+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  
Hello Sextus,

Fine, thanks!

I've only just seen your post – I have to log off now, but will answer tomorrow. Sorry about that.

See you,
MrP
Thanks MrP. Do you think you could also give your opinion about the thread I posted which is entitled "Like".

Sextus
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Hello Sextus

Here are my efforts:

1) ‘Aim’ is fine; or ‘Aims’. Capitals after a colon is (I think) AmE; BrE usually uses lower case. So it depends which style you’re using. Are ‘ataraxia’ and ‘philanthropia’ lower case because they’re in Greek characters?

2) I would say: “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. We will then be able to assess its coherence.”

3) Perhaps: ‘…respond to some possible objections to my position.’

4) Maybe: “in PH iii, at the end of…”

5) “In this section I shall consider a number of objections 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 allow us to get a more accurate picture of the Pyrrhonean outlook and to assess its plausibility.”

6) “for her part”: fine.
“reveals itself as”: not quite ok; ‘seems’, ‘appears to be’.

7) The two phrases seem linked, so I would say: ‘…one is entitled to generalize one’s own experience and dismiss a person’s report…’

8) “If I understand this passage correctly, the difference between the Skeptic and Arcesilaus with respect to the ends they pursue is no reason not to consider him a Skeptic. Indeed, the only grounds for an assertion to the contrary would appear to be, as has already been noted, Arcesilaus’ statement that suspension is good and assent bad. But even if we accept that both elements indicate that Arcesilaus is not a Skeptic, it is clear that…”
I may have changed this too much. Let me know if you’re not happy with it!

9) “Of course, this also shows that Pyrrhonism must not be considered an intrinsically individualistic stance either; though Floridi (2002, 32) thinks otherwise.”

10) “First, it is not true that all the members of a group such as a family or a community must always obey the same norms, or that they will necessarily share the same abilities.”

11) “I hope that the above account will help to dispel the confusion about what is intrinsic to the Pyrrhonist’s ethical outlook, and that it has shown 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 easily 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.”

13) “To conclude, I wish to take account of two objections to my position. 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 would overlook 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 similar 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 clear what his stance is not. Secondly, even if one accepted that from the Skeptic’s point of view this distinction is futile, I do not think that this should prevent an interpreter with an interest in understanding the Pyrrhonean outlook from trying to determine what defines it.”

14) Perhaps: “Though Bett does not think that Sextus’ stance can be taken as a form of realism according to the latter’s 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.”

15) Perhaps: “Some peculiar interpretations of this passage have been put forward. It has been claimed that Sextus is here being ironic or flippant, and even that this final chapter of PH is not by Sextus. I cannot find anything in PH iii 280–281 to support such bizarre interpretations.”
Does flippant work? I’m not sure what the intention of dilettante is!

I’ll take a look at your other thread now.

See you,
MrP
Hi MrP. Many thanks for your suggestions, some of which were excellent (such as “help to dispel the confusion”). I have some questions about the suggestions and I added other doubts.

1) You suggested: “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. We will then be able to assess its coherence.”

Given my purposes, I think it is better to say: “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 this, in turn, will allow us to assess its coherence.”
By the way, is it clear that “its” refers to “Pyrrhonist’s ethical stance”?

2) “reveals itself as”: not quite ok; ‘seems’, ‘appears to be’.

3) “First, it is not true that all the members of a group such as a family or a community must always obey the same norms, or that they will necessarily share the same abilities.”

You suggested the sentence above. I thought of the following one, because I want to preserve the idea that it is a fact, in order to support the argument I’m displaying in the part of the article in question:
“For, first, it is a fact that the members of a group, such as a family or a community, do not always obey the same norms, and that they hardly ever have the same abilities”.

4) Perhaps: “Some peculiar interpretations of this passage have been put forward. It has been claimed that Sextus is here being ironic or flippant, and even that this final chapter of PH is not by Sextus. I cannot find anything in PH iii 280–281 to support such bizarre interpretations.”
Does flippant work? I’m not sure what the intention of dilettante is!

The point is that one guy says on a page that Sextus is being ironic, and five pages later he adds that Sextus says what he says in the passage in question “par dilletantisme” (the guy is French).

