Philosophy of Skepticism

There are several philosophical views on skepticism. These skeptics often fall into two main categories. One type of skeptic denies all possibility of knowledge. The other skeptic is one who advocates suspending judgment due to the inadequacy of evidence. In either case, skepticism is a philosophical view that questions the validity of claims. Whether or not the skeptic holds a particular philosophical view is a matter of personal belief.


One of the criticisms of Arcesilaus’ philosophy of scepticism is the suggestion that the skeptic’s actions are causally set off by impressions. This argument is misleading, since it ignores the human mind, which consists of competing impressions. If that were the case, the skeptic would be paralyzed by impulses. Instead, Arcesilaus argues that skepticism is a rationally-driven agency.

For Arcesilaus, skepticism is about suspending judgment about everything that does not have a criterion of truth. This is necessary because reason itself calls for suspension. However, this is not the only aspect of skepticism. While the skeptic is not able to express his actual thought, he does use Pyrrhonian terms to describe what he believes to be true.

While there are no surviving written works by Arcesilaus, we can understand his ideas from Cicero’s discussions and comparisons with the Stoics. His most notable themes are the dialectical method, criterion of truth, and defense of the skeptic’s ability to act. The debate over these issues continues to this day. And we’re still not able to settle this debate, even with the help of a modern computer program.

As the debate about the definition of belief continues, we still have many questions. In fact, there is no consensus on what it means to be a believer, but a plausible notion of belief is an ideal of a philosopher. Essentially, it is the notion of holding a belief that is more plausible than a dogmatic epistemologist. So, skepticism is a philosophical method that seeks to establish the truth of reality.


Sextus’s skepticism philosophy has a number of key points that distinguish it from other forms of skepticism. Sextus argues that irrationality is inherent in all life, and as a result, all life is flawed. For example, a dog may be better at hunting a lion than a human, but this doesn’t mean that he is irrational.

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The skeptic suspends judgment when attempting to decide a question if it can be proved by any means. Such a view is problematic since it forces one to make decisions based on an incomplete understanding of reality. Rather than making assertions about reality, skepticism says that no proposition can be proved with absolute certainty. Skepticism rejects both affirmation and denial of objects and processes of perception.

Sextus summarizes the ten tropes of Aenesidemus and boils them down into five basic modes. In addition to this, Sextus argues that knowledge cannot be absolute or universal. Instead, it must be relative to something else. This avoids the circular reasoning and infinite regress that inevitably comes from assuming that the world is perfect. In other words, you can’t know the truth of a certain object unless you know that it’s a contradiction in terms of its other properties.

Sextus Empiricus, a Greek philosopher who lived in the second or third centuries C.E., was a physician and philosopher who followed Pyrrhon’s tradition. His skepticism philosophy is the only complete description of ancient skepticism and a major source of information on the other Hellenistic philosophies. The argumentative approach of Sextus’ work has made it a popular source of information for students of philosophy.

Sextus Empiricus

Sextus Empiricus developed a philosophy of skepticism that is consistent with Pyrrho of Elis’s practice of suspending judgment. Although Sextus does not endorse either of these positions, he uses them as examples of dialectical behavior. He also makes the point that the Five Modes of skepticism do not reveal the flaws of dogmatic positions.

A skeptic’s standards are not convictions or statements of reality, but instead, processes of investigation and evaluation. No proposition can be proven with 100% certainty. The philosophy of skepticism also refrains from making assertions about reality. It does not affirm or deny that objects of perception exist or are not. Rather, it suspends judgment about the nature of physical laws, the reality of matter and time.

The Sextus Empiricus philosophy of logic is structured around the notion that all claims are based on opposites. It begins with a basic step in logical process: the antithesis. Skeptics developed various modes of argument in their attempts to refute claims. For example, Aenesidemus developed ten tropes, each of which sets up claims about external objects or moral laws. Further modes of argument were developed by Agrippa and Marcus Aurelius.

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Despite the popularity of this philosophical theory, few details are known about Empiricus. Although the name “Empiricus” refers to a sextus who influenced the methodist and empirical schools of medicine, it is unclear if Empiricus actually aligned with these schools. In any case, his 95 Theses set off a religious and cultural revolution. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were meant to debate the practice of selling indulgences, but instead became the catalyst for an entire religious and cultural revolution. As a result, the skepticism of a philosopher in the 17th century began.

Arcesilaus’s skepticism

The term “skepticism” refers to a critical period in ancient Platonism. It began with Pyrrhon of Elis, who lived around 360-272 BCE. The skeptics were opposed to the Stoics, who believed that all knowledge is based on convincing impressions. In this way, they aimed to achieve happiness and mental peace.

The skepticism philosophy of Arcesilaus was formed in opposition to Stoicism. However, Arcesilaus’ positive doctrine is not compatible with radical Skepticism. The criticism he directed at Zeno, and not against the other Stoa, reveals his anti-stoic views. While his stoic terminology shares similarities with Zeno’s, the Antistoic stance of his works is based in his Academic philosophy.

In addition to his skepticism philosophy, Arcesilaus defended his own viewpoint. His eulogon argued for opposing points and offered equally weighty reasons for each, which made it possible for readers to accept neither side. Hence, Arcesilaus is credited as the inventor of this method. While it seems to contradict the dialectical purpose of refutation, his eulogon is a useful tool for evaluating arguments.

The importance of the skepticism philosophy of Arcesilaus lies in the fact that he was the second most influential representative of the Skeptic School of Philosophy. After Theophrastus and Polemon, Arcesilaus studied philosophy at the Academy of Plato. The latter became its sixth headmaster and occupied the position for twenty-five years. In the same way, he was also the first person to use irony, and so would be a mistake to define the Academy as a “New” one.

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Arcesilaus’s skeptic opponents were most likely Stoics. Their confidence was based on elaborate arguments, and the stronger the argument, the stronger the skeptical refutation. One of his targets was Zeno. The latter claimed that knowledge is possible and he had a proper account. However, Arcesilaus attacked Zeno’s skepticism by arguing that katalepsis, or the mental grasp of a sense impression, ensures that the sense impression is indeed true.

Sextus’s skepticism

While most philosophers would cite Sextus as an early example of skepticism, the Roman philosopher actually used more sophisticated terms for describing the skepticism philosophy. For example, he describes the forbidden dogma as assenting to objects of investigation that are unclear. However, Sextus uses the term in a psychological sense. In other words, skepticism is the desire to learn, not to believe.

The ancient skepticism attributed to Sextus was called Pyrrhonism and was a way of life. It developed in Alexandria during the 1st century B.C.E. Pyrrhonians advanced a set of tropes against claims of knowledge, allowing one to suspend judgment and question their rationality. Sextus preserved this attitude in his writings, including Outlines of Pyrrhonism and the Adversus Mathematicos.

In Sextus’s philosophy, the production of oppositions among equal arguments constitutes the skepticism principle. Unlike Pyrrhonists, skepticism doesn’t require belief, although it can be based on a variety of principles. While these principles are different, the result is the same: we don’t believe in anything and are willing to reject arguments that contradict our views.

Sextus compares the bodies of Scythian and Indian peoples, and makes comparisons between these different types of individuals. He also compares various foodstuffs, like beef and fish, to the bodies of Greeks and Indians. The same goes for alcohol and perfume. These are common goods, but a person cannot believe that they are good for them. The same is true of the human mind.

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