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Pyrrho
Pyrrho
of Elis[1] (/ˈpɪroʊ/; Greek: Πύρρων ὁ Ἠλεῖος Pyrron ho Eleios, c. 360 – c. 270 BC) was a Greek philosopher of Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
and is credited as being the first Greek skeptic philosopher.

Contents

1 Life 2 Sources on Pyrrho 3 Philosophy

3.1 Pyrrhonism

4 Indian influences on Pyrrho 5 Influence 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 External links

Life[edit] Pyrrho
Pyrrho
of Elis
Elis
is estimated to have lived from around 365-360 BC until 275-270 BC.[2] Pyrrho
Pyrrho
was from Elis, on the Ionian Sea. Diogenes Laërtius, quoting from Apollodorus of Athens, says that Pyrrho
Pyrrho
was at first a painter, and that pictures by him were exhibited in the gymnasium at Elis. Later he was diverted to philosophy by the works of Democritus, and according to Diogenes
Diogenes
Laertius became acquainted with the Megarian dialectic through Bryson, pupil of Stilpo.[3] While little is known for certain about Pyrrho’s philosophy and life, his primary influencers were most likely early philosophers whose work focused on the indeterminacy of the world, such as Plato and the Eleatics.[2] It is thought that he was taught by Anaxarchus of Abdera, and was also influenced by Eastern philosophy
Eastern philosophy
he encountered on a trip to India
India
with Alexander the Great.[4] Diogenes
Diogenes
reports that Pyrrho, along with Anaxarchus, travelled with Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
on his exploration of the East, 'so that he even went as far as the Gymnosophists
Gymnosophists
in India
India
and the Magi' in Persia. This exposure to Eastern philosophy
Eastern philosophy
seems to have inspired him to adopt a life of solitude; returning to Elis, he lived in poor circumstances, but was highly honored by the Elians and also by the Athenians, who conferred upon him the rights of citizenship.[3] Pyrrho
Pyrrho
wrote nothing. His doctrines were recorded in the writings of his pupil Timon of Phlius. Unfortunately these works are mostly lost. Today Pyrrho's ideas are known mainly through the book Outlines of Pyrrhonism written by Sextus Empiricus.[3] Sources on Pyrrho[edit] Pyrrho
Pyrrho
did not produce any written work detailing his philosophical principles.[4] Most of the information on Pyrrho’s principles comes from his most notable follower, Timon of Phlius, whose summary of Pyrrho's teachings are preserved in the Aristocles passage.[4] However, there are conflicting interpretations of the ideas presented in this passage, each of which leads to a different conclusion as to what Pyrrho
Pyrrho
meant.[4] Most biographical information on Pyrrho, as well as some information concerning his demeanor and behavior, come from the works of mid-third century BC biographer Antigonus of Carystus.[4] Biographical anecdotes from Diogenes
Diogenes
Laertius are also frequently cited; his work on Pyrrho's life drew primarily from Antigonus' accounts.[4] Philosophy[edit] As Pyrrho
Pyrrho
left no written teachings, the exact details of his philosophy are uncertain. Most sources agree that the primary goal of Pyrrho’s philosophy was the achievement of a state of ataraxia,[4] or freedom from worry,[2] and that he observed that ataraxia could be brought about by eschewing beliefs about thoughts and perceptions. However, Pyrrho’s own philosophy may have differed significantly from the later Pyrrhonists.[2] Most interpretations of the information on Pyrrho’s philosophy suggest that he claimed that reality is inherently indeterminate, which, in the view of Pyrrhonism described by Sextus Empiricus, would be considered a negative dogmatic belief.[2] A summary of Pyrrho's philosophy was preserved by Eusebius, quoting Aristocles, quoting Timon, in what is known as the "Aristocles passage."

