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“The truth is hypothetical.”Scepticism (or skepticism), the belief that requires all information to be well supported by evidence, originated in the Skeptikoi, a first century BC Greek school who “asserted nothing.” The school was founded by Aenesidemus; our main source of the school’s teachings is Sextus Empiricus and the leader of the Sceptics was Pyrrho of Elis (365-275 BC) who had traveled to India and studied with the gymnosophists (naked lovers of wisdom). From India, Pyrrho brought back the idea that nothing can be known for certain. The senses are easily fooled, and reason follows too easily our desires. Along with Stoicism and Epicureanism, Scepticism was one of the three dominant schools of Hellenistic Philosophy. A sextet of sceptic texts has been collected in Stoic Six Pack 4 – The Sceptics: Pyrrhonic Sketches by Sextus Empiricus Life of Pyrrho by Diogenes Laërtius Sextus Empiricus and Greek Scepticism by Mary Mills Patrick The Greek Sceptics: from Pyrrho to Sextus by Norman MacColl Stoics and Sceptics by Edwyn Bevan Life of Carneades by Diogenes Laërtius A key concept for the sceptics was ataraxia ("tranquility"), a Greek term used by Pyrrho to describe a lucid state of robust tranquility, characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry. By applying ideas of what he called "practical skepticism" to Ethics and to life in general, Pyrrho concluded that ataraxia could be achieved. Arriving at a state of ataraxia became the ultimate goal of the early Skeptikoi.“Skepticism is the first step toward truth.”
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STOIC SIX PACK 4
Mary Mills Patrick
Stoic Six Pack 4 – The Sceptics by Sextus Empiricus, Diogenes Laërtius, Mary Mills Patrick, Norman MacColl and Edwyn Bevan.
Printed in the United States of America.
First printing, 2015.
Enhanced Media Publishing.
Copyright © Enhanced Media 2015.
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Pyrrhonic Sketches by Sextus Empiricus. Translated by Mary Mills Patrick. First published in 1889.
Sextus Empiricus and Greek Scepticism by Mary Mills Patrick. First published in 1889.
Life of Pyrrho by Diogenes Laërtius. Translated by Robert Drew Hicks. First published in 1925.
The Greek Sceptics: From Pyrrho to Sextus by Normal MacColl. First published as The Greek Sceptics, from Pyrrho to Sextus, an essay by Norman MacColl in 1869.
Stoics and Sceptics by Edwyn Bevan. First published as Stoics and Sceptics - Four lectures delivered in Oxford during
Hilary term 1913 for the common university fund by Edwyn Bevan in 1880.
Life of Carneades by Diogenes Laërtius. Translated by Robert Drew Hicks. First published in 1925.
The Principal Differences between Philosophers
Ways of Treating Scepticism
The Nomenclature of Scepticism
What is Scepticism?
The Origin of Scepticism
Does the Sceptic Dogmatize?
Is Scepticism a Sect?
Does the Sceptic Study Natural Science?
Do the Sceptics deny Phenomena?
The Criterion of Scepticism
What is the aim of Scepticism?
The General Method of Scepticism
The Ten Tropes
The Five Tropes
The Two Tropes
What are the Tropes for the overturning of Aetiology?
The Sceptical Formulae
The Formula "No more."
"Perhaps," and "It is possible," and "It may be."
The Suspension of Judgment
The Formula "I determine Nothing."
The Formula "Every thing is Undetermined."
The Formula "Every thing is Incomprehensible."
General Observations on the Formulae of the Sceptics
In what does the Sceptical School differ from the Philosophy of Heraclitus?
In what does the Sceptical School differ from the Philosophy of Democritus?
In what does Scepticism differ from the Cyrenaic Philosophy?
In what does Scepticism differ from the Philosophy of Protagoras?
In what does Scepticism differ from the Academic Philosophy?
Is Empiricism in Medicine the same as Scepticism?
SEXTUS EMPIRICUS AND GREEK SCEPTICISM
By Mary Mills Patrick
The Historical Relations of Sextus Empiricus
The Position and Aim of Pyrrhonism
The Sceptical Tropes
Aenesidemus and the Philosophy of Heraclitus
Critical Examination of Pyrrhonism
LIFE OF PYRRHO
By Diogenes Laërtius
THE GREEK SCEPTICS:
FROM PYRRHO TO SEXTUS
PYRRHO AND TIMON
THE NEW ACADEMY
THE LATER SCEPTICS
THE PYRRHONEANS AND NEW ACADEMY CONTRASTED
STOICS AND SCEPTICS
ZENO AND THE STOA
THE STOA (continued)
LIFE OF CARNEADES
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Roman marble bust of Epicurus
Small bronze bust of Epicurus from Herculaneum
The Nuremburg Chronicle
Plutarch (c. AD 46 – AD 120)
Democritus (center) and Protagoras (right)
Democritus by Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1628
Posidonius (c. 135 BCE – c. 51 BCE)
It is probable that those who seek after anything whatever, will either find it as they continue the search, will deny that it can be found and confess it to be out of reach, or will go on seeking it. Some have said, accordingly, in regard to the things sought in philosophy, that they have found the truth, while others have declared it impossible to find, and still others continue to seek it. Those who think that they have found it are those who are especially called Dogmatics, as for example, the Schools of Aristotle and Epicurus, the Stoics and some others. Those who have declared it impossible to find are Clitomachus, Carneades, with their respective followers, and other Academicians. Those who still seek it are the Sceptics. It appears therefore, reasonable to conclude that the three principal kinds of philosophy are the Dogmatic, the Academic, and the Sceptic. Others may suitably treat of the other Schools, but as for the Sceptical School, we shall now give an outline of it, remarking in advance that in respect to nothing that will be said do we speak positively, that it must be absolutely so, but we shall state each thing historically as it now appears to us.
