The influence of Pyrrho of Elis and the Pyrrhonian praxis of aporetic language

Dupuis, Christopher Craig (2014) The influence of Pyrrho of Elis and the Pyrrhonian praxis of aporetic language. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis aims to develop a specific understanding of Pyrrhonian scepticism that follows an analysis of ancient scepticism as it began to form in the teachings of Pyrrho of Elis, moved into the Academy, and reached its greatest clarity in Sextus Empiricus. The focus of the thesis is to expose an understanding of Pyrrhonism as offering an approach to finding a less troubled life by way of habitual alteration of everyday language. The discussion of Pyrrho centers on several key passages that indicate a specific attitude towards the human condition, towards the way beliefs are generated, and towards the way language can be utilized to refine the generation of beliefs. Further, comparisons are made between Pyrrho and Plato regarding aporia and how central uncertainty and wisdom through awareness of ignorance were to both of these thinkers. Turning to the Academic tradition, the thesis strives to underscore the unargumentative, ascetic aspect of Pyrrhonian scepticism by showing the fundamental differences between the ascetic, language oriented Pyrrhonians, and the eristic, argumentative Academics. Looking at Arcesilaus and then Carneades as examples of the Academic tradition, it is shown how the focus on finding the untroubled life as well as the language praxis found in Pyrrho’s teaching are diminished and supplanted by dialectical argument. The final chapter briefly examines the revival of Pyrrhonism by Aenesidemus, showing that he appeared to be aware of the language practice that Pyrrho espoused, as well as the tangent that Academic scepticism took from Pyrrho’s original intentions for living a less troubled life. A detailed discussion of Sextus Empiricus is contained in the third chapter, which revolves around a treatment of the five tropes of Agrippa, includes an explanation of several concepts key to understanding Sextus and an elucidation of the sceptical utterances central to the linguistic practice that has once again been reinstated. Ultimately Pyrrhonism is found to be a philosophy of revealed experience, such that she who wishes to live a more tranquil life needs to practice what Pyrrhonism teaches in order to experience its effects, beginning with aporia and epoche, and ending fortuitously in ataraxia.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 8076
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 170-172).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: May 2014
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Philosophy

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