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Thanks for your answer. Finally, I can send the paper till Monday-Tuesday (end of the month). I have some more doubts. Here they are:

1) “We say that the causal principle of the Skeptical is the hope of becoming unperturbed. For men of talent, perturbed by the anomaly in things and being in aporia as to which of them they should rather assent to, came to investigate what is true and what is false in things so as to become unperturbed by means of this distinction.” I thought of “should rather”. Maybe this is better and has the same sense.

2) “Thus, it seems that we must not put the emphasis on the idea that a shadow always and necessarily follows a body when the body blocks light, but rather on the idea that a body’s shadow is closely tied to it. Sextus’ intention is then to emphasize that at least up till now the state of ataraxia has been closely tied to the Skeptic’s epoche.” Well, it seems that I will never finish with this one. Now I thought of “tied”, which is perhaps better.

3) “He must be understood as affirming that…” You suggested “understood to be affirming”. Evidently I cannot compare my English with yours, but it still seems to me that that one can say it the way I do.

4) “Despite what Sextus says in some of the passages just referred to, he considers neither that the Skeptic is free from all perturbation nor that all perturbation is due to the intense pursuit and avoidance of the things considered to be good and bad respectively.” You told me that here something was missing (I had ended the sentence at “avoidance”). Maybe now is better.

5) “In any case, the Skeptic is better off to deal with the unpleasant affections forced upon him than the Dogmatist, since he lacks the additional disturbance induced by the belief that such affections are bad by nature, and it is precisely the absence of this belief which makes those affections moderate and more easily borne”. Here I had used “better condition”. You suggested “position”. Then I thought this one (“better off”) or maybe “better situation”.

6) “This difficulty cannot be resolved by arguing that such a disturbance is in reality the result of the future Skeptic’s search for the truth, since the full-fledged Skeptic does not rule out the possibility of discovering it in the course of a particular investigation. At all events, this difficulty would not worry Sextus, since he would argue that this is just the way things have happened to him and that he limits himself to describing it, without trying to construct a theory purporting to give a rational explanation of what has occurred”. This is a paragraph that was in the article, but I added and modified quite a few things.

7) “This passage is relevant both to the present issue and to the previous question of the relation between epoche and ataraxia. For if Sextus thought that ataraxia [is][> was] by nature good and that epoche necessarily [entails][> entailed] it, he would certainly assert that epoche too [is][> was] something good in itself, since it would be precisely that state of mind which [brings][> brought] about ataraxia.” I confess that I don’t see why you changed the present tense by the past.

8) “A common way of accounting for the texts in which Sextus seems to be espousing negative dogmatic views consists in applying to them some of the clarifications he sometimes makes.” Before, I used “warning remarks”, but then I thought that “clarifications” is better.

9) Regarding the use of the word “end” with the meaning of “goal” or “aim”, it’s true that it is not very common, but I’ve seen it used this way, and also it appears in the English dictionaries. In any case, in the English translations, some use “end”, others “aim” to translate the Greek telos.

10) I finally replaced “argumentative strategy” by other expressions:
a) “I wish to point out that there is no reason for thinking that Sextus is not being serious when advancing the philanthropic explanation of the Pyrrhonist’s style of argumentation.” Is there a problem with the term “argumentation”, because I think that some native speakers don’t like it very much. Maybe they find its use incorrect.
b) “The two aspects with which I am primarily concerned are precisely the Pyrrhonist’s quest for ataraxia and the philanthropia underlying his therapeutic use of arguments”.
c) “Section five will be centered on the only passage of Sextus’ extant work which presents the notion of philanthropia as key to the understanding of the Skeptic’s use of different sorts of arguments.”
In any case, I found this expression in an interpreter: “But the practice of argumentative inquiry is so considerable a part of the sceptic’s way of life that…”.