5) “There are three passages which, to a greater or lesser extent, seem to confirm that in the event that ataraxia in matters of belief were abandoned as an end or stopped accompanying suspension, the Skeptics would not consider a vital part of their outlook to be lost.”

Is “to a greater or lesser extent” correct? There’s an expression in Spanish, and I’m not sure whether the expression above is real English.

6) This is a new thing I added to the paper. And there’s a translation from the Greek.

“The second text is AM i 6, where, as was noted before (see n3), there is no mention of the Skeptic’s quest for unperturbedness in the story of the Pyrrhonist’s philosophical journey. The passage is the following:
with respect to the studies the Skeptics experienced something almost like what they experienced with respect to the whole of philosophy. For just as they approached the latter with the desire of reaching the truth, but, when confronted with an equipollent conflict and the anomaly of things, they suspended judgment, so too with respect to the studies, when they set out on their acquisition seeking to learn the truth here as well and discovering equal aporias, they did not hide .
I find this omission at the very least suggestive, since if the search for ajtaraxiva were inherent in Pyrrhonism, one would certainly expect Sextus to mention it in the present passage. Perhaps this is due to a change of viewpoint from PH and AD to AM, which is generally considered to be the latest of Sextus’ surviving works. Or perhaps it is only due to the fact that in AM Sextus is concerned neither to give a detailed account of Pyrrhonism, as he is in the first book of PH, nor to expound the Skeptic’s attack on ethics, as he is in the last chapters of PH iii and in AD v. Be that as it may, what is undeniable is the fact that in the brief story told at AM i 6 unperturbedness plays no part, whereas we do find here the most distinctive aspects of Pyrrhonism: the search for the truth, the irregularity of things, the conflict among equipollent positions, insoluble aporias, the adoption of suspension of judgment.”

By the way, I think that “aporia” exists in English, even if it is commonly used. Am I right?

7) “If I understand this passage correctly, the difference between the Skeptics and Arcesilaus with respect to the ends they pursue is no reason not to consider him a Skeptic; on the contrary, this difference is referred to while enumerating the reasons why the Skeptics’ and Arcesilaus’ attitudes are almost the same. (…) In any case, for my present purposes what must be emphasized is again the fact that Arcesilaus’ not taking unperturbedness as a part of his end does not seem to constitute in Sextus’ eyes a motive for denying 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 accept that both elements indicate that Arcesilaus is not a Skeptic, we cannot deny that PH i 25 provides strong support for the view that the quest for ataraxia in matters of opinion is not essential to Pyrrhonism, and that AM i 6 at least suggests that this is the case.”

This is almost the complete passage of a text you corrected. I changed some things using what you said. But I added other sentences.

8) Finally, I changed the title to this: “The Pyrrhonist’s ataraxia and philanthropia: On the Character and Coherence of Sextus Empiricus’ Skepticism”.

Does this sound ok? (By the way, yes, ataraxia and philanthropia are in Greek). Also, can you remember which type of words go in capital letters in titles in English? (Adjectives, nouns, verbs…?)

Thanks and cheers.

Sextus
Hello Sextus

1) Yes, that's fine. Dashes are a good idea.

2) “reveals itself as”: not quite ok; ‘seems’, ‘appears to be’.
I wasn't sure how you were using 'reveals itself' here.

3) That sounds fine, except for the 'For, first,', which is a little awkward. Is the 'for' necessary, in context?

4) “par dilletantisme”: I suppose he means that SE is amateurish, or a dabbler. I'm not sure there's a satisfactory adjective in English for this meaning.
'...ironic, or writing in a spirit of dilettantism,...'
'...ironic; that he is simply writing 'par dilettantisme'; that he did not even write this final chapter of PH'.

5) Perhaps:
“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 suspension, the Skeptics would not consider a vital part of their outlook to have been lost.”

6) Here are some suggestions; the parts in square brackets I didn't quite follow, so haven't changed:

[with respect to the ?studies the Skeptics experienced something almost like what they experienced with respect to the whole of philosophy.] For just as they approached the latter with the desire of attaining the truth, but when confronted with an equipollent conflict and the anomaly of things suspended judgment,[ so too with respect to the studies, when they set out on their acquisition seeking to learn the truth here as well and discovering equal aporias, they did not hide . ]

'Be that as it may, 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 Pyrrhonism are present: the search for truth, [the irregularity of things,] the conflict among equipollent positions, insoluble aporias¹, and the adoption of suspension of judgment.”

