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THÉRMASMA MAGAZINE - Approved Draft N.1, 1999


(A.D. 160 ~ 210)





I. The Earlier Dogmatic Philosophies

The writings of Sextus contain not only an exposition of Scepticism but also a critique of the doctrines of "the Dogmatists." The main task of the Sceptic is, in fact, to expose the folly of every form of positive doctrine; and consequently the bulk of these works of Sextus is controversial. Scattered through his pages there are references to almost every known name in the history of ancient Greek thought, and without some previous acquaintance with the main outlines of that history it is hardly possible to appreceiate the points or estimate the value of his arguments. Accordingly I give here, for the convenience of the reader, a short summary of the history of Greek philosophy.

1. The Ionian Physicists. – Of the School of Miletus the founder was Thales (c. 600 B.C.). He declared that the fundamental substance of which the world was made is water. His successor, Anaximander (c. 570 B.C.), described that substance as "the boundless," since out of it were formed "countless" worlds. He regarded this primitive stuff as being in itself indeterminate, or of no one definite quality, and evolving into the forms of earth, fire, etc., by a process of "separation" of hot from cold, moist from dry, etc. also he called his primal substance "divine." Anaximenes (c. 540 B.C.), like Thales, took one definite element as his primary matter, but chose air, or vapour, instead of water. He explained the passage of this in other forms of matter as due to a process of "condensation and rarefaction."

2. Heracleiteans and Eleatics. -- In chronological order the first of the Eleatic School, Xenophanes of Colophon (c. 520 B.C.), comes before Heracleitus. He was less a philospher than a religious reformer who declaimed against traditional mythology and preached a pantheism which identified the One Universe with God.

As against this Unity of the Eleatic doctrine, which precludes diversity, Heracleitus of Ephesus (c. 490 B.C.) declared that things are never one and the same but continually changing. Reverting to the view of the Milesians, he looked for one primary world-substance and found it in fire; this, as being also mind-stuff, he called "Reason" and God. By a kind of circular process ("the upward and downward way") the primal fire passes through the forms of air, water and earth, and returns to its own nature again. The World is "a harmony of opposites," since "War is father of all and king of all," and conflict lies at the heart of things. "All things are in flux," and since things have no permanent identity the reports of our senses are delusive, and opposite statements about an object may be equally true or false. In fact, to the eyes of God, life and death, good and evil, and all opposites are identical – there is no dividing line, and they are for ever passing into one another. Thus, as a Dogmatist who dissolves all dogma, Heracleitus is acclaimed by the Sceptics as one of the pioneers of their tradition.(Cf. Pyrr. Hyp. I. 210 ff.)

Parmenides of Elea (c. 470 B.C.) defended the unitary doctrine of Xenophanes as against the flux doctine of Heracleitus. In his view "only Being is," and change, motion, and Becoming are illusions. The World is a single self-contained Sphere, uncreated and imperishable. In his great poem "On Nature" Parmenides calls this "the Way of Truth;" but he follows it up by an account of the World and its constituents on the lines of current physical Science (especially that of the Pythagoreans) which he calls "the Way of Opinion," without giving any explanation of how the one "Way" can be related to the other.

Zeno of Elea (c. 450 B.C.) supported the doctrine of the Unity of Being by attacking the notions of multiplicity and motion. These notions, he argued, are self-contradictory. As against the possibility of motion he is said to have evolved the arguments known as "The Achilles" (an the tortoise) and "The Flying Arrow." The kernel of his reasoning is that any quantum (as of space or time) must be regarded either as consisting of a plurality of indivisible units or as itself divisible ad infinitum; but in the latter case, how can the sum of infinite parts make up a finite whole? and in the former, the unitary parts of the quantum must themselves be quanta or magnitudes, and as such they cannot be indivisible.

Melissus, the Samian admiral (c. 440 B.C.), likewise taught that Being is One, infinite, uncreate and everlasting, motionless and without void.

Thus, in spite of their metaphysical dogmatism, the Eleatics were akin to the Sceptics in so far as they rejected the evidence of the senses and criticized the ordinary belief in the phenomenal world.

3. Fifth-century Pluralists. – Hitherto the Cosmologists had attempted to explain the World by assuming either the Unity of its primal substance or its Unity as a static Totality (the Eleatics). And a direct contradiction had arisen between the position of Heracleitus ("All is in motion") and that of Parmenides ("All is at rest"). We come next to a number of theorists who – though otherwise divergent – agree in adopting a plurality of primary substances or principles to explain the world. Also, in relation to the opposing views of Heracleitus and Parmenides, they take up a mediating position.

Empedocles of Agrigentum (c. 450 B.C.) assumed as primary indestructible substances "four roots of all things," viz. the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water. He explained all Becoming and change as due to the mixing and unmixing of the elements. As the motive forces effection these opposite processes he assumed the two rival powers Love and Hate, or Harmony and Discord, which oust each other alternately from control of the World. When Love is in full control, all the "roots" are fused together in a compact mass forming the "Sphere," which he terms "a blessed god." When Hate is in full control, all the "roots" are completely separated, each massed apart by itself. But in the world as we know it both forces are in play, so that its constituents are neither wholly in union nor wholly in disunion. The nature of particular things depends upon the proportion of the "roots" of which they are composed. As regards knowledge, Empedocles declared that "like is known by like," fire and water in the eyes (for example) perceiving the fire and water in the objects of sight by means of effluences. He also regarded the blood as the seat of intelligence, it being the best mixture of all the elements. And he shared the Pythagorean belief in the transmigration of souls, saying that he himself had in times past been "a bush and a bird and a mute sea-fish."

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (c. 450 B.C.) lived mostly at Athens, where he was intimate with Pericles and Euripides, until he was condemned on a charge of atheism and escaped to Lampsacus. Like Empedocles, he held that becoming and change are due to composition and decomposition of primary indestructible substances: "Nothing becomes and nothing perishes." But the primary substances ("seeds of all things") are not merely four but numberless, all existing forms of matter (bone, hair, gold, etc.) being equally ultimate. Originally "all things were together," in a chaotic mass of all kinds of matter, then "Reason (Nous) came and set them in order." That is Anaxagora’s most important contibution to philosophy – the introduction of Reason or Intelligence as the Moving Cause and the principle of order and harmony in the world. He described Nous as alone "unmixed," and ordering the mixed mass of the world by setting up in it a vortex motion which disintegrated the mass and unites like "seeds" of matter with like.

Leucippus of Miletus (?), the first Atomist, was probably a contemporary of Empedocles and Anaxagoras, but we know little that is definite about him. His views were developed by Democritus of Abdera (c. 420 B.C.). He held that the World is made up of "the Full" and "the Empty," i.e. of solid, indivisible molecules of matter, the atoms, and empty space or void. The atoms differ only in size and shape, and the forms and qualities of visible objects depend on their atomic structure. The atoms are supposed to rain down through space and collide with one another owing to the differences in the speed of their movement, their speed varying in proportion to their size. As against Anaxagoras’s doctrine of Nous, the Atomists spoke of "necessity" as the governing force of the World, allowing only mechanical causation. Sensation was explained as due to the reception through "pores" of "images" projected from the atoms of the object perceived; but the apparent qualities of objects have only "conventional" reality, the only true reals being the Atoms and the Void. No clear distinction is made between sense and thought, and we can make no assertion about the truth of sense-objects, since these depend on the state of the percipient and the arrangement of the atoms of which he is composed. Belief in gods is due to the "images" projected by certain anthropomorphic beings who dwell in the air. Knowledge is of two kinds, "genuine" and "bastard," the latter being that derived from the senses, the former that of the understanding which discerns the real existents, the atoms and the void. Democritus appears also to have named "Well-being," or tranquil cheerfulness, as the ethical "end" or "good." The relation of Democriteanism to Scepticism is discussed by Sextus in Pyrr. Hyp. i. 213 ff.

The Pythagoreans. – Pythagoras (c. 530 B.C.) was a contemporary of Xenophanes, born at Samos, but mainly resident at Crotona in South Italy. There he founded a religious Order, and a Way of Life akin to that of the Orphics in its asceticism, its belief in re-incarnation, and its precepts for the salvation of the soul from its "body-tomb." But nothing is known of Pythagoras himself as scientist or philosopher, and as a philosophy Pythagoreanism seems to date from the fifth century, its chief exponent being Philolaus (c. 440 B.C.). Thus Pythagoreanism is, in the main, contemporary with the other "pluralist" systems mentioned above. The chief subjects cultivated by the Pythagoreans were mathematics, music, medicine and gymnastics. Their main tenet was "Things are numbers," or "The principle of things are the principles of numbers." And, as all numbers are either odd or even, the world is made up of opposites, which can be arranged in ten classes. Even numbers are always divisible by 2 and so are named "Unlimited"; and 1, being the primary odd number, may be called the "Limit." Regarded geometrically, 1 is the point, 2 the line, 3 the plane, 4 the solid. They called 10 (the Decad) the perfect number, as being the sum of the first four numbers ("the Tetractys") and thus containing all the elements of number. "Harmony" is the principle which unites opposites and resolves cosmical as well as musical discords. The Universe consists of ten bodies (the heaven of fixed stars, the five planets, moon, sun, earth, "counter-earth") revolving around the "central fire" or cosmic "hearth;" it is surrounded by air which it breathes in and out. Its life lasts for a "Great Year" (10,000 years), at the end of which it starts anew on the same course; and in every such period history repeats itself. Soul was defined as a harmony, and the virtues identified with special numbers.

4. The fifth-century Sophists. – While the thinkers hitherto mentioned dealt with the world of Nature, the group known as "Sophist" were chiefly concerned with Humanity. It was "the Age of Enlightenment" in Greece when old beliefs and customs were being challenged by a new spirit of doubt and inquiry. With the rise of democracy every citizen became a potential politican, and instruction to fit men for public life was in general demand. This demand the Sophists laid themselves out to supply. They were the professional Educators of the public, and what they taught was "Virtue," as they called it, i.e. civic excellence, and the arts which enable a man to succeed in life. And since, for a political career and to achieve success in law-courts, debating power is of supreme inportance, the art of Rhetoric is the most useful aid to "Virtue"; and we find that the Sophists cultivated it in particular. The earliest of the sophist was Protagoras of Abdera (c. 440 B.C.) who resided for some time at Athens until he was convicted of impiety and had to flee. He is chiefly noted for his dictum – "Man is the measure of all things; of what is, that it is; of what is not, that is not" (cf. Pyrr. Hyp. i. 216 ff.). This means that the individual man is the criterion of truth, and denies that there is any universal standard or any absolute truth. The subjective impressions of each man are true for him, but not necessarily for anyone else. Hence, all opinions are equally true, and falsehood has no meaning, and contradictory statements are both equally credible. But to reject objective truth is also to reject the possiblity of knowledge, and this consequence of Protagoreanism was futher developed by the second great Sophist, Gorgias of Leontini (c. 440 B.C.). His book "on the Non-ent or Nature" essayed to prove (1) that nothing exists; (2) that if anything exists it is incognizable; (3) that even if cognizable it is incommunicable (cf. Pyrr. Hyp. ii. 59, 64). In this we see the strongest possible expression of the agnostic tendency and a Scepticism more dogmatic than that of the professed Sceptics of a later age. Another important Sophist was Hippias of Elis, the "polymath," who boasted of his ability to give an extempore lecture on any subject, and (like other Sophists) contrasted "law" or convention with "nature" or instinctive impulse. Of Prodicus of Ceos we are told that he specialized in linguistics, the precise use of synonyms, and ethical discourses. Other Sophists of the eristic type, who helped to undermine religious belief and to promote intellectual anarchy, were Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, Critias the Athenian (one of "The Thirty"), and Diagoras of Melos.

5. Socrates and the Minor Socratics. – Socrates (469 – 399 B.C.) was the contemporary of the Sophists and so far akin to them that he held that "the proper study of mankind is man," and was humanist rather than a physicist. But his aim was exactly the reverse of theirs – to establish morality on a sound basis, instead of proclaiming the futility of the moral law. By means of the inductive method and definition he sought to build up a system of conceptual knowledge which should possess objective truth, as contrasted with the merely subjective opinions derived from sense-perception. As an ethical teacher he preached "well-doing," or right conduct, as the aim of life, and urged self-knowledge and self-control as things more valuable than any external goods, his distinctive doctrine being that of the identity of knowledge and virtue, and of vice and ignorance; for " no man," he said, " is voluntarily wicked." But there is much uncertainty about the details of the teaching of Socrates, since the "Socrates " of the Platonic dialogues is by no means always "the historic Socrates," and the evidence of Xenophon (our other chief authority) does not appear to be altogether trustworthy.

Four "Minor Socratic" Schools were formed by the disciples of Socrates. Eucleides of Megara founded the Megaric School in which, it would seem, Socratic tenets were combined with Eleatic doctrines, and the indirect method of proof was developed. Its interest was mainly in logic and dialectic; and to Eubulides (Eucleides' successor) is ascribed the invention of many logical puzzles (" the Liar," Sorites, etc.). Curiously enough, although Sextus often refers to Diodorus Cronos (circa 300 B.C.), he hardly mentions the earlier Megarics, although many of the Sceptic arguments must have been borrowed from them. The Elean School was founded by Phaedo of Elis, whose teaching seems to have resembled that of Eucleides. It, too, is not referred to by Sextus. Antisthenes founded the Cynic School. It subordinated logic and physics to ethics. Virtue, said Antisthenes, is the only good, all else is indifferent and of no account. Virtue is wisdom, self-control and self- sufficiency: the wise man cuts himself free from all earthly interests-pleasure, society, religion; he stands secure in himself, above all temptation. And, as in their Ethics, so in their Logic the Cynics stood for individuality and independence. Only identical judgements, they said, are possible; contradiction is impossible, and therefore knowledge equally so. Thus they reverted to the Sceptical position of Protagoras and Gorgias. Other notable Cynics were Diogenes (circa 340 B.C.), famed for his blunt coarse speech and his contempt for civilized customs, and Crates (Cf.Pyrr. Hyp. i. 72, 153).

The Cyrenaic School was founded by Aristippus of Cyrene, who was succeeded by his daughter Arete, and she by his grandson Aristippus. Later members of the School were Theodorus "the Atheist," Anniceris, Hegesias ("the suasor mortis"). Like the Cynics, the Cyrenaics concentrated on Ethical theory. The summum bonum, they said, is Pleasure, and pleasure consists in "smooth motion," pain being "rough motion," and the neutral state " immobility." These are the three states of consciousness or psychic "affections" in which sensation consists and to which knowledge is confined. As the causes of these internal states are unknown, knowledge is wholly subjective, and each individual is his own standard of truth --the Protagorean position again. As the end of life is to gain from it the maximum of pleasurable sensations, the "Wise Man" of the Cyrenaics is he who best knows how to secure enjoyment from all possible sources, and to ward off discomfort and pain. Like the Cynics, the Cyrenaics stood for "nature" as against "convention," but they interpreted nature in a very different way (cf. Pyrr. Hyp. i. 215, Adv. Log. i. I 1).

