Sextus Empiricus and Greek scepticism by Mary Mills Patrick - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.

Sextus' familiarity with Alexandrian customs bears the imprint

of original knowledge, and he cannot, as Zeller implies, be

accepted as simply quoting. One could hardly agree with Zeller,[2] that the familiarity shown by Sextus with the customs

of both Alexandria and Rome in the _Hypotyposes_ does not

necessarily show that he ever lived in either of those places,

because a large part of his works are compilations from other

books; but on the contrary, the careful reader of Sextus' works

must find in all of them much evidence of personal knowledge of

Alexandria, Athens and Rome.

[1] Diog. IX. 12, 116.

[2] Zeller _Op. cit._ III. p. 39.

A part of Sextus' books also may have been written in Alexandria. [Greek: Pros phusikous] could have been written in

Alexandria.[1] If these were also lectures, then Sextus taught

in Alexandria as well as elsewhere. The history of Eastern

literature for the centuries immediately following the time of

Sextus, showing as it does in so many instances the influence of

Pyrrhonism, and a knowledge of the _Hypotyposes_, furnishes us

with an incontestable proof that the school could not have been

for a long time removed from the East, and the absence of such

knowledge in Roman literature is also a strong argument against

its long continuance in that city. It would seem, however, from

all the data at command, that during the years that the Sceptical School was removed from Alexandria, its head quarters

were in Rome, and that the Pyrrhonean _Hypotyposes_ were delivered in Rome. Let us briefly consider the arguments in

favour of such a hypothesis. Scepticism was not unknown in Rome.

Pappenheim quotes the remark of Cicero that Pyrrhonism was long

since dead, and the sarcasm of Seneca, _Quis est qui tradat

praecepta Pyrrhonis?_ as an argument against the knowledge of

Pyrrhonism in Rome. We must remember, however, that in Cicero's

time Aenesidemus had not yet separated himself from the Academy;

or if we consider the Lucius Tubero to whom Aenesidemus dedicated his works, as the same Lucius Tubero who was the

friend of Cicero in his youth, and accordingly fix the date of

Aenesidemus about 50 B.C.,[2] even then Aenesidemus'

work in

Alexandria was too late to have necessarily been known to

Cicero, whose remark must have been referred to the old school

of Scepticism. Should we grant, however, that the statements of

Cicero and Seneca prove that in their time Pyrrhonism was

extinct in Rome, they certainly do not show that after their

death it could not have again revived, for the _Hypotyposes_

were delivered more than a century after the death of Seneca.

There are very few writers in Aenesidemus' own time who showed

any influence of his teachings.[3] This influence was felt

later, as Pyrrhonism became better known. That Pyrrhonism

received some attention in Rome before the time of Sextus is

nevertheless demonstrated by the teachings of Favorinus there.

Although Favorinus was known as an Academician, the title of his

principal work was [Greek: tous philosophoumenous autô tôn

logôn, hôn aristoi hoi Purrhôneioi].[4] Suidas calls Favorinus a

great author and learned in all science and philosophy,[5] and

Favorinus made Rome the centre of his teaching and writing. His

date is fixed by Zeller at 80-150 A.D., therefore Pyrrhonism was

known in Rome shortly before the time of Sextus.

[1] Pappenheim _Sitz der Skeptischen Schule; Archiv für

Geschichte der Phil._, 1888; _Adv. Math._ X. 15, 95.

[2] Zeller _Op. cit._ III. 10.

[3] Zeller _Op. cit._ p. 63.

[4] Zeller _Op. cit._ p. 67.

[5] Brochard _Op. cit._ 329.

The whole tone of the _Hypotyposes_, with the constant references to the Stoics as living present opponents, shows that

these lectures must have been delivered in one of the centres of

Stoicism. As Alexandria and Athens are out of the question, all

testimony points to Rome as having been the seat of the Pyrrhonean School, for at least a part of the time that Sextus

was at its head. We would then accept the teacher of Sextus, in

whose place he says he taught, as the Herodotus so often referred to by Galen[1] who lived in Rome. Sextus'


references to Asclepiades, whom he mentions ten different times

by name in his works,[2] speak in favour of Rome in the matter

under discussion, as Asclepiades made that city one of the

centres of medical culture. On the other hand, the fact that

there is no trace of the _Hypotyposes_ in later Roman literature, with the one exception of the works of Hippolytus,