11) “I claim that in Sextus’ writings one finds a peculiar non-dogmatic form of ethical relativism I label ‘agnostic’ or ‘phenomenological’ (this latter term understood in a broad sense so as to include that which appears both to the senses and to the mind).” Is it correct to say in this case “understood”, maybe “taken”?

12) “Needless to say, this does not commit the Skeptic to the belief in the objective validity of his judgments based on the way things appear to him.” You suggested “a belief”, then I thought that “the belief” is better.

13) “If philanthropy was natural in the sense of wholly involuntary and inevitable, it would be related to the Pyrrhonist’s involuntary affections.” Should I use “were” instead of “was”? This point has never been completely clear to me.

14) “However, in the final analysis it is not completely adequate to characterize it as such, because I think that the Skeptic sees a crucial difference between the involuntary affections and the moral principles by which he guides his everyday actions. For it appears to him that he could eliminate the influence of the latter factor, but not that of the former”. What do you think of this sentence?

15) “I then think that Sextus is aware of these facts, and hence that the Skeptic could stop acting and feeling in a philanthropic way and become more individualistic and uncaring, just as he could stop being pious and become impious.” Should I repeat “aware”? I ask this because in the first part I say “aware of” and then I use “that”.

By the way, another book of tales by Borges is “El Aleph”; probably you have already read it. I must confess that I don’t like García Márquez at all: neither his personality nor his writings (though I have read a couple of them). But most people think he is quite good.

Saludos,

Sextus
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Hello Sextus

1) 'Rather' here sounds slightly strange; it's almost implicit. You would get the same sense if you left it out.

2) The difficulty here is that most of the words you could use are metaphorical at some level (tied, linked, etc), and there is no satisfactory metaphor for the way a shadow shadows a body! 'Rather on the idea that a body has to have a shadow'? Or is that too close to your 'body blocks light' clause?

3) 'As' + participle seems slightly colloquial to me; but I wouldn't go so far as to press the point.

4) Yes, that sounds fine now. Whatever was missing has found its way back in.

5) 'Better off' has a strong economic sense. I think the idiom here could be: 'is better placed'.

6) That's ok. If you're speculating about how S. might have argued, you would probably say 'would not have worried Sextus, since he would have argued that this is just the way things have happened to him and that he is limiting himself to describing it, without trying to construct a theory purporting to give a rational explanation of what has occurred'.

7) This was a 'sequence of tenses' edit, following 'thought'.

8) There is another word you could use here, which I can't quite think of. Will return to this one.

9) Fine! No doubt a philosophical audience would read 'end' correctly. (To a non-philosopher it has a slight air of the sense of 'end' in 'end of the world'.)

10)
a) I think 'style of argument' would be fine.
b) Fine.
c) Perhaps 'different kinds of argument'.

'Argumentative inquiry' seems quite good too.

11) I would say 'relativism, which I label'. Perhaps '(using the latter term in a broad sense,...)'.

12) I would stick to 'a', as 'the belief' suggests a less personal belief, e.g. the belief other people may have about the objective validity of his judgements.

I wonder though if I'm quite clear about the meaning - does it mean: 'Needless to say, this does not commit the Skeptic to a belief in the objective validity of those of his judgments that are based on the way things appear to him'?

13) “If philanthropy was natural in the sense of wholly involuntary and inevitable, it would be related to the Pyrrhonist’s involuntary affections.” Should I use “were” instead of “was”?

It is tricky. Here I think we can distinguish between [If X, then Y] and an implicit [Not X, therefore not Y], e.g.

1. If it were mine, it would be blue [i.e. I would prefer a blue one].
2. If it was mine, it would be blue [i.e. it's not blue, so it's not mine].

Your sentence seems to fall into the 2nd category.

14) If I've understood the final clause correctly, perhaps: “However, in the final analysis, it is not completely adequate to characterize it as such, since the Skeptic sees a crucial difference between the involuntary affections on the one hand, and the moral principles by which he guides his everyday actions on the other. For it appears to him that he could eliminate the influence of the latter but not the former”.

