This becomes a very complex issue at this point, and the ways of solving it are not particularly significant for our purposes, since I have just wanted to offer a sketch of this dilemma, in order to see how it fits into Bayles understanding of Pyrrho. What is really important is that in both cases we are faced with dogmatic conclusions, which is something undesirable in later Pyrrhonism.
It turns out that Pyrhho was a dogmatic philosopher. He held some dogmatic beliefs either concerning the nature of things or regarding our human cognitive deficiency. That would make it difficult to explain why has Pyrrho generally been treated as the father of Pyrrhonism, the philosophical movement that had epoch, the suspension of judgement, at its core.
The philosopher who proclaimed Pyrrho to be the founding father of Pyrrhonism was Aenesidemus. The widespread explanation for this fact is that Aenesidemus was impressed by Pyrrhos way of life. Aenesidemus, allegedly, wanted to confront the Academic skeptics and start a schism within the skeptical movement, by instituting a new school, the Pyrrhonist school of thought. He chose Pyrrho as the mythical founder because Pyrrho was a consistent skeptic.
On the other hand, the Academics, according to Aenesidemus, fell into stoicism, making the Academia a school where stoics just quarrel with stoics. In this picture, there actually was no skepticism in Academia any more. According to the same widely received explanation, Pyrrho was just a dogmatic philosopher, in the sense of negative dogmatism, claiming that knowledge is unattainable. A weird looking guy who attracted a lot of attention with his bizarre behavior and extreme theses concerning the impossibility of having knowledge about anything.
In fact, he was not a Pyrrhonist at all! Leipzig, Reisland, , p.
This is almost a recived opinion. For a characteristic explanation of this kind, see A. Let us now turn to the second question: 2. Because of this, then, we must not trust them, but we must be without opinions and lean to neither side and remain unwavering saying concerning each individual thing that it no more is than is not or both is and is not or neither is nor is not.
1977 Books and Pamphlets July-Dec/AFO
This is the most skeptical translation of the ambiguous Greek expression ou mallon. In later Pyrrhonism, especially with Sextus Empiricus, it becomes the heavily exploited I determine nothing phrase. So, 3.
What happens to those so disposed, according to Timon, is first nonassertion, and then tranquility, while Aenesidemus says pleasure. This is the whole passage from Praeparatio Evangelica and, in my opinion, the most complete and the most reliable testimony about what Pyrrho was teaching. Of course, there are significant differences between Sextus Pyrrhonism and Pyrrho.
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However, there are points in Bayles interpretation of Pyrrho, developed in the relevant entries of his famous Philosophical Dictionary, that are very much in line both with Sextus picture of a Pyrrhonist and with this passage in the Eusebius book. Notwithstanding the fact that Bayle was not familiar with Eusebius writing, I shall claim that Bayles entries on Pyrrho and Pyrrhonism in the Dictionary can give us an even better insight into who he really was.
Richard Popkin was the author who did a lot for promoting Bayle. On the other hand, Popkin might be hugely wrong on many points concerning Bayle. An attempt to criticize his thoughts on Bayle would not do much harm to the seminal character of his work, and will soon give us some important exegetical results.
Bayle starts his Dictionary entry on Pyrrho with a peeling of an onion metaphor, which is, allegedly, Leibnizs metaphor, at least Popkin claims so. Popkin claims that Bayles procedure of peeling the onion ends up with nothing, no core of truth one could later rely on. When Bayle peels the last layer, nothing is left. But Popkin is fundamentally wrong because, as a self-proclaimed Pyrrhonist, Bayle explicitly proposed a never ending procedure. A never And it is not clear how one could conceive of a peeling ad infinitum.
That conception is provided by the infinite regress of reasons, the doctrine Bayle ascribed to Pyrrho.
FRANCISCO J. VARELA:
Of course, Bayle has never referred to the indifferentiable and unmeasurable and undecidable scheme, since for him inquiry never ends with dogmatic conclusions, including those three about our cognitive shortcomings or the metaphysical nature of things, because of the infinite regress of reasons. One must put up some reasons in order to support these negative dogmatic pronouncements, and one needs some further reasons to support those reasons, and so on ad infinitum.
Bayle thus thought that Pyrrho was able to be a genuine skeptic because he used the strategy of the infinite regress of reasons. It is a relatively strange idea, because the Skeptics have never thought that the infinite regress of reasons is the main source of skepticism. The infinite regress is one of Agrippas modes and it is a source of skepticism in virtue of being one of the tropoi, the modes of argumentation that should have provoked epoch.
Skepticism means investigation, inquiry, examination in Greek, and the skeptics are zetetic, those who examine, those who investigate and are never satisfied with any positive or negative dogmatic conclusion.
Bayle certainly had that in mind, and he pondered about the ways Pyrrho could have escaped negative dogmatism. Eventually, he came to the idea that Pyrrhonean examination never stops because of the fact that there is an infinite regress of reasons. In some way Bayle was an infinitist, like Klein, thinking that it is a fact of our epistemic practice, but not thinking that there is anything wrong with it, like the infinitists do. He saw something Sextus completely missed, at least when he was thinking about Pyrrho.
Namely, if there is an infinite regress of reasons, and if the equipollence, isostheneia, the equal strength of the opposing reasons is the central thesis of Pyrrhonism, then the infinite regress and isostheneia must somehow be connected. He actually invented a new kind of regress: if there is a regress of reasons, then those reasons are always in danger of equipollence. One could always devise opposing reasons that are of equal power.
But those other reasons generate an infinite regress of reasons 12 See the entry Pyrrhonism. Equipollence stops to be a generator of skepticism, and becomes something that actually generates Pyrrhos negative dogmatism. It was a basic tenet of Pyrrhonism that isostheneia generates our cognitive shortcomings.
That is how the Pyrrhonist felt what the situation in philosophy was like. The equipollence thesis, the thesis that one could always devise an opposing argument with equal power, is not based on argumentation it is based on how one perceives the history of philosophy.
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The isostheneia has just reflected the way Pyrrhonist had experienced philosophy. Bayle thought that Pyrrho was himself a person that experienced philosophy in the same way, which resulted in some kind of negative dogmatic claims either about the metaphysical nature of things or concerning our cognitive deficiencies.
Bayle ascribes something to Pyrrho that explains why he is the father of Pyrrhonism. Actually, it is the best explanation, although it is just a conjecture of Bayles. Even better, he gives philosophical reasons, philosophical explanation why is Pyrrho the father of Pyrrhonism. And the explanation is particularly interesting because it involves an explanation of the way the infinite regress of reasons is supported by the equipollence of reasons.
Popkin wanted to conclude his section on Bayle in the History of Scepticism from Savonarola to Bayle with the thesis that Bayle had substituted tranquility, ataraxia, with faith.
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If there is such a substitution, it has to be a matter of human psychology. The transition from epoch to faith is a purely psychological event, exactly like what Sextus thought to be the transition from epoch to ataraxia. Sextus was not clear how exactly tranquility follows the suspension of judgment.
He claimed that there is no argumentation involved, no reasons for ataraxia. In Sextus words, tranquility follows epoch like a shadow. He is not a skeptical fideist in that sense, which is obvious from his entries on the Manicheans and Spinoza.
I do not want to enter here into discussions about the reasons faith cannot be just an escape from the situation of epoch , why one cannot escape into Christian faith if he gets into that disposition or frame of 14 15 Popkin, The History of Scepticism, p. Mutschmann, Rev. Mau, Leipzig, Teubner, Knapton, etc. But it is important to note that, according to Sextus, epoch is not the suspension of all judgments one by one, because that is impossible.
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