Leo Horovitz's Reviews > Ancient Scepticism

Ancient Scepticism by Harald Thorsrud
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May 22, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: wishlist, philosophy, history, history-of-philosophy, philosophical-scepticism, non-fiction, antiquity
Read from July 14 to 18, 2011 , read count: 1

A very nice a seemingly comprehensive (hard to judge not being that knowledgeable in the subject prior to reading this) presentation of the different strands of skepticism existing in the ancient world, their histories and interrelatedness. Beginning with Pyrrho and the start of skepticism, the tale goes through the continually modified strands of skepticism taken up by the Academy and its continuing relation to Stoicism, through the attempted arrival of the original form of skepticism by Aenesidemus, and ending with Sextus Empiricus.

As with the other books in the series, the presentation is largely chronological, with lots of references to how the particular school of philosophy currently dealt with related to other contemporary schools as well as how one can find influences and similar lines of thought in thinkers living many centuries later. The presentation is by no means plainly historical though, arguments in favor of as well as in opposition of, skepticism are presented and dealt with fairly in-depth. Different interpretations of statements are presented, metaphysical, epistemological and logical issues are brought up, and even though no particular stand point regarding the philosophy is reached (which is perhaps only natural given the nature of skepticism), it is not simply presented in a dispassionate way. The arguments are dealt with and presented in at least a semblance of the dialectical approach presented as being the method of choice for the skeptics (inherited from Socrates) that are the subject of the book.

The style of writing is straight forward and vivid, making the book a simple read as far as the language is concerned, but a bit of general knowledge about the philosophy of antiquity is probably needed to keep track of all the other schools of thought that are presented, contrasted to and compared with skepticism.

A recommended read for anyone interested in philosophy who has had at least a brief introduction to the history of the subject prior to reading this.
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