¹ aporia does exist in English; but although I've often seen it defined, I've never seen it used. I wonder too whether you need 'insoluble'. Could you say 'the use of aporia'?

7) Maybe: '...this difference is referred to at the very point where XYZ is enumerating the reasons...'

'...the fact that Arcesilaus’ not taking unperturbedness as essential to his goal/aims/objectives does not seem to constitute in Sextus’ eyes a motive for denying...'

'part of his end' isn't quite right here; though I'm not sure my alternatives are any better.

8) I would probably lowercase 'On'; but otherwise it looks fine.

Let me know if you're not happy with any of the suggestions, and I'll see if I can find alternatives.

See you,
MrP
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
1) “X, 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”.

I think that here I was thinking in Spanish. Maybe it’s better to say “turns out to be” instead of “reveals itself”.

2) That sounds fine, except for the 'For, first,', which is a little awkward. Is the 'for' necessary, in context?

I used “for” to introduce the reasons for my previous claim. The full context is the following:

“On the contrary, he is aware that as long as he acts according to a given set of laws, customs and skills, he necessarily and involuntarily has certain appearances, but that his acting according to those particular laws, customs and skills is neither inevitable nor unalterable. For, first, it is a fact that the members of a group, such as a family or a community, do not always obey the same norms, and that they hardly ever have the same abilities.”

You made me doubt, and then I looked for the following paragraph, where I also employed “For, first,…”:

“However, in the texts examined Sextus appears to theorize about the means for, and the hindrance to, the attainment of unperturbedness and happiness in matters of belief. For, first, he seems to assert that the holding of beliefs in itself directly or indirectly brings about perturbation and unhappiness. Second,…”

3) I changed some things to the paragraph in which I translated a passage of Sextus:
“with respect to the studies the Skeptics experienced something almost like what they experienced with respect to the whole of philosophy. For just as they approached the latter with the desire of reaching the truth, but when confronted with an equipollent conflict and the anomaly of things suspended judgment, so too with respect to the studies they set out on their acquisition seeking to learn the truth here as well, but, discovering equal aporias, they did not hide .”

I don’t know if “something almost like” is grammatically correct. With it I want to translate the expression “toiouton ti … hoion”. The first two words together mean “more or less” (I found in a French dictionary, which says: “à peu près”). And then “hoion”, which is used for comparison. Perhaps I could say something like this: “experienced something more or less similar to what they experienced …” or “experienced more or less the same thing as what they experienced…” Or perhaps I could use "almost" or "pretty much": "experienced pretty much the same thing as what..." But I don't know whether this expression sounds informal.

Also, “studies” translates “mathemata”, which has been translated as “arts”, “sciences”, “liberal studies”.

4) With regard to aporia, I found it in a couple of online dictionaries. So I think I'll use it without italics. It's weird, because in Spanish we have the term, even thought it is only almost exclusively in philosophy. And in French it's common too. By the way, I suppose that the plural form in English is "aporias", isn't it?

5) One more thing: "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.”

I changed it back to the previous version, but maintaining the dashes. Do you think it works now?

Thanks,

Sextus
Hello Sextus

1) 'Turns out to be' implies more of a process than (I think) you want here. Perhaps 'become apparent' is the phrase you're after; but it's difficult to fit that in. What about a simple 'seems'?

2) You might leave out the 'first' in the first reason ('For it is a fact...'), then use 'Moreover' to begin the second. Or perhaps: 'For first of all,..'

3) Perhaps 'something akin to', for 'something almost like'.

This passage is very difficult: '...they set out on their acquisition seeking to learn the truth here as well, but, discovering equal aporias, they did not hide .' I'm wary of making suggestions, though, as I'm not sure I fully understand it. What would you say in Spanish?