One way of treating the Sceptical philosophy is called general, and the other special. The general method is that by which we set forth the character of Scepticism, declaring what its idea is, what its principles are, its mode of reasoning, its criterion, and its aim. It presents also, the aspects of doubt and the way in which we should understand the Sceptical formulae, and the distinction between Scepticism and the related Schools of philosophy. The special method, on the contrary, is that by which we speak against each part of so-called philosophy. Let us then treat Scepticism at first in the general way, beginning our delineation with the nomenclature of the Sceptical School.
The Sceptical School is also called the "Seeking School," from its spirit of research and examination; the "Suspending School," from the condition of mind in which one is left after the search, in regard to the things that he has examined; and the "Doubting School," either because, as some say, the Sceptics doubt and are seeking in regard to everything, or because they never know whether to deny or affirm. It is also called the Pyrrhonean School, because Pyrrho appears to us the best representative of Scepticism, and is more prominent than all who before him occupied themselves with it.
The goal of the Sceptical School is to place the phenomenal in opposition to the intellectual "in any way whatever," and thus through the equilibrium of the reasons and things opposed to each other, to reach, first the state of suspension of judgment and afterwards that of imperturbability. By the phenomenal, we understand the sensible, hence we place the intellectual in opposition to it. The phrase "in any way whatever," may refer to the placing the phenomenal and intellectual in opposition. For we place these in opposition to each other in a variety of ways, the phenomenal to the phenomenal, and the intellectual to the intellectual, or reciprocally, and we say "in any way whatever," in order that all methods of opposition may be included. Or "in any way whatever" may refer to the phenomenal and the intellectual, so that we need not ask how does the phenomenal appear, or how are the thoughts conceived, but that we may understand these things in a simple sense.
By "reasons opposed to each other," we do not by any means understand that they deny or affirm anything, but simply that they offset each other. By equilibrium, we mean equality in regard to trustworthiness and untrustworthiness, so that of the reasons that are placed in opposition to each other, one should not excel another in trustworthiness.
What is meant by a Pyrrhonean philosopher can be understood from the idea of the Sceptical School. He is a Pyrrhonean, namely, who identifies himself with this system.
Scepticism arose in the beginning from the hope of attaining ataraxia; for men of the greatest talent were perplexed by the contradiction of things, and being at a loss what to believe, began to question what things are true, and what false, hoping to attain ataraxia as a result of the decision. The fundamental principle of the Sceptical system is especially this, namely, to oppose every argument by one of equal weight, for it seems to us that in this way we finally reach the position where we have no dogmas.
We say that the Sceptic does not dogmatize. We do not say this, meaning by the word dogma the popular assent to certain things rather than others (for the Sceptic does assent to feelings that are a necessary result of sensation, as for example, when he is warm or cold, he cannot say that he thinks he is not warm or cold), but we say this, meaning by dogma the acceptance of any opinion in regard to the unknown things investigated by science. For the Pyrrhonean assents to nothing that is unknown. Furthermore, he does not dogmatize even when he utters the Sceptical formulae in regard to things that are unknown, such as "Nothing more," or "I decide nothing," or any of the others about which we shall speak later. For the one who dogmatizes regards the thing about which he is said to dogmatize, as existing in itself; the Sceptic does not however regard these formulae as having an absolute existence, for he assumes that the saying "All is false," includes itself with other things as false, and likewise the saying "Nothing is true"; in the same way "Nothing more," states that together with other things it itself is nothing more, and cancels itself therefore, as well as other things. We say the same also in regard to the other Sceptical expressions. In short, if he who dogmatizes, assumes as existing in itself that about which he dogmatizes, the Sceptic, on the contrary, expresses his sayings in such a way that they are understood to be themselves included, and it cannot be said that he dogmatizes in saying these things. The principal thing in uttering these formulae is that he says what appears to him, and communicates his own feelings in an unprejudiced way, without asserting anything in regard to external objects.
We respond in a similar way if we are asked whether Scepticism is a sect or not. If the word sect is defined as meaning a body of persons who hold dogmas which are in conformity with each other, and also with phenomena, and dogma means an assent to anything that is unknown, then we reply that we have no sect. If, however, one means by sect, a school which follows a certain line of reasoning based on phenomena, and that reasoning shows how it is possible to apparently live rightly, not understanding "rightly" as referring to virtue only, but in a broader sense; if, also, it leads one to be able to suspend the judgment, then we reply that we have a sect. For we follow a certain kind of reasoning which is based upon phenomena, and which shows us how to live according to the habits, laws, and teachings of the fatherland, and our own feelings.
We reply similarly also to the question whether the Sceptic should study natural science. For we do not study natural science in order to express ourselves with confidence regarding any of the dogmas that it teaches, but we take it up in order to be able to meet every argument by one of equal weight, and also for the sake of ataraxia. In the same way we study the logical and ethical part of so-called philosophy.
