as sensation, and certitude impossible. Carneades also attacked the Ethical system of the Stoics, exposing their inconsistency in saying that Virtue is directed to choosing the prime objects of natural desire while denying to these objects the name of «good». He criticized also their Theology, their doctrines of the Divine Nature, of Providence, of Divination and Prophecy. The Stoics were fond of appealing to the consensus gentium, or the universal belief in the existence of the gods: Carneades ridiculed that appeal. For how do we know that the belief is universal ? And why appeal to the multitude who, the Stoics tell us, are all fools ? Why call in ignorance as judge ? And as to divination and prognostication, they rest on no principles of science but are mere quackery and tricks of the trade. The God of the Stoics is an incredible Being because he is composed of contradictory attributes. If He is to be infinite, omniscient, all-grood, and imperishable, He cannot be either composite or corporeal or animate or rational or virtuous, all such qualities belonging to objects which lie in the sphere of becoming and perishing. In support of their theory of Providence the Stoics brought forward evidences of design in Nature. Carneades retorted by quoting cases of snake-bites and wrecks at sea. Reason, said the Stoics, is a gift of Providence to man: why then, replied Carneades, did not Providence see to it that the majority were endowed with a «right reason» instead of one that only enables them to outdo the brutes in brutishness? Only a few possess right reason; so thc Stoic God must be miserly in his gifts ! In all this the position of Carneades is purely agnostic. He does not wish to affirm a negative, but merely to show up the untenability of the Stoic dogmas, and to reassert as regards all departments of knowledge tho impossibility of attaining absolute certitude. When the pretentious structure of the Stoics had been thus riddled by the arrows of Carneades, their Ideal Sage must have appeared but as a figment to many, and their anthropomorphic Deity as an incredible bundle of contradictions.But there was a constructive as well as a destructive side to the teaching of Carneades. He took over, modified, and developed the theory of Arcesilas that, despite the impossibility of objective knowledge, a sufficient ground for practical choice and action might be found in the «reasonable» (Heulogon) or subjectively satisfying. He granted to the Stoics that some sense-impressions or opinions seem to the percipient superior to others, and this apparent superiority provided a sufficient reason for preference and consequential action. Impressions being thus subjectively distinguishable, judgements may be graded in value as more or less «persuasive» or «probable» (Pithavoi). Carneades then classified presentations in this way: (1) the apparently false; (2) the apparently true, which are of three grades: (a) the probable in itself, (b) the probable and «uncontradicted» [i.e. by accompanpingr conditions (Aperìspastos)], (c) the probable and uncontradicted and «closely scrutinized» or «tested» (Diexodeuméne). These apparently true impressions produce varying degrees of «conviction» and deserve proportionate «assent» (Sunkatàthesis) of a relative kind, the only kind of assent possible for the Sceptic who denies that objective certitude is attainable. In connexion with this doctrine of «probabilism» Carneades defended human freedom, in «assent», choice and action, as against the determinism of the Stoics with their rigid theory of Destiny and Necessity; and he subjected their doctrine on this subject to a searching criticism which exposed its inherent inconsistency. With Carneades the dialectical Scepticism of the New Academy came to an end. His successors, Philo of Larissa (ob. 80 B.C.) and Antiochus of Ascalon(ob. 69 B.C.), surrendered his theory of nescience, and reverted to a more dogmatic position. Both were Eclectics, Antiochus so much so that he asserted the harmony, if not the practical identity, of the doctrines of the Academy with those of the Peripatetics and Stoics, and his teaching was a curious amalgam of them all. This tendency to doctrinal conflation continued to characterize the philosophers of the succeeding generations till the rise of Neoplatonism, excepting only those attached to the Epicurean School and the Later Sceptics. The first of the «Later Sceptics» who revive the the original «Pyrrhonism», was AENESIDEMUS, a younger contemporary of Antiochus. Cnossus in Crete may have been his birthplace, Alexandria was where he taught. Though originally an Academic, he denounced