6. Plato and the Old Academy.-The philosophy of Plato (427 - 347 B.C.) defies a brief summary. Only a few outstanding points can be mentioned. As against the Sophists, he maintained the possibility of knowledge, and the existence of an objective standard of truth; and by identifying the "natural" with the "rational" he suppressed the Sophistic appeal from "law," or convention, to "nature." His theory of knowledge and of Being may be said to be based on a reconciliation of the rival doctrines of Heracleitus and Parmenides. Heracleitus was right in regarding the sense-world as being in a state of continual flux and therefore not a subject of knowledge, but he was wrong in treating it as the only world. Parmenides, too, was right in holding that the world as known must be changeless and self-identical, but he was wrong in trying to force this conception on the phenomenal world. There are, in fact, two distinct worlds and two distinct kinds of apprehension to deal with them. Sensation tells us of the phenomenal and gives rise to "opinion;" Reason and thought deal with objects supersensible. For the content of his "intelligible" world Plato is indebted to Socrates' theory of concepts. The general (Aristotelian) view is that by "hypostatizing" these concepts he framed his "Ideas." He presents the Ideas as the ultimate Realities, the only objects of knowledge in the strict sense. The logical method which deals with the Ideas is "Dialectic," which combines induction with deduction. The supreme Idea is "the Good." In the physical theory of the Timaeus, the "Demiurge" (God, or Mind) frames the Universe with a view to the most Good, by means of harmony and proportion. Ethics is interwoven with psychology; the soul is a whole with three component parts or faculties (rational, spirited, appetitive), and is defined as "the self-moving" -- the source of all motion. Virtue is the "goodness" of the soul both as a whole and in each of its parts -- so that virtue is fourfold (wisdom, courage, temperance, justice). Virtue in the State corresponds to that in the individual -- each class must be efficient and loyal, and all together must be united in harmony. Thus Plato's Idealism contemplates the rule of Reason, acting for " the Best," in all three spheres -- that of the Individual, of the State, and of the Universe. How far it contains a Sceptical element is discussed in Pyrr. Hyp. i. 221 ff.

Speusippus, the nephew of Plato, succeeded him as Head of the Academy (347 - 389 B.C.) and was in turn succeeded by Xenocrates (339 - 314 B.C.). Both seem to have amalgamated Idealism with the Pythagorean doctrine of Numbers. Polemo (314 - 270 B.C.) was the next Head of the School. Other noted members, or allies, of the Academy were Heracleides of Pontus, Philip of Opus, Eudoxus of Cnidus, the astronomer, and the Pythagorean mathematician Archylas of Tarentum. The general character of their teaching, was, it seems, in the direction of lowering the standard of the Idealism of Plato and adapting it to the interests of inferior minds. The most gifted of Plato's disciples was undoubtedly Aristotle, the man who deserted the Academy to found a rival school of his own and to teach a revised Platonism.

7. Aristotle and the Peripatetics (cf. Pyrr. Hyp. iv. 31, 136, 218). -- Aristotle of Stageira (384 - 322 B.C.) joined the Academy in 367 B.C., and after Plato's death, about 335 B.C., founded a School of his own in the Lyceum at Athens, lecturing as he walked about -- whence the name "Peripatetic" ("walking round"). Aristotle was the great systematizer in all branches of philosophy and science. In his Logical treatises ("Organon") he formulates the "Categories," or ten heads of predicables; the rules for the conversion of propositions; the doctrine of the Syllogism, as based on the Laws of Contradiction and Excluded Middle; the meaning of Demonstration or Proof as concerned with necessary causes, and how First Principles, or axiomatic truths, are indemonstrable; problematic or imperfect syllogisms; the various kinds of eristic argument or fallacy. In his Metaphysics he argues, as against Plato, that the Universals, the objects of knowledge, are not separate from the sensibles but in them. The first principles of Being are actuality and potency; and Cause is analysed into four kinds -- material, formal, efficient and final. Form is the essence of things, and the object of cognition, and Form plus Matter compose the concrete substance. God is pure actuality, "thought thinking upon thought," the primum mobile. In his Physics and Psychology he postulated Ether as a fifth element, and the Earth as stationary in the centre of the Cosmos. Life is the power of self-movement, of which Soul is the principle, it being the "form" or "entelechy" of the body. The faculties of Soul are five -- nutritive, sensitive, appetitive, locomotive, rational. In sensation we receive "the form without the matter" of the percept; and besides the five external senses, each with its proper object, there are three internal senses, memory, imagination, and the central communis sensus, with its seat in the heart, by which we note and compare the several reports of the special senses. As the senses deal with the concrete and individual, so the Intellect deals with the abstract and universal; but though distinct from Sense it is dependent on it for its material, being of itself a tabula rasa. The intellect is also described as twofold, active and passive. His Ethics is chiefly notable for his doctrine of Virtue as consisting in "the Mean" between two extremes, and for his preference of mental to moral virtues. Also, he included bodily goods (health, wealth, pleasure) as well as virtue in his description of the ethical " End ("Happiness"). In his Political Theory he rejects Plato's communism and abolition of private property, and regards the State as a means for the moral advancement of the citizens and as the guardian of justice. He also wrote treatises on biology and aesthetics and rhetoric.

Theophrastus was Head of the Peripatetic School from 322 to 287 B.C., when he was succeeded by Strato, and he in turn by Lyco (269 - 225 B.C.). They, and other leading Peripatetics -- such as Dicaearchus, the Historian, and Aristoxenus, the musician -- cultivated the special sciences rather than the metaphysical and logical aspects of Aristotelianism, and empirical interests tended to outweigh theoretical in the later history of the School.

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On its theoretical and constructive side the philosophical movement which culminated in the architectonic systems of Plato and Aristotle came to an abrupt end. The philosophic Epigoni of the post-Aristotelian age showed less breadth of vision and but little originality of mind: the glory had departed from Israel. This was, no doubt, partly due to the depressing social and political conditions which prevailed in the Greek-speaking world during the third and following centuries. These conditions tended to make men concentrate their thoughts on purely human interests -- the welfare, destiny, salvation of the individual -- to the neglect of the other departments of philosophy and science. In so far as they were cultivated at all, those other departments came to be treated merely as the handmaids of Ethics, thus reviving the mainly humanistic attitude of the Sophists. Philosophy, in fact, became the substitute for an out-of-date and exploded Religion, and had for its aim, not the attainment of objective truth, but the provision of a subjective spiritual salvation from the manifold ills of life. Its task was no longer theoretical, but the very practical and urgent one of supplying distressed humanity with "arms against a sea of troubles," with shield and buckler against "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." Truth was now a matter for the heart rather than the head; philosophy, like faith, was to be judged by its "works;" it was bound to be pragmatical. To meet this situation two great Dogmatic systems were evolved, the Epicurean and the Stoic, and, to counter them, the system of the Sceptics. These three were contemporaneous, all dating from the end of the fourth century B.C.

1. The Epicureans. -- Epicurus of Samos (341 - 270 B.C.) founded his School in his garden (hence "the Garden School") at Athens in 306 B.C. Epicurus reverted to Democritus for his Physics, and to Aristippus for his Ethics, being both an Atomist and a Hedonist. In his physical theory he followed Democritus closely, except in explaining the collision of atoms as due to slight arbitrary deviations from the straight line in their downward course. The Soul, he said, is material, composed (as are the gods) of a finer sort of atoms, and mortal. Sensation, with its immediate evidence, is the only criterion of truth; it is effected by effluent images from the external objects impinging on the sense organs. The aggregation of several sensations forms the notion or concept, and from notions arise opinion and conviction. This theory of knowledge constitutes "Canonic," the Epicureans' name for Logic. Physics and Logic were regarded as subordinate to Ethics, and in Ethics Epicurus, like Aristippus, held that the Good is Pleasure, but he defined pleasure rather differently -- not as a satisfying "smooth motion" but as a state of rest, "painlessness," or absence of all unsatisfied desire, or "unperturbedness." Also he regarded freedom from mental distress, fear and prejudice, as even more important than bodily satisfaction; and it is the task of the "Wise Man" by means of a kind of hedonistic calculus, to estimate the comparative value of the different kinds of pleasurable affections so as to win for himself the maximum of mental satisfaction and repose throughout his life. Virtue, and the special virtues, are of value only in so far as they contribute to this end. Right and wrong become matters of merely subjective feeling. Religion was abolished as the cause of intolerable mental "perturbation," and the gods were banished to the intermundia. Lucretius's great poem De Rerum Natura is our most complete exposition of Epicureanism.

2. The Stoics. – Zeno of Citium, in Cyprus (350 – 258 B.C.), started his School about 305 B.C. in the "Painted Porch at Athens -- whence the name "Stoic." He was succeeded by Cleanthes, author of the famous "Hymn to Zeus," who, in turn, was followed by Chrysippus of Cilicia (280 - 206 B.C.), who systematized the doctrines of the School. With Panaetius of Rhodes (180 - 111 B.C.), Poseidonius of Apamea (130 - 46 B.C.), and the later Stoics, the system tended to become more eclectic, with infiltrations of Peripatetic and Academic doctrine. The main tenets of Stoicism were briefly these :--

In Physics they reverted to Heracleiteanism, and taught a materialistic monism. All that exists is corporeal: only body can act on body, therefore God is as much corporeal as the world, the soul as the body. The primal world-stuff is Fire, which by the "upward and downward way" transforms itself into the other elements and produces the Cosmos, until finally, at the end of the "Great World-Year," it returns to its original form in the World-Conflagration; and this cyclical process of evolution goes on for ever. This primary matter has two aspects, active and passive: as "artistic fiery vapour" it is the Soul of the World, Reason, Thought, Destiny, God. Hence the World, though wholly material, is rational: because governed and permeated by logos (the divine "Word") it exhibits order, harmony and beauty, as the artistic products of creative design. But the Logos is also the Cosmic Law, which binds all things in ihe rigid nexus of cause and effect, the bonds of Destiny. Hence, too, there can be no freedom of the Will for the individual. The Divine Logos contains all the "seminal Logoi," which are the active reproductive principles in all living creatures. Of the four elements, fire and air were contrasted as "active" with earth and water as "passive," and the forms and qualities of things were explained as due to the action of air or "aeriform tension." The unity of inorganic objects was ascribed to "condition," of plants to "nature," of animals to "soul." The souls of living creatures are parts of the Cosmic Soul, and consist of hot vapour or "spirit." Human souls (or at least those of the Wise) persist after death until the Ecpyrosis. The Soul has eight parts or faculties, viz. the five senses, the vocal, the generative, and the hegemonic or ruling. To this "Regent Part" all the rest are attached, it being their source of motion, with its seat in the heart, whence the pneuma radiates to the various local organs. It is in the "Regent Part," too, that perception (presentations and impulses) takes place.

For their Logic the Stoics were mainly indebted to Aristotle. They subdivided Logic into Rhetoric and Dialectic. All knowledge comes through the senses, the mind being a tabula rasa upon which sense-impressions are made. The "presentation" is defined as "an affection arising in the soul" or "an impression on the soul" (Zeno) or "an alteration in the soul" (Chrysippus). Of these presentations some come through the senses, others are mental. How are we to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy presentations? What is the Criterion of truth? Here we come to the most distinctive feature of the Stoic doctrine. The Criterion, they said, is to be found in the subjective reaction of the percipient. If the presentation is true, proceeding from a real object, it wins the "assent" or approbation of the percipient: such an "apprehensive presentation" constitutes the Criterion. In the development of knowledge they distinguished four stages – sense-perception, memory or retained presentation of an absent object, experience formed by a plurality of like memories, notions. "Notions" may be either involuntary -- termed "common notions" or "concepts" -- or voluntary, due to the reflex action of the mind. The "concept" is defined as "the natural notion of universals." The reasoning faculty deals with "notions," and all notions, as substances, are corporeal. The concepts were classified under four heads, the Stoic Categories, viz. substance, essential quality, accidental quality, relation. These they called "highest universals" or summa genera, and of these the first is also termed Being. In order to include also Non-being, another, still higher, category was postulated -- " Something." All qualities, as gaseous currents, are corporeal; but essential or intrinsic qualities or "states" are distinguished from imported or accidental qualities or "conditions." Under "relation'" are classed all attributes which imply a connexion between co-existing objects.

In their Ethics the Stoics followed the Cynics, declaring Virtue to be the only Good, and presenting, the Ideal "Sage" as the embodiment of virtue. Like all the post-Aristotelian Schools they regarded Ethics as the crown of their philosophy to which Physics and Logic were merely adjuncts, since Ethics deals with the one thing needful -- human happiness and the rules for its attainment. Happiness – the End or Good -- they defined as "Living in conformity with Nature," or without contravening the Cosmic "Law" which is Right Reason, which means obeying God or Necessity. This subjection to the Law of the Logos is ultimately unavoidable, since "volentem fata ducunt, nolentem trahunt." Action in accordance with "Nature" is Virtue, which does not admit of increase or decrease and is termed a "disposition" rather than a "state." The four virtues -- wisdom, temperance, justice, courage -- are defined as four forms of knowledge. Between the extremes of virtue and vice there is no middle state; but an important distinction was made between three classes of conduct -- perfect moral actions, "becoming" actions or "duties," "undutiful" or sinful actions. The first kind is peculiar to the Stoic "Sage," the second proper for those "progressing" towards wisdom. As the only "goods" are the virtues and the only "evils" their opposite vices, there is a large class of things which come under neither of these heads: these "neutral" things -- such as life, health, wealth, beauty, pleasure, and their opposites --- are, strictly speaking, "indifferent." But, even so, they differ in value and were divided into two classes, "the desirable and preferred," and "the undesirable and unpreferred." Non-rational affections are the "passions" or emotions of which there are four kinds -- one being of the body, viz. involuntary sensuous feeling, and the other of the soul, viz. the rational emotion of the Sage, natural and involuntary states which are harmless, and vicious or morbid emotions. In all such mental passions there is an element of intellect and will as well as of feeling. The primary passions are four --desire, fear, pain and pleasure; and one definition of passion is "an excessive impulse." To give way to such an impulse is to "assent" to it, or approve of it by a perverted act of judgement, and hence "passions" were called "judgements" by Chrysippus. The root of evil passions is "intemperance," "a defection of the whole mind from right Reason," and their fruits are the diseases of the soul we call vices and sins. The Ideal Wise Man or Sage, being moved only by rational emotions, is said to be "passionless." In him virtue and wisdom are personified. He only is happy and at peace with himself, unperturbed by fightings without or fears within, indifferent to externals, self-sufficient and self-controlled, master of his fate and captain of his soul. Their portrait of the Ideal Sage is one of the features of Stoicism which attracted world-wide attention, alike from critics and admirers of the School. Horace alludes to the sapiens more than once in his Satires, e.g. ii. 7. 83 ff. :

quisnam igitur liber? sapiens sibi qui imperlosus,

quem neque pauperies neque mors neque vincula terrent,

responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores

fortis, et in se ipso totus, teres atque rotundus.

Of "the Wise" it was said also that all were friends of all and that they had all things in common and that the whole world was their city and their home (whence the term "cosmopolitan"). They form one of the two classes into which mankind is divided -- the "good" and the "bad", the sheep and the goats. Here again we note the ingrained ethical dualism of the Stoic system. The "bad," the poor in virtue, we have always with us, a multitude whom no man can number, but where shall wisdom be found and who exactly are the truly "wise"? Socrates, they said, and Antisthenes and Diogenes approximated to the Ideal, but the perfect Sage is nowhere discoverable upon the earth ; either, then, he had his being in the far -- off Golden Age or he remains for ever a "pattern laid up in the heavens."

I have enlarged thus much upon the details of Stoic doctrine because it is the type of Dogmatism which the Sceptics criticized most frequently and most severely. We pass on now to the Sceptics themselves.


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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 ends in incredulity or despair of a solution, so that the "inquirer" becomes a "doubter" or a "disbeliever," 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 assuming 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 maintain, if not the impossibility of knowledge, at least the impossibility of positively affirming its possibility. Its watchword was "Suspend judgement." The history of Scepticism, as a definite tradition or "School," may conveniently be divided into four periods or stages, viz. :

(1) Practical Scepticism of Pyrrho of Elis (circa 360 - 275 B.C.), and his pupil Timon of Phlius (circa 315 - 225 B.C.).

