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.
References in periodicals archive ?
Secondly, I will analyze the Sextus Empiricus' passage indicated above in order to prove that the relationship was already identified in Ancient Greece.
Among the topics are some blunt instruments of dogmatic logic: Sextus Empiricus' sceptical attack, the Italian academies and Rabbi Simone Luzzatto's Socrate: the freedom of the ingenium and the soul, the Jewish faith and scepticism: the example of Yeshayahu Leibowitz, doubt and certainty in early modern Kabbalah, and reports on the 2017 Sceptical Ateliers on Maimon's Lebensgeschichte and Simone Luzzatto's Socrates.
Thanks to Sextus Empiricus we know of a controversy between Diodorus and his student Philo:
The watershed moment for the emergence of classical skepticism in the early modern period is often said to be 1562, the year Henri Estienne translated Sextus Empiricus's second-century AD work Outlines of Pyrrhonism from Greek into Latin, making the principles of Pyrrhonean skepticism widely available to Europe's intellectuals.
In the remainder of chapter 5, Cooper discusses the Pyrrhonian skepticism of Sextus Empiricus. He argues convincingly that despite common criticisms of this view, skepticism may be a plausible way of life.
Epictetus and Sextus Empiricus), neoplatonists and scholastics (e.g.
First of all, following the tradition of Greek philosophy, the Stoics explicitly identify good with benefit (Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors 11.22-6 in: Long & Sedley 1987).