Ancient Scepticism
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Series: Ancient Philosophies
Author(s): Harald Thorsrud  
ISBN: 1844651312
ISBN-13: 9781844651313
Publication Date: 30/11/2008
Pages: 256 (216 x 138mm)
Format: Paperback
Published Price: £16.99
Discount Price: £13.59
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Scepticism, a philosophical tradition that casts doubt on our ability to gain knowledge of the world and suggests suspending judgement in the face of uncertainty, has been influential since its beginnings in ancient Greece. Harald Thorsrud provides an engaging, rigorous introduction to the arguments, central themes and general concerns of ancient Scepticism, from its beginnings with Pyrrho of Elis (c.360–c.270 BCE) to the writings of Sextus Empiricus in the second century CE.

Thorsrud explores the differences among Sceptics and examines in particular the separation of the Scepticism of Pyrrho from its later form – Academic Scepticism – which arose when its ideas were introduced into Plato's Academy in the third century BCE. He also unravels the prolonged controversy that developed between Academic Scepticism and Stoicism, the prevailing dogmatism of the day. Steering an even course through the many differences of scholarly opinion surrounding Scepticism, Thorsrud provides a balanced appraisal of its enduring significance by showing why it remains so philosophically interesting and how ancient interpretations differ from modern ones.


"An attractive aspect of Thorsrud's exposition is that he continuously reflects on the sense and soundness of the ancient skeptical stances and explains them both in their own terms and with reference to our current way of seeing things. In other words, he adopts a more philosophic approach by considering the problems addressed by the ancient skeptics or posed by their outlooks, instead of providing an exclusively historical or doxographical presentation of past philosophical views. Written in a style which is straightforward and readable, this volume is a valuable addition to the literature on ancient skepticism. I highly recommend this book to those intending to embark on the systematic study of ancient skepticism or who just want to get an authoritative overview of the field." – Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“A well-written account, presented with lucidity and elegance.” – R. J. Hankinson, University of Texas, Austin

Harald Thorsrud is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Agnes Scott College, Georgia, USA.



1. Introduction
2. Pyrrho and Timon: the origin of Pyrrhonian Scepticism
3. Arcesilaus: the origin of Academic Scepticism
4. Carneades
5. Cicero: the end of the Sceptical Academy
6. Aenesidemus: the Pyrrhonian revival
7. Sextus Empiricus: the consistency of Pyrrhonian Scepticism
8. Pyrrhonian arguments
9. The (ordinary) life of a pyrrhonist
Guide to further reading

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