Those who say that the Sceptics deny phenomena appear to me to be in ignorance of our teachings. For as we said before, we do not deny the sensations which we think we have, and which lead us to assent involuntarily to them, and these are the phenomena. When, however, we ask whether the object is such as it appears to be, while we concede that it appears so and so, we question, not the phenomenon, but in regard to that which is asserted of the phenomenon, and that is different from doubting the phenomenon itself. For example, it appears to us that honey is sweet. This we concede, for we experience sweetness through sensation. We doubt, however, whether it is sweet by reason of its essence, which is not a question of the phenomenon, but of that which is asserted of the phenomenon. Should we, however, argue directly against the phenomena, it is not with the intention of denying their existence, but to show the rashness of the Dogmatics. For if reasoning is such a deceiver that it well-nigh snatches away the phenomena from before your eyes, how should we not distrust it in regard to things that are unknown, so as not to rashly follow it?
It is evident that we pay careful attention to phenomena from what we say about the criterion of the Sceptical School. The word criterion is used in two ways. First, it is understood as a proof of existence or non-existence, in regard to which we shall speak in the opposing argument. Secondly, when it refers to action, meaning the criterion to which we give heed in life, in doing some things and refraining from doing others, and it is about this that we shall now speak. We say, consequently, that the criterion of the Sceptical School is the phenomenon, and in calling it so, we mean the idea of it. It cannot be doubted, as it is based upon susceptibility and involuntary feeling. Hence no one doubts, perhaps, that an object appears so and so, but one questions if it is as it appears.
Therefore, as we cannot be entirely inactive as regards the observances of daily life, we live by giving heed to phenomena, and in an unprejudiced way. But this observance of what pertains to the daily life, appears to be of four different kinds. Sometimes it is directed by the guidance of nature, sometimes by the necessity of the feelings, sometimes by the tradition of laws and of customs, and sometimes by the teaching of the arts. It is directed by the guidance of nature, for by nature we are capable of sensation and thought; by the necessity of the feelings, for hunger leads us to food, and thirst to drink; by the traditions of laws and customs, for according to them we consider piety a good in daily life, and impiety an evil; by the teaching of the arts, for we are not inactive in the arts we undertake. We say all these things, however, without expressing a decided opinion.
It follows naturally in order to treat of the aim of the Sceptical School. An aim is that for which as an end all things are done or thought, itself depending on nothing, or in other words, it is the ultimatum of things to be desired.
For as soon as he began to philosophise he wished to discriminate between ideas, and to understand which are true and which are false. He met, however, with contradictions of equal weight, and, being unable to judge, he withheld his opinion; and while his judgment was in suspension ἀταραξία followed, as if by chance, in regard to matters of opinion. For he who is of the opinion that anything is either good or bad by nature is always troubled, and when he does not possess those things that seem to him good he thinks that he is tortured by the things which are by nature bad, and pursues those that he thinks to be good. Having acquired them, however, he falls into greater perturbation, because he is excited beyond reason and without measure from fear of a change, and he does everything in his power to retain the things that seem to him good.
But he who is undecided, on the contrary, regarding things that are good and bad by nature, neither seeks nor avoids anything eagerly. For that which is related of Apelles the painter happened to the Sceptic. It is said that as he was once painting a horse he wished to represent the foam of his mouth in the picture, but he could not succeed in doing so, and he gave it up and threw the sponge at the picture with which he had wiped the colors from the painting. As soon, however, as it touched the picture it produced a good copy of the foam.
Nevertheless, we do not consider the Sceptic wholly undisturbed, but he is disturbed by some things that are inevitable. We confess that sometimes he is cold and thirsty, and that he suffers in such ways. But in these things even the ignorant are beset in two ways, from the feelings themselves, and not less also from the fact that they think these conditions are bad by nature. The Sceptic, however, escapes more easily, as he rejects the opinion that anything is in itself bad by nature. Therefore we say that the aim of the Sceptic is ἀταραξία in matters of opinion, and moderation of feeling in those things that are inevitable. Some notable Sceptics have added also suspension of judgment in investigation.
It behooves us to explain how the suspension of judgment takes place. Speaking in general it takes place through placing things in opposition to each other. We either place phenomena in opposition to phenomena, or the intellectual in opposition to the intellectual, or reciprocally. For example, we place phenomena in opposition to phenomena when we say that this tower appears round from a distance but square nearby; the intellectual in opposition to the intellectual, when to the one who from the order of the heavens builds a tower of reasoning to prove that a providence exists, we oppose the fact that adversity often falls to the good and prosperity to the evil, and that therefore we draw the conclusion that there is no providence.
The intellectual is placed in opposition to phenomena, as when Anaxagoras opposed the fact that snow is white, by saying that snow is frozen water, and, as water is black, snow must also be black. Likewise we sometimes place the present in opposition to the present, similarly to the above-mentioned cases, and sometimes also the present in opposition to the past or the future. As for example, when someone proposes an argument to us that we cannot refute, we say to him, "Before the founder of the sect to which you belong was born, the argument which you propose in accordance with it had not appeared as a valid argument, but was dormant in nature, so in the same way it is possible that its refutation also exists in nature, but has not yet appeared to us, so that it is not at all necessary for us to agree with an argument that now seems to be strong." In order to make it clearer to us what we mean by these oppositions, I will proceed to give the Tropes, through which the suspension of judgment is produced, without asserting anything about their meaning or their number, because they may be unsound, or there may be more than I shall enumerate.