(2) Critical Scepticism and probabilism of the New Academy – Arcesilas of Pitane (circa 315 - 241 B.C.) and Carnades of Cyrene (circa 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 (circa 100 - 40 B.C.) and Agrippa (? first century A.D.).

(4) Final development of Empiric Scepticism, culminating in Sextus Empiricus (circa 160 – 210 A.D.).

A brief account of each of these stages must here suffice.

1. 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 been 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 worrv by the cultivation of a neutral, noncommittal attitude towards all the problems of life and thought. In self-defence he sought refuge within himself, there to achieve a self-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 of life.

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, viz. the " Images " or "Illusions," and the "Silli" or "Lampoons." The latter evidently 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, ye polypragmatical Sophists.

The second and third books were in the form of a dialogue between Timon and Xenoplianes, 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 Pyrrbo) invented or used any of the technical vocabulary of Scepticism (e.g. "Suspension," "No more," " Equipollence") which is commonly ascribed to him or his master.

2. 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 Head 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 epistemologyand 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 judgement" 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 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.

Carneades 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 mean-while, attempted to rebut. Neither the senses nor the reason, he argued, can supply any infallible "criterion": there is no specific difference between false "presentations" and true: beside 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 lie’: 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 saving 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-good, and imperishable, He cannot be either composite or corporeal or animate or rationial 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 the 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 the 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" 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." 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 accompanying conditions); (c) the probable and uncontradicted and "closely scrutinized" or "tested." These apparently true impressions produce varying degrees of "conviction" and deserve proportionate "assent" 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. circa 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 andthe Later Sceptics.

5. The first of the "Later Sceptics," who revived 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 Pyrrhoean 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, "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 mainly 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," 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 by several remarks of Sextus, Aenesidemus was not consistent in his Scepticism. We are told that he regarded "the Sceptic system 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, viz. locomotion and alteration or transformation; and a peculiar theory of Soul, or reason, 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," 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 philosopby. It has been suggested that Sextus has misunderstood or misrepresented Aenesidemus; or that Aenesidemus did ultimately pass over from the Sceptical to the Dogmatic 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." 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. To him is attributed the presentation of Sceptical theory in "five Tropes," which are briefly these: (1) Based on the conflict among opinions; (2) Every proof requires a fresh proof in endless regress; (3) Based on the relativity of perceptions; (4) Proof must not presuppose unproved premisses; (5)Reasoning involves a vicious circle. Of these (1) and (3) resume and sum up the former "ten Tropes," which exhibited the fallibility of the senses and the relativity of perceptual knowledge; while (2), (4) and (5) are directed against the Aristotelian theory of "immediate" axioms and the possibility of logical demonstration.

Agrippa was followed by Zeuxippus, Zeuxis, and Antiochus, who remain mere names, though we may suppose that they adhered to the tradition of dialectical Scepticism.

4. The last stage in the history of Greek Scepticism is marked by its alliance with medical empiricism (cf. Pyrr. Hyp. i. 236 ff.). Menodotus of Nicomedia and Theodas appear to have been the first of these medical Sceptics, and we may date them about A.D. 150. Galen criticizes the views of both regarding medicine and natural science. Herodotus of Tarsus, who succeeded Menodotus, is thought to have belonged to the "pneumatic" rather than to the "empiric" school of medicine; but in any case he was the teacher of Sextus Empiricus.

To one or other of the foregoing Sceptics we may probably attribute two further developments of doctrine, viz. a further reduction of the "Tropes" to two (arguing against the possibility of either immediate or mediate certitude), and a new distinction between "commemorative and "indicative signs " (cf. Pyrr. Hyp. ii. 99).

Sextus Empiricus (circa A.D. 200) is our main authority for the history and doctrine of the Sceptic School. We know that he was a Greek physician and that he succeded Herodotus as Head of the School, but we know little else about the details of his life. He seems to have resided for some time in Rome, and to have been acquainted with Athens and Alexandria. Although named "Empiricus" he seems to imply that he adhered rather to the "methodic" than to the "empiric" tradition in medicine. His surviving works are three -- (1) "Outlines of Pyrrhonism" in three books; (2) "Against the Dogmatists in five books, --l and 2 "Against the Logicians," 3 and 4 "Against the Physicists," 5 "Against the Ethicists"; (3) "Against the Professors" in six books -- a book each against Grammarians, Rhetors, Geometers, Arithmeticians, Astrologers, Musicians, in this order. Other works ascribed to him are a treatise "On the Soul" and "Notes on Medicine."

Of the surviving works the Hypotyposes, or " Outlines," is a kind of summary of Scepticism, the first book stating and defending the Sceptic position, and the other two books attacking the Dogmatic position. The other two works are usually put together as a whole under the title Adversus Mathematicos -- which we might construe "Against the Professors of all Arts and Sciences," -- and they resume and expand the critical and polemical arguments of books 2 and 3 of the "Outlines."

Probably there is but little original matter in these works. Sextus was mainly a compiler: he drew freely on the writings of his predecessors, especially Aensidemus, Cleitomachus (for Carneades), and Menodotus. He was evidently interested in the history of thought, and provides us with much valuable information about the earlier Schools, although he is not wholly reliable. He writes mostly in a plain, dry style, enlivened but rarely by touches of humour. As a controversialist he studies fairness by quoting the opponent's own views, often at great length; but he wearies the reader by his way of piling argument upon argument for the mere sake of multiplying words -- bad argument and good heaped togetherindiscriminately. Obviously his books are not intended to be works of art, but rather immense arsenals stored with all the weapons of offence and defence of every conceivable pattern, old and new, that ever were forged on the anvil of Scepticism by the hammer blows of Eristic dialecticians. From these storehouses the Sceptic engaged in polemics may choose his weapon to suit his need; for (as Sextus naively observes) the Sceptic is a "philanthropic" person who spares his adversary by using against him only the minimum of force necessary to bowl him over, so that the weakest and most flimsy arguments have their uses as well as the weightiest. Or is Sextus here the veiled humorist?


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The text of Sextus is derived from two main sources -- the Greek Manuscripts and a Latin Translation. For the Hypotyposes the most important MSS. -- as described by the latest editor, Mutschmann – are:

M = Monac. gr. 439, late fourteenth century, containiting Pyrr. Hyp.

L = Laur. 81. 11, dated A.D. 1465, containing all the works of Sextus.

E = Parisinus 1964, late fifteenth century, containing all Sextus.

A =Parisirtus 1963, dated 1534, containing all Sextus.

B =Berol. Phill. 1518, dated 1542, nearly a duplicate of A.

Of these, the last three seem to be closely akin, so that we have three main lines of MS. tradition, derived from the same Archetype, viz. M, L, and EAB.

T denotes (in Mutschmann's notation, which is here followed) the Latin Translation, which is preserved in the MS. known as Parisinus lat. 14700 (fol. 83 - 132). It contains the whole of Sextus except for two omissions, viz. p. 51, 11 - 26, and p. 145, 3 - 160, 20. As it was first brought to light by C. Jourdain in 1888, earlier editors were ignorant of its existence, and it is only in the latest Teubner edition that its readings are reported. The Teubner editor, H. Mutselimann, dates it in the thirteenth century, and regards it as equal in importance to any of the Greek MSS., and derived from an independent Archetype.

There are three early editions of Sextus -- by P. and J. Choiet (Geneva, 1621); by J. A. Fabricius (Leipzig, 1718), incorporating the Latin version by H. Stephens (Paris, 1562), as well as additional Notes; by I. Bekker (Berlin, 1842), giving the text and index only. The first volume of the Teubner edition (containing Pyrr. Hyp.) was published in 1912, the second volume in 1914.

A literal German version of the three books of Pyrr. Hyp., with an Introduction and useful Notes, by E. Pappenheim, appeared in 1877 (Leipzig); and an English version of Pyrr. Hyp., book i., is included in M. Patrick's volume Sextus Einpiricus and Greek Scepticism (Cambridge, 1899). The latest considerable contribution to the textual criticism of Sextus is Werner Heintz's Studien zu Sexius Empiricus (Halle, 1932).

The present four volumes include "Outlines of Pyrrhonism" (in Vol. I); "Against the Logicians" (Vol. II); "Against the Physicists" and "Against the Ethicists" (Vol. III); and "Against the Professors" (Vol. IV). "Against the Professors" vii - xi (Adversus Mathematicos vii – xi) is an alternative title for "Against the Logicians" I - v (Adversus Dogmaticos i - v).

The text in these volumes is based on that of Bekker. Bekker, it may be noted, omitted both the Tables of Contents prefixed to the several books in the MSS. and the corresponding Chapter-headings, although the earlier editors had retained both. In these volumes the Chapter-headings are restored, for the convenience of the reader, while the Tables of Contents are, after Bekker, omitted, as a superfluous duplication.

In addition to the accounts of Greek Scepticism given in the standard Histories of Ancient Philosophy, attention may be drawn to the special treatment of the subject in The Greek Sceptics by N. MacColl (1869); Les Sceptiques grecs by V. Brochard (1887), copious and clear; Die Geschichte des griechischen Skeptizismus by A. Goedeckemeyer (1905), good for details; Stoic and Epicurean by R. D. Hicks (1910), chapters 8 and 10; Stoics and Sceptics by E. Bevan (1913), less detailed, but scholarly, suggestive and interesting, and thus probably the best introduction to the subject for the general reader.

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The natural result of any investigation is that the investigators either discover the object of search or deny that it is discoverable and confess it to be inapprehensible or persist in their search. So, too, with regard to the objects investigated by philosophy, this is probably why some have claimed to have discovered the truth, others have asserted that it cannot be apprehended, while others again go on inquiring. Those who believe, they have discovered it are the "Dogmatists," specially so called -- Aristotle, for example, and Epicurus and the Stoics and certain others; Cleitomachus and Carneades and other Academics treat it as inapprehensible: the Sceptics keep on searching. Hence it seems reasonable to hold that the main types of philosophy are three -- the Dogmatic, the Academic, and the Sceptic. Of the other systems it will best become others to speak: our task it present is to describe in outline the Sceptic doctrines first premising that of none of our future statements do we positively affirm that the fact is exactly as we state it, but we simply record each fact, like a chronicler, as it appears to us at the moment.


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Of the Sceptic philosophy one argument (or branch of exposition) is called "general," the other "special." In the general argument we set forth the distinctive features of Scepticism, stating its purport and principles, its logical methods, criterion, and end or aim; the "Tropes," also, or "Modes," which lead to suspension of judgement, and in what sense we adopt the Sceptic formulae, and the distinction between Scepticism and the philosophies which stand next to it. In the special argument we state our objections regarding the several divisions of so-called philosophy. Let us, then, deal first with the general argument, beginning our description with the names given to the Sceptic School.


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The Sceptic School, then, is also called "Zetetic" from its activity in investigation and inquiry, and "Ephectic" or Suspensive from the state of mind produced in the inquirer after his search, and "Aporetic" or Dubitative either from its habit of doubting and seeking, as some say, or from its indecision as regards assent and denial, and "Pyrrhonean" from the fact that Pyrrho appears to us to have applied himself to Scepticism more thoroughly and more conspicuously than his predecessors.


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Scepticism is an ability, or mental attitude, which opposes appearances to judgements in any way whatsoever, with the result that, owing to the equipollence of the objects and reasons thus opposed, we are brought firstly to a state of mental suspense and next to a state of "unperturbedness" or quietude. Now we call it an "ability" not in any subtle sense, but simply in respect of its "being able." By "appearances" we now mean the objects of sense-perception, whence we contrast them with the objects of thought or "judgements." The phrase "in any way whatsoever" can be connected either with the word "ability," to make us take the word "ability," as we said, in its simple sense, or with the phrase "opposing appearances to judgements"; for inasmuch as we oppose these in a variety of ways – appearances to appearances, or judgements to judgements, or alternando appearances to judgements, -- in order to ensure the inclusion of all these antitheses we employ the phrase "in any way whatsoever." Or, again, we join "in any way whatsoever" to "appearances and judgements" in order that we may not have to inquire how the appearances appear or how the thought-objects are judged, but may take these terms in the simple sense. The phrase "opposed judgements" we do not employ in the sense of negations and affirmations only but simply as equivalent to "conflicting judgements." "Equipollence" we use of equality in respect of probability and improbability, to indicate that no one of the conflicting judgements takes precedence of any other as being more probable. "Suspense" is a state of mental rest owing to which we neither deny nor affirm anything. "Quietude" is an untroubled and tranquil condition of soul. And how quietude enters the soul along with suspension of judgement we shall explain in our chapter (XII.) "Concerning the End."


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In the definition of the system there is also implicitly included that of the Pyrrhonean philosopher: he is the man who participates in this "ability."


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The originating cause of Scepticism is, we say, the hope of attaining quietude. Men of talent, who were perturbed by the contradictions in things and in doubt as to which of the alternatives they ought to accept, were led on to inquire what is true in things and what false, hoping by the settlement of this question to attain quietude. The main basic principle of the Sceptic system is that of opposing to every proposition an equal proposition; for we believe that as a consequence of this we end by ceasing to dogmatize.


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When we say that the Sceptic refrains from dogmatizing we do not use the term "dogma," as some do, in the broader sense of "approval of a thing" for the Sceptic gives assent to the feelings which are the necessary results of sense-impressions, and he would not, for example, say when feeling hot or cold "I believe that I am not hot or cold"); but we say that "he does not dogmatize" using "dogma" in the sense, which some give it, of "assent to one of the non-evident objects of scientific inquiry"; for the Pyrrhonean philosopher assents to nothing that is non-evident. Moreover, even in the act of enunciating the Sceptic formulae concerning things non-evident -- such as the formula "No more (one thing than another)," or the formula "I determine nothing," or any of the others which we shall presently mention he does not dogmatize. For whereas the dogmatizer posits the things about which he is said to be dogmatizing as really existent, the Sceptic does not posit these formulae in any absolute sense; for he conceives that, just as the formula "All things are false" asserts the falsity of itself as well as of everything else, as does the formula "Nothing is true," so also the formula "No more" asserts that itself, like all the rest, is "No more (this than that)," and thus cancels itself along with the rest. And of the other formulae we say the same. If then, while the dogmatizer posits the matter of his dogma as substantial truth, the Sceptic enunciates his formulae so that they are virtually cancelled by themselves, he should not be said to dogmatize in his enunciation of them. And, most important of all, in his enunciation of these formulae he states what appears to himself and announces his own impression in an undogmatic way, without making any positive assertion regarding the external realities.


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We follow the same lines in replying to the question "Has the Sceptic a doctrinal rule?" For if one defines a "doctrinal rule" as "adherence to a number of dogmas which are dependent both on one another and on appearances," and defines "dogma" as "assent to a nonevident proposition," then we shall say that he has not a doctrinal rule. But if one defines "doctrinal rule" as "procedure which, in accordance with appearance, follows a certain line of reasoning, that reasoning indicating how it is possible to seem to live rightly (the word 'rightly' being taken, not as referring to virtue only, but in a wider sense) and tending to enable one to suspend judgement, then we say that he has a doctrinal rule. For we follow a line of reasoning which, in accordance with appearances, points us to a life conformable to the customs of our country and its laws and institutions, and to our own instinctive feelings.


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We make a similar reply also to the question "Should the Sceptic deal with physical problems?" For while, on the one hand, so far as regards making, firm and positive assertions about any of the matters dogmatically treated in physical theory, we do not deal with physics; yet, on the other hand, in respect of our mode of opposing to every proposition an equal proposition and of our theory of quietude we do treat of physics. This, too, is the way in which we approach the logical and ethical branches of so-called "philosophy."


