+0
Hello MrP, how are you? I got the paper back with comments by a referee. So I changed a few things and I have some doubts:

1) “The Pyrrhonist’s ataraxia and philanthropia: On the Aim and Character of Sextus Empiricus’ Skepticism.”
Last time you told me that “end” was ambiguous, so I replaced it by “aim”. Also, is it ok to use capital letters after the colon?

2) “The analysis of these issues is important because by clearing them up we will gain a better understanding of the nature of the Pyrrhonist’s ethical stance, which in my view has been misinterpreted in several points, and will be able to assess its coherence.”

3) “In the last section, after summarizing the main results obtained in the previous discussions, I shall state more clearly what I consider to be the defining features of Pyrrhonism and respond to some objections that may be raised against my stance.”
Is it ok to say “an objection raised against…”?

4) “This idea appears to be explicitly stated in PH iii at the end of the discussion of whether there is anything good, bad or indifferent by nature.”
Is it grammatically correct to say “in PH iii at the end of”?

5) “In this section I shall consider some objections raised to Sextus’ description of the Pyrrhonist’s personal experience and to his intention to persuade others to adopt Skepticism by means of this description. This will permit us to get a more accurate picture of the Pyrrhonean outlook and to assess its plausibility.”

6) “John thinks that…. Mary, for her part, finds it hard to believe that the Skeptic is able to achieve happiness, since the state of unperturbedness reveals itself as deeply boring and unappealing, and she even doubts that the attainment of this mental state is psychologically possible”
Are “for her part” and “reveals itself” correct?

7) “I therefore think there are no grounds for considering Sextus’ account ridiculous or false, unless one believes that one is entitled to generalize one’s own experience, and then to dismiss a person’s report of his experience when it is radically different.”
Is it ok to put a comma before “and”?

8) “If I understand this passage correctly, the difference between the Skeptic and Arcesilaus with respect to the end they pursue gives no motive for not considering him a Skeptic. Rather, the only reason for this denial appears to be, as already noted, Arcesilaus’ assertion that suspension is good and assent bad. But even if we grant that it is both elements which determine that Arcesilaus is not a Skeptic, it is clear that…”

9) “Of course, this also shows that Pyrrhonism must not be considered an intrinsically individualistic stance either, as Floridi 2002, 32 thinks.”
Is it clear that Floridi thinks that Pyrrhonism is intrinsically individualistic?

10) “For, first, it is a fact that not all the members of a group, such as a family or a community, always obey the same norms and that they hardly ever have the same abilities.”
I don’t feel comfortable with this way of saying it.

11) “I hope that the previous account dissipates the confusion about what is intrinsic to the Pyrrhonist’s ethical outlook, and that it shows that his quest for ajtaraxiva and his filanqrwpiva do not threaten or compromise the coherence of his Skepticism.”

12) “I hope to have established that the Pyrrhonist’s philanthropic and therapeutic practice is not essential to his philosophy, since the Skeptics are not inevitably philanthropic and those who happen to be so could perfectly well stop acting and feeling in a philanthropic way and become more individualistic and uncaring, without this being an obstacle to their being full-blown Skeptics.”

13) “To conclude, I wish to take account of two objections that may be raised to my view. In the first place, it could be argued that the emphasis I put on the distinction between defining and non-defining characteristics of Pyrrhonism is itself foreign to the Pyrrhonean spirit, since the Skeptic would refrain from theorizing about the real nature of his outlook. However, I think this objection overlooks two facts. First, the first book of PH is devoted to an account of the Skeptical attitude. There Sextus carefully defines and describes the skeptsis, and emphasizes the differences between Pyrrhonism and its neighboring philosophies. Of course, this account should be interpreted as no more than a report of how things appear to Sextus at the moment he is describing them, but this does not make it less true that he gives a careful explanation of the nature of his Skepticism and makes it clear what his stance is not. Secondly, even if one accepted that from the Skeptic’s viewpoint this distinction is completely pointless, I do not think this prevents an interpreter interested in comprehending the Pyrrhonean outlook from trying to determine what defines it.”