Certain Tropes were commonly handed down by the older Sceptics. They are ten in number. The first is based upon the differences in animals; the second upon the differences in men; the third upon the difference in the constitution of the organs of sense; the fourth upon circumstances; the fifth upon position, distance, and place; the sixth upon mixtures; the seventh upon the quantity and constitution of objects; the eighth upon relation; the ninth upon frequency or rarity of occurrences; the tenth upon systems, customs, laws, mythical beliefs, and dogmatic opinions. We make this order ourselves. These Tropes come under three general heads: the standpoint of the judge, the standpoint of the thing judged, and the standpoint of both together. Under the standpoint of the judge come the first four, for the judge is either an animal, or a man, or a sense, and exists under certain circumstances. Under the standpoint of that which is judged, come the seventh and the tenth. Under the one composed of both together, come the fifth and the sixth, the eighth and the ninth. Again, these three divisions are included under the Trope of relation, because that is the most general one; it includes the three special divisions, and these in turn include the ten. We say these things in regard to their probable number, and we proceed in the following chapter to speak of their meaning.
THE FIRST TROPE
The first Trope, we said, is the one based upon the differences in animals, and according to this Trope, different animals do not get the same ideas of the same objects through the senses. This we conclude from the different origin of the animals, and also from the difference in the constitution of their bodies. In regard to the difference in origin, some animals originate without mixture of the sexes, while others originate through sexual intercourse. Of those which originate without intercourse of the sexes, some come from fire, as the little animals which appear in the chimneys, others from stagnant water, as mosquitoes, others from fermented wine, as the stinging ants, others from the earth, others from the mud, like the frogs, others from slime, as the worms, others from donkeys, as the beetles, others from cabbage, as caterpillars, others from fruit, as the gall insect from the wild figs, others from putrefied animals, as bees from bulls, and wasps from horses. Again, of those originating from intercourse of the sexes, some come from animals of the same kind, as in most cases, and others from those of different kinds, as mules.
Again, of animals in general, some are born alive, as men, others from eggs, as birds, and others are born a lump of flesh, as bears. It is probable therefore, that the inequalities and differences in origin cause great antipathies in the animals, and the result is incompatibility, discord, and conflict between the sensations of the different animals. Again, the differences in the principal parts of the body, especially in those fitted by nature to judge and to perceive, may cause the greatest differences in their ideas of objects, according to the differences in the animals themselves. As for example, those who have the jaundice call that yellow which appears to us white, and those who have bloodshot eyes call it blood-red. Accordingly, as some animals have yellow eyes, and others blood-shot ones, and still others whitish ones, and others eyes of other colors, it is probable, I think, that they have a different perception of colors. Furthermore, when we look steadily at the sun for a long time, and then look down at a book, the letters seem to us gold colored, and dance around. Now some animals have by nature a lustre in their eyes, and these emit a fine and sparkling light so that they see at night, and we may reasonably suppose that external things do not appear the same to them as to us. Jugglers by lightly rubbing the wick of the lamp with metal rust, or with the dark yellow fluid of the sepia, make those who are present appear now copper-colored and now black, according to the amount of the mixture used; if this be so it is much more reasonable to suppose that because of the mixture of different fluids in the eyes of animals, their ideas of objects would be different.
Furthermore, when we press the eye on the side, the figures, forms and sizes of things seen appear elongated and narrow. It is therefore probable that such animals as have the pupil oblique and long, as goats, cats, and similar animals, have ideas different from those of the animals which have a round pupil. Mirrors according to their different construction, sometimes show the external object smaller than reality, as concave ones, and sometimes long and narrow, as the convex ones do; others show the head of the one looking into it down, and the feet up.
As some of the vessels around the eye fall entirely outside the eye, on account of their protuberance, while others are more sunken, and still others are placed in an even surface, it is probable that for this reason also the ideas vary, and dogs, fishes, lions, men, and grasshoppers do not see the same things, either of the same size, or of similar form, but according to the impression on the organ of sight of each animal respectively.
The same thing is true in regard to the other senses; for how can it be said that shell-fish, birds of prey, animals covered with spines, those with feathers and those with scales would be affected in the same way by the sense of touch? and how can the sense of hearing perceive alike in animals which have the narrowest auditory passages, and in those that are furnished with the widest, or in those with hairy ears and those with smooth ones? For we, even, hear differently when we partially stop up the ears, from what we do when we use them naturally.
The sense of smell also varies according to differences in animals, since even our sense of smell is affected when we have taken cold and the phlegm is too abundant, and also when parts around our head are flooded with too much blood, for we then avoid odors that seem agreeable to others, and feel as if we were injured by them. Since also some of the animals are moist by nature and full of secretions, and others are very full of blood, and still others have either yellow or black bile prevalent and abundant, it is reasonable because of this to think that odorous things appear different to each one of them.
And it is the same in regard to things of taste, as some animals have the tongue rough and dry and others very moist. We too, when we have a dry tongue in fever, think that whatever we take is gritty, bad tasting, or bitter; and this we experience because of the varying degrees of the humors that are said to be in us. Since, then, different animals have different organs for taste, and a greater or less amount of the various humors, it can well be that they form different ideas of the same objects as regards their taste. For just as the same food on being absorbed becomes in some places veins, in other places arteries, and in other places bones, nerves, or other tissues, showing different power according to the difference of the parts receiving it; just as the same water absorbed by the trees becomes in some places bark, in other places branches, and in other places fruit, perhaps a fig or a pomegranate, or something else; just as the breath of the musician, one and the same when blown into the flute, becomes sometimes a high tone and sometimes a low one, and the same pressure of the hand upon the lyre sometimes causes a deep tone and sometimes a high tone, so it is natural to suppose that external objects are regarded differently according to the different constitution of the animals which perceive them.