Arcesilas and Carneades as dogmatists in disguise rather than true Sceptics, since we cannot: know that knowledge is impossible. His treatise Pyrrhonean Discourses consisted of eight books in which he explained his dissent from the New Academy, and criticized in detail the logic, ethics, and physics of Stoicism. In another work, Introductory Outline of Pyrrhonism, he set forth his famous «Ten Tropes» or «Modes» of procedure, for the refuting of Dogmatism in all its forms. Apparently the order in which they are drawn up was not fixed, since Sextus's order differs from that of Diogenes Laertius; nor does it seem to be governed by any logical principle. The Tropes themselves merely formulate arguments in favour of the relativity of knowledge, borrowed from earlier Sceptical teachers, Sophists, Megarics, Academics; and, as Lotze says (Logic, III, i, 310) «The Ten Tropes, or logical grounds of doubt, all come to this, that sensations by themselves cannot discover to us what is the nature of the object which excites them».Besides these Ten Tropes, Aenesidemus (in his Pyrrhonean Discourses, bk. 5) summarized the arguments against causality and current theories of «cause» in his «Eight (Aetiological) Tropes». These form a list of fallacious methods of reasoning about «cause». His objections rest on the assumption that «cause» is a thing in itself. and causality a real objective quality inherent therein. Similarly he attacked the Stoic and Epicurean doctrine of «Signs» (Semeia), or «effects» which point back to «causes», arguing that no phenomenon can safely be regarded as a «sign», because «doctors differ» in interpreting symptoms. But, to judge of Sextus, Aenesidemus was not consistent in his Scepticism. We are told that he regarded the Sceptic system (Agoghé) as a road leading to the Heracleitean philosophy, on the ground that the (Sceptic) view that opposites apparently belong to the same object is prefatory to the (Heracleitean) view that they really so belong. We are told also that he held that the primary world-principle is air, which he identified with time and number; and that he explained the origin of the world in all its variety from this unitary substance by supposing it to be receptive of opposite qualities, and every whole self-identical in all its parts. He is also said to have reduced the six kinds of motion distinguished by Aristotle, and the ten of Plato, to two: locomotion and alteration or transformation; and a peculiar theory of Soul, or reason (Dianoia) is ascribed to him, according to which the reason exists outside the body and is somehow inspired so that it can act from within through the senses. With the theory of reason as external, and therefore not individualized but «common» (Koiné), like the «Logos» of Heracleitus, is connected the further theory, ascribed to Aenesidemus, that some phenomena appear alike to all men «in common», while others appear different to different percipients, and that the former class are «true», the latter «false», universality of experience thus being the «Criterion» of truth. How we are to reconcile this hybrid dogmatism with the undoubted Pyrrhonism of Aenesidemus is a puzzling question which has much exercised the historians of philosophy. It has been suggested that Sextus has misunderstood or misrepresented Aenesidemus; or that Aenesidemus did ultimately pass over from the Sceptical to the Dogmstic position; or that his apparent Dogmatism can be explained away as no real surrender of Scepticism but rather an unconscious yielding to the Eclectic influences of his intellectual environment. None of these suggestions seems wholly satisfactory; but perhaps the least difficult supposition is that Sextus is unintentionally misrepresenting Aenesidemus by a loose use of language when he ascribes the dogmas mentioned above to «Aenesidemus and his followers» (Oi perì ton Aivesìdemov). If so, we may suppose that while Aenesidemus may have given a start to the dogmatizing tendency by enlarging on the points of similarity between Scepticism and Heracleiteanism and claiming Heracleitus as a forerunner, certain of his adherents pushed that tendency to excess and indulged in an Eclectic dogmatism, after the fashion of Antiochus, which blended Scepticism with Heracleitean and Stoic doctrine. Of the successors of Aenesidemus we know no more than the names until we come to Agrippa, about a century later. Agrippa was followed by Zeuxippus, Zeuxis, and Antiochus. In the last stage of Greek Scepticism we found Menodotus of Nicomediaand Theodas, Herodotus of Tarsus, then Sextus Empiricus (200 A.D.)

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