15) Repeating 'aware' would be clearer, to my mind.

Yes, I liked El Aleph too. But it seems to me that his prose has a strong 'English' flavour, in its rhythms and tone. Does it seem that way to you? (Then again, so does Cervantes' prose; illusorily, of course; and presumably because of his influence on C18 English writers.) I don't find this quality in his poems, though.

MrP
Hi MrP, how’s it going?

1) I finally thought of this possibility, which I reckon eliminates the problems:
“Thus, it seems that we must not put the emphasis on the fact that a shadow always and necessarily follows a body when the body blocks light, but just on the fact that in these circumstances there has been a close connection between them. Sextus’ intention is then to emphasize that at least up till now the Skeptic’s epoche has been closely followed by the state of ataraxia.”

2) “For if Sextus thought that ataraxia [is][> was] by nature good and that epoche necessarily [entails][> entailed] it, he would certainly assert that epoche too [is][> was] something good in itself, since it would be precisely that state of mind which [brings][> brought] about ataraxia.” The point is that here I’m using the second conditional and, as I’m using the present everywhere when referring to Sextus’ point of view, I reckon I can keep the present. Is it clear what I mean?

3) “A common way of accounting for the texts in which Sextus seems to be espousing negative dogmatic views consists in applying to them some of the clarifications he sometimes makes.”
Could you think of a synonym for “clarification”? Maybe “elucidation”?

Maybe you’re right about Borges. I don’t know if you know that he was bilingual. I think one of his grandmothers was British. So he learned the language when he was a kid. He also knew a lot of English literature. Well, he knew about almost any kind of literature. But I believe it’s also possible to detect a strong influence of Spanish literature, not only in the subjects he treated, but also in the way of writing. By the way, there’s a tale in Ficciones entitled “El fin”, which you can only understand completely if you know “El Martín Fierro” by José Hernández, an Argentinian writer from the 18th century. It’s precisely a book about the “gauchos”. The book is just excellent: it’s written in verse and it’s precisely the story of a “gaucho”, but the vocabulary is quite difficult, even for us. Well, that tale intends to be the “end” of the book. Maybe you already knew all that.

Cheers,

Sextus
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Hello Sextus,

1) I think that's fine. (I get the impression from what you've written that Sextus E. used the simile without fully working out the implications. Is that indeed your conclusion?)

2) It's true that some native speakers would use the present here. Let me try out the possibilities again:

a) “For if Sextus thought that ataraxia is by nature good and that epoche necessarily entails it, he would certainly assert that epoche too is something good in itself, since it would be precisely that state of mind which brings about ataraxia.”

b) “For if Sextus thought that ataraxia was by nature good and that epoche necessarily entailed it, he would certainly assert that epoche too was something good in itself, since it would be precisely that state of mind which brought about ataraxia.”

c) “For if Sextus had thought that ataraxia was by nature good and that epoche necessarily entailed it, he would certainly have asserted that epoche too was something good in itself, since it would have been precisely that state of mind which brought about ataraxia.”

Hmm. I now wonder if it should be C. It seems to me that although the convention is to use the present tense when discussing an author's points of view as expressed in his works, once we begin to discuss the points of view he didn't have, we have to revert to the past tense. For instance, this sounds natural (though banal) to me:

'When Borges writes about libraries, he is naturally influenced by his own professional experience. If however he had worked as a clerk in an ordinary office, as Kafka and Thomas Mann did, he would no doubt have devised fables that drew upon those experiences instead, and written about the Archive of Babel, where an infinite number of filing cabinets held every possible permutation of office memorandum.'

3) I am thinking about your previous suggestion: 'warning remarks'. That meaning seems more useful to me than 'clarifications' or 'elucidations'. Would it accord with your intention to say 'caveats', or 'admonitions'?

I didn't know that about El Fin. I have to say, I am never that surprised when I don't fully understand one of his stories.