We may see this more clearly in the things that are sought for and avoided by animals. For example, myrrh appears very agreeable to men and intolerable to beetles and bees. Oil also, which is useful to men, destroys wasps and bees if sprinkled on them; and sea-water, while it is unpleasant and poisonous to men if they drink it, is most agreeable and sweet to fishes. Swine also prefer to wash in vile filth rather than in pure clean water. Furthermore, some animals eat grass and some eat herbs; some live in the woods, others eat seeds; some are carnivorous, and others lactivorous; some enjoy putrefied food, and others fresh food; some raw food and others that which is prepared by cooking; and in general that which is agreeable to some is disagreeable and fatal to others, and should be avoided by them.
Thus hemlock makes the quail fat, and henbane the hogs, and these, as it is known, enjoy eating lizards; deer also eat poisonous animals, and swallows, the cantharidae. Moreover, ants and flying ants, when swallowed by men, cause discomfort and colic; but the bear, on the contrary, whatever sickness he may have, becomes stronger by devouring them. The viper is benumbed if one twig of the oak touches it, as is also the bat by a leaf of the plane-tree. The elephant flees before the ram, and the lion before the cock, and seals from the rattling of beans that are being pounded, and the tiger from the sound of the drum.
Many other examples could be given, but that we may not seem to dwell longer than is necessary on this subject, we conclude by saying that since the same things are pleasant to some and unpleasant to others, and the pleasure and displeasure depend on the ideas, it must be that different animals have different ideas of objects. And since the same things appear different according to the difference in the animals, it will be possible for us to say how the external object appears to us, but as to how it is in reality we shall suspend our judgment. For we cannot ourselves judge between our own ideas and those of other animals, being ourselves involved in the difference, and therefore much more in need of being judged than being ourselves able to judge.
And furthermore, we cannot give the preference to our own mental representations over those of other animals, either without evidence or with evidence, for besides the fact that perhaps there is no evidence, as we shall show, the evidence so called will be either manifest to us or not. If it is not manifest to us, then we cannot accept it with conviction; if it is manifest to us, since the question is in regard to what is manifest to animals, and we use as evidence that which is manifest to us who are animals, then it is to be questioned if it is true as it is manifest to us. It is absurd, however, to try to base the questionable on the questionable, because the same thing is to be believed and not to be believed, which is certainly impossible. The evidence is to be believed in so far as it will furnish a proof, and disbelieved in so far as it is itself to be proved. We shall therefore have no evidence according to which we can give preference to our own ideas over those of so-called irrational animals. Since therefore ideas differ according to the difference in animals, and it is impossible to judge them, it is necessary to suspend the judgment in regard to external objects.
HAVE THE SO-CALLED IRRATIONAL ANIMALS REASON?
We continue the comparison of the so-called irrational animals with man, although it is needless to do so, for in truth we do not refuse to hold up to ridicule the conceited and bragging Dogmatics, after having given the practical arguments. Now most of our number were accustomed to compare all the irrational animals together with man, but because the Dogmatics playing upon words say that the comparison is unequal, we carry our ridicule farther, although it is most superfluous to do so, and fix the discussion on one animal, as the dog, if it suits you, which seems to be the most contemptible animal; for we shall even then find that animals, about which we are speaking, are not inferior to us in respect to the trustworthiness of their perceptions.
Now the Dogmatics grant that this animal is superior to us in sense perception, for he perceives better through smell than we, as by this sense he tracks wild animals that he cannot see, and he sees them quicker with his eyes than we do, and he perceives them more acutely by hearing. Let us also consider reasoning, which is of two kinds, reasoning in thought and in speech. Let us look first to that of thought. This kind of reasoning, judging from the teachings of those Dogmatics who are now our greatest opponents, those of the Stoa, seems to fluctuate between the following things: the choice of the familiar, and avoidance of the alien; the knowledge of the arts that lead to this choice; and the comprehension of those virtues that belong to the individual nature, as regards the feelings. The dog then, upon whom it was decided to fix the argument as an example, makes a choice of things suitable to him, and avoids those that are harmful, for he hunts for food, but draws back when the whip is lifted up; he possesses also an art by which he procures the things that are suitable for him, the art of hunting. He is not also without virtue; since the true nature of justice is to give to every one according to his merit, as the dog wags his tail to those who belong to the family, and to those who behave well to him, guards them, and keeps off strangers and evil doers, he is surely not without justice.
Now if he has this virtue, since the virtues follow each other in turn, he has the other virtues also, which the wise men say, most men do not possess. We see the dog also brave in warding off attacks, and sagacious, as Homer testified when he represented Odysseus as unrecognised by all in his house, and recognised only by Argos, because the dog was not deceived by the physical change in the man. But according to Chrysippus even, who most attacked the irrational animals, the dog takes a part in the dialectic about which so much is said.
At any rate, the man above referred to said that the dog follows the fifth of the several non-apodictic syllogisms, for when he comes to a meeting of three roads, after seeking the scent in the two roads, through which his prey has not passed, he presses forward quickly in the third without scenting it. For the dog reasons in this way, potentially said the man of olden time; the animal passed through this, or this, or this; it was neither through this nor this, therefore it was through this. The dog also understands his own sufferings and mitigates them.