14) “Though Bett does not think that Sextus’ stance can be taken as a form of realism according to his own conception of reality, he does maintain that the Skeptic of AD v asserts that things are good and bad in relation to specific persons and situations.”
Is it clear that “his” refers to “Sextus” and that “he” refers to “Bett”?

15) “Some peculiar interpretations of this passage have been put forward. It has been claimed that here Sextus is being ironic and a dilettante, and even that this final chapter of PH is not by Sextus. I cannot find anything in PH iii 280–281 that supports such bizarre interpretations.”
Can I use “ironic” and then “a dilettante”, that is, an adjective and then a noun?

Thanks,

Sextus
1 2 3
Comments  (Page 3) 
Hello Sextus

1) I don't think 'reflection' quite works there. What about 'in terms of the light it sheds on a philosophy...'?

2) Yes, that seems ok. The second along-with clause is quite long, for that position; but maybe moving it back would change the meaning.

3) That para looks fine.

4) '...if I say that his philanthropy seems to commit him to the belief in the existence of other people, it is already seen that there appears to be a problem there.' – fair enough!

Thanks for the JLB info. Interesting. What sticks in my mind from an interview I once read (Paris Review, maybe) is his revolving bookcase, in his office at the library, where he kept copies of his favourite books. I'm not sure why, but a revolving bookcase seems highly appropriate. I got the impression his secretary had to read to him, by then; I think he said he could 'only see yellow'.

See you,
MrP
Hi MrP, how are you doing? I’ve some more questions:

1) “Following the line of argument of section two, in section four I shall argue that the Skeptic does not regard the adoption of a philanthropic attitude as inevitable or intrinsic to his Skepticism.”

I don’t know if “line of argument” works here and, if it works, if “following” works. What I mean in this sentence is that what I think about philanthropy (that it is not intrinsic to Skepticism) is similar to, or the same as, what I think about the quest for ataraxia (that it is not intrinsic either).

2) “Towards the end of this section I shall refer to the possible reasons for the occasional use of a terminology that seems to betray the Skeptic’s possession of beliefs.”

3) “But even if we accept that both elements determine that Arcesilaus is not a Skeptic”.

I’m not sure if I can use “determine” in this way, or if I should rather say “are the reason why”.

4) “If this is so, he cannot really believe that unperturbedness is inherently good or to be pursued, and that perturbation is inherently bad or to be avoided. He would consider that such beliefs are dogmatic suppositions whose truth or falsehood he cannot determine.”

5) “It is undeniable that when in passages where he does not seem to be arguing dialectically Sextus talks about ajtaraxiva and tarachv, and their relation to suspension of judgment and the holding of beliefs, he sometimes expresses himself in an apparently dogmatic way; but this is not strange or difficult to explain.”

You gave me a good suggestion on how to write this sentence. I wonder if it would be clearer by adding a comma before “when”.

6) “The most we can say is that Sextus’ report does not correspond to our own experience and/or that of the people we know.”

Is “correspond to” or “with”.

7) “This hypothesis seems to find some support in the fact that the two definitions of the telos given at PH i 25 are standard definitions accepted by Epicureans and Stoics.”

I’m not sure about “some” support.

8) “This is also made clear at PH i 17, where…”

Can I use “make clear” in the passive voice in this way?

9) “And in the Tenth Mode and the ethical part of PH iii Sextus also tells us, for instance, that in his community adultery, incest, human sacrifice and cannibalism are prohibited by law, and that it is customary to provide for one’s children and not to have sex in public. One may likewise suppose that the impression that others are suffering from conceit and rashness is unpleasant to the Pyrrhonist because the suffering of others is a bad thing according to the laws and customs of the community in which he lives.”

I’m not sure if “for instance” should go before or after “that”, and if “likewise” is correctly used.