It's interesting that he doesn't seem to be influenced by the English writers he refers to most often - De Quincey, Browne, Poe, Kipling, etc. In a curious way, his writings are quite easy for English readers, because he reads like a translation of himself; except of course that it's still in Spanish.

García Márquez seems to dislike Borges's writings, to judge by an interview I read some time ago, which strikes me as curious, since they have much in common (at least to my ears). This for instance from 'El Coronel' sounds Borgesian to me:

'El coronel percibió su respiración impregnada de hierbas medicinales'.

Or have I misheard?

MrP
Hi MrP,

I think “caveat” is just the perfect word. But I don’t know how to use it in the following two sentences. Should I use “make” or “give” or something else?

1) “A common way of accounting for the texts in which Sextus seems to be espousing negative dogmatic views consists in applying to them some of the caveats he sometimes makes”.

2) “What must be emphasized is that this text is a caveat Sextus makes before starting his Skeptical inquiry into the topic at issue, so that if at some point of his exposition he seems to affirm or imply that ataraxia is really good or worth pursuing, and that tarache is by nature bad or to be avoided, his words must be understood in the sense that they appear so to him.”

I have three more doubts, and I think with this I'm ready:

3) “However, there is no reason why the Skeptic’s supposedly ‘natural’ philanthropy should be restricted to the suffering that arises as a result of the holding of beliefs. For the fact, mentioned by Annas, that Sextus only refers to the Skeptic’s curing by argument just points to Sextus’ need to explain why he has employed a particular style of argumentation in a book which, we must not forget, is philosophic, not to the Skeptic’s lack of concern for others’ mundane troubles (though it must be noted that the perturbation arisen from, for instance, superstitious beliefs is perfectly ordinary).”
What do you think of the paragraph?

4) “The topics discussed at 162–166 do not correspond with those dealt with at PH i 25–30 (‘What is the end of the Skeptical ?’), but rather with those treated at PH i 21–24 (‘The criterion of the Skeptical ’).”
I think that in this sentence, my use of “correspond with” is correct, but I cannot figure out what the difference between it and “correspond to” is.

5) “He refers to this passage when examining the coexistence of a radical and a moderate form of skepticism in AM.”
I’m not sure whether “skepticism” is correct, but the plural form doesn’t sound correct to me.

Regarding Borges, I have to confess that I don’t know these writers you mention. I mean, I obviously know the names, but haven’t read his works, so I couldn’t compare Borges with them. García Márquez… what can I say? I think Borges is much better. But I’m not a specialist in literature. Anyway, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Some weeks ago the French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet came to Argentina and in a talk he gave he said that he read Borges and liked it, but that he didn’t used to read G. M. He said that G. M. wrote only one good book (“Cien años de soledad”), and that it was said that he wasn’t his real author. I have heard lots of things of this sort about his being the real author of his books. This may probably be *** (I don’t know what other word I can use). Be that as it may, I don’t tolerate the writers who behave like stars. This is the case of G. M. and the Portuguese writer Saramago (another Nobel Prize winner), who came some days ago to attend here in Argentina to the “III Congreso de la lengua”, and these guys just want to be on TV, etc. I almost forgot: maybe you're right about the similarities between Borges and G. M.

Cheers,

Sextus
Hello Sextus

1) Yes, I think you can 'apply' a 'caveat' in this context.

2) Maybe: 'What must be emphasized is that this text serves as a caveat, before Sextus begins his Skeptical inquiry into the topic at issue'.

3) I find it slightly hard to follow, but that could just be me. Should it be broken up a little? Maybe:

'However, there is no reason why the Skeptic’s supposedly ‘natural’ philanthropy should be restricted to the suffering that arises as a result of the holding of beliefs. For the fact (mentioned by Annas) that Sextus only refers to the Skeptic’s curing by argument merely points to Sextus’ need to explain why he has employed a particular style of argumentation in a book which, we must not forget, is philosophic in intent. It does not refer to the Skeptic’s lack of concern for others’ mundane troubles—though it should be noted that the perturbation that arises from, for instance, superstitious beliefs is perfectly ordinary.'