As soon as a sharp stick is thrust into him, he sets out to remove it, by rubbing his foot on the ground, as also with his teeth; and if ever he has a wound anywhere, for the reason that uncleansed wounds are difficult to cure, and those that are cleansed are easily cured, he gently wipes off the collected matter; and he observes the Hippocratic advice exceedingly well, for since quiet is a relief for the foot, if he has ever a wound in the foot, he lifts it up, and keeps it undisturbed as much as possible. When he is troubled by disturbing humours, he eats grass, with which he vomits up that which was unfitting, and recovers. Since therefore it has been shown that the animal that we fixed the argument upon for the sake of an example, chooses that which is suitable for him, and avoids what is harmful, and that he has an art by which he provides what is suitable, and that he comprehends his own sufferings and mitigates them, and that he is not without virtue, things in which perfection of reasoning in thought consists, so according to this it would seem that the dog has reached perfection. It is for this reason, it appears to me, that some philosophers have honoured themselves with the name of this animal. In regard to reasoning in speech, it is not necessary at present to bring the matter in question. For some of the Dogmatics, even, have put this aside, as opposing the acquisition of virtue, for which reason they practiced silence when studying. Besides, let it be supposed that a man is dumb, no one would say that he is consequently irrational.
However, aside from this, we see after all, that animals, about which we are speaking, do produce human sounds, as the jay and some others. Aside from this also, even if we do not understand the sounds of the so-called irrational animals, it is not at all unlikely that they converse, and that we do not understand their conversation. For when we hear the language of foreigners, we do not understand but it all seems like one sound to us. Furthermore, we hear dogs giving out one kind of sound when they are resisting someone, and another sound when they howl, and another when they are beaten, and a different kind when they wag their tails, and generally speaking, if one examines into this, he will find a great difference in the sounds of this and other animals under different circumstances; so that in all likelihood, it may be said that the so-called irrational animals partake also in spoken language. If then, they are not inferior to men in the accuracy of their perceptions, nor in reasoning in thought, nor in reasoning by speech, as it is superfluous to say, then they are not more untrustworthy than we are, it seems to me, in regard to their ideas. Perhaps it would be possible to prove this, should we direct the argument to each of the irrational animals in turn. As for example, who would not say that the birds are distinguished for shrewdness, and make use of articulate speech? for they not only know the present but the future, and this they augur to those that are able to understand it, audibly as well as in other ways. I have made this comparison superfluously, as I pointed out above, as I think I had sufficiently shown before, that we cannot consider our own ideas superior to those of the irrational animals. In short, if the irrational animals are not more untrustworthy than we in regard to the judgment of their ideas, and the ideas are different according to the difference in the animals, I shall be able to say how each object appears to me, but in regard to what it is by nature I shall be obliged to suspend my judgment.
THE SECOND TROPE
Such is the first Trope. The second, we said above, is based upon the differences in men. For even if one assent to the hypothesis that men are more trustworthy than the irrational animals, we shall find that doubt arises as soon as we consider our own differences. For since man is said to be composed of two things, soul and body, we differ from each other in respect to both of these things; for example, as regards the body, we differ both in form and personal peculiarities. For the body of a Scythian differs from the body of an Indian in form, the difference resulting, it is said, from the different control of the humors.
According to different control of the humors, differences in ideas arise also, as we represented under the first Trope. For this reason there is certainly a great difference among men in the choice and avoidance of external things. The Indians delight in different things from our own people, and the enjoyment of different things is a sign that different ideas are received of the external objects. We differ in personal peculiarities, as some digest beef better than the little fish from rocky places, and some are affected with purging by the weak wine of Lesbos.
There was, they say, an old woman in Attica who could drink thirty drachmas of hemlock without danger, and Lysis took four drachmas of opium unhurt, and Demophon, Alexander's table waiter, shivered when he was in the sun or in a hot bath, and felt warm in the shade; Athenagoras also, from Argos, did not suffer harm if stung by scorpions and venomous spiders; the so-called Psylli were not injured when bitten by snakes or by the aspis, and the Tentyrites among the Egyptians are not harmed by the crocodiles around them; those also of the Ethiopians who live on the Hydaspes river, opposite Meroe, eat scorpions and serpents, and similar things without danger; Rufinus in Chalcis could drink hellebore without vomiting or purging, and he enjoyed and digested it as something to which he was accustomed; Chrysermos, the Herophilian, ran the risk of stomach-ache if he ever took pepper, and Soterichus, the surgeon, was seized by purging if he perceived the odor of roasting shad; Andron, the Argive, was so free from thirst that he could travel even through the waterless Libya without looking for a drink; Tiberius, the emperor, saw in the dark, and Aristotle tells the story of a certain Thracian, who thought that he saw the figure of a man always going before him as a guide.
While therefore such a difference exists in men in regard to the body, and we must be satisfied with referring to a few only of the many examples given by the Dogmatics, it is probable that men also differ from each other in respect to the soul itself, for the body is a kind of type of the soul, as the physiognomical craft also shows.
The best example of the numerous and infinite differences of opinion among men is the contradiction in the sayings of the Dogmatics, not only about other things, but about what it is well to seek and to avoid. The poets have also fittingly spoken about this, for Pindar said—
"One delights in getting honors and crowns through storm-footed horses,
Another in passing life in rooms rich in gold,
Another still, safe travelling enjoys, in a swift ship, on a wave of the sea."
And the poet says—
"One man enjoys this, another enjoys that."
The tragedies also abound in such expressions, for instance, it is said—
"If to all, the same were good and wise,
Quarrels and disputes among men would not have been."
"It is awful indeed, that the same thing some mortals should please,
And by others be hated."