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Those who say that "the Sceptics abolish appearances," or phenomena, seem to me to be unacquainted with the statements of our School. For, as we said above, we do not overthrow the affective sense-impressions which induce our assent involuntarily; and these impressions are "the appearances." And when we question whether the underlying object is such as it appears, we grant the fact that it appears, and our doubt does not concern the appearance itself but the account given of that appearance, -- and that is a different thing from questioning the appearance itself. For example, honey appears to us to be sweet (and this we grant, for we perceive sweetness through the senses), but whether it is also sweet in its essence is for us a matter of doubt, since this is not an appearance but a judgement regarding the appearance. And even if we do actually argue against the appearances, we do not propound such arguments with the intention of abolishing appearances, but by way of pointing out the rashness of the Dogmatists; for if reason is such a trickster as to all but snatch away the appearances from under our very eyes, surely we should view it with suspicion in the case of things non-evident so as not to display rashness by following it.


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That we adhere to appearances is plain from what we say about the Criterion of the Sceptic School. The word "Criterion" is used in two senses: in the one it means "the standard regulating belief in reality or unreality," (and this we shall discuss in our refutation); in the other it denotes the standard of action by conforming to which in the conduct of life we perform some actions and abstain from others; and it is of the latter that we are now speaking. The criterion, then, of the Sceptic School is, we say, the appearance, giving this name to what is virtually the sense-presentation. For since this lies in feeling and involuntary affection, it is not open to question. Consequently, no one, I suppose, disputes that the underlying object has this or that appearance; the point in dispute is whether the object is in reality such as it appears to be.

Adhering, then, to appearances we live in accordance with the normal rules of life, undogmatically, seeing that we cannot remain wholly inactive. And it would seem that this regulation of life is fourfold, and that one part of it lies in the guidance of Nature, another in the constraint of the passions, Another in the tradition of laws and customs, another in the instruction of the arts. Nature's guidance is that by which we are naturally capable of sensation and thought; constraint of the passions is that whereby hunger drives us to food and thirst to drink; tradition of customs and laws, that whereby we regard piety in the conduct of life as good, but impiety as evil; instruction of the arts, that whereby we are not inactive in such arts as we adopt. But we make all these statements undogmatically.


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Our next subject will be the end of the Sceptic system. Now an "end" is "that for which all actions or reasonings are undertaken, while it exists for the sake of none"; or, otherwise, "the ultimate object of appentency." We assert still that the Sceptic's End is quietude in respect of matters of opinion and moderate feeling in respect of things unavoidable. For the skeptic, having set out to philosophize with the object of passing judgment on the sense impressions and ascertaining which of them are true and which false, so as to attain quietude thereby, found himself involved in contradictions of equal weight, and being unable to decide between them suspended judgment; and as he was thus in suspense there followed, as it happened, the state of quietude in respect of matters of opinion. For the man who opines that anything is by nature good or bad is for ever being disquieted: when he is without the things which he deems good he believes himself to be tormented by things naturally bad and he pursues after the things which are, as he thinks, good; which when he has obtained he keeps falling into still more perturbations because of his irrational and immoderate elation, and in his dread of a change of fortune he uses every endeavor to avoid losing the things which he deems good. On the other hand, the man who determines nothing as to what is naturally good or bad neither shuns nor pursues anything eagerly; and, in consequence, he is unperturbed.

The Sceptic, in fact, had the same experience which is said to have befallen the painter Apelles. Once, they say, when he was painting a horse and wished to represent in the painting the horse's foam, he was so unsuccessful that he gave up the attempt and flung at the picture the sponge on which he used to wipe the paints off his brush, and the mark of the sponge produced the effect of a horse's foam. So, too, the Sceptics were in hopes of gaining quietude by means of a decision regarding the disparity of the objects of sense and of thought, and being unable to effect this they suspended judgment; and they found that quietude, as if by chance, followed upon their suspense, even as a shadow follows its substance. We do not, however, suppose that the Sceptic is wholly untroubled; but we say that he is troubled by things unavoidable; for we grant that he is cold at times and thirsty, and suffers various affections of that kind. But even in these cases, whereas ordinary people are afflicted by two circumstances, -- namely, by the affections themselves and, in no less a degree, by the belief that these conditions are evil by nature, --the Sceptic, by his rejection of the added belief in the natural badness of all these conditions, escapes here too with less discomfort. Hence we say that, while in regard to matters of opinion the Sceptic's End is quietude, in regard to things unavoidable it is "moderate affection." But some notable Sceptics have added the further definition "suspension of judgment in investigations."


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Now that we have been saying that tranquillity follows on suspension of judgment, it will be our next task to explain how we arrive at this suspension. Speaking generally, one may say that it is the result of setting things in opposition. We oppose either appearances to appearances or objects of thought to objects of thought or alternando. For instance, we oppose appearances to appearances when we say "The same tower appears round from a distance, but square from close at hand"; and thoughts to thoughts, when in answer to him who argues the existence of providence from the order of the heavenly bodies we oppose the fact that often the good fare ill and the bad fare well, and draw from this the inference that providence does not exist. And thoughts we oppose to appearances, as when Anaxagoras countered the notion that snow is white with the argument, "Snow is frozen water, and water is black; therefore snow also is black." With a different idea we oppose things present sometimes to things present, as in the foregoing examples, and sometimes to things past or future, as, for instance, when someone propounds to us a theory which we are unable to refute, we say to him in reply, "Just as, before the birth of the founder of the school to which you belong, the theory it holds was not as yet apparent as a sound theory, although it was really in existence, so likewise it is possible that the opposite theory to that which you now propound is already existent, though not yet apparent to us, so that we ought not as yet to yield assent to this theory which at the moment seems to be valid."

But in order that we may have a more exact understanding of these antitheses I will describe the modes by which suspension of judgment is brought about, but without making any positive assertion regarding either their number or their validity; for it is possible that they may be unsound or there may be more of them than I shall enumerate.


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The usual tradition amongst the older skeptics is that the "modes" by which "suspension" is supposed to be brought about are ten in number; and they also give them the synonymous names of "arguments" and "positions." They are these: the first, based on the variety in animals; the second, on the differences in human beings; the third, on the different structures of the organs of sense; the fourth, on the circumstantial conditions; the fifth, on positions and intervals and locations; the sixth, on intermixtures; the seventh, on the quantities and formations of the underlying objects; the eighth, on the fact of relativity; the ninth, on the frequency or rarity of occurrence; the tenth, on the disciplines and customs and laws, the legendary beliefs and the dogmatic convictions. This order, however, we adopt without prejudice.

As superordinate to these there stand three Modes -- that based on the subject who judges, that on the object judged, and that based on both. The first four of the ten Modes are subordinate to the Mode based on the subject (for the subject which judges is either an animal or a man or a sense, and existent in some condition): the seventh and tenth Modes are referred to that based on the object judged: the fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth are referred to the Mode based on both subject and object. Furthermore, these three Modes are also referred to that of relation, so that the Mode of relation stands as the highest genus, and the three as species, and the ten as subordinate subspecies. We give this as the probable account of their numbers; and as to their argumentative force what we say is this:

The First argument (or Trope), as we said, is that which shows that the same impressions are not produced by the same objects owing to the differences in animals. This we infer both from the differences in their origins and from the variety of their bodily structures. Thus, as to origin, some animals are produced without sexual union, others by coition. And of those produced without coition, some come from fire, like the animalcules which appear in furnaces, others from putrid water, like gnats; others from wine when it turns sour, like ants; others from earth, like grasshoppers; others from marsh, like frogs; others from mud, like worms; others from asses, like beetles; others from greens, like caterpillars; others from fruits, like the gall-insects in wild figs; others from rotting animals, as bees from bulls and wasps from horses. Of the animals generated by coition, some -- in fact the majority -- come from homogeneous parents, others from heterogeneous parents, as do mules. Again, of animals in general, some are born alive, like men; others are born as eggs, like birds; and yet others as lumps of flesh, like bears. It is natural, then, that these dissimilar and variant modes of birth should produce much contrariety of sense affection, and that this is a source of its divergent, discordant, and conflicting character.

Moreover, the differences found in the most important parts of the body, and especially in those of which the natural function is judging and perceiving, are capable of producing a vast deal of divergence in the sense-impressions [owing to the variety in the animals]. Thus, sufferers from jaundice declare that objects which seem to us white are yellow, while those whose eyes are bloodshot call them blood-red. Since, then, some animals have eyes which are yellow, others bloodshot, others albino, others of other colors, they probably, I suppose, have different perceptions of color. Moreover, if we bend down over a book after having gazed long and fixedly at the sun, the letters seem to us to be golden in color and circling round. Since, then, some animals possess also a natural brilliance in their eyes, and emit from them a fine and mobile stream of light, so that they can even see by night, we seem bound to suppose that they are differently affected from us by external objects. Jugglers, too, by means of smearing lamp wicks with the rust of copper or with the juice of the cuttlefish make the bystanders appear now copper-colored and now black -- and that by just a small sprinkling of extra matter. Surely, then, we have much more reason to suppose that when different juices are intermingled in the vision of animals their impressions of the objects will become different. Again, when we press the eyeball at one side the forms, figures, and sizes of the objects appear oblong and narrow. So it is probable that all animals which have the pupil of the eye slanting and elongated such as goats, cats, and similar animals -- have impressions of the objects which are different and unlike the notions formed of them by the animals which have round pupils. Mirrors, too, owing to differences in their construction, represent the external objects at one time as very small -- as when the mirror is concave, -- at another time as elongated and narrow -- as when the mirror is convex. Some mirrors, too, show the head of the figure reflected at the bottom and the feet at the top. Since, then, some organs of sight actually protrude beyond the face owing to their convexity, while others are quite concave, and others again lie in a level plane, on this account also it is probable that their impressions differ, and that the same objects, as seen by dogs, fishes, lions, men, and locusts, are neither equal in size nor similar in shape, but vary according to the image of each object created by the particular sight that receives the impression.

Of the other sense organs also the same account holds good. Thus, in respect of touch, how could one maintain that creatures covered with shells, with flesh, with prickles, with feathers, with scales, are all similarly affected? And as for the sense of hearing, how could we say that its perceptions are alike in animals with a very narrow auditory passage and those with a very wide one, or in animals with hairy ears and those with smooth ears? For, as regards this sense, even we ourselves find our hearing affected in one way when we have our ears plugged and in another way when we use them just as they are. Smell also will differ because of the variety in animals. For if we ourselves are affected in one way when we have a cold and our internal phlegm is excessive, and in another way when the parts about our head are filled with an excess of blood, feeling an aversion to smells which seem sweet to everyone else and regarding them as noxious, it is reasonable to suppose that animals too -- since some are flaccid by nature and rich in phlegm, others rich in blood, others marked by a predominant excess of yellow or of black gall -- are in each case impressed in different ways by the objects of smell. So too with the objects of taste; for some animals have rough and dry tongues, others extremely moist tongues. We ourselves, too, when our tongues are very dry, in cases of fever, think the food proffered us to be earthy and ill-flavored or bitter -- an affection due to the variation in the predominating juices which we are said to contain. Since, then, animals also have organs of taste which differ and which have different juices in excess, in respect of taste also they will receive different impressions of the real objects. For just as the same food when digested becomes in one place a vein, in another an artery, in another a bone, in another a sinew, or some other piece of the body, displaying a different potency according to the difference in the parts which receive it; -- and just as the same unblended water, when it is absorbed by trees, becomes in one place bark, in another branch, in another blossom, and so finally fig and quince and each of the other fruits; -- and just as the single identical breath of a musician breathed into a flute becomes here a shrill note and there a deep note, and the same pressure of his hand on the lyre produces here a deep note and there a shrill note, -- so likewise is it probable that the external objects appear different owing to differences in the structure of the animals which experience the sense-impressions.

But one may learn this more clearly from the preferences and aversions of animals. Thus, sweet oil seems very agreeable to men, but intolerable to beetles and bees; and olive oil is beneficial to men, but when poured on wasps and bees it destroys them; and seawater is a disagreeable and poisonous potion for men, but fish drink and enjoy it. Pigs, too, enjoy wallowing in the stinking mire rather than in clear and clean water. And whereas some animals eat grass, others eat shrubs, others feed in the woods, others live on seeds or flesh or milk; some of them, too, prefer their food high, others like it fresh, and while some prefer it raw, others like it cooked. And so generally, the things which are agreeable to some are to others disagreeable, distasteful, and deadly. Thus, quails are fattened by hemlock, and pigs by henbane; and pigs also enjoy eating salamanders, just as deer enjoy poisonous creatures, and swallows gnats. So ants and wood lice, when swallowed by men, cause distress and gripings, whereas the bear, whenever she falls sick, cures herself by licking them up. The mere touch of an oak twig paralyses the viper, and that of a plane leaf the bat. The elephant flees from the ram, the lion from the cock, sea monsters from the crackle of bursting beans, and the tiger from the sound of a drum. One might, indeed, cite many more examples, but --not to seem unduly prolix -- if the same things are displeasing to some but pleasing to others, and pleasure and displeasure depend upon sense impression, then animals receive different impressions from the underlying objects.

But if the same things appear different owing to the variety in animals, we shall, indeed, be able to state our own impressions of the real object, but as to its essential nature we shall suspend judgment. For we cannot ourselves judge between our own impressions and those of other animals, since we ourselves are involved in the dispute and are, therefore, rather in need of a judge than competent to pass judgment ourselves. Besides, we are unable, either with or without proof, to prefer our own impressions to those of the irrational animals. For in addition to the probability that proof is, as we shall show, a nonentity, the so-called proof itself will be either apparent to us or non-apparent. If, then, it is non-apparent, we shall not accept it with confidence; while if it is apparent to us, inasmuch as what is apparent to animals is the point in question and the proof is apparent to us who are animals, it follows that we shall have to question the proof itself as to whether it is as true as it is apparent. It is, indeed, absurd to attempt to establish the matter in question by means of the matter in question, since in that case the same thing will be at once believed and disbelieved, -- believed in so far as it purports to prove, but disbelieved in so far as it requires proof, -- which is impossible. Consequently we shall not possess a proof which enables us to give our own sense impressions the preference over those of the so-called irrational animals. If, then, owing to the variety in animals their sense impressions differ, and it is impossible to judge between them, we must necessarily suspend judgment regarding the external underlying objects.

By way of super-addition, too, we draw comparisons between mankind and the so-called irrational animals in respect of their sense impressions. For, after our solid arguments, we deem it quite proper to poke fun at those conceited braggarts, the Dogmatists. As a rule, our school compare the irrational animals in the mass with mankind, but since the Dogmatists captiously assert that the comparison is unequal, we – super-adding yet more -- will carry our ridicule further and base our argument on one animal only, the dog for instance if you like, which is held to be the most worthless of animals. For even in this case we shall find that the animals we are discussing are no wise inferior to ourselves in respect of the credibility of their impressions.

