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1) “As regards the attainment of ataraxia, I think that most students of Sextus’ Pyrrhonism would contend that the Skeptic takes it to be intrinsic to his philosophy. One example is Barnes, who, as we saw, maintains that the attainment of complete ataraxia is what makes one a perfect Skeptic. As in the case of the quest for ataraxia, I think that the achievement of this state is not a defining feature of Pyrrhonism. In what follows I shall attempt to show that Sextus does not regard the search for, and the attainment of, ataraxia in matters of belief as essential to his Skepticism.”

2) “Nussbaum’s view seems to have textual support, given that, while discussing the differences between medical Empiricism and Skepticism, and the similarities between the latter and medical Methodism, Sextus says that ‘that things foreign to nature force <us> to go on to their removal is clear, since even the dog, when a thorn has gotten stuck in him, proceeds to its removal’”.

3) “However, someone might object that my argument is not conclusive since, first, it may still appear to Sextus that, in the cases he mentions, one inevitably tends to unperturbedness but controls this natural impulse, just as one can control the inevitable desire for food when one feels hunger; and second, it may also appear to him that with the acquisition of knowledge, physical strength, and health through exertion, one seeks to attain a more stable state of unperturbedness. I think that in the final analysis there is no way of determining whether or not Sextus has these appearances, since he does not say anything about this. Moreover, in the passages in question Sextus is almost certainly arguing dialectically, and hence just advancing an argument that allows him to oppose the Epicurean position and reach isostheneia.”

4) “If unperturbedness is the Skeptic’s end, then his dunamis antithetike is aimed at achieving that state of mind, so that unperturbedness is to be considered a part of the definition of Skepticism. It seems to follow from this that the quest for, and the attainment of, ataraxia are essential to the Pyrrhonean philosophy. However, first, from what is said at PH i 25 it does not follow that the search for unperturbedness is inherent in Skepticism, given that the fact that all of a person’s actions are aimed at achieving a definite end does not entail that the choice of this end is inevitable, or that it cannot be abandoned and replaced by a different goal. Secondly,….”

5) “There are three passages which, to a greater or lesser degree, seem to confirm that if ataraxia in matters of belief were abandoned as an end, or no longer accompanied epoche, the Skeptics would not consider a vital part of their outlook to have been lost.”

6) “I find this omission at the very least suggestive, since if the search for, or the attainment of, ataraxia were inherent in Pyrrhonism, one would certainly expect Sextus to mention them in the present passage.”

7) “If I understand this passage correctly, these differences between the Skeptic and Arcesilaus with respect to ataraxia does not seem to be crucial; on the contrary, such differences are referred to at the very point where Sextus is enumerating the reasons why the Skeptic’s and Arcesilaus’ attitudes are almost the same.”

8) “Not only does Arcesilaus not consider ataraxia to be his end, but also this state does not accompany his suspension of judgment about everything. If I understand this passage correctly, these differences between the Skeptic and Arcesilaus with respect to ataraxia does not seem to be crucial; on the contrary, such differences are referred to at the very point where Sextus is enumerating the reasons why the Skeptic’s and Arcesilaus’ attitudes are almost the same. In this regard, note that the passage gives the impression that the Pyrrhonist too considers epoche to be one of his aims. Perhaps this is the residue of an earlier Pyrrhonean outlook, which is suggested by a text found in Diogenes Laertius, according to whom Timon and Aenesidemus said that the Skeptic’s end ‘is suspension of judgment, which unperturbedness follows as a shadow’ (ix 107). That suspension was considered by some Skeptics as an aim is confirmed by Sextus’ discussion of the Skeptical telos, at the end of which he remarks that ‘some among the eminent Skeptics have added to them also suspension of judgment in the investigations’ (PH i 30). Now, as we saw in section one, it is only in the passage that immediately follows the one quoted that Sextus refers to a possible key divergence: unlike the Skeptic, Arcesilaus is said to have made assertions about the nature of epoche and sugkatatheis (PH i 233), that is, not to have adopted a really universal suspension of judgment. Sextus also refers that it is also said that Arcesilaus, though at first glance a Pyrrhonist, was in reality a Dogmatist, because he used his aporetic skill to test whether his companions were fitted to receive the Platonic dogmata (PH i 234). Sextus does not seem to put much trust on these versions about a dogmatic Arcesilaus, judging from his own opinion about Arcesilaus’ stance expressed in the first sentence of the passage quoted. Such an approving opinion is unusual in the section of PH i where Sextus examines what distinguishes Skepticism from neighboring philosophies (the other exception is that of the Methodic doctors at PH i 236–241). Still, Sextus remains cautious and says that Arcesilaus’ stance is almost identical to the Pyrrhonist’s. One may then argue that the reason for this caution is precisely the fact that ataraxia plays no part in Arcesilaus’ philosophy. But perhaps the reason is that Sextus does not want to come to the point of admitting a complete identification between Pyrrhonism and the stance of a member of the so-called skeptical Academy. In any case, even if we accept the first hypothesis, Arcesilaus’ not taking unperturbedness as his aim and not achieving this state while suspending judgment about everything appear to constitute in Sextus’ eyes minor discrepancies between Arcesilaus and the Pyrrhonist; otherwise, one would expect Sextus to focus on these differences much more.”