Since therefore the choice and the avoidance of things, depends on the pleasure and displeasure which they give, and the pleasure and displeasure have their seat in perception and ideas, when some choose the things that others avoid, it is logical for us to conclude that they are not acted upon similarly by the same things, for otherwise they would have chosen or avoided alike. Now if the same things act upon different men differently, on account of the difference in the men, for this cause also suspension of the judgment may reasonably be introduced, and we may perhaps say how each object appears to us, and what its individual differences are, but we shall not be able to declare what it is as to the nature of its essence.
For we must either believe all men or some men; but to believe all is to undertake an impossibility, and to accept things that are in opposition to each other. If we believe some only, let someone tell us with whom to agree, for the Platonist would say with Plato, the Epicurean with Epicurus, and others would advise in a corresponding manner; and so as they disagree, with no one to decide, they bring us round again to the suspension of judgment.
Furthermore, he who tells us to agree with the majority proposes something childish, as no one could go to all men and find out what pleases the majority, for it is possible that in some nations which we do not know the things which to us are rare are common to the majority, and those things which happen commonly to us are rare. As for example, it might happen that the majority should not suffer when bitten by venomous spiders, or that they should seldom feel pain, or have other personal peculiarities similar to those spoken of above. It is necessary therefore to suspend the judgment on account of the differences in men.
THE THIRD TROPE
While, however, the Dogmatics are conceited enough to think that they should be preferred to other men in the judgement of things, we know that their claim is absurd, for they themselves form a part of the disagreement; and if they give themselves preference in this way in the judgment of phenomena, they beg the question before they begin the judgment, as they trust the judgment to themselves. Nevertheless, in order that we should reach the result of the suspension of judgment by limiting the argument to one man, one who for example they deem to be wise, let us take up the third Trope. This is the one that is based upon differences in perception. That the perceptions differ from each other is evident. For example, paintings seem to have hollows and prominences to the sense of sight, but not to the sense of touch, and honey to the tongue of some people appears pleasant, but unpleasant to the eyes; therefore it is impossible to say whether it is really pleasant or unpleasant. In regard to myrrh it is the same, for it delights the sense of smell, but disgusts the sense of taste. Also in regard to euphorbium, since it is harmful to the eyes and harmless to all the rest of the body, we are not able to say whether it is really harmless to bodies or not, as far as its own nature is concerned. Rain-water, too, is useful to the eyes, but it makes the trachea and the lungs rough, just as oil does, although it soothes the skin; and the sea-torpedo placed on the extremities makes them numb, but is harmless when placed on the rest of the body.
Wherefore we cannot say what each of these things is by nature. It is possible only to say how it appears each time. We could cite more examples than these, but in order not to spend too long in laying out the plan of this book we shall simply say the following: Each of the phenomena perceived by us seems to present itself in many forms, as the apple, smooth, fragrant, sweet, yellow. Now it is not known whether it has in reality only those qualities which appear to us, or if it has only one quality, but appears different on account of the different constitution of the sense organs, or if it has more qualities than appear to us, but some of them do not affect us. That it has only one quality might be concluded from what we have said about the food distributed in bodies, and the water distributed in trees, and the breath in the flute and syrinx, and in similar instruments; for it is possible that the apple also has only one quality, but appears different on account of the difference in the sense organs by which it is perceived.
On the other hand, that the apple has more qualities than those that appear to us, can be argued in this way: Let us imagine someone born with the sense of touch, of smell, and of taste, but neither hearing nor seeing. He will then assume that neither anything visible nor anything audible exists at all, but only the three kinds of qualities which he can apprehend. It is possible then that as we have only the five senses, we apprehend only those qualities of the apple which we are able to grasp, but it may be supposed that other qualities exist which would affect other sense organs if we possessed them; as it is, we do not feel the sensations which would be felt through them. But nature, one will say, has brought the senses into harmony with the objects to be perceived.
What kind of nature? Among the Dogmatics a great difference of opinion reigns about the real existence of nature anyway; for he who decides whether there is a nature or not, if he is an uneducated man, would be according to them untrustworthy; if he is a philosopher, he is a part of the disagreement, and is himself to be judged, but is not a judge. In short, if it is possible that only those qualities exist in the apple which we seem to perceive, or that more than these are there, or that not even those which we perceive exist, it will be unknown to us what kind of a thing the apple is. The same argument holds for other objects of perception. If, however, the senses do not comprehend the external world, the intellect cannot comprehend it either, so that for this reason also it will appear that the suspension of judgment follows in regard to external objects.
THE FOURTH TROPE
This is the one based upon circumstances, and by circumstances we mean conditions. This Trope comes under consideration, we may say, with regard to conditions that are according to nature, or contrary to nature; such as waking or sleeping, the age of life, moving or keeping still, hating or loving, need or satiety, drunkenness or sobriety, predispositions, being courageous or afraid, sorrowing or rejoicing. For example, things appear different as they are according to nature, or contrary to it; as for instance, the insane and those inspired by a god, think that they hear gods, while we do not; in like manner they often say that they perceive the odor of storax or frankincense, or the like, and many other things which we do not perceive. Water, also, that seems lukewarm to us, if poured over places that are inflamed, will feel hot, and a garment that appears orange-coloured to those that have blood-shot eyes, would not look so to me, and the same honey appears sweet to me, but bitter to those who have the jaundice. If one should say that those who are not in a natural state have unusual ideas of objects, because of the intermingling of certain humors, then one must also say, that it may be that objects which are really what they seem to be to those who are in an unnatural condition, appear different to those who are in health, for even those who are in health have humors that are mixed with each other. For to give to one kind of fluid a power to change objects, and not to another kind, is a fiction of the mind; for just as those who are in health are in a condition that is natural to those who are in health, and contrary to the nature of those who are not in health, so also those who are not in health, are in a condition contrary to the nature of those in health, but natural to those not in health, and we must therefore believe that they also are in some respect in a natural condition.