'Liberal arts' might do for 'studies'. The latter has a sense of 'something a student does', these days. (And 'student' now implies a certain happy ***lessness; which means that Chekhov's and Dostoevsky's 'students' can be puzzling for BrE readers.)

4) I suppose 'aporias' would be the natural plural. I think I would myself put it in Greek, with a translation or explanation in brackets, as I doubt whether more than a couple of thousand BrE speakers would know what it meant, without looking it up; but then that couple of thousand would probably include your likely readers.

5) Yes, that looks fine now.

Out of interest, was Sextus E. an early interest of yours? And is Greek much taught, in local schools?

MrP
Hi MrP.

1) “'Turns out to be' implies more of a process than (I think) you want here. Perhaps 'become apparent' is the phrase you're after; but it's difficult to fit that in. What about a simple 'seems'?”

I think I’ll use “is in the end”.

2) “You might leave out the 'first' in the first reason ('For it is a fact...'), then use 'Moreover' to begin the second. Or perhaps: 'For first of all,..'”

Yes, I think I’ll use “for first of all…” I suppose I could also use “for, in the first place…”

3) “Perhaps 'something akin to', for 'something almost like'.”

The problem with this expression is that it does not render the idea of “almost” or “more or less”. As I feel (but then I may be wrong) that “pretty much” is a little informal, I think I should say “they experienced almost the same thing as what they experienced with respect the whole of philosophy”. Perhaps I could take “thing” out. Also, I don’t feel comfortable with the “what”, so maybe I could say: “with respect to the liberal arts they experienced almost the same as they did with respect to the whole of philosophy”.

4) “This passage is very difficult: '...they set out on their acquisition seeking to learn the truth here as well, but, discovering equal aporias, they did not hide .' I'm wary of making suggestions, though, as I'm not sure I fully understand it. What would you say in Spanish?

Honestly, I did the translation directly into English. The difficulty in the passage is that Sextus is using three active participles in a row. The first is a past active participle, and the other two present active participles (remember that in Greek there are four tenses and three voices in participles). Perhaps I could say “set out to acquire them” even if the Greek uses the noun “acquisition”. “Here as well” refers to the field of the mathemata (liberal arts). The added “them” refers to aporias. The “equal” translates “isai” (“isos”). That is, aporias equal to those they found in philosophy.

5) “The purpose of the present paper is twofold. First, to examine whether there are any beliefs underlying the Skeptic’s search for unperturbedness and his philanthropic concern for the Dogmatist’s welfare. Second, to determine whether his quest for ataraxia and the philanthropia underlying his peculiar style of argumentation are inherent in Pyrrhonism.”

I realized that here I’m using “underlying” twice, so I thought to replace the first one by “underpinning”, but I’m not sure if it is accurate.

6) Before I forgot to ask you about the expression “a part of his end”. On several occasions in the paper I say “a part of the Skeptical (or the Skeptic’s) end, and I don’t why it is wrong. The reason I say this is that Sextus says that the Skeptical telos is ataraxia and metropatheia, and I generally refer only to the former, so I talk about a part of his telos.

7) “It is undeniable that when talking about ataraxia and tarache, and the relations to suspension of judgment and the holding of beliefs, Sextus expresses himself in an apparently dogmatic way”.

Is it ok “relations”? It is logically correct, but it sounds a little strange.

With regard to my interest in Sextus, it’s a little weird, since I didn’t study him at the uni, actually I didn’t study any kind of scepticism at the uni. I don’t know how I read about Sextus’ name and work and borrowed a copy of a volume of the Loeb, and just took a look at it, because my English and Greek were not very good at the time. Then four years ago, I wanted to apply for a PhD scholarship and I needed an ancient author, and I remembered him and the fact that I was kind of interested in scepticism. The problem is that in Argentina researchers do not study Sextus’ work or any other kind of scepticism. I suppose they think that it is not worthwhile. The situation is the very different in Italy, France, the UK, Germany and above all the US.

Finally, Greek is not taught at any school here in Argentina, at least as far as I know. Latin, on the contrary, is still taught at, I think, very few high-schools. I suppose that in the UK there are still places where Greek is on the curriculum. And the same for Latin. In my case, I studied both at the uni, just after high school. We only had a couple of years for each language.

Best,

Sextus
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more