9) “Of course, in this case too the Skeptic is not committed to any belief, but following his appearances, just as in the case of his acting in accordance with the laws and customs of his community.”

10) “If the previous explanation of why the Skeptic adopts a philanthropic attitude is correct or at least plausible, then there is no reason to suppose that he wants to cure the Dogmatists because their perturbation represents a threat to the attainment and stability of his unperturbedness.”

11) “First, it may be argued that the Pyrrhonist’s argumentative therapy implies a number of beliefs about epoche and ataraxia: the belief that ataraxia is objectively good (otherwise, why does he seek to induce this state if he is not himself convinced that it is beneficial?); the belief that this state is achieved by suspending judgment; the belief that epoche is brought about by certain kinds of arguments; and the belief that inducing epoche and ataraxia in his patients is the objectively adequate treatment to be applied when they are afflicted by conceit and rashness. Regarding the first two beliefs, there is nothing more to be said than what was already expounded in section one. Unperturbedness just appears to the Skeptic as a good, and he cannot rule out the possibility that this state will continue to accompany the adoption of total suspension of judgment.”

12) This is the title of the paper: "The Pyrrhonist's ataraxia and philanthropia: On the Nature and Coherence of Pyrrhonism". Just wanna know if it looks ok.

Many thanks,

Sextus
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Comments  
Hello Sextus

1) Fine; though you could also say "...does not regard the search for and attainment of ataraxia in matters of belief as essential to his Skepticism."

2) “Nussbaum’s view seems to have textual support, given that, while discussing the differences between medical Empiricism and Skepticism, and the similarities between the latter and medical Methodism, Sextus says ‘that things foreign to nature force <us> to go on to their removal is clear, since even the dog, when a thorn is stuck in him, proceeds to its removal’”.

3) “...I think that in the final analysis there is no way of determining whether or not Sextus has these appearances, since he does not say anything about this." ] "has these appearances" sounds awkward here; is there an alternative?

"Moreover, in the passages in question, Sextus is almost certainly arguing dialectically, and hence simply advancing an argument that allows him to oppose the Epicurean position and reach isostheneia.”

4) Could you replace the "first" and "secondly" as follows, in context?

“From what is said at PH i 25, however, it does not follow that the search for unperturbedness is inherent in Skepticism, given that the fact that all of a person’s actions are aimed at achieving a definite end does not entail that the choice of this end is inevitable, or that it cannot be abandoned and replaced by a different goal. Moreover,….”

5) Fine!

6) Fine!

7) “If I understand this passage correctly, these differences between the Skeptic and Arcesilaus with respect to ataraxia do not seem to be crucial; on the contrary, such differences are referred to at the very point where Sextus is enumerating the reasons why the Skeptic’s and Arcesilaus’ attitudes are almost the same.”

#8 will take a little thought. Back when I've pondered a little!

MrP
Hi P., many thanks for your reply.

1) Fine; though you could also say "...does not regard the search for and attainment of ataraxia in matters of belief as essential to his Skepticism."

I'm not sure about this because it gives me the impression that it is the same aspect, whereas I'm talking about the search for ataraxia and the attainment of ataraxia. Perhaps you think that the use of commas isn't correct or something like this.

3) “...I think that in the final analysis there is no way of determining whether or not Sextus has these appearances, since he does not say anything about this." ] "has these appearances" sounds awkward here; is there an alternative?

Yes, this is a problem. I know that you find this usage of "appearance" awkward. Perhaps in this case I could say "whether or not this is so" or "whether or not this is the case":

"I think that in the final analysis there is no way of determining whether or not this is so, since Sextus does not say anything about this [or "it"]".

4) Could you replace the "first" and "secondly" as follows, in context?

“From what is said at PH i 25, however, it does not follow that the search for unperturbedness is inherent in Skepticism, given that the fact that all of a person’s actions are aimed at achieving a definite end does not entail that the choice of this end is inevitable, or that it cannot be abandoned and replaced by a different goal. Moreover,….”