as opposed to the wide-spread knowledge of them shown in the

East for centuries, is incontestable historical proof that the

Sceptical School could not long have had its seat at Rome. From

the two passages given above from Sextus' work against physics,

he must either have written that book in Alexandria, it would

seem, or have quoted those passages from some other work. May we

not then conclude, that Sextus was at the head of the school in

Rome for a short time, where it may have been removed temporarily, on account of the difficulty with the Empiricists,

implied in _Hyp_. I. 236-241, or in order to be better able to

attack the Stoics, but that he also taught in Alexandria, where

the real home of the school was certainly found? There it

probably came to an end about fifty years after the time of

Sextus, and from that centre the Sceptical works of Sextus had

their wide-spread influence in the East.

[1] Galen VIII. 751.

[2] Bekker _Index_.

The books of Sextus Empiricus furnish us with the best and

fullest presentation of ancient Scepticism which has been

preserved to modern times, and give Sextus the position of one

of the greatest men of the Sceptical School. His works which are

still extant are the _Pyrrhonean Hypotyposes_ in three volumes,

and the two works comprising eleven books which have been united

in later times under the title of [Greek: pros mathêmatikous],

one of which is directed against the sciences in general, and

the other against the dogmatic philosophers. The six books

composing the first of these are written respectively against

grammarians, rhetoricians, geometricians, arithmeticians,

astronomers and musicians. The five books of the latter consist

of two against the logicians, two against physics, and one

against systems of morals. If the last short work of the first

book directed against the arithmeticians is combined with the

one preceding against the geometricians, as it well could be,

the two works together would be divided into ten different

parts; there is evidence to show that in ancient times such a

division was made.[1] There were two other works of Sextus which

are now lost, the medical work before referred to, and a book

entitled [Greek: peri psuchês]. The character of the extant

works of Sextus is similar, as they are all directed either

against science or against the dogmatics, and they all present

the negative side of Pyrrhonism. The vast array of arguments

comprising the subject-matter, often repeated in the same and

different forms, are evidently taken largely from the Sceptical

works which Sextus had resource to, and are, in fact, a summing

up of all the wisdom of the Sceptical School. The style of these

books is fluent, and the Greek reminds one of Plutarch and

Thucydides, and although Sextus does not claim originality, but

presents in all cases the arguments of the Sceptic, yet the

illustrations and the form in which the arguments are presented,

often bear the marks of his own thought, and are characterized

here and there by a wealth of humor that has not been sufficiently noticed in the critical works on Sextus. Of all the

authors who have reviewed Sextus, Brochard is the only one who

seems to have understood and appreciated his humorous side.

We shall now proceed to the consideration of the general position and aim of Pyrrhonism.

[1] Diog. IX. 12, 116.


_The Position and Aim of Pyrrhonism_.

The first volume of the _Pyrrhonean Hypotyposes_ gives the most

complete statement found in any of the works of Sextus Empiricus

of the teachings of Pyrrhonism and its relation to other schools

of philosophy. The chief source of the subject-matter presented

is a work of the same name by Aenesidemus,[1] either directly

used by Sextus, or through the writings of those who followed

Aenesidemus. The comprehensive title [Greek: Purrhôneioi hupotupôseis] was very probably used in general to designate

courses of lectures given by the leaders of the Sceptical


In the opening chapters of the _Hypotyposes_ Sextus undertakes

to define the position and aim of Pyrrhonism.[2] In introducing

his subject he treats briefly of the differences between philosophical schools, dividing them into three classes; those

which claim that they have found the truth, like the schools of

Aristotle and Epicurus and the Stoics; those which deny the

possibility of finding it, like that of the Academicians; and

those that still seek it, like the Sceptical School. The accusation against the Academicians, that they denied the

possibility of finding the truth, was one that the Sceptics were

very fond of making. We shall discuss the justice of it later,

simply remarking here, that to affirm the


of the unknown," was a form of expression that the Pyrrhonists

themselves were sometimes betrayed into, notwithstanding their

careful avoidance of dogmatic statements.[3]

[1] Diog. IX. 11, 78.

[2] _Hyp._ I. 3, 4.

[3] _Adv. Math._ VIII. 191.