10) “If this is correct, it is all we need to avoid attributing to the Skeptic the type of belief Bailey ascribes to him, since, as we just saw, Sextus emphasizes that the Pyrrhonists act in accordance with everyday life without holding opinions and for the sole reason that they cannot remain utterly inactive.”

Should I rather say “as we have just seen”?

11) “I hope to have established that the Pyrrhonist’s philanthropic and therapeutic practice is not essential to his philosophy, since the Skeptics are not inevitably philanthropic, and those who happen to be so could stop acting and feeling in a philanthropic way and become more individualistic and uncaring, without this becoming an obstacle to their being full-blown Skeptics.”

I noticed that I use “become” twice. Could I use “representing” or “constituting” instead of “becoming”?

Sextus
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Ave, Sexte! nunc est dormiendum...sed cras respondebo. Vale, P.
Cheery greetings, Sextus:

1) You could try 'In parallel with the line of argument...' or 'In line with the argument of...'

I wonder whether you need a comma before 'or intrinsic'. Otherwise the 'inevitable' attaches itself to the preposition.

2) Maybe 'possession of beliefs by the Skeptic'.

3) 'Determine' is slightly difficult here, as it usually requires a person. Perhaps:

“But even if we accept that both elements provide grounds for asserting that Arcesilaus is not a Skeptic”.

4) Fine.

5) Perhaps: “It is undeniable that when (in passages where he does not seem to be arguing dialectically) Sextus talks about ajtaraxiva and tarachv, and their relation to suspension of judgment and the holding of beliefs, he sometimes expresses himself in an apparently dogmatic way; but this is not strange or difficult to explain.”

6) Fine with 'to', I would say.

7) Perhaps 'seems to be supported by the fact'.

8) Yes, that's fine.

9) “And in the Tenth Mode and the ethical part of PH iii, Sextus also tells us (for instance) that in his community adultery, incest, human sacrifice and cannibalism are prohibited by law, and that (for instance) it is customary to provide for one’s children and not to have sex in public. One may similarly suppose that the impression that others are suffering from conceit and rashness is unpleasant to the Pyrrhonist because the suffering of others is a bad thing according to the laws and customs of the community in which he lives.”

10) Should I rather say “as we have just seen”? – yes, I think so; or 'as has been demonstrated'.

11) “constituting” would be good.

Good weekend.
MrP
Hello, MrP. Many thanks for the answers.

1) “Towards the end of this section I shall refer to the possible reasons for the occasional use of a terminology that seems to betray the holding of beliefs by the Skeptic.”

I thought to replace “possession” by “holding”. Also, how would you change the following sentence?

“Sextus himself seems to be aware of this, since he sometimes stresses the non-committal sense in which the Pyrrhonists use certain words and expressions which seem to betray their holding of beliefs”.

Perhaps: “seem to reveal that they hold beliefs”? But “betray” has a nice nuance.

2) “The Pyrrhonist’s possession of private or personal goods is explained by the fact that…”

Should I rather say “the Pyrrhonist’s having…”

3) “But even if we accept that both elements provide grounds for asserting that Arcesilaus is not a Skeptic, it is clear that PH i 25 provides strong support for the view that the quest for ataraxia in matters of opinion is not essential to Pyrrhonism”.

How could I change one “provide”? Maybe by “give”?

4) “In line with the view advanced in section two, in section four I shall argue that the Skeptic does not regard the adoption of philanthropy as intrinsic to his Skepticism.”

Perhaps “interpretation” or something like this instead of “view”?

5) “In other passages of PH Sextus also refers to ataraxia as an end.”

6) “And in the Tenth Mode and the ethical part of PH iii he also tells us that in his community things such as adultery, incest, human sacrifice, and cannibalism are prohibited by law, and that it is customary, for instance, to provide for one’s children and not to have sex in public.”

What do you think of this sentence now? I don’t know if I should change “things” by something like “acts”.

