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THE SKEPTICISM OF THE NEW ACADEMY: A WEAK FORM OF PLATONISM? - page 5 / 19

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2. e)fektikh\, suspension of judgment; the investigator’s state of mind after investigating and finding nothing certain which is not dubitable.

3. a)poretikh\, dubitative, a result of the habit of doubting and indetermination as nothing can be affirmed or denied.

Sextus finally adds, and this is very interesting, that the skeptical school is also known as the “Pyrrhonic” school, since it unequivocally depends on a master, Pyrrho of Elis13.  This passage is evidently valuable in understanding Sextus´ position with regard to Pyrrho. But first, let us turn our attention to two terms that appear in the last part of the text in the footnote: phaínesthai and epiphanésteron. According to Decleva Caizzi, the terms do not refer to Pyrrho’s reputation as such but to that which he expounded, what we know of his life and thought, to the phenomenon associated with him14.

Writing shortly after Sextus, Diogenes Laertius conveniently clarifies that Skepticism is not a school if by school we understand the allegiance to coherently developed doctrines. Yet, if we understand school simply to be that which follows or appears to follow a manner of reasoning according to phenomena, then it is a school15.  In the above text, Diogenes equates Pyrrhonism with Skepticism. Adorno16 asserts that this text refers to another text from Sextus’ Outlines of Pyrrhonism, according to which the Skeptic can be said to have a school if by school we understand an orientation in accordance with a determined way of thinking, for example, that which dictates a manner of living correctly.

13 "and “Pyrrhonean” from the fact that Pyrrho appears to us tohave applied himself to Scepticism more thoroughly and more conspicuosly than his predecessors”, “Kai\ Purrw/neioj a)po\ tou= fai/nesqai h(mi=n to\n Pu/rrwna swmatikw/teron kai\ e)pifane/steron tw=n pro\ au)tou= proselhluqe/nai th?= ske/yei”, Sextus, P.H., I, 7.

14 Cf., Decleva Caizzi, F., "Prolegomeni ad una raccolta delle fonti relative a Pirrone di Elide", in Lo Scetticismo Antico, Atti del convegno organizzato dal Centro di Studio del Pensiero Antico del C.N.R. Roma, 5-8 Novembre, 1980, Napoli, 1981, p. 126. Pyrrho is presented as a member of a group of singular philosophers who create a new form of philosophy. Cf. Román Alcalá, R., Op. Cit., pp. 63-64.

( "Most do not admit that the Pyrrhonics are a school for they lack clarity [in their doctrine]: some say that it is a school in some ways and not in others; it appears, however, that it is a school. If we call school that which follows or appears to follow a manner of thinking according to phenomena, then it is reasonable to call the skeptics a school; but if by school we understand the adherence to coherently developed doctrines, then in no way can it be called a school as it is not founded on doctrine (translation mine)”; D.L., I, 20. For Diogenes, Skepticism is not a doctrine, but an attitude towards life.  To turn it into a school would be to weaken its force as a theory.  A school means doctrine, and thus dogma.

( Cf., Adorno, F., "Sesto Empirico: metodologia delle scienze e scetticismo como metodo", Lo Scetticismo antico, Atti del convegno organizzato dal Centro di Studio del Pensiero Antico del C.N.R. Roma, 5-8 Novembre, 1980, Napoli, 1981, p. 450, note 2.

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