"Whoever wants to live well (eudaimonia) must consider these three questions: First, how are pragmata (ethical matters, affairs, topics) by nature? Secondly, what attitude should we adopt towards them? Thirdly, what will be the outcome for those who have this attitude?" Pyrrho's answer is that "As for pragmata they are all adiaphora (undifferentiated by a logical differentia), astathmēta (unstable, unbalanced, not measurable), and anepikrita (unjudged, unfixed, undecidable). Therefore, neither our sense-perceptions nor our doxai (views, theories, beliefs) tell us the truth or lie; so we certainly should not rely on them. Rather, we should be adoxastous (without views), aklineis (uninclined toward this side or that), and akradantous (unwavering in our refusal to choose), saying about every single one that it no more is than it is not or it both is and is not or it neither is nor is not.[5]

The main principle of Pyrrho's thought is expressed by the word acatalepsia, which connotes the ability to withhold assent from doctrines regarding the truth of things in their own nature; against every statement its contradiction may be advanced with equal justification.[3] Pyrrhonism[edit] It is uncertain whether Pyrrhonism was a small but continuous movement in antiquity, or whether it died out and was revived. Regardless, several centuries after Pyrrho
Pyrrho
lived, Aenesidemus lead a revival of the philosophy. Pyrrhonism was one of the two major schools of skeptical thought that emerged during the Hellenistic period, the other being Academic skepticism.[6] Aenesidemus developed ten arguments to be used as justification for suspending all judgement on the true nature of things.[7] A further set of five arguments was developed by Agrippa the Skeptic.[7] These arguments, as well as several other sets of tropes used as justification for suspending judgement, are presented in the texts of Sextus Empiricus, whose works contain the most detailed surviving account of Pyrrhonist practice.[6] Pyrrhonists view their philosophy as a way of life, and view Pyrrho
Pyrrho
as a model for this way of life. Their main goal is to cure suffering and unhappiness through achieving suspension of judgment.[7] One method Pyrrhonists use to suspend judgment is to gather arguments on both sides of the disputed issue, continuing to gather arguments such that the arguments have the property of isostheneia (equal strength). This leads the Pyrrhonist to the conclusion that there is an unresolvable disagreement on the topic, and so the appropriate reaction is to suspend judgement on the topic. The Pyrrhonist develops suspension of judgment as a habitual response to all matters of dispute, achieving a state of “epoche” – a general suspension of judgement about the real nature of things. Reaching epoche results in ataraxia, or freedom of worry, which relieves the practitioner of the causes of unhappiness.[2] Pyrrhonism flourished among members of the Empiric school of medicine, where it was seen as the philosophic foundation to their approach to medicine, which was opposed to the approach of the Dogmatic school
Dogmatic school
of medicine. Pyrrhonism fell into obscurity in the post-Hellenic period.[6] Pyrrhonism has three styles of practice, or types of practitioners. These are the ephectic (a "suspension of judgment"), zetetic ("engaged in seeking"), and aporetic ("engaged in refutation").[8] Indian influences on Pyrrho[edit] Diogenes
Diogenes
Laertius' biography of Pyrrho[9] reports that Pyrrho
Pyrrho
traveled with Alexander the Great's army to India
India
and based his philosophy on what he learned there:

...he even went as far as the Gymnosophists, in India, and the Magi. Owing to which circumstance, he seems to have taken a noble line in philosophy, introducing the doctrine of incomprehensibility, and of the necessity of suspending one's judgment....