Now it is allowed by the Dogmatists that this animal, the dog, excels us in point of sensation: as to smell it is more sensitive than we are, since by this sense it tracks beasts that it cannot see; and with its eyes it sees them more quickly than we do; and with its ears it is keen of perception. Next let us proceed with the reasoning faculty. Of reason one kind is internal, implanted in the soul, the other externally expressed. Let us consider first the internal reason. Now according to those Dogmatists who are, at present, our chief opponents -- I mean the Stoics -- internal reason is supposed to be occupied with the following matters: the choice of things congenial and the avoidance of things alien; the knowledge of the arts contributing thereto; the apprehension of the virtues pertaining to one's proper nature and of those relating to the passions. Now the dog -- the animal upon which, by way of example, we have decided to base our argument -- exercises choice of the congenial and avoidance of the harmful, in that it hunts after food and slinks away from a raised whip. Moreover, it possesses an art which supplies that which is congenial, namely hunting. Nor is it devoid even of virtue; for certainly if justice consists in rendering to each his due, the dog that welcomes and guards its friends and benefactors but drives off strangers and evildoers, cannot be lacking in justice. But if he possesses this virtue, then, since the virtues are interdependent, he possesses also all the other virtues; and these, say the philosophers, the majority of men do not possess. That the dog is also valiant we see by the way he repels attacks, and intelligent as well, as Homer too testified when he sang how Odysseus went unrecognized by all the people of his own household and was recognized only by the dog Argus, who neither was deceived by the bodily alterations of the hero nor had lost his original apprehensive impression, which indeed he evidently retained better than the men. And according to Chrysippus, who shows special interest in irrational animals, the dog even shares in the far-famed "Dialectic." This person, at any rate, declares that the dog makes use of the fifth complex indemonstrable syllogism when, arriving at a spot where three ways meet, after smelling at the two roads by which the quarry did not pass, he rushes off at once by the third without stopping to smell. For, says the old writer, the dog implicitly reasons thus: "The creature went either by this road, or by that, or by the other: but it did not go by this road or by that: therefore it went by the other." Moreover, the dog is capable of comprehending and assuaging his own sufferings; for when a thorn has got stuck in his foot he hastens to remove it by rubbing his foot on the ground and by using his teeth. And if he has a wound anywhere, because dirty wounds are hard to cure whereas clean ones heal easily, the dog gently licks off the pus that has gathered. Nay more, the dog admirably observes the prescription of Hippocrates: rest being what cures the foot, whenever he gets his foot hurt he lifts it up and keeps it as far as possible free from pressure. And when distressed by unwholesome humors he eats grass, by the help of which he vomits what is unwholesome and gets well again. If, then, it has been shown that the animal upon which, as an example, we have based our argument not only chooses the wholesome and avoids the noxious, but also possesses an art capable of supplying what is wholesome, and is capable of comprehending and assuaging its own sufferings, and is not devoid of virtue, then -- these being the things in which the perfection of internal reasons consists -- the dog will be thus far perfect. And that, I suppose, is why certain of the professors of philosophy have adorned themselves with the title of this animal.

Concerning external reason, or speech, it is unnecessary for the present to inquire; for it has been rejected even by some of the Dogmatists as being a hindrance to the acquisition of virtue, for which reason they used to practice silence during the period of instruction; and besides, supposing that a man is dumb, no one will therefore call him irrational. But to pass over these cases, we certainly see animals -- the subject of our argument -- uttering quite human cries, -- jays, for instance, and others. And, leaving this point also aside, even if we do not understand the utterances of the so-called irrational animals, still it is not improbable that they converse although we fail to understand them; for in fact when we listen to the talk of barbarians we do not understand it, and it seems to us a kind of uniform chatter. Moreover, we hear dogs uttering one sound when they are driving people off, another when they are howling, and one sound when beaten, and a quite different sound when fawning. And so in general, in the case of all other animals as well as the dog, whoever examines the matter carefully will find a great variety of utterance according to the different circumstances, so that, in consequence, the so-called irrational animals may justly be said to participate in external reason. But if they neither fall short of mankind in the accuracy of their perceptions, nor in internal reason, nor yet (to go still further) in external reason, or speech, then they will deserve no less credence than ourselves in respect of their sense impressions. Probably, too, we may reach this conclusion by basing our argument on each single class of irrational animals. Thus, for example, who would deny that birds excel in quickness of wit or that they employ external reason? For they understand not only present events but future events as well, and these they foreshow to such as are able to comprehend them by means of prophetic cries as well as by other signs.

I have drawn this comparison (as I previously indicated) by way of super-addition, having already sufficiently proved, as I think, that we cannot prefer our own sense impressions to those of the irrational animals. If, however, the irrational animals are not less worthy of credence than we in regard to the value of sense impressions, and their impressions vary according to the variety of animal, -- then, although I shall be able to say what the nature of each of the underlying objects appears to me to be, I shall be compelled, for the reasons stated above, to suspend judgment as to its real nature.

Such, then, is the First of the Modes which induce suspense. The Second Mode is, as we said, that based on the differences in men; for even if we grant for the sake of argument that men are more worthy of credence than irrational animals, we shall find that even our own differences of themselves lead to suspense. For man, you know, is said to be compounded of two things, soul and body, and in both these we differ one from another.

Thus, as regards the body, we differ in our figures and "idiosyncrasies," or constitutional peculiarities. The body of an Indian differs in shape from that of a Scythian; and it is said that what causes the variation is a difference in the predominant humors. Owing to this difference in the predominant humors the sense impressions also come to differ, as we indicated in our first argument. So too in respect of choice and avoidance of external objects men exhibit great differences: thus Indians enjoy some things, our people other things, and the enjoyment of different things is an indication that we receive varying impressions from the underlying objects. In respect of our "idiosyncrasies," our differences are such that some of us digest the flesh of oxen more easily than rockfish, or get diarrhea from the weak wine of Lesbos. An old wife of Attica, they say, swallowed with impunity thirty drams of hemlock, and Lysis took four drams of poppy juice without hurt. Demophon, Alexander's butler, used to shiver when he was in the sun or in a hot bath, but felt warm in the shade: Athenagoras the Argive took no hurt from the stings of scorpions and poisonous spiders; and the Psyllaeans, as they are called, are not harmed by bites from snakes and asps, nor are the Tentyritae of Egypt harmed by the crocodile. Further, those Ethiopians who live beyond Lake Meroe on the banks of the river Astapous eat with impunity scorpions, snakes, and the like. Rufinus of Chalcis when he drank hellebore neither vomited nor suffered at all from the purging, but swallowed and digested it just like any other ordinary drink. Chrysermus the Herophilean doctor was liable to get a heart attack if ever he took pepper; and Soterichus the surgeon was seized with diarrhea whenever he smelled fried sprats. Andron the Argive was so immune from thirst that he actually traversed the waterless country of Libya without needing a drink. Tiberius Caesar could see in the dark, and Aristotle tells of a Thasian who fancied that the image of a man was continually going in front of him.

Seeing, then, that men vary so much in body -- to content ourselves with but a few instances of the many collected by the Dogmatists, -- men probably also differ from one another in respect of the soul itself, for the body is a kind of expression of the soul, as in fact is proved by the science of Physiognomy. But the greatest proof of the vast and endless differences in men's intelligence is the discrepancy in the statements of the Dogmatists concerning the right objects of choice and avoidance, as well as other things. Regarding this the poets, too, have expressed themselves fittingly. Thus Pindar says:

The crowns and trophies of his storm-foot steeds

Give joy to one; yet others find it joy

To dwell in gorgeous chambers gold-bedeckt;

Some even take delight in voyaging

O'er ocean's billows in a speeding barque.

And the poet [Homer] says: "One thing is pleasing to one man, another thing to another." Tragedy, too, is full of such sayings; for example:

Were fair and wise the same thing unto all,

There had been no contentious quarrelling.

And again:

Tis strange that the same thing abhorrd by some

Should give delight to others.

Seeing, then, that choice and avoidance depend on pleasure and displeasure, while pleasure and displeasure depend on sensation and sense-impression, whenever some men choose the very things which are avoided by others, it is logical for us to conclude that they are also differently affected by the same things, since otherwise they would all alike have chosen or avoided the same things. But if the same objects affect men differently owing to the differences in the men, then, on this ground also, we shall reasonably be led to suspension of judgment. For while we are, no doubt, able to state what each of the underlying objects appears to be, relatively to each difference, we are incapable of explaining what it is in reality. For we shall have to believe either all men or some. But if we believe all, we shall be attempting the impossible and accepting contradictories; and if some, let us be told whose opinions we are to endorse. For the Platonist will say "Plato's", the Epicurean, "Epicurus's" -- and so on with the rest; and thus by their unsettled disputations they will bring us round again to a state of suspense. Moreover, he who maintains that we ought to assent to the majority is making a childish proposal, since no one is able to visit the whole of mankind and determine what pleases the majority of them -- for there may possibly be races of whom we know nothing amongst whom conditions rare with us are common, and conditions common with us rare, -- possibly, for instance, most of them feel no pain from the bites of spiders, though a few on rare occasions feel such pain; and so likewise with the rest of the "idiosyncrasies" mentioned above. Necessarily, therefore, the differences in men afford a further reason for bringing in suspension of judgment.

When the Dogmatists -- a self-loving class of men -- assert that in judging things they ought to prefer themselves to other people, we know that their claim is absurd; for they themselves are a party to the controversy; and if, when judging appearances, they have already given the preference to themselves, then, by thus entrusting themselves with the judgment, they are begging the question before the judgment is begun. Nevertheless, in order that we may arrive at suspension of judgment by basing our argument on one person -- such as, for example, their visionary "Sage" -- we adopt the Mode which comes Third in order.

This Third Mode is, we say, based on differences in the senses. That the senses differ from one another is obvious. Thus, to the eye paintings seem to have recesses and projections, but not so to the touch. Honey, too, seems to some pleasant to the tongue but unpleasant to the eyes; so that it is impossible to say whether it is absolutely pleasant or unpleasant. The same is true of sweet oil, for it pleases the sense of smell but displeases the taste. So too with spurge: since it pains the eyes but causes no pain to any other part of the body, we cannot say whether, in its real nature, it is absolutely painful or painless to bodies. Rain-water, too, is beneficial to the eyes but roughens the windpipe and the lungs; as also does olive oil, though it mollifies the epidermis. The cramp-fish, also, when applied to the extremities produces cramp, but it can be applied to the rest of the body without hurt. Consequently we are unable to say what is the real nature of each of these things, although it is possible to say what each thing at the moment appears to be.

A longer list of examples might be given, but to avoid prolixity, in view of the plan of our treatise, we will say just this. Each of the phenomena perceived by the senses seems to be a complex: the apple, for example, seems smooth, odorous, sweet, and yellow. But it is non-evident whether it really possesses these qualities only; or whether it has but one quality but appears varied owing to the varying structure of the sense organs; or whether, again, it has more qualities than are apparent, some of which elude our perception. That the apple has but one quality might be argued from what we said above regarding the food absorbed by bodies, and the water sucked up by trees, and the breath in flutes and pipes and similar instruments; for the apple likewise may be all of one sort but appear different owing to differences in the sense organs in which perception takes place. And that the apple may possibly possess more qualities than those apparent to us we argue in this way. Let us imagine a man who possesses from birth the senses of touch, taste, and smell, but can neither hear nor see. This man, then, will assume that nothing visual or audible has any existence, but only those three kinds of qualities which he is able to apprehend. Possibly, then, we also, having only our five senses, perceive only such of the apple's qualities as we are capable of apprehending; and possibly it may possess other underlying qualities which affect other sense organs, though we, not being endowed with those organs, fail to apprehend the sense objects which come through them.

"But," it may be objected, "Nature made the senses commensurate with the objects of sense." What kind of "Nature"? we ask, seeing that there exists so much unresolved controversy amongst the Dogmatists concerning the reality which belongs to Nature. For he who decides the question as to the existence of Nature will be discredited by them if he is an ordinary person, while if he is a philosopher he will be a party to the controversy and therefore himself subject to judgment and not a judge. If, however, it is possible that only those qualities which we seem to perceive subsist in the apple, or that a greater number subsist, or, again, that not even the qualities which affect us subsist, then it will be non-evident to us what the nature of the apple really is. And the same argument applies to all the other objects of sense. But if the senses do not apprehend external objects, neither can the mind apprehend them; hence, because of this argument also, we shall be driven, it seems, to suspend judgment regarding the external underlying objects.

In order that we may finally reach suspension by basing our argument on each sense singly, or even by disregarding the senses, we further adopt the Fourth Mode of suspension. This is the Mode based, as we say, on the "circumstances," meaning by "circumstances" conditions or dispositions. And this Mode, we say, deals with states that are natural or unnatural, with waking or sleeping, with conditions due to age, motion or rest, hatred or love, emptiness or fullness, drunkenness or soberness, predispositions, confidence or fear, grief or joy. Thus, according as the mental state is natural or unnatural, objects produce dissimilar impressions, as when men in a frenzy or in a state of ecstasy believe they hear demons' voices, while we do not. Similarly they often say that they perceive an odor of storax or frankincense, or some such scent, and many other things, though we fail to perceive them. Also, the same water which feels very hot when poured on inflamed spots seems lukewarm to us. And the same coat which seems of a bright yellow color to men with bloodshot eyes does not appear so to me. And the same honey seems to me sweet, but bitter to men with jaundice. Now should anyone say that it is an intermixture of certain humors which produces in those who are in an unnatural state improper impressions from the underlying objects, we have to reply that, since healthy persons also have mixed humors, these humors too are capable of causing the external objects -- which really are such as they appear to those who are said to be in an unnatural state -- to appear other than they are to healthy persons. For to ascribe the power of altering the underlying objects to those humors, and not to these, is purely fanciful; since just as healthy men are in a state that is natural for the healthy but unnatural for the sick, so also sick men are in a state that is unnatural for the healthy but natural for the sick, so that to these last also we must give credence as being, relatively speaking, in a natural state.

Sleeping and waking, too, give rise to different impressions, since we do not imagine when awake what we imagine in sleep, nor when asleep what we imagine when awake; so that the existence or non-existence of our impressions is not absolute but relative, being in relation to our sleeping or waking condition. Probably, then, in dreams we see things which to our waking state are unreal, although not wholly unreal; for they exist in our dreams, just as waking realities exist although non-existent in dreams.

Age is another cause of difference. For the same air seems chilly to the old but mild to those in their prime; and the same color appears faint to older men but vivid to those in their prime; and similarly the same sound seems to the former faint, but to the latter clearly audible. Moreover, those who differ in age are differently moved in respect of choice and avoidance. For whereas children -- to take a case -- are all eagerness for balls and hoops, men in their prime choose other things, and old men yet others. And from this we conclude that differences in age also cause different impressions to be produced by the same underlying objects.

Another cause why the real objects appear different lies in motion and rest. For those objects which, when we are standing still, we see to be motionless, we imagine to be in motion when we are sailing past them.

Love and hatred are a cause, as when some have an extreme aversion to pork while others greatly enjoy eating it. Hence, too, Menander said:

Mark now his visage, what a change is there

Since he has come to this! How bestial!

'Tis actions fair that make the fairest face.

Many lovers, too, who have ugly mistresses think them most beautiful.

Hunger and satiety are a cause; for the same food seems agreeable to the hungry but disagreeable to the sated.

Drunkenness and soberness are a cause; since actions which we think shameful when sober do not seem shameful to us when drunk.

Predispositions are a cause; for the same wine which seems sour to those who have previously eaten dates or figs, seems sweet to those who have just consumed nuts or chickpeas; and the vestibule of the bathhouse, which warms those entering from outside, chills those coming out of the bathroom if they stop long in it.

Fear and boldness are a cause; as what seems to the coward fearful and formidable does not seem so in the least to the bold man.

Grief and joy are a cause; since the same affairs are burdensome to those in grief but delightful to those who rejoice.

Seeing then that the dispositions also are the cause of so much disagreement, and that men are differently disposed at different times, although, no doubt, it is easy to say what nature each of the underlying objects appears to each man to possess, we cannot go on to say what its real nature is, since the disagreement admits in itself of no settlement. For the person who tries to settle it is either in one of the aforementioned dispositions or in no disposition whatsoever. But to declare that he is in no disposition at all -- as, for instance, neither in health nor sickness, neither in motion nor at rest, of no definite age, and devoid of all the other dispositions as well -- is the height of absurdity. And if he is to judge the sense-impressions while he is in some one disposition, he will be a party to the disagreement, and, moreover, he will not be an impartial judge of the external underlying objects owing to his being confused by the dispositions in which he is placed. The waking person, for instance, cannot compare the impressions of sleepers with those of men awake, nor the sound person those of the sick with those of the sound; for we assent more readily to things present, which affect us in the present, than to things not present.

