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C LASSICS 36: L ECTURE T WENTY -F IVE S CEPTICISM AS A W AY OF L IFE 1. Ancient (Pyrrhonian) vs. modern scepticism 1.1 Rediscovery during Renaissance of Sextus Empiricus' account (2nd. century A.D.) of the sceptical philosophy originated by Pyrrho of Elis (4th. century B.C.) helped stimulate Enlightenment philosophers (such as Descartes, Hume, Kant) to focus on problems of the nature and extent of human understanding. 1.2 Nevertheless, ancient scepticism differed from modern in that it was meant to have a serious effect on our actual behaviour. Modern scepticism subverts only knowledge, ancient also subverts belief, so that we neither believe nor disbelieve that e.g. the fire will burn us, but 'suspend judgment' (I&G p.303 §8). Also, ancient scepticism, like all ancient philosophies but unlike modern, was linked to the search for happiness (in this case, 'freedom from disturbance'; cf. Epicurus). 2. Scepticism and the love of knowledge (p.304 §12, p.307-8 §25-29) 2.1 Sceptics, no less than Platonists or Aristotelians, are disturbed by their own ignorance, and seek to discover truth and so assuage the disturbance (scepticism is 'investigative', p.303 §7; p.304 §12). 2.2
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This note was uploaded on 06/08/2008 for the course CLASSIC 36 taught by Professor Ferrari during the Spring '08 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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