The sources and the extent of the Indian influences on Pyrrho's philosophy, however, are disputed. Elements of scepticism were already present in Greek philosophy, particularly in the Democritean tradition in which Pyrrho
Pyrrho
had studied prior to visiting India. Pyrrhonism was a logical extension of these, requiring no exogenous influences. Richard Bett heavily discounts any substantive Indian influences on Pyrrho, arguing that on the basis of testimony of Onesicritus
Onesicritus
regarding how difficult it was to converse with the gymnosophists, as it required three translators, none of whom understood any philosophy, that it is highly improbable that Pyrrho
Pyrrho
could have been substantively influenced by any of the Indian philosophers.[10] According to Christopher I. Beckwith's analysis of the Aristocles Passage, adiaphora, astathmēta, and anepikrita are strikingly similar to the Buddhist Three marks of existence,[11] indicating that Pyrrho's teaching is based on Buddhism. Beckwith disputes Bett's argument about the translators, as the other reports of using translators in India, involving Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
and Nearchus, say they needed only one interpreter, and Onesicritus
Onesicritus
was criticized by other writers in antiquity for exaggerating. Besides, Pyrrho
Pyrrho
spent about 18 months in India, which is long enough to learn a foreign language.[12] It has been hypothesized that the gymnosophists were Jains, or Ajnanins ,[13][14][15] and that these are likely influences on Pyrrho.[13] Influence[edit] Pyrrhonism regained prominence in the late fifteenth century.[6] The publication of the works of Sextus Empiricus
Sextus Empiricus
played a major role in Renaissance and Reformation thought. Philosophers of the time used his works to source their arguments on how to deal with the religious issues of their day. Girolamo Savonarola
Girolamo Savonarola
was one of the first thinkers to apply Pyrrhonist reasoning to the defense of true religion. Major philosophers such as Michel de Montaigne, Marin Mersenne, and Pierre Gassendi later drew on the model of Pyrrhonism outlined in Sextus Empiricus’ works for their own arguments. This resurgence of Pyrrhonism has been called the beginning of modern philosophy.[6] Pyrrhonism also affected the development of historiography. Historical Pyrrhonism emerged during the early modern peiord and played a significant role in shaping modern historiography. Historical Pyrrhonism questioned the possibility of any absolute knowledge from the past and transformed later historian's selection of and standard for reliable sources.[16] See also[edit]

Ajñana Callisthenes Greco-Buddhism Nausiphanes

Notes[edit]

^ Hugh Chisholm, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 696.  ^ a b c d e f Home., Bett, Richard Arnot (2000). Pyrrho, his antecedents, and his legacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198250654. OCLC 43615424.  ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). " Pyrrho
Pyrrho
of Elis". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 696.  ^ a b c d e f g Bett, Richard; Zalta, Edward (Winter 2014). "Pyrrho". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2/19/2018.  Check date values in: access-date= (help) ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (2015). Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia (PDF). Princeton University Press. pp. 22–23. ISBN 9781400866328.  ^ a b c d e Popkin, Richard Henry (2003). The History of Scepticism : from Savonarola to Bayle (Revised ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198026716. OCLC 65192690.  ^ a b c Pierre., Hadot, (2002). What is ancient philosophy?. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674013735. OCLC 48857664.  ^ Pulleyn, William (1830). The Etymological Compendium, Or, Portfolio of Origins and Inventions. T. Tegg. p. 353.  ^ "The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers". Peithô's Web. Retrieved March 23, 2016.  ^ Richard Bett, Pyrrho, His Antecedents and His Legacy, 2000, p177-8. ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (2015). Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia (PDF). Princeton University Press. p. 28. ISBN 9781400866328.  ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (2015). Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia. Princeton University Press. p. 221. ISBN 9781400866328.  ^ a b Barua 1921, p. 299. ^ Jayatilleke 1963, pp. 129-130. ^ Flintoff 1980. ^ 1985-, Matytsin, Anton M.,. The specter of skepticism in the age of Enlightenment. Baltimore. ISBN 9781421420530. OCLC 960048885. 