In another way, too, the disagreement of such impressions is incapable of settlement. For he who prefers one impression to another, or one "circumstance" to another, does so either uncritically and without proof or critically and with proof; but he can do this neither without these means (for then he would be discredited) nor with them. For if he is to pass judgment on the impressions he must certainly judge them by a criterion; this criterion, then, he will declare to be true, or else false. But if false, he will be discredited; whereas, if he shall declare it to be true, he will be stating that the criterion is true either without proof or with proof. But if without proof, he will be discredited; and if with proof, it will certainly be necessary for the proof also to be true, to avoid being discredited. Shall he, then, affirm the truth of the proof adopted to establish the criterion after having judged it or without judging it? If without judging, he will be discredited; but if after judging, plainly he will say that he has judged it by a criterion; and of that criterion we shall ask for a proof, and of that proof again a criterion. For the proof always requires a criterion to confirm it, and the criterion also a proof to demonstrate its truth; and neither can a proof be sound without the previous existence of a true criterion nor can the criterion be true without the previous confirmation of the proof. So in this way both the criterion and the proof are involved in the circular process of reasoning, and thereby both are found to be untrustworthy; for since each of them is dependent on the credibility of the other, the one is lacking in credibility just as much as the other. Consequently, if a man can prefer one impression to another neither without a proof and a criterion nor with them, then the different impressions due to the differing conditions will admit of no settlement; so that as a result of this Mode also we are brought to suspend judgment regarding the nature of external realities.

The Fifth Argument (or Trope) is that based on positions, distances, and locations; for owing to each of these the same objects appear different; for example, the same porch when viewed from one of its corners appears curtailed, but viewed from the middle symmetrical on all sides; and the same ship seems at a distance to be small and stationary, but from close at hand large and in motion; and the same tower from a distance appears round but from a near point quadrangular.

These effects are due to distances; among effects due to locations are the following: the light of a lamp appears dim in the sun but bright in the dark; and the same oar bent when in the water but straight when out of the water; and the egg soft when inside the fowl but hard when in the air; and the jacinth fluid when in the lynx but hard when in the air; and the coral soft when in the sea but hard when in the air; and sound seems to differ in quality according as it is produced in a pipe, or in a flute, or simply in the air.

Effects due to positions are such as these: the same painting when laid flat appears smooth, but when inclined forward at a certain angle it seems to have recesses and prominences. The necks of doves, also, appear different in hue according to the differences in the angle of inclination.

Since, then, all apparent objects are viewed in a certain place, and from a certain distance, or in a certain position, and each of these conditions produces a great divergency in the sense-impressions, as we mentioned above, we shall be compelled by this mode also to end up in suspension of judgment. For in fact anyone who purposes to give the preference to any of these impressions will be attempting the impossible. For if he shall deliver his judgment simply and without proof, he will be discredited; and should he, on the other hand, desire to adduce proof, he will confute himself if he says that the proof is false, while if he asserts that the proof is true he will be asked for a proof of its truth, and again for a proof of this latter proof, since it also must be true, and so on ad infinitum. But to produce proofs to infinity is impossible; so that neither by the use of proofs will he be able to prefer one sense impression to another. If, then, one cannot hope to pass judgment on the afore-mentioned impressions either with or without proof, the conclusion we are driven to is suspension; for while we can, no doubt, state the nature which each object appears to possess as viewed in a certain position or at a certain distance or in a certain place, what its real nature is we are, for the foregoing reasons, unable to declare.

The Sixth Mode is that based on admixtures, by which we conclude that, because none of the real objects affects our senses by itself but always in conjunction with something else, though we may possibly be able to state the nature of the resultant mixture formed by the external object and that along with which it is perceived, we shall not be able to say what is the exact nature of the external reality in itself. That none of the external objects affects our senses by itself but always in conjunction with something else, and that, in consequence, it assumes a different appearance, is, I imagine, quite obvious. Thus, our own complexion is of one hue in warm air, of another in cold, and we should not be able to say what our complexion really is, but only what it looks like in conjunction with each of these conditions. And the same sound appears of one sort in conjunction with rare air and of another sort with dense air; and odors are more pungent in a hot bathroom or in the sun than in chilly air; and a body is light when immersed in water but heavy when surrounded by air.

But to pass on from the subject of external admixture, -- our eyes contain within themselves both membranes and liquids. Since, then, the objects of vision are not perceived apart from these, they will not be apprehended with exactness; for what we perceive is the resultant mixture, and because of this the sufferers from jaundice see everything yellow, and those with bloodshot eyes reddish like blood. And since the same sound seems of one quality in open places, of another in narrow and winding places, and different in clear air and in murky air, it is probable that we do not apprehend the sound in its real purity; for the ears have crooked and narrow passages, which are also befogged by various vaporous effluvia which are said to be emitted by the regions of the head. Moreover, since there reside substances in the nostrils and in the organs of taste, we apprehend the objects of taste and smell in conjunction with these and not in their real purity. So that, because of these admixtures, the senses do not apprehend the exact quality of the external real objects.

Nor yet does the mind apprehend it, since, in the first place, its guides, which are the senses, go wrong; and probably, too, the mind itself adds a certain admixture of its own to the messages conveyed by the senses; for we observe that there are certain humors present in each of the regions which the Dogmatists regard as the seat of the "Ruling Principle" -- whether it be the brain or the heart, or in whatever part of the creature one chooses to locate it. Thus, according to this Mode also we see that, owing to our inability to make any statement about the real nature of external objects, we are compelled to suspend judgment.

The Seventh Mode is that based, as we said, on the quantity and constitution of the underlying objects, meaning generally by "constitution" the manner of composition. And it is evident that by this Mode also we are compelled to suspend judgment concerning the real nature of the objects. Thus, for example, the filings of a goat's horns appear white when viewed simply by themselves and without combination, but when combined in the substance of the horn they look black. And silver filings appear black when they are by themselves, but when united to the whole mass they are sensed as white. And chips of the marble of Taenarum seem white when planed, but in combination with the whole block they appear yellow. And pebbles when scattered apart appear rough, but when combined in a heap they produce the sensation of softness. And hellebore if applied in a fine and powdery state produces suffocation, but not so when it is coarse. And wine strengthens us when drunk in moderate quantity, but when too much is taken it paralyzes the body. So likewise food exhibits different effects according to the quantity consumed; for instance, it frequently upsets the body with indigestion and attacks of purging because of the large quantity taken. Therefore in these cases, too, we shall be able to describe the quality of the shaving of the horn and of the compound made up of many shavings, and that of the particle of silver and of the compound of many particles, and that of the sliver of Taenarean marble and of the compound of many such small pieces, and the relative qualities of the pebbles, the hellebore, the wine, and the food, -- but when it comes to the independent and real nature of the objects, this we shall be unable to describe because of the divergency in the sense impressions which is due to the combinations.

As a general rule, it seems that wholesome things become harmful when used in immoderate quantities, and things that seem hurtful when taken to excess cause no harm when in minute quantities. What we observe in regard to the effects of medicines is the best evidence in support of our statement; for there the exact blending of the simple drugs makes the compound wholesome, but when the slightest over-sight is made in the measuring, as sometimes happens, the compound is not only unwholesome but frequently even most harmful and deleterious. Thus the argument from quantities and compositions causes confusion as to the real nature of the external substances. Probably, therefore, this Mode also will bring us round to a suspension of judgment, as we are unable to make any absolute statement concerning the real nature of external objects.

The Eighth Mode is that based on relativity; and by it we conclude that, since all things are relative, we shall suspend judgment as to what things are absolutely and really existent. But this point we must notice -- that here as elsewhere we use the term "are" for the term "appear," and what we virtually mean is "all things appear relative." And this statement is twofold, implying, firstly, relation to the thing which judges (for the external object which is judged appears in relation to that thing), and, in a second sense, relation to the accompanying percepts, for instance the right side in relation to the left. Indeed, we have already argued that all things are relative -- for example, with respect to the thing which judges, it is in relation to some one particular animal or man or sense that each object appears, and in relation to such and such a circumstance; and with respect to the concomitant percepts, each object appears in relation to some one particular admixture or Mode or combination or quantity or position.

There are also special arguments to prove the relativity of all things, in this way: Do things which exist "differentially" differ from relative things or not? If they do not differ, then they too are relative; but if they differ, then, since everything which differs is relative to something (for it has its name from its relation to that from which it differs), things which exist differently are relative. Again, -- of existing things some, according to the Dogmatists, are summa genera, others infimae species, others both genera and species; and all these are relative; therefore all things are relative. Further, some existing things are "pre-evident," as they say, others nonevident, and the apparent things are significant, but the non-evident signified by the apparent; for according to them "the things apparent are the vision of the non-evident." But the significant and the signified are relative; therefore all things are relative. Moreover, some existent things are similar, others dissimilar, and some equal, others unequal; and these are relative; therefore all things are relative. And even he who asserts that not all things are relative confirms the relativity of all things, since by his arguments against us he shows that the very statement "not all things are relative" is relative to ourselves, and not universal.

When, however, we have thus established that all things are relative, we are plainly left with the conclusion that we shall not be able to state what is the nature of each of the objects in its own real purity, but only what nature it appears to possess in its relative character. Hence it follows that we must suspend judgment concerning the real nature of the objects.

The Mode which, as we said, comes Ninth in order is based on constancy or rarity of occurrence, and we shall explain it as follows. The sun is, of course, much more amazing than a comet; yet because we see the sun constantly but the comet rarely, we are so amazed by the comet that we even regard it as a divine portent, while the sun causes no amazement at all. If, however, we were to conceive of the sun as appearing but rarely and setting rarely, and illuminating everything all at once and throwing everything into shadow suddenly, then we should experience much amazement at the sight. An earthquake also does not cause the same alarm in those who experience it for the first time and those who have grown accustomed to such things. How much amazement, also, does the sea excite in the man who sees it for the first time! And indeed the beauty of a human body thrills us more at the first sudden view than when it becomes a customary spectacle. Rare things too we count as precious, but not what is familiar to us and easily got. Thus, if we should suppose water to be rare, how much more precious it would appear to us than all the things which are accounted precious! Or if we should imagine gold to be simply scattered in quantities over the earth like stones, to whom do we suppose it would then be precious and worth hoarding?

Since then, owing to the frequency or rarity of their occurrence, the same things seem at one time to be amazing or precious and at another time nothing of the sort, we infer that though we shall be able perhaps to say what nature appears to belong to each of these things in virtue of its frequent or rare occurrence, we are not able to state what nature absolutely belongs to each of the external objects. So because of this Mode also we suspend judgment regarding them.

There is a Tenth Mode, which is mainly concerned with Ethics, being based on rules of conduct, habits, laws, legendary beliefs, and dogmatic conceptions. A rule of conduct is a choice of a way of life, or of a particular action, adopted by one person or many -- by Diogenes, for instance, or the Laconians. A law is a written contract amongst the members of a state, the transgressor of which is punished. A habit or custom (the terms are equivalent) is the joint adoption of a certain kind of action by a number of men, the transgressor of which is not actually punished; for example, the law proscribes adultery, and custom with us forbids intercourse with a woman in public. Legendary belief is the acceptance of unhistorical and fictitious events, such as, amongst others, the legends about Cronos; for these stories win credence with many. Dogmatic conception is the acceptance of a fact which seems to be established by analogy or some form of demonstration, as, for example, that atoms are the elements of existing things, or homoeomeries, or minima, or something else.

And each of these we oppose now to itself, and now to each of the others. For example, we oppose habit to habit in this way: some of the Ethiopians tattoo their children, but we do not; and while the Persians think it seemly to wear a brightly dyed dress reaching to the feet, we think it unseemly; and whereas the Indians have intercourse with their women in public, most other races regard this as shameful. And law we oppose to law in this way: among the Romans the man who renounces his father's property does not pay his father's debts, but among the Rhodians he always pays them; and among the Scythian Tauri it was a law that strangers should be sacrificed to Artemis, but with us it is forbidden to slay a human being at the altar. And we oppose rule of conduct to rule of conduct, as when we oppose the rule of Diogenes to that of Aristippus or that of the Laconians to that of the Italians. And we oppose legendary belief to legendary belief when we say that whereas in one story the father of men and gods is alleged to be Zeus, in another he is Oceanos -- "Ocean sire of the gods, and Tethys the mother that bare them." And we oppose dogmatic conceptions to one another when we say that some declare that there is one element only, others an infinite number; some that the soul is mortal, others that it is immortal; and some that human affairs are controlled by divine Providence, others without Providence.

And we oppose habit to the other things, as for instance to law when we say that amongst the Persians it is the habit to indulge in intercourse with males, but amongst the Romans it is forbidden by law to do so; and that, whereas with us adultery is forbidden, amongst the Massagetae it is traditionally regarded as an indifferent custom, as Eudoxus of Cnidos relates in the first book of his Travels; and that, whereas intercourse with a mother is forbidden in our country, in Persia it is the general custom to form such marriages; and also among the Egyptians men marry their sisters, a thing forbidden by law amongst us. And habit is opposed to rule of conduct when, whereas most men have intercourse with their own wives in retirement, Crates did it in public with Hipparchia; and Diogenes went about with one shoulder bare, whereas we dress in the customary manner. It is opposed also to legendary belief, as when the legends say that Cronos devoured his own children, though it is our habit to protect our children; and whereas it is customary with us to revere the gods as being good and immune from evil, they are presented by the poets as suffering wounds and envying one another. And habit is opposed to dogmatic conception when, whereas it is our habit to pray to the gods for good things, Epicurus declares that the Divinity pays no heed to us; and when Aristippus considers the wearing of feminine attire a matter of indifference, though we consider it a disgraceful thing.

And we oppose rule of conduct to law when, though there is a law which forbids the striking of a free or well-born man, the pancratiasts strike one another because of the rule of life they follow; and when, though homicide is forbidden, gladiators destroy one another for the same reason. And we oppose legendary belief to rule of conduct when we say that the legends relate that Heracles in the house of Omphale "toiled at the spinning of wool, enduring slavery's burden," and did things which no one would have chosen to do even in a moderate degree, whereas the rule of life of Heracles was a noble one. And we oppose rule of conduct to dogmatic conception when, whereas athletes covet glory as something good and for its sake undertake a toilsome rule of life, many of the philosophers dogmatically assert that glory is a worthless thing. And we oppose law to legendary belief when the poets represent the gods as committing adultery and practicing intercourse with males, whereas the law with us forbids such actions; and we oppose it to dogmatic conception when Chrysippus says that intercourse with mothers or sisters is a thing indifferent, whereas the law forbids such things. And we oppose legendary belief to dogmatic conception when the poets say that Zeus came down and had intercourse with mortal women, but amongst the Dogmatists it is held that such a thing is impossible; and again, when the poet relates that because of his grief for Sarpedon Zeus "let fall upon the earth great gouts of blood," whereas it is a dogma of the philosophers that the Deity is impassive; and when these same philosophers demolish the legend of the hippocentaurs, and offer us the hippocentaur as a type of unreality.

We might indeed have taken many other examples in connection with each of the antitheses above mentioned; but in a concise account like ours, these will be sufficient. Only, since by means of this Mode also so much divergency is shown to exist in objects, we shall not be able to state what character belongs to the object in respect of its real essence, but only what belongs to it in respect of this particular rule of conduct, or law, or habit, and so on with each of the rest. So because of this Mode also we are compelled to suspend judgment regarding the real nature of external objects. And thus by means of all the Ten Modes we are finally led to suspension of judgment.