After defining the three kinds of philosophy as the Dogmatic,

the Academic and the Sceptic, Sextus reminds his hearers that he

does not speak dogmatically in anything that he says, but that

he intends simply to present the Sceptical arguments historically, and as they appear to him. He characterizes his

treatment of the subject as general rather than critical,

including a statement of the character of Scepticism, its idea,

its principles, its manner of reasoning, its criterion and aim,

and a presentation of the Tropes, or aspects of doubt, and the

Sceptical formulae and the distinction between Scepticism and

the related schools of philosophy.[1]

The result of all the gradual changes which the development of

thought had brought about in the outward relations of the

Sceptical School, was to increase the earnestness of the claim

of the Sceptics to be simply followers of Pyrrho, the great

founder of the movement. In discussing the names given to the

Sceptics, Sextus gives precedence very decidedly to the title

"Pyrrhonean," because Pyrrho appears the best representative of

Scepticism, and more prominent than all who before him occupied

themselves with it.[2]

It was a question much discussed among philosophers in ancient

times, whether Pyrrhonism should be considered a philosophical

sect or not. Thus we find that Hippobotus in his work entitled

[Greek: peri haireseôn], written shortly before our era, does

not include Pyrrhonism among the other sects.[3]


himself, after some hesitation remarking that many do not

consider it a sect, finally decides to call it so.[4]

[1] _Hyp._ I. 5, 6.

[2] _Hyp._ I. 7.

[3] Diog. _Pro._ 19.

[4] Diog. _Pro._ 20.

Sextus in discussing this subject calls Scepticism an


agogê], or a movement, rather than a [Greek: hairesis], saying

that Scepticism is not a sect, if that word implies a systematic

arrangement of dogmas, for the Sceptic has no dogmas.


however, a sect may mean simply the following of a certain

system of reasoning according to what appears to be true, then

Scepticism is a sect.[1] From a quotation given later on by

Sextus from Aenesidemus, we know that the latter used the term

[Greek: agogê].[2] Sextus gives also the other titles, so well

known as having been applied to Scepticism, namely,


zêtêtikê], [Greek: ephektikê], and [Greek: aporêtikê].[3] The

[Greek: dunamis][4] of Scepticism is to oppose the things of

sense and intellect in every possible way to each other, and

through the equal weight of things opposed, or [Greek: isostheneia], to reach first the state of suspension of judgement, and afterwards ataraxia, or "repose and tranquillity

of soul."[5] The purpose of Scepticism is then the hope of

ataraxia, and its origin was in the troubled state of mind

induced by the inequality of things, and uncertainty in regard

to the truth. Therefore, says Sextus, men of the greatest talent

began the Sceptical system by placing in opposition to every

argument an equal one, thus leading to a philosophical system

without a dogma, for the Sceptic claims that he has no dogma.[6]

The Sceptic is never supposed to state a decided opinion, but

only to say what appears to him. Even the Sceptical formulae,

such as "Nothing more,"[7] or "I decide nothing,"[8] or

"All is

false," include themselves with other things. The only statements that the Sceptic can make, are in regard to his own

sensations. He cannot deny that he is warm or cold or hungry.

[1] _Hyp._ I. 15, 17.

[2] _Hyp._ I. 210.

[3] _Hyp._ I. 7; Diog. IX. 11, 70.

[4] _Hyp._ I. 8.

[5] _Hyp._ I. 10.

[6] _Hyp._ I. 12.

[7] _Hyp._ I. 14.

[8] _Hyp._ I. 14.

Sextus replies to the charge that the Sceptics deny phenomena by

refuting it.[1] The Sceptic does not deny phenomena, because

they are the only criteria by which he can regulate his actions.

"We call the criterion of the Sceptical School the phenomenon,

meaning by this name the idea of it."[2] Phenomena are the only

things which the Sceptic does not deny, and he guides his life

by them. They are, however, subjective. Sextus distinctly

affirms that sensations are the phenomena,[3] and that they lie

in susceptibility and voluntary feeling, and that they constitute the appearances of objects.[4] We see from this that

Sextus makes the only reality to consist in subjective experience, but he does not follow this to its logical conclusion, and doubt the existence of anything outside of mind.

He rather takes for granted that there is a something unknown

outside, about which the Sceptic can make no assertions.

Phenomena are the criteria according to which the Sceptic orders

his daily life, as he cannot be entirely inactive, and they

affect life in four different ways. They constitute the guidance

of nature, the impulse of feeling; they give rise to the traditions of customs and laws, and make the teaching of the

arts important.[5] According to the tradition of laws and

customs, piety is a good in daily life, but it is not in itself

an abstract good. The Sceptic of Sextus' time also inculcated

the teaching of the arts, as indeed must be the case with

professing physicians, as most of the leading Sceptics were.

