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THE SKEPTICISM OF THE NEW ACADEMY: A WEAK FORM OF PLATONISM? - page 8 / 19

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mistakenly so, to a single philosophical trend26.  It is interesting to note, however, that initially it is the Pyrrhonics "Quos pyrrhonios philosophos vocamus", and not the Academics, to whom the text refers, as if it were a Greek cognomen:

“Those whom we call the Pyrronian philosophers are designated by the Greek name skeptikoí, or “sceptics,” which means about the same as “inquirers” and “investigators.” For they decide nothing and determine nothing, but are always engaged in inquiring and considering what there is in all nature concerning which it is possible to decide and determine.”27

Further on, however, Gellius uses the terms "skeptikoí", "ephektikoí" and "aporetikoí" to refer to both Pyrrhonics and Academics.  This is interesting because although for Gellius this label was correct in defining both Pyrrhonic and Academic philosophy, there seems to be no doubt that the first to have this name, skeptikoí, were the Pyrrhonics, a name which also suited the Academics.  Thus, it would appear that the subsequent use of the term served to explain and broaden the meaning of the word “skeptic”, thereby allowing Gellius to settle the dispute regarding the differences between these two schools of thought.  Both Pyrrhonics and Academics were given the title of skeptikoí, ephektikoí, aporetikoí, but it is also true that the differences between the two schools respond, as we will see, to the different foundations upon which they were constituted: for the former, a firm skeptical tradition carried on by Presocratic thinkers; for the latter, the dogmatic thought of Plato.

2.

Platonic heritage and the strength of tradition

I believe that I have demonstrated reasonably well28 that Skepticism, used in a general sense, is an adequate description not only of Pyrrhonism but also of certain alterations witnessed in the Platonic Academy.  I agree, however, with Levy when he

26 This hypothesis is defended by Striker, G., "Skeptical Strategies" in Doubt and Dogmatism. Studies in Hellenistic Epistemology, Ed. Schofield, Burnyeat and Barnes, Oxford, 1980, p. 54, note 1.

27 Gellius, Noct. Att., XI, V.

28 Cf. My article supra note 20. Another account of this debate can be found in the article by J. Annas, “Platon le sceptique” Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, 2, (1990), pp. 267-291 and in the response by C. Lévy, “Platon, Arcésilas, Carnéade. Réponse à J. Annas”, Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, 2, (1990), pp. 293-306.

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