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The later Sceptics hand down Five Modes leading to suspension, namely these: the first based on discrepancy, the second on regress ad infinitum, the third on relativity, the fourth on hypothesis, the fifth on circular reasoning. That based on discrepancy leads us to find that with regard to the object presented there has arisen both amongst ordinary people and amongst the philosophers an interminable conflict because of which we are unable either to choose a thing or reject it, and so fall back on suspension. The Mode based upon regress ad infinitum is that whereby we assert that the thing adduced as a proof of the matter proposed needs a further proof, and this again another, and so on ad infinitum, so that the consequence is suspension, as we possess no starting point for our argument. The Mode based upon relativity, as we have already said, is that whereby the object has such or such an appearance in relation to the subject judging and to the concomitant percepts, but as to its real nature we suspend judgment. We have the Mode based on hypothesis when the Dogmatists, being forced to recede ad infinitum, take as their starting-point something which they do not establish by argument but claim to assume as granted simply and without demonstration. The Mode of circular reasoning is the form used when the proof itself which ought to establish the matter of inquiry requires confirmation derived from that matter; in this case, being unable to assume either in order to establish the other, we suspend judgment about both.

That every matter of inquiry admits of being brought under these Modes we shall show briefly in this way. The matter proposed is either a sense object or a thought object, but whichever it is, it is an object of controversy; for some say that only sensibles are true, others only intelligibles, others that some sensible and some intelligible objects are true. Will they then assert that the controversy can or cannot be decided? If they say it cannot, we have it granted that we must suspend judgment, for concerning matters of dispute which admit of no decision it is impossible to make an assertion. But if they say it can be decided, we ask by what is it to be decided. For example, in the case of the sense object (for we shall base our argument on it first), is it to be decided by a sense object or a thought object? For if they say a sense object, since we are inquiring about sensibles that object itself also will require another to confirm it; and if that too is to be a sense object, it likewise will require another for its confirmation, and so on ad injinitum. And if the sense object shall have to be decided by a thought object, then, since thought objects also are controverted, this being an object of thought will need examination and confirmation. Whence then will it gain confirmation? If from an intelligible object, it will suffer a similar regress ad infinitum; and if from a sensible object, since an intelligible was adduced to establish the sensible and a sensible to establish the intelligible, the Mode of circular reasoning is brought in.

If, however, our disputant, by way of escape from this conclusion, should claim to assume as granted and without demonstration some postulate for the demonstration of the next steps of his argument, then the Mode of Hypothesis will be brought in, which allows no escape. For if the author of the hypothesis is worthy of credence, we shall be no less worthy of credence every time that we make the opposite hypothesis. Moreover, if the author of the hypothesis assumes what is true he causes it to be suspected by assuming it by hypothesis rather than after proof; while if it is false, the foundation of his argument will be rotten. Further, if hypothesis conduces at all to proof, let the subject of inquiry itself be assumed and not some other thing which is merely a means to establish the actual subject of the argument; but if it is absurd to assume the subject of inquiry, it will also be absurd to assume that upon which it depends.

It is also plain that all sensibles are relative; for they are relative to those who have the sensations. Therefore it is apparent that whatever sensible object is presented can easily be referred to one of the Five Modes. And concerning the intelligible object we argue similarly. For if it should be said that it is a matter of unsettled controversy, the necessity of our suspending judgment will be granted. And if, on the other hand, the controversy admits of decision, then if the decision rests on an intelligible object we shall be driven to the regress ad infinitum, and to circular reasoning if it rests on a sensible; for since the sensible again is controverted and cannot be decided by means of itself because of the regress ad infinitum, it will require the intelligible object, just as also the intelligible will require the sensible. For these reasons, again, he who assumes anything by hypothesis will be acting illogically. Moreover, objects of thought, or intelligibles, are relative; for they are so named on account of their relation to the person thinking, and if they had really possessed the nature they are said to possess, there would have been no controversy about them. Thus the intelligible also is referred to the Five Modes, so that in all cases we are compelled to suspend judgment concerning the object presented.

Such then are the Five Modes handed down amongst the later Sceptics; but they propound these not by way of superseding the Ten Modes but in order to expose the rashness of the Dogmatists with more variety and completeness by means of the Five in conjunction with the Ten.


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They hand down also Two other Modes leading to suspension of judgment. Since every object of apprehension seems to be apprehended either through itself or through another object, by showing that nothing is apprehended either through itself or through another thing, they introduce doubt, as they suppose, about everything. That nothing is apprehended through itself is plain, they say, from the controversy which exists amongst the physicists regarding, I imagine, all things, both sensibles and intelligibles: which controversy admits of no settlement because we can neither employ a sensible nor an intelligible criterion, since every criterion we may adopt is controverted and therefore discredited. And the reason why they do not allow that anything is apprehended through something else is this: If that through which an object is apprehended must always itself be apprehended through some other thing, one is involved in a process of circular reasoning or in regress ad infinitum. And if, on the other hand, one should choose to assume that the thing through which another object is apprehended is itself apprehended through itself, this is refuted by the fact that, for the reasons already stated, nothing is apprehended through itself. But as to how what conflicts with itself can possibly be apprehended either through itself or through some other thing we remain in doubt, so long as the criterion of truth or of apprehension is not apparent, and signs, even apart from demonstration, are rejected, as we shall discover in our next Book.

For the present, however, it will suffice to have said thus much concerning the Modes leading to suspension of judgment.


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Just as we teach the traditional Modes leading to suspense of judgment, so likewise some Sceptics propound Modes by which we express doubt about the particular "aetiologies," or theories of causation, and thus pull up the Dogmatists because of the special pride they take in these theories. Thus Aenesidemus furnishes us with Eight Modes by which, as he thinks, he tests and exposes the unsoundness of every dogmatic theory of causation. Of these the First, he says, is that which shows that, since aetiology as a whole deals with the non-apparent, it is unconfirmed by any agreed evidence derived from appearances. The Second Mode shows how often, when there is ample scope for ascribing the object of investigation to a variety of causes, some of them account for it one way only. The Third shows how to orderly events they assign causes which exhibit no order. The Fourth shows how, when they have grasped the way in which appearances occur, they assume that they have also apprehended how non-apparent things occur, whereas, though the non-apparent may possibly be realized in a similar way to the appearances, possibly they may not be realized in a similar way but in a peculiar way of their own. In the Fifth Mode it is shown how practically all these theorists assign causes according to their own particular hypotheses about the elements, and not according to any commonly agreed methods. In the Sixth it is shown how they frequently admit only such facts as can be explained by their own theories, and dismiss facts which conflict therewith though possessing equal probability. The Seventh shows how they often assign causes which conflict not only with appearances but also with their own hypotheses. The Eighth shows that often, when there is equal doubt about things seemingly apparent and things under investigation, they base their doctrine about things equally doubtful upon things equally doubtful. Nor is it impossible, he adds, that the overthrow of some of their theories of causation should be referred to certain mixed Modes which are dependent on the foregoing.

Possibly, too, the Five Modes of suspension may suffice as against the aetiologies. For if a person propounds a cause, it will either be or not be in accord with all the philosophical systems and with Scepticism and with appearances. Probably, however, it is impracticable to propound a cause in accord with all of these, since all things, whether apparent or nonevident, are matters of controversy. But if, on the other hand, the cause propounded be not in accord therewith, the theorist will be asked in turn for the cause of this cause, and if he assumes an apparent cause for an apparent, or a non-evident for a non-evident, he will be involved in the regress ad infinitum, or reduced to arguing in a circle if he grounds each cause in turn on another. And if at any point he makes a stand, either he will state that the cause is well grounded so far as relates to the previous admissions, thus introducing relativity and destroying its claim to absolute reality, or he will make some assumption ex hypothesi and will be stopped by us. So by these Modes also it is, no doubt, possible to expose the rashness of the Dogmatists in their aetiologies.


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And because when we make use of these Modes and those which lead to suspension of judgment we give utterance to certain expressions indicative of our Sceptical attitude and tone of mind -- such as "Not more," "Nothing must be determined," and others of the kind -- it will be our next task to discuss these in order. So let us begin with the expression "Not more."


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This expression, then, we sometimes enunciate in the form I have stated but sometimes in the form "Nowise more." For we do not, as some suppose, adopt the form "Not more" in specific inquiries and "Nowise more" in generic inquiries, but we enunciate both "Not more" and "Nowise more" indifferently, and we shall discuss them now as identical expressions. This expression, then, is elliptical. For just as when we say "a double" we are implicitly saying "a double hearth," and when we say "a square" we are implicitly saying "a square roadway," so when we say "Not more" we are implicitly saying "Not this more than that, up than down." Some of the Sceptics, however, in place of the "Not" adopt the form "(For) what this more than that," taking the "what" to denote, in this case, cause, so that the meaning is "For what reason this more than that?" And it is common practice to use questions instead of assertions, as for example -- "The bride of Zeus, what mortal knows her not?" And also assertions in the place of questions; for instance --- "I am inquiring where Dion lives," and "I ask you what reason there is for showing surprise at a poet." And further, the use of "What" instead of "For what reason" is found in Menander, "(For) what was I left behind?" And the expression "Not more this than that" indicates also our feeling, where-by we come to equipoise because of the equipollence of the opposed objects; and by "equipollence" we mean equality in respect of what seems probable to us, and by "opposed" we mean in general conflicting, and by "equipoise" refusal of assent to either alternative.

Then as to the formula "Nowise more," even though it exhibits the character of a form of assent or of denial, we do not employ it this way, but we take it in a loose and inexact sense, either in place of a question or in place of the phrase "I know not to which of these things I ought to assent, and to which I ought not." For our aim is to indicate what appears to us; while as to the expression by which we indicate this we are indifferent. This point, too, should be noticed --that we utter the expression "Nowise more" not as positively affirming that it really is true and certain, but as stating in regard to it also what appears to us.


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Concerning non-assertion what we say is this. The term "assertion" has two senses, general and special; used in the general sense it indicates affirmation or negation, as for example "It is day," "It is not day"; in its special sense it indicates affirmation only, and in this sense negations are not termed assertions. Non-assertion, then, is avoidance of assertion in the general sense in which it is said to include both affirmation and negation, so that non-assertion is a mental condition of ours because of which we refuse either to affirm or deny anything. Hence it is plain that we adopt non-assertion also not as though things are in reality of such a kind as wholly to induce non-assertion, but as indicating that we now, at the time of uttering it, are in this condition regarding the problems now before us. It must also be borne in mind that what, as we say, we neither posit nor deny, is some one of the Dogmatic statements made about what is non-apparent; for we yield to those things which move us emotionally and drive us compulsorily to assent.


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The formulae "perhaps" and "perhaps not," and "possibly" and "possibly not," and "maybe" and "maybe not," we adopt in place of "perhaps it is and perhaps it is not," and "possibly it is and possibly it is not," and "maybe it is and maybe it is not," so that for the sake of conciseness we adopt the phrase "possibly not" instead of "possibly it is not," and "maybe not" instead of "maybe it is not," and "perhaps not" instead of "perhaps it is not." But here again we do not fight about phrases nor do we inquire whether the phrases indicate realities, but we adopt them, as I said, in a loose sense. Still it is evident, as I think, that these expressions are indicative of non-assertion. Certainly the person who says "perhaps it is" is implicitly affirming also the seemingly contradictory phrase "perhaps it is not" by his refusal to make the positive assertion that "it is." And the same applies to all the other cases.


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The phrase "I suspend judgment" we adopt in place of "I am unable to say which of the objects presented I ought to believe and which I ought to disbelieve," indicating that the objects appear to us equal as regards credibility and incredibility. As to whether they are equal we make no positive assertion; but what we state is what appears to us in regard to them at the time of observation. And the term "suspension" is derived from the fact of the mind being held up or "suspended" so that it neither affirms nor denies anything owing to the equipollence of the matters in question.


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Regarding the phrase "I determine nothing" this is what we say. We hold that "to determine" is not simply to state a thing but to put forward something non-evident combined with assent. For in this sense, no doubt, it will be found that the Sceptic determines nothing, not even the very proposition "I determine nothing" -- for this is not a Dogmatic assumption, that is to say assent to something non-evident, but an expression indicative of our own mental condition. So whenever the Sceptic says "I determine nothing," what he means is "I am now in such a state of mind as neither to affirm dogmatically nor deny any of the matters now in question." And this he says simply by way of announcing undogmatically what appears to himself regarding the matters presented, not making any confident declaration, but just explaining his own state of mind.


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Indetermination is a state of mind in which we neither deny nor affirm any of the matters which are subjects of dogmatic inquiry, that is to say, non-evident. So whenever the Sceptic says "All things are undetermined," he takes the word "are" in the sense of "appear to him," and by "all things" he means not existing things but such of the non-evident matters investigated by the Dogmatists as he has examined, and by "undetermined" he means not superior in point of credibility or incredibility to things opposed, or in any way conflicting. And just as the man who says "I walk about" is potentially saying "(I) walk about," so he who says "All are undetermined" conveys also, as we hold, the meaning "so far as relates to me," or "as appears to me," so that the statement amounts to this -- "All the matters of Dogmatic inquiry which I have examined appear to me to be such that no one of them is preferable to the one in conflict with it in respect of credibility or incredibility."


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We adopt a similar attitude when we say "All things are non-apprehensible." For we give a similar explanation of the word "all," and we similarly supply the words "to me," so that the meaning conveyed is this -- "All the non-apparent matters of Dogmatic inquiry which I have investigated appear to me non-apprehensible." And this is the utterance not of one who is positively asserting that the matters investigated by the Dogmatists are really of such a nature as to be non-apprehensible, but of one who is announcing his own state of mind, "wherein," he says, "I conceive that up till now I myself have apprehended nothing owing to the equipollence of the opposites --, and therefore also nothing that is brought forward to overthrow our position seems to me to have any bearing on what we announce."


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Both the expressions "I am non-apprehensive" and "I apprehend not" are indicative of a personal state of mind, in which the Sceptic, for the time being, avoids affirming or denying any non-evident matter of inquiry, as is obvious from what we have said above concerning the other expressions.


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When we say "To every argument an equal argument is opposed," we mean "to every argument" that has been investigated by us, and the word "argument" we use not in its simple sense, but of that which establishes a point Dogmatically (that is to say with reference to what is non-evident) and establishes it by any method, and not necessarily by means of premises and a conclusion. We say "equal" with reference to credibility or incredibility, and we employ the word "opposed" in the general sense of "conflicting", -- and we supply therewith in thought the phrase "as appears to me." So whenever I say "To every argument an equal argument is opposed," what I am virtually saying is "To every argument investigated by me which establishes a point dogmatically, it seems to me there is opposed another argument, establishing a point dogmatically, which is equal to the first in respect of credibility and incredibility;" so that the utterance of the phrase is not a piece of dogmatism, but the announcement of a human state of mind which is apparent to the person experiencing it.

But some also utter the expression in the form "To every argument an equal argument is to be opposed," intending to give the injunction "To every argument which establishes a point dogmatically let us oppose an argument which investigates dogmatically, equal to the former in respect of credibility and incredibility, and conflicting therewith" -- for they mean their words to be addressed to the Sceptic, although they use the infinitive "to be opposed" instead of the imperative "let us oppose." And they address this injunction to the Sceptic lest haply, through being misled by the Dogmatist, he may give up the Sceptic search, and through precipitancy miss the "quietude" approved by the Sceptics, which they -- as we said above -- believe to be dependent on universal suspension of judgment.