7) "First, according to the most important testimony preserved about Pyrrho’s thought, he seems to have identified unperturbedness and happiness. Second, two of the Skeptic’s main dogmatic rivals, namely the Stoics and Epicureans, considered unperturbedness the principal component of happiness."
"Second, as we said in the previous section, that notion played a key role in the theories of the Stoics and Epicureans".

Is it ok to say "the Stoics and Epicureans" or should I use "the" twice.

Sextus
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Hello Sextus,

1a) Or: '...that seems to imply that the Skeptic does in fact hold beliefs'.

1b) Or: '...which might seem to betray the holding of beliefs'.

2) I think 'possession' is probably better here.

3) Perhaps 'offers'.

4) Yes, 'interpretation' would work well here.

5) “In other passages of PH Sextus also refers to ataraxia as an end.”

I think so, yes. Though I'm still troubled by 'end', and always want to change it to 'end in itself'. (But that's probably because I'm unfamiliar with the academic idiom.)

6) Yes, 'acts' would be good. 'customary...not to have' is a little awkward. 'To avoid sex in public'? 'To avoid copulation in public'? 'To refrain from sex/copulation in public'?

(That should ensure a sudden increase in the number of English Forums users online.)

MrP
Hiya Pedanticus. Thanks for the answers. I have four more questions:

1) "In any case, for my present purposes what must be emphasized is again the fact that Arcesilaus’ not taking unperturbedness as his aim seems to constitute in Sextus’ eyes a minor discrepancy that is not sufficient to deny that he adopts the Pyrrhonean attitude. Rather, the only reason for this denial appears to be, as has already been noted, Arcesilaus’ assertion that suspension is good and assent bad. But even if we consider that PH i 232–233 cannot be taken as evidence that the quest for ataraxia in matters of opinion is not essential to Pyrrhonism, I think that PH i 25 makes this point completely clear, and that AM i 6 at least suggests that this is the case."

Here I changed quite a lot a paragraph I posted before. I do this because the referre criticized my argument here, and I'm just trying to defend and express myself in the best possible way.

2) “If I understand this passage correctly, the difference between the Skeptic and Arcesilaus with respect to ataraxia does not seem to provide any grounds for not considering him a Skeptic.”

3) “The purpose of the present paper, which is concerned with Sextus Empiricus’ extant writings, is twofold.”

I changed a little bit the first sentence of the paper. But I'm not sure it sounds ok.

4) a) “This may well be the result of the influence of two facts. First, according to the most important testimony preserved about Pyrrho’s thought, he seems to have identified unperturbedness and happiness. Second, two of the Skeptic’s main dogmatic rivals, namely the Stoics and Epicureans, considered unperturbedness the principal component of happiness”.

b) "Second, as we said in the previous section, that notion played a key role in the theories of the Stoics and Epicureans."

Should I repeat "the" bebore "Epicureans" in both sentences?

Cheers,

Sextus
He sounds severe. I envisage a Pier Luigi character, for some reason.

1) "In any case, for my present purposes what must be emphasized is again the fact that Arcesilaus’ not taking unperturbedness as his aim seems to constitute in Sextus’ eyes a minor discrepancy that is not sufficient to deny that he adopts the Pyrrhonean attitude. Rather, the only reason for this denial appears to be, as has already been noted, Arcesilaus’ assertion that suspension is good and assent bad. But even if we consider that PH i 232–233 cannot be taken as evidence that the quest for ataraxia in matters of opinion is not essential to Pyrrhonism, I think that PH i 25 makes this point completely clear, and that AM i 6 at least suggests that this is the case."

Maybe '...not sufficient to warrant denying that...' '...the only possible reason for such a denial...'

? 'suspension'; unless clear from the context.

It is quite difficult to follow without quotations, though. But I suppose your intended readership will have their Sextuses in their hands (so to speak).

2) Yes, that seems ok.

3) Is the 'which' clause necessary, in context?

4) Yes, I would repeat the 'the'!

MrP
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?