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Sextus Empiricus On Skeptical Piety

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Chapter Summary

Considering the output of two philosophers who - at different times and in different ways - claimed to follow Pyrrho's philosophy and way of life, Timon of Phlius and Sextus Empiricus, the renunciation of writing seems not to be essential to Pyrrhonism. This chapter focuses on the Pyrrhonian writing style in order to show some continuity in ancient Pyrrhonism. It first presents a short overview of Timon's compositional form. It then investigates how Sextus handles the Pyrrhonians' mistrust of writing in his own philosophical works. Although Sextus fiercely criticizes rhetoric, there may exist a kind of 'Skeptical rhetoric' clearly connected to the peculiarity of the Pyrrhonian philosophy and its aims. To describe this rhetoric, the chapter successively describes (a) the subjective nature of the Skeptic's 'avowals', (b) Sextus' pragmatic strategy of writing, and (c) his use of the history of philosophy.

Keywords: Phlius; Pyrrhonian philosophy; Pyrrhonian writing style; Sextus Empiricus; Skeptical rhetoric; Timon



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