References[edit]

Algra, K., Barnes, J., Mansfeld, J. and Schofield, M. (eds.), The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Annas, Julia and Barnes, Jonathan, The Modes of Scepticism: Ancient Texts and Modern Interpretations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Barua, Benimadhab (1921). A History of Pre-Buddhistic Indian Philosophy (1st ed.). London: University of Calcutta. p. 468.  Beckwith, Christopher I., Greek Buddha. Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2015. Bett, Richard, "Aristocles on Timon on Pyrrho: The Text, Its Logic and its Credibility" Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 12, (1994): 137-181. Bett, Richard, "What did Pyrrho
Pyrrho
Think about the Nature of the Divine and the Good?" Phronesis 39, (1994): 303-337. Bett, Richard, Pyrrho, His Antecedents, and His Legacy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Brunschwig, Jacques, "Introduction: the Beginnings of Hellenistic Epistemology" in Algra, Barnes, Mansfeld and Schofield (eds.), The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 229-259. Burnyeat, Myles (ed.), The Skeptical Tradition, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. Burnyeat, Myles and Frede, Michael (eds.), The Original Sceptics: A Controversy, Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. Doomen, Jasper, "The Problems of Scepticism" Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 10 (2007): 36-52. Flintoff, Everard (1980). " Pyrrho
Pyrrho
and India". Phronesis. Brill. 25 (1): 88–108. JSTOR 4182084.  Halkias, Georgios, "The Self-immolation of Kalanos and other Luminous Encounters among Greeks and Indian Buddhists in the Hellenistic world". Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, Vol. VIII, 2015: 163-186. Hankinson, R.J., The Sceptics, London: Routledge, 1995. Jayatilleke, K.N. (1963). Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge (PDF) (1st ed.). London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd. p. 524.  Kuzminski, Adrian, Pyrrhonism; How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism, Lanham, Lexington Books, 2008. Long, A.A., Hellenistic Philosophy: Stoics, Epicureans, Sceptics, University of California Press, 1986. Long, A.A. and Sedley, David, The Hellenistic Philosophers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Striker, Gisela, "On the difference between the Pyrrhonists and the Academics" in G. Striker, Essays on Hellenistic Epistemology and Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 135-149. Striker, Gisela, "Sceptical strategies" in G. Striker, Essays on Hellenistic Epistemology and Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 92-115. Striker, Gisela, "The Ten Tropes of Aenesidemus" in G. Striker, Essays on Hellenistic Epistemology and Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 116-134. Svavarsson, Svavar Hrafn, "Pyrrho’s dogmatic nature", The Classical Quarterly, 52 (2002): 248-56. Svavarsson, Svavar Hrafn, "Pyrrho’s undecidable nature", Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 27 (2004): 249-295.

External links[edit]

Bett, Richard. "Pyrrho". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  "Pyrrho". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.   Laërtius, Diogenes
Diogenes
(1925). "Others: Pyrrho". Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. 2:9. Translated by Hicks, Robert Drew (Two volume ed.). Loeb Classical Library. 

v t e

Ancient Greek skepticism

Pyrrhonists

Pyrrho Timon Aenesidemus Agrippa Sextus Empiricus

Academic skeptics

Arcesilaus Lacydes Carneades Clitomachus Philo of Larissa

v t e

Ancient Greek schools of philosophy

Pre-Socratic

Schools

Atomism Eleatics Ionian

Ephesian Milesian

Pluralism Pythagoreanism Sophistic

Philosophers

Anaxagoras Anaximander Anaximenes Democritus Empedocles Heraclitus Leucippus Melissus Parmenides Protagoras Pythagoras Thales Zeno of Elea

Socratic

Schools

Cynicism Cyrenaics Eretrian school Megarian school Peripateticism Platonism

Philosophers

Antisthenes Aristippus Aristotle Diogenes
Diogenes
of Sinope Euclid of Megara Phaedo of Elis Plato Socrates

Hellenistic

Schools

Epicureanism Neoplatonism Neopythagoreanism Pyrrhonism Stoicism

Philosophers

Apollonius of Tyana Augustine Epictetus Epicurus John Philoponus Lucretius Plotinus Proclus Pyrrho Sextus Empiricus Zeno of Citium

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 30906240 LCCN: n83018254 ISNI: 0000 0004 4932 0136 GND: 118819593 SELIBR: 281118 SUDOC: 032876521 BNF:

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