Sextus says, "We are not without energy in the arts which we

undertake."[6] This was a positive tendency which no philosophy,

however negative, could escape, and the Sceptic tried to avoid

inconsistency in this respect, by separating his philosophy from

his theory of life. His philosophy controlled his opinions, and

his life was governed by phenomena.

[1] _Hyp._ I. 19.

[2] _Hyp._ I. 19.

[3] _Hyp._ I. 22; Diog. IX. 11, 105.

[4] _Hyp._ I. 22.

[5] _Hyp._ I. 23.

[6] _Hyp._ I. 24.

The aim of Pyrrhonism was ataraxia in those things which pertain

to opinion, and moderation in the things which life imposes.[1]

In other words, we find here the same natural desire of the

human being to rise above and beyond the limitations which pain

and passion impose, which is expressed in other forms, and under

other names, in other schools of philosophy. The method, however, by which ataraxia or peace of mind could be reached,

was peculiar to the Sceptic. It is a state of psychological

equilibrium, which results from the equality of the weight of

different arguments that are opposed to each other, and the

consequent impossibility of affirming in regard to either one,

that it is correct.[2] The discovery of ataraxia was, in the

first instance, apparently accidental, for while the Sceptic

withheld his opinion, unable to decide what things were true,

and what things were false, ataraxia fortunately followed.[3]

After he had begun to philosophize, with a desire to discriminate in regard to ideas, and to separate the true from

the false[4] during the time of [Greek: epochê], or suspension

of judgement, ataraxia followed as if by chance, as the shadow

follows the body.[5]

[1] _Hyp._ I. 25.

[2] _Hyp._ I. 26.

[3] _Hyp._ I. 26.

[4] Diog. IX. 11, 107.

[5] _Hyp._ I. 29.

The Sceptic in seeking ataraxia in the things of opinion, does

not entirely escape from suffering from his sensations.

He is

not wholly undisturbed, for he is sometimes cold and hungry, and

so on.[1] He claims, nevertheless, that he suffers less than the

dogmatist, who is beset with two kinds of suffering, one from

the feelings themselves, and also from the conviction that they

are by nature an evil.[2] To the Sceptic nothing is in itself

either an evil or a good, and so he thinks that "he escapes from

difficulties easier."[3] For instance, he who considers riches a

good in themselves, is unhappy in the loss of them, and in

possession of them is in fear of losing them, while the Sceptic,

remembering the Sceptical saying "No more," is untroubled in

whatever condition he may be found, as the loss of riches is no

more an evil than the possession of them is a good.[4]

For he

who considers anything good or bad by nature is always troubled,

and when that which seemed good is not present with him, he

thinks that he is tortured by that which is by nature bad, and

follows after what he thinks to be good. Having acquired it,

however, he is not at rest, for his reason tells him that a

sudden change may deprive him of this thing that he considers a

good.[5] The Sceptic, however, endeavours neither to avoid nor

seek anything eagerly.[6]

[1] _Hyp._ I. 30.

[2] _Hyp._ I. 30.

[3] _Hyp._ I. 30; Diog. IX. 11, 61.

[4] _Adv. Math._ XI. 146-160.

[5] _Hyp._ I. 27.

[6] _Hyp._ I. 28.

Ataraxia came to the Sceptic as success in painting the foam on

a horse's mouth came to Apelles the painter. After many attempts

to do this, and many failures, he gave up in despair, and threw

the sponge at the picture that he had used to wipe the colors

from the painting with. As soon as it touched the picture it

produced a representation of the foam.[1] Thus the Sceptics were

never able to attain to ataraxia by examining the anomaly

between the phenomena and the things of thought, but it came to

them of its own accord just when they despaired of finding it.

The intellectual preparation for producing ataraxia, consists in

placing arguments in opposition to each other, both in regard to

phenomena, and to things of the intellect. By placing the

phenomenal in opposition to the phenomenal, the intellectual to

the intellectual, and the phenomenal to the intellectual, and

_vice versa_, the present to the present, past, and future, one

will find that no argument exists that is incontrovertible. It

is not necessary to accept any statement whatever as true, and

consequently a state of [Greek: epochê] may always be maintained.[2] Although ataraxia concerns things of the opinion,

and must be preceded by the intellectual process described

above, it is not itself a function of the intellect, or any

subtle kind of reasoning, but seems to be rather a unique form

of moral perfection, leading to happiness, or is itself happiness.

