1) “Second, even if one accepted that from the Skeptic’s point of view the distinction in question is completely futile, I do not think this should prevent an interpreter with an interest in understanding the Pyrrhonean outlook from trying to determine what defines it. Such a distinction has of course scholarly importance. But its significance also lies in that it allows us to see that those who nowadays regard the quest for, and attainment of, unperturbedness and the adoption of a philanthropic attitude as foreign to their interests or beyond their possibilities, but take up the attitudes which were said to be essential to the Skeptical stance, may perfectly well be classified as Pyrrhonists. Hence, neither the quest for, and the attainment of, ataraxia nor the adoption of a philanthropic outlook can be taken as touchstones for determining whether some present-day thinker may be considered a Pyrrhonist.”

2) “It may also be objected that my opening remark about the appealing character of Pyrrhonism is wrong or surprising, given that it is not possible that the stance I have portrayed be deemed attractive and worth adopting by anyone. For, for instance, not only does the Skeptic not promise that the suspensive attitude will certainly make possible the attainment of ataraxia, but also he does not even regard this as an aim that is intrinsic to his philosophy. To this objection, I would first reply that the appeal of Skepticism seems to lie in the sort of radical changes that this philosophy may entail in a person’s life. For, if adopted, the cautious Pyrrhonean attitude will prevent one from making rash judgments about any topic which one has not examined or regarding which one has not yet found final answers, which in turn will prevent one from acting hastily. The profound change entailed by the adoption of suspension of judgment will also manifest itself in the fact that even if at some point the Skeptic broke some of the most important moral rules of the society to which he belongs, he would perhaps experience some kind of discomfort, but he would not believe that he has done something objectively wrong. This would free him from the shame and remorse that those who believe that such an action is morally incorrect would experience were they in his situation. In sum, the Pyrrhonean philosophy would produce, if adopted, profound changes in a person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions; changes that at first glance seem to be beneficial. But secondly, I think that whether or not Pyrrhonism is an appealing philosophy cannot in the end be determined a priori. For if it is so depends on whether one values such attitudes as caution, open-mindedness, and intellectual modesty; or, if one does, on whether these attitudes are preferred to, for example, the assurance that one may find when espousing philosophic systems or religious beliefs. This is why my opening comment was just that Pyrrhonism may still be found attractive and worth adopting.”

Should I set “but secondly…” in a different paragraph?

3) “When speaking of the ‘Pyrrhonist’ or ‘Skeptic’, I shall be specifically referring to the philosopher whose stance is described in the extant writings of Sextus Empiricus. Also, I shall use the term ‘Dogmatist’ in the sense in which Sextus employs dogmatikos: the Dogmatist is he who makes positive or negative assertions about the nature of things, on the basis of what he considers to be evidence and reasoned arguments and doctrines. Even if this is not the ordinary sense of the term, it is certainly one which may be found in any good encyclopedia.”

4) “I shall come back to AM i 6 in section two.”

5) “As I have just argued, Sextus would not a priori rule out that ajtaraxiva might be attained by partially suspending judgment. However, he would certainly not accept that the person who suspends judgment only partially can be deemed a ‘perfect Pyrrhonist’, since he explicitly points out that…”

6) “Following Sextus, when I speak of ataraxia tout court, I refer to ataraxia in matters of opinion.”

7) “In my discussion of the relevant passages of PH and AD, I shall only refer to ataraxia and tarache. But, of course, the considerations that will be made also apply to whether suspension of judgment and the holding of beliefs are deemed to be good and bad respectively.”

8) “Annas thinks that in the passages of AD v referred to Sextus is possibly confusing moral realism with moral absolutism, and skepticism with relativism. Bett, for his part, considers that Sextus’ stance cannot be taken as a form of realism according to the latter’s own conception of reality, but he does maintain that the Skeptic of AD v asserts that things are good or bad in relation to specific persons and situations”.

9) “Needless to say, Sextus is not putting forward a view about what is objectively natural, but rather describing what appears to him to be so.”

10) “I wish to thank H. F. and two anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions. Any remaining errors are my own.”

11) “Certainly PH i 232–233 cannot be taken as conclusive evidence that the quest for, and the attainment of, ataraxia are not essential to Pyrrhonism. But PH i 25 makes it completely clear that the search for ataraxia is not intrinsic to this philosophy, and AM i 6 at the very least suggests that neither the quest for ataraxia nor its attainment determine whether someone may be classified as a Pyrrhonist. Thus, the evidence in favor of the view that the quest of unperturbedness is not essential to Skepticism seems to be stronger than the evidence in favor of the view that being unperturbed is not a defining feature of the Skeptic.”

