Sextus Empiricus

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Sextus Empiricus


Born in the late second century; died in the early third century. Ancient Greek philosopher and scholar; adherent of the philosophical school of skepticism.

Sextus Empiricus wrote Against the Dogmatists, which attacks scholars in general, and The Outlines of Pyrrhonism. He collected the statements and arguments of ancient Greek skeptics from Pyrrho to Aenesidemus. According to Sextus Empiricus, a skeptic neither affirms nor denies anything categorically, but makes equal allowance for the feasibility of opposing opinions. A skeptic is an “inquirer.” Skepticism facilitates the attainment of the goal of philosophy, spiritual unperturbedness (ataraxia).

Sextus Empiricus was one of the first historians of logic, physics, ethics, and other sciences. His logical conception may be viewed as a definite step from two-valued to three-valued logic. He was the author of the famous argument about the endlessness of proof: every proof proceeds from a premise, which, in turn, must be proved.

The works of Sextus Empiricus contain quotations from lost works of Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Democritus, and other Greek philosophers and serve as an extremely important source of information about their teachings. Sextus Empiricus influenced Montaigne, P. Bayle, and other modern skeptics.


Opera, vols. 1– 4. London-New York, 1959–60. (With an English translation by R. G. Bury.)
Opera, vols. 1–3. Leipzig, 1954–58.
In Russian translation:
Soch., vols. 1–2: vol. 1. Moscow, 1975.
Triknigi Pirronovykh polozhenii. St. Petersburg, 1913.


Richter, R. Skeptitsizm ν filosofii, vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1910. (Translated from German.)
Heintz, W. Studien zu Sextus Empiricus. Halle, 1932.