I kind of knew that you wouldn't like the "However, first..". When I wrote it, I thought about what your opinion would be. Unfortunately the whole thing is:

"However, first, from what is said at PH i 25 it does not follow that the search for unperturbedness is inherent in Skepticism, given that the fact that all of a person’s actions are aimed at achieving a definite end does not entail that the choice of this end is inevitable, or that it cannot be abandoned and replaced by a different goal. Secondly, I think that if at some point the Skeptic’s ability continued to lead to isostheneia and epoche, but not to ataraxia, he would not regard this as the loss of one of the defining characteristics of his outlook."

Cheers,

Sextus
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Hello Sextus

1) The commas aren't incorrect; I thought they broke up the flow a little. But you're right: leaving them in does force the reader to distinguish.

3) Yes, that's fine.

Back later for the remainder, when my wits are clearer!

MrP
8) “Not only does Arcesilaus not consider ataraxia to be his end, but also this state does not accompany his suspension of judgment about everything. If I understand this passage correctly, these differences between the Skeptic and Arcesilaus with respect to ataraxia do not seem to be crucial...Sextus also mentions that it is also said that Arcesilaus, though apparently a Pyrrhonist, was in reality a Dogmatist, because he used his aporetic skill to test whether his companions were fitted to receive the Platonic dogmata (PH i 234). Sextus does not seem to put much trust in these versions [I'm not sure "versions of" is the right phrase here; "notions of"?] about a dogmatic Arcesilaus, to judge by his own opinion of Arcesilaus’ stance, as expressed in the first sentence of the passage quoted. Such an approving opinion is unusual in the section of PH i where Sextus examines what distinguishes Skepticism from [?neighboring? - maybe "related"] philosophies (the other exception is that of the Methodic doctors at PH i 236–241)...”

9) “Of course, in this case too the Skeptic is not committed to any belief, but following his appearances, just as in the case of his acting in accordance with the laws and customs of his community.”

— "following his appearances" troubles me. Is there a possible paraphrase?

10) Ok.

11) “Ok.

12) Sounds fine to me!

MrP
Many thanks P.

8) “Sextus does not put much trust in these versions [I'm not sure "versions of" is the right phrase here; "notions of"?] about a dogmatic Arcesilaus, ... where Sextus examines what distinguishes Skepticism from [?neighboring? - maybe "related"] philosophies (the other exception is that of the Methodic doctors at PH i 236–241)...”

Neighboring is ok here; it's the translation of a Greek word, and it's always translated this way: "It is aposite to consider briefly the distinction between Scepticism and its neighbouring philosophies..."

Regarding "version of", I don't get why it doesn't work. What I'm referring to is the versions that say that Arcesilaus is actually a Dogmatist.

9) “Of course, in this case too the Skeptic is not committed to any belief, but following his appearances, just as in the case of his acting in accordance with the laws and customs of his community.”— "following his appearances" troubles me. Is there a possible paraphrase?

Probably this is a technical phrase. I've found the following examples in google:

"The Pyrrhonian skeptic who follows appearances is not limited to the following sensory appearances".

"These constraints allow for activity not by legitimating belief but, rather, by compelling the skeptic to “follow the appearances.”

"Aenesidemus too in the first book of his Pyrrhonian Arguments says that Pyrrho determines nothing dogmatically because of the existence of contradictory arguments, but rather follows appearances."

"In such a context, it is the compelling arguments which the Pyrrhonean produces that are supposed to provide a psychological basis for the detached and distant “following” of appearances which characterizes Pyrrhonian equanimity (isostheneia)."

"To follow one of these four guides is to 'follow appearances' and to avoid dogmatism".

"Unlike the contemporary anti-realist, the ancient skeptics retained a realist conception of “truth” and “belief” and, therefore, expressed their position as the rejection of belief and the adoption of a weaker following of appearances, subjective impressions, and so on."

Finally, can I know your opinion about number 4), whose context I copied in my previous post?

Many thanks,

Sextus
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8) Hmm. What are they versions of, though?

9) "Following appearances" would be fine. It was the "his" that troubled me!

MrP
#4 is tricky.

I can't see a workaround, at the moment.

Will return to it...

MrP
#4 is tricky.

I can't see a workaround, at the moment.

Yeah, I suppose that what troubles you is the 'However, first,...'

8) Hmm. What are they versions of, though?

What I want to say is that Sextus doesn't put much trust on what is said about Arcesilaus' being a dogmatist. Perhaps I could just say this.

Cheers,

Sextus
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