12) “According to Mc. and A., the Pyrrhonist considers his desire (and hence his search) for unperturbedness to be ‘natural’. I do not feel comfortable with the application of this term to the Pyrrhonist’s quest for unperturbedness, given the sense in which A. and Mc. understand it. (…) Thus, if the search for ataraxia is natural in this sense, it seems that the Skeptic must regard it as intrinsic to his stance. Contrary to this view, I believe that the Skeptic considers that the choice of unperturbedness in matters of belief as his goal rests upon fortuitous circumstances and factors, such as his social, cultural, and philosophical background, and hence that the quest for that state is not intrinsic to his Skepticism.”

13) “However, one might object that my argument is not conclusive since (a) 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 (b) 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 that is the way things appear to Sextus, since he does not say anything about this. 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. If this is so, then those passages cannot tell us anything about whether or not Sextus regards the search for ataraxia as natural.”

14) “If unperturbedness is the Skeptic’s end, then his dynamis 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 both the quest for and the attainment of ataraxia are essential to the Pyrrhonean philosophy.”

15) “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.”

16) “It must be pointed out that, although Sextus does not explicitly say so, it is clear that the aim of the Skeptical therapy is to induce the state of epoche and, through it, that of ataraxia in his patients. But then a question arises: what is the reason that leads the Pyrrhonist who has reached the state of ataraxia to want to induce it in others? For one may reasonably think that once the Pyrrhonist has found himself in a state of unperturbedness after having suspended judgment about all non-evident matters, he has attained that which he desired from the very beginning, so that there does not seem to be any reason why he should be concerned about the well-being of others.”

17) “As far as ataraxia in matters of belief is concerned, this interpretation does not find support in Sextus’ texts. For we saw in section one that, according to Sextus, the type of disturbance that may be completely eliminated appears to be induced in a person solely by his holding of beliefs, not by others’ as well. (…) But in this case the way of getting rid of the disturbance that threatens his ataraxia is for the Skeptic to eliminate the beliefs in question rather than the suffering of others. Hence, there seem to be no grounds for supposing that the impression that others are suffering threatens the Pyrrhonist’s unperturbedness in matters of opinion.”

18) “However, it may be argued that, though my reasoning is in principle correct, as a matter of fact the Skeptic does hold the aforementioned beliefs, since otherwise his philanthropic therapy could not be accounted for. This is the view of Alan Bailey, who maintains that the Pyrrhonist’s impression that the Dogmatist suffers from intellectual anxiety and perplexity is not unpleasant in itself, so that it provides a motive for an action only if one adds a belief about the meaning of this impression, namely that it is the sign of an undesirable objective situation. If this is so, then the philanthropic Pyrrhonist does believe that his patients are objectively ill, and that he must do something about it. After all, the Skeptic does seem to have beliefs that interfere with his achievement of ataraxia.”

19) “The Pyrrhonist is aware that these appearances may be pure fiction, with no objective validity whatsoever, but he thinks, feels, and acts in accordance with them for the simple reason that they are forced upon him due to the fact that he grew up believing that there are other people with whom he interacts.”

20) “The key distinction between believing and having an inclination to believe is one that Bailey, for example, does not draw.”

21) “Despite what is said at PH i 22, I still believe that the Pyrrhonist’s philanthropic concern is not wholly inescapable. The reason is that, in my view, the Skeptic sees a crucial difference between the involuntary affections on the one hand, and the laws and customs of his community and the skills he has gained on the other. This difference is that it appears to him that the influence of the bodily feelings is inevitable in the sense that at least up to now he has not been able to eliminate completely the particular feelings of hunger and thirst, and hence to stop having the desire for food and drink.”

22) “In any case, what is undeniable is the fact that unperturbedness plays no part in the brief story told at AM i 6, whereas the most distinctive aspects of the Pyrrhonist’s philosophical journey are present: the search for the truth, the anomaly of things, the conflict among equipollent positions, the discovery of aporias, the adoption of suspension of judgment.”

23) “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.”

Is “definite” ok?

24) “Judging from the considerations found in the Tenth Mode and the ethical section of PH iii, Sextus is well aware of this.”

Should I rather say “to judge from”?


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Comments  (Page 3) 
Hello again Sextus

1) I think I did this one elsewhere!

2) The "should" is a surrogate subjunctive. But your "infinitive" version is fine.

3) <This would free him from the shame and remorse that those who believe that such an action is morally incorrect would experience, in the same situation.>

– Yes, the comma looks fine.

4) <Perhaps I could just say: 'For it depends on whether...'> Yes, that would be fine. I think I may have paragraphed "But secondly" for ease of on-screen reading.

7, 18, 21) Think I've done these elsewhere!

Have I missed any posts? (I'm still catching up.)

See you,