[1] _Hyp._ I. 28, 29.

[2] _Hyp._ I. 32-35.

It was the aim of Scepticism to know nothing, and to assert

nothing in regard to any subject, but at the same time not to

affirm that knowledge on all subjects is impossible, and consequently to have the attitude of still seeking. The standpoint of Pyrrhonism was materialistic. We find from the

teachings of Sextus that he affirmed the non-existence of the

soul,[1] or the ego, and denied absolute existence altogether.[2] The introductory statements of Diogenes regarding

Pyrrhonism would agree with this standpoint.[3]

There is no criterion of truth in Scepticism. We cannot prove

that the phenomena represent objects, or find out what the

relation of phenomena to objects is. There is no criterion to

tell us which one is true of all the different representations

of the same object, and of all the varieties of sensation that

arise through the many phases of relativity of the conditions

which control the character of the phenomena.

Every effort to find the truth can deal only with phenomena, and

absolute reality can never be known.

[1] _Adv. Math._ VII. 55; _Hyp._ II. 32.

[2] _Adv. Math._ XI. 140.

[3] Diog. IX. 11, 61.


_The Sceptical Tropes_.

The exposition of the Tropes of Pyrrhonism constitutes historically and philosophically the most important part of the

writings of Sextus Empiricus. These Tropes represent the sum

total of the wisdom of the older Sceptical School, and were held

in high respect for centuries, not only by the Pyrrhoneans, but

also by many outside the narrow limits of that School.

In the

first book of the _Hypotyposes_ Sextus gives two classes of

Tropes, those of [Greek: epochê] and the eight Tropes of Aenesidemus against Aetiology.

The Tropes of [Greek: epochê] are arranged in groups of ten,

five and two, according to the period of the Sceptical School to

which they belong; the first of these groups is historically the

most important, or the Ten Tropes of [Greek: epochê], as these

are far more closely connected with the general development of

Scepticism, than the later ones. By the name [Greek: tropos] or

Trope, the Sceptic understood a manner of thought, or form of

argument, or standpoint of judgement. It was a term common in

Greek philosophy, used in this sense, from the time of Aristotle.[1] The Stoics, however, used the word with a different meaning from that attributed to it by the Sceptics.[2]

Stephanus and Fabricius translate it by the Latin word _modus_[3] and [Greek: tropos] also is often used interchangeably with the word [Greek: logos] by Sextus, Diogenes

Laertius, and others; sometimes also as synonymous with


topos],[4] and [Greek: typos] is found in the oldest edition of

Sextus.[5] Diogenes defines the word as the standpoint, or

manner of argument, by which the Sceptics arrived at the condition of doubt, in consequence of the equality of probabilities, and he calls the Tropes, the ten Tropes of

doubt.[6] All writers on Pyrrhonism after the time of Aenesidemus give the Tropes the principal place in their treatment of the subject. Sextus occupies two thirds of the

first book of the _Hypotyposes_ in stating and discussing them;

and about one fourth of his presentation of Scepticism is

devoted to the Tropes by Diogenes. In addition to these two

authors, Aristocles the Peripatetic refers to them in his attack

on Scepticism.[7] Favorinus wrote a book entitled _Pyrrhonean

Tropes_, and Plutarch one called _The Ten ([Greek: topoi]) Topes

of Pyrrho_.[8] Both of these latter works are lost.

[1] Pappenheim _Erlauterung Pyrrh. Grundzugen_, p.


[2] Diog I. 76; _Adv. Math._ VIII. 227.

[3] Fabricius, Cap. XIV. 7.

[4] _Hyp._ I. 36.

[5] Fabricius on _Hyp._ I. 36; Cap. XIV. G.

[6] Diog. IX. 11, 79-108.

[7] Aristocles _Euseb. praep. ev._ X. 14, 18.

[8] Fabricius on _Hyp._ I. 36.

All authorities unite in attributing to Aenesidemus the work of

systematizing and presenting to the world the ten Tropes of

[Greek: epochê]. He was the first to conceive the project of

opposing an organized philosophical system of Pyrrhonism to the

dogmatism of his contemporaries.[1] Moreover, the fact that

Diogenes introduces the Tropes into his life of Pyