Friday, January 30, 2015


““Don’t judge!” is the smartest position
To take on the human condition.”
So the skeptic averred,
Wanting this, her last word,
To serve as a sure proposition.

Note: Pyrrho of Elis and his followers (Pyrrhonian Skeptics, notably Aenesidemus and Sextus Empiricus) strove for a kind of mental tranquility that could be produced, they thought, by putting appearances and/or thoughts in opposition, creating a kind of equipollence that leads to mental stasis or suspension of judgment that is itself tranquility-conferring.  Pyrrhonian Skeptics railed against dogmatism.  The main problem for any Pyrrhonian, of course, is that if she wants to preserve the internal consistency of her theory, she will need to suspend judgment about the truth of her own philosophical theory (or whatever it is that is supposed to serve as the ground or basis of her recommendations for achieving tranquility of mind).  She will then be a Skeptic who suspends judgment about the truth of Skepticism.  Some Pyrrhonian Skeptics might think that the best way around this problem is not to put Skepticism forward as a theory or recipe (thanks to UCSD graduate student, Andrew Wong, for this suggestion), but to simply deploy Skeptical arguments that are designed to produce equipollence in response to any dogmatic claim.  Skepticism now becomes no more than a method for producing mental tranquility.  But now the problem is that if you ask the Skeptic why she is trying to produce tranquility or what she thinks the best way of producing tranquility is, she will not be able to offer you a theory in reply.  This is a strangely unsatisfying philosophical stance.    

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