Furthermore, in sleep or in waking, the ideas are different, because we do not see things in the same way when we are awake as we do in sleep; neither do we see them in the same way in sleep as we do when awake, so that the existence or non-existence of these things is not absolute, but relative, that is in relation to a sleeping or waking condition. It is therefore probable that we see those things in sleep which in a waking condition do not exist, but they are not altogether non-existent, for they exist in sleep, just as those things which exist when we are awake, exist, although they do not exist in sleep. Furthermore, things present themselves differently according to the age of life, for the same air seems cold to the aged, but temperate to those in their prime, and the same color appears dim to those who are old, and bright to those in their prime, and likewise the same tone seems faint to the former, and audible to the latter.
People in different ages are also differently disposed towards things to be chosen or avoided; children, for example, are very fond of balls and hoops, while those in their prime prefer other things, and the old still others, from which it follows that the ideas in regard to the same objects differ in different periods of life. Furthermore, things appear different in a condition of motion and rest, since that which we see at rest when we are still, seems to move when we are sailing by it. There are also differences which depend on liking or disliking, as some detest swine flesh exceedingly, but others eat it with pleasure. As Menander said—
"O how his face appears
Since he became such a man! What a creature!
Doing no injustice would make us also beautiful."
Many also that love ugly women consider them very beautiful Furthermore, there are differences which depend on hunger or satiety, as the same food seems agreeable to those who are hungry, and disagreeable to those who are satisfied. There are also differences depending on drunkenness and sobriety, as that which we consider ugly when we are sober does not appear ugly to us when we are drunk. Again, there are differences depending on predispositions, as the same wine appears sourish to those who have previously eaten dates or dried figs, but agreeable to those who have taken nuts or chickpeas; the vestibule of the bath warms those who enter from without, but cools those who go out, if they rest in it.
Furthermore, there are differences depending on being afraid or courageous, as the same thing seems fearful and terrible to the coward, but in no wise so to him who is brave. There are differences, also, depending on being sad or joyful, as the same things are unpleasant to the sad, but pleasant to the joyful. Since therefore the anomalies depending on conditions are so great, and since men are in different conditions at different times, it is perhaps easy to say how each object appears to each man, but not so of what kind it is, because the anomaly is not of a kind to be judged. For he who would pass judgment upon this is either in some one of the conditions mentioned above, or is in absolutely no condition whatever; but to say that he is in no condition at all, as, for example, that he is neither in health nor in illness, that he is neither moving nor quiet, that he is not of any age, and also that he is free from the other conditions, is wholly absurd. But if he judges the ideas while he is in any condition whatever, he is a part of the contradiction, and, besides, he is no genuine critic of external objects, because he is confused by the condition in which he finds himself. Therefore neither can the one who is awake compare the ideas of those who are asleep with those who are awake, nor can he who is in health compare the ideas of the sick with those of the well; for we believe more in the things that are present, and affecting us at present, than in the things not present.
In another way, the anomaly in such ideas is impossible to be judged, for whoever prefers one idea to another, and one condition to another, does this either without a criterion and a proof, or with a criterion and a proof; but he can do this neither without them, for he would then be untrustworthy, nor with them; for if he judges ideas, he judges them wholly by a criterion, and he will say that this criterion is either true or false. But if it is false, he will be untrustworthy; if, on the contrary, he says that it is true, he will say that the criterion is true either without proof or with proof. If without proof, he will be untrustworthy; if he says that it is true with proof, it is certainly necessary that the proof be true, or he will be untrustworthy. Now will he say that the proof which he has accepted for the accrediting of the criterion is true, having judged it, or without having judged it?
If he says so without judging it, he will be untrustworthy; if he has judged it, it is evident that he will say that he has judged according to some criterion, and we must seek a proof for this criterion, and for that proof a criterion. For the proof always needs a criterion to establish it, and the criterion needs a proof that it may be shown to be true; and a proof can neither be sound without a pre-existing criterion that is true, nor a criterion true without a proof that is shown beforehand to be trustworthy. And so both the criterion and the proof are thrown into the circulus in probando, by which it is found that they are both of them untrustworthy, for as each looks for proof from the other, each is as untrustworthy as the other. Since then one cannot prefer one idea to another, either without a proof and a criterion or with them, the ideas that differ according to different conditions cannot be judged, so that the suspension of judgment in regard to the nature of external objects follows through this Trope also.
THE FIFTH TROPE
The fifth Trope is that based upon position, distance, and place, for, according to each of these, the same things appear different, as for example, the same arcade seen from either end appears curtailed, but from the middle it looks symmetrical on every side; and the same ship appears small and motionless from afar, and large and in motion nearby, and the same tower appears round from a distance, but square nearby. So much for distance.
Now in reference to place, we say that the light of the lamp appears dim in the sun, but bright in the dark; and the same rudder appears broken in the sea, but straight out of it; and the egg in the bird is soft, but in the air hard; and the lyngurion is a fluid in the lynx, but is hard in the air; and the coral is soft in the sea, but hard in the air; and a tone of voice appears different produced by a syrinx, and by a flute, and different simply in the air. Also in reference to position, the same picture leaned back appears smooth, and leaned forward a little seems to have hollows and protuberances, and the necks of doves appear different in color according to the difference in inclination.
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