4) I think I would choose 'correspond to', if only to avoid the inappropriate letter-writing assocation.

5) Would 'the coexistence of radical and moderate forms of skepticism' accord with your meaning?

I think my idea of GGM may well be stuck in the 50s...I have to admit, I prefer the early works. We don't ever see him over here, so to me he's merely a name. But I agree that JLB is (overall) the better writer. Of post-war writers, he's the one I would least like to see disappear from my shelves.

Feel free to post up any last-minute SE-checks!

MrP
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Hi Mr. P. Many thanks for your suggestions, which are really useful.
Shoot! It seems that I’ll never stop having doubts with the bloody article. Here I have some new doubts:

1) “Throughout Sextus’ other writings one finds the Skeptic’s distinctively agnostic attitude coexisting with negative conclusions.”
I’m not completely sure about the difference between using “distinctively” or “distinctive”. In theory, before an adjective one should use an adverb, but one could perfectly well say (or so it seems to be): “the typical Skeptical attitude”.

2) “Now, in the event that this change of end took place, it would still be the Skeptic who searches for the new tevlo", so that the fact of giving up unperturbedness as his aim would not entail that he stops being a Skeptic.”
Is it ok to use the present tense (searches for, stops)?

3) “For if this is the case, why would Sextus be ironic when saying that the Skeptic’s choice of arguments is determined by the effects they have upon those he wants to persuade, given that his aim is precisely to persuade them?”
It seems to me that “if this is the case” is ok, but it occurred to me that perhaps I should say “were the case”, or “was the case”.

4) I have some doubts with my use of "make" and "caveat" in these sentences:

a) "First, it is clear that what is said here also applies to the Skeptic –that is, that there are things which appear to be good to him–, given the caveat Sextus makes at AD v 18–20. "

b) "At PH i 4 Sextus makes a much stronger caveat which reveals his extreme caution".

5) May I say either "philosophy book" or "philosophic/philosophical book", or is there any difference?

As we have been talking a little about literature, is Camus read over there? I started reading him while I was at high-school, and even now (or particularly now) I can't help finding his works as masterpieces. I mean, not only he handles French in an excellent manner, but above all his perception of the problems or situations he talks about is magnificent.

Sextus
Hello Sextus

1) 'Distinctive' would qualify either 'attitude' or 'agnostic attitude', depending on whether you put a comma between the two adjectives, whereas 'distinctively' would qualify 'agnostic'. With 'distinctively', it's the fact that it's agnostic that makes the attitude distinctive. With 'distinctive, agnostic' the attitude itself is distinctive, whether or not it's agnostic. With 'distinctive agnostic', it's the kind of agnostic attitude that's distinctive. I would guess you meant 'distinctive agnostic'.

2) I would use the past tense here (searched for, stopped), to harmonise with 'took'. (What is the 'tevlo', by the way? or is it a typo?)

3) It's difficult to tell without knowing what precedes (I don't have your original text on this pc). Would this fit:
'For if this is indeed the case, why is it 'ironic' for Sextus to say that the S's choice of arguments, etc'

4) a) 'Caveat' + verb is tricky. Sometimes it's best simply to rephrase. For instance, could you simply delete 'Sextus makes' in this sentence?

b) Perhaps 'Sextus issues'.

5) I'm not sure which of these would suit the general tone. What's the whole sentence?

Camus I haven't read for a long time, and don't now remember too well. I should probably reread him. In the 1990s, there was a vogue in the UK for French courses and evening classes, in the happy delusion that spluttering out a few mangled phrases would impress one's continental business contacts. Suddenly every other commuter seemed to be reading Camus or Pagnol. Luckily for other nations, the populace has now mostly given up multilingualism and gone back to gardening.

MrP
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