Philosophy and Ataraxia in Sextus Empiricus

Peitho 4 (1):211-234 (2013)
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This essay is concerned with two interrelated questions. First, a broad question: in what sense is Skepticism a philosophy− or in what sense is it “philosophy” (as we will see, these are not identical questions)? Second, a narrow one: how should we understand the process whereby ataraxia (freedom from disturbance) emerges out of epochē (suspension of judgment)? The first question arises because Skepticism is often portrayed as anti-philosophy. This depiction, I contend, surreptitiously turns a Skeptical method into a so-called Skeptical doctrine which is then either condemned for being self-refuting or salvaged as a plausible (albeit odd) epistemological theory. Instead, philosophy, for the Skeptics, is a matter of practice. Skepticism is not so much a philosophy that has a worldview to proclaim as it is a philosophy that invites us to perform something.

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Pascal Massie
Miami University, Ohio


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