search for truth, from aporia to ataraxia

Se–tus Empiricus ( I don’t want to get my blog filtered because of the beautiful name of a Greek philosopher!) has the honour of being the first philosopher to define dogmatikos in his book “Outlines of Pyrrhonism” as:

“one who in philosophical investigations believes that he has discovered the truth”
Scepticism which had been born centuries before Empiricus, was rediscovered and articulated beatifully by him in the late second century A.D.:

The original sceptic was a strong-minded philosopher who wanted to get at the truth, as a way of settling the discrepancies or disagreements which troubled him in his experience of the world. As a result of his investigations he found that he was faced not only with conflicting appearances but also with conflicting appearances of equal weight; his inability to adjudicate between them resulted in his suspending judgement, and this turned out to give him what he had been looking for all along—freedom from disturbance(ataraxia).
The crucial notions in this account are:
  1. Disturbance or aporia in the face of conflicting appearances.
  2. Philosophical investigation of them.
  3. Attempts to settle the discrepancies by adjudicating between them.
  4. Discovering the reason why they cannot be settled, that is, the equal weight of the conflicting  appearances.
  5. suspension of judgement as the cure for the initial disturbance or aporia.
Empiricus considers three basic approaches to epistemology:
  • The “dogmatists” assert that truth is discoverable.
  • The “academics” deny that truth is discoverable. (there is a good overlap between dogmatists and academics in our day and age!)
  • The “sceptics” suspend judgment and continue to search for conditions under which truth may be discovered.
Maybe the world needs more sceptics to get rid of more disturbances.
Maybe the world needs more maybe.

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