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In a preliminary outline it will be sufficient to have explained the expressions now set forth, especially since it is possible to explain the rest by deductions from the foregoing. For, in regard to all the Sceptic expressions, we must grasp first the fact that we make no positive assertion respecting their absolute truth, since we say that they may possibly be confuted by themselves, seeing that they themselves are included in the things to which their doubt applies, just as aperient drugs do not merely eliminate the humours from the body, but also expel themselves along with the humours. And we also say that we employ them not by way of authoritatively explaining the things with reference to which we adopt them, but without precision and, if you like, loosely; for it does not become the Sceptic to wrangle over expressions, and besides it is to our advantage that even to these expressions no absolute significance would be ascribed, but one that is relative and relative to the Sceptics. Besides this we must also remember that we do not employ them universally about all things, but about those which are non-evident and are objects of Dogmatic inquiry; and that we state what appears to us and do not make any positive declarations as to the real nature of external objects; for I think that, as a result of this, every sophism directed against a Sceptic expression can be refuted.

And now that we have reviewed the idea or purpose of Scepticism and its divisions, and the criterion and the end, and the Modes, too, of suspension, and have discussed the Sceptic expressions, and have thus made clear the character of Scepticism, our next task is, we suppose, to explain briefly the distinction which exists between it and the philosophic systems which lie next to it, in order that we may more clearly understand the "suspensive" way of thought. Let us begin with the Heracleitean philosophy.


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Now that this latter differs from our way of thought is plain at once; for Heracleitus makes dogmatic statements about many non-evident things, whereas we, as has been said, do not. It is true that Aenesidemus and his followers used to say that the Sceptic way is a road leading up to the Heracleitean philosophy, since to hold that the same thing is the subject of opposite appearances is a preliminary to holding that it is the subject of opposite realities, and while the Sceptics say that the same thing is the subject of opposite appearances, the Heracteileans go on from this to assert their reality. But in reply to them we declare that the view about the same thing having opposite appearances is not a dogma of the Sceptics but a fact which is experienced not by the Sceptics alone but also by the rest of philosophers and by all mankind; for certainly no one would venture to say that honey does not taste sweet to people in sound health or that it does not taste bitter to those suffering from jaundice, so that the Heracleiteans start from the general preconception of mankind, just as we also do and probably all the other philosophies. Consequently, if they had derived their theory that the same thing is the subject of opposite realities from one of the Sceptic formulae, such as "All things are non-apprehensible," or "I determine nothing," or some similar expression, probably they would have reached the conclusion they assert; but since their starting points are impressions experienced not by us only but by all the other philosophers and by ordinary people, why should anyone declare that our way of thought is a road to the Heracleitean philosophy any more than any of the other philosophies or even than the ordinary view, since we all make use of the same common material?

Rather it is the case that the Sceptic way, so far from being an aid to the knowledge of the Heracleitean philosophy, is actually an obstacle thereto, seeing that the Sceptic decries all the dogmatic statements of Heracleitus as rash utterances, contradicting his "Ecpyrosis," and contradicting his view that the same thing is the subject of opposite realities, and in respect of every dogma of Heracleitus scoffing at his dogmatic precipitancy, and constantly repeating, as I said before, his own "I apprehend not" and "I determine nothing," which are in conflict with the Heracteiteans. Now it is absurd to say that a conflicting way is a road to the system with which it is in conflict; therefore it is absurd to say that the Sceptic way is a road leading to the Heracleitean philosophy.


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But it is also said that the Democritean philosophy has something in common with Scepticism, since it seems to use the same material as we: for from the fact that honey appears sweet to some and bitter to others, Democritus, as they say, infers that it really is neither sweet nor bitter, and pronounces in consequence the formula "Not more," which is a Sceptic formula. The Sceptics, however, and the School of Democritus employ the expression "Not more" in different ways; for while they use it to express the unreality of either alternative, we express by it our ignorance as to whether both or neither of the appearances is real. So that in this respect also we differ, and our difference becomes specially evident when Democritus says "But in verity atoms and void" (for he says "In verity" in place of "In truth"); and that he differs from us when he says that the atoms and the void are in truth subsistent, although he starts out from the incongruity of appearances, it is superfluous, I think, to state.


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Some assert that the Cyrenaic doctrine is identical with Scepticism since it too affirms that only mental states are apprehended. But it differs from Scepticism inasmuch as it says that the End is pleasure and the smooth motion of the flesh, whereas we say it is "quietude," which is the opposite of their end; for whether pleasure be present or not present the man who positively affirms pleasure to be the End under goes perturbations, as I have argued in my chapter "Of the End." Further, whereas we suspend judgment, so far as regards the essence of external objects, the Cyrenaics declare that those objects possess a real nature which is inapprehensible.


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Protagoras also holds that "Man is the measure of all things, of existing things that they exist, and of non-existing things that they exist not"; and by "measure" he means the criterion, and by "things" the objects, so that he is virtually asserting that "Man is the criterion of all objects, of those which exist that they exist, and of those which exist not that they exist not." And consequently he posits only what appears to each individual, and thus he introduces relativity. And for this reason He seems also to have something in common with the Pyrrhoneans. Yet he differs from them, and we shall perceive the difference when we have adequately explained the views of Protagoras.

What he states then is this -- that matter is in flux, and as it flows additions are made continuously in the place of the effluxions, and the senses are transformed and altered according to the times of life and to all the other conditions of the bodies. He says also that the "reasons" of all the appearances subsist in matter, so that matter, so far as depends on itself, is capable of being all those things which appear to all. And men, he says, apprehend different things at different times owing to their differing dispositions; for he who is in a natural state apprehends those things subsisting in matter which are able to appear to those in a natural state, and those who are in a non-natural state the things which can appear to those in a non-natural state. Moreover, precisely the same account applies to the variations due to age, and to the sleeping or waking state, and to each several kind of condition. Thus, according to him, Man becomes the criterion of real existences; for all things that appear to men also exist, and things that appear to no man have no existence either.

We see, then, that he dogmatizes about the fluidity of matter and also about the subsistence therein of the "reasons" of all appearances, these being non-evident matters about which we suspend judgment.


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Some indeed say that the Academic philosophy is identical with Scepticism; consequently it shall be our next task to discuss this statement. According to most people there have been three Academies -- the first and most ancient that of Plato and his School, the second or middle Academy that of Arcesilaus, the pupil of Polemo, and his School, the third or New Academy that of the School of Carneades and Cleitomachus. Some, however, add as a fourth that of the School of Philo and Charmidas; and some even count the School of Antiochus as a fifth. Beginning, then, with the Old Academy let us consider how the philosophies mentioned differ from ours.

Plato has been described by some as "dogmatic," by others as "dubitative," and by others again as partly dogmatic and partly dubitative. For in his exercitatory discourses, where Socrates is introduced either as talking playfully with his auditors or as arguing against sophists, he shows, they say, an exercitatory and dubitative character; but a dogmatic character when he is speaking seriously by the mouth either of Socrates or of Timaeus or of some similar personage. Now as regards those who describe him as a dogmatist, or as partly dogmatic and partly dubitative, it would be superfluous to say anything now; for they themselves acknowledge his difference from us. But the question whether Plato is a genuine Sceptic is one which we discuss more fully in our "Commentaries"; but now, in opposition to Menodotus and Aenesidemus (these being the chief champions of this view), we declare in brief that when Plato makes statements about Ideas or about the reality of Providence or about the virtuous life being preferable to the vicious, he is dogmatizing if he is assenting to these as actual truths, while if he is accepting them as more probable than not, since thereby he gives a preference to one thing over another in point of probability or improbability, he throws off the character of a Sceptic, for that such an attitude is foreign to us is quite plain from what has been said above.

And if Plato does really utter some statements in a Sceptical way when he is, as they say, "exercising," that will not make him a Sceptic; for the man that dogmatizes about a single thing, or ever prefers one impression to another in point of credibility or incredibility, or makes any assertion about any non-evident object, assumes the dogmatic character, as Timon also shows by his remarks about Xenophanes. For after praising him repeatedly, so that he even dedicated to him his Satires, he represented him as uttering this lamentation --

Would that I too had attained a mind compacted of wisdom,

Both ways casting my eyes; but the treacherous pathway deceived me,

Old that I was, and as yet unversed in the doubts of the Sceptic.

For in whatever direction I turned my mind in its questing

All was resolved into One and the Same; All ever-existing

Into one self-same nature returning shaped itself all ways.

So on this account he also calls him "semi-vain," and not perfectly free from vanity, where he says --

Xenophanes semi-vain, derider of Homer's deceptions,

Framed him a God far other than man, self-equal in all ways,

Safe from shaking or scathe, surpassing thought in his thinking.

He called him "semi-vain" as being in some degree free from vanity, and "derider of Homer's deceptions" because he censured the deceit mentioned in Homer. Xenophanes, contrary to the preconceptions of all other men, asserted dogmatically that the All is one, and that God is consubstantial with all things, and is of spherical form and passionless and unchangeable and rational; and from this it is easy to show how Xenophanes differs from us. However, it is plain from what has been said that even if Plato evinces doubt about some matters, yet he cannot be a Sceptic inasmuch as he shows himself at times either making assertions about the reality of non-evident objects or preferring one non-evident thing to another in point of credibility.

The adherents of the New Academy, although they affirm that all things are non-apprehensible, yet differ from the Sceptics even, as seems probable, in respect of this very statement that all things are non-apprehensible (for they affirm this positively, whereas the Sceptic regards it as possible that some things may be apprehended); but they differ from us quite plainly in their judgment of things good and evil. For the Academicians do not describe a thing as good or evil in the way we do; for they do so with the conviction that it is more probable that what they call good is really good rather than the opposite, and so too in the case of evil, whereas when we describe a thing as good or evil we do not add it as our opinion that what we assert is probable, but simply conform to life undogmatically that we may not be precluded from activity. And as regards sense-impressions, we say that they are equal in respect of probability and improbability, so far as their essence is concerned, whereas they assert that some impressions are probable, others improbable.

And respecting the probable impressions they make distinctions: some they regard as just simply probable, others as probable and tested, others as probable, tested, and "irreversible." For example, when a rope is lying coiled up in a dark room, to one who enters hurriedly it presents the simply "probable" appearance of being a serpent; but to the man who has looked carefully round and has investigated the conditions -- such as its immobility and its color, and each of its other peculiarities -- it appears as a rope, in accordance with an impression that is probable and tested. And the impression that is also "irreversible" or incontrovertible is of this kind. When Alcestis had died, Heracles, it is said, brought her up again from Hades and showed her to Admetus, who received an impression of Alcestis that was probable and tested; since, however, he knew that she was dead his mind recoiled from its assent and reverted to unbelief. So then the philosophers of the New Academy prefer the probable and tested impression to the simply probable, and to both of these the impression that is probable and tested and irreversible.

And although both the Academics and the Sceptics say that they believe some things, yet here too the difference between the two philosophies is quite plain. For the word "believe" has different meanings: it means not to resist but simply to follow without any strong impulse or inclination, as the boy is said to believe his tutor; but sometimes it means to assent to a thing of deliberate choice and with a kind of sympathy due to strong desire, as when the incontinent man believes him who approves of an extravagant mode of life. Since, therefore, Carneades and Cleitomachus declare that a strong inclination accompanies their credence and the credibility of the object, while we say that our belief is a matter of simple yielding without any consent, here too there must be a difference between us and them.

Furthermore, as regards the End (or aim of life) we differ from the New Academy; for whereas the men who profess to conform to its doctrine use probability as the guide of life, we live in an undogmatic way by following the laws, customs, and natural affections. And we might say still more about this distinction had it not been that we are aiming at conciseness.

Arcesilaus, however, who was, as we said, the president and founder of the Middle Academy, certainly seems to me to have shared the doctrines of Pyrrho, so that his way of thought is almost identical with ours. For we do not find him making any assertion about the reality or unreality of anything, nor does he prefer any one thing to another in point of probability or improbability, but suspends judgment about all. He also says that the End is suspension -- which is accompanied, as we have said, by "quietude." He declares, too, that suspension regarding particular objects is good, but assent regarding particulars bad. Only one might say that whereas we make these statements not positively but in accordance with what appears to us, he makes them as statements of real facts, so that he asserts that suspension in itself really is good and assent bad. And if one ought to credit also what is said about him, he appeared at the first glance, they say, to be a Pyrrhonean, but in reality he was a dogmatist; and because he used to test his companions by means of dubitation to see if they were fitted by nature for the reception of the Platonic dogmas, he was thought to be a dubitive philosopher, but he actually passed on to such of his companions as were naturally gifted the dogmas of Plato. And this was why Ariston described him as "Plato the head of him, Pyrrho the tail, in the midst Diodorus"; because he employed the dialectic of Diodorus, although he was actually a Platonist.

Philo asserts that objects are inapprehensible so far as concerns the Stoic criterion, that is to say "apprehensive impression," but are apprehensible so far as concerns the real nature of the objects themselves. Moreover, Antiochus actually transferred the Stoa to the Academy, so that it was even said of him that "In the Academy he teaches the Stoic philosophy"; for he tried to show that the dogmas of the Stoics are already present in Plato. So that it is quite plain how the Sceptic "Way" differs from what is called the Fourth Academy and the Fifth.


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Since some allege that the Sceptic philosophy is identical with the Empiricism of the Medical sect, it must be recognized that inasmuch as that Empiricism positively affirms the inapprehensibility of what is non-evident it is not identical with Scepticism nor would it be consistent in a Sceptic to embrace that doctrine. He could more easily, in my opinion, adopt the so-called "Method", for it alone of the Medical systems appears to avoid rash treatment of things non-evident by arbitrary assertions as to their apprehensibility or non-apprehensibility, and following appearances derives from them what seems beneficial, in accordance with the practice of the Sceptics. For we stated above that the common life, in which the Sceptic also shares, is fourfold, one part depending on the directing force of nature, another on the compulsion of the affections, another on the tradition of laws and customs, and another on the training of the arts. So then, just as the Sceptic, in virtue of the compulsion of the affections, is guided by thirst to drink and by hunger to food, and in like manner to other such objects, in the same way the Methodical physician is guided by the pathological affections to the corresponding remedies -- by contraction to dilatation, as when one seeks refuge in heat from the contraction due to the application of cold, or by fluxion to the stoppage of it, as when persons in a hot bath, dripping with perspiration and in a relaxed condition, seek to put a stop to it and for this reason rush off into the cool air. It is plain, too, that conditions which are naturally alien compel us to take measures for their removal, seeing that even the dog when it is pricked by a thorn proceeds to remove it. And in short -- to avoid exceeding the limits proper to an outline of this kind by a detailed enumeration -- I suppose that all the facts described by the Methodic School can be classed as instances of the compulsion of the affections, whether natural or against nature.

Besides, the use of terms in an undogmatic and indeterminate sense is common to both systems. For just as the Sceptic uses the expressions "I determine nothing" and "I apprehend nothing," as we have said, in an undogmatic sense, even so the Methodic speaks of "generality" and "pervade" and the like in a non-committal way. So also he employs the term "indication" in an undogmatic sense to denote the guidance derived from the apparent affections, or symptoms, both natural and contra-natural, for the discovery of the seemingly appropriate remedies -- as, in fact, I mentioned in regard to hunger and thirst and the other affections. Consequently, judging from these and similar indications, we should say that the Methodic School of Medicine has some affinity with Scepticism; and, when viewed not simply by itself, but in comparison with the other Medical Schools, it has more affinity than they.

And now that we have said thus much concerning the Schools which seem to stand nearest to that of the Sceptics, we here bring to a conclusion both our general account of Scepticism and the First Book of our "Outlines."

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- The Aporetic Team -
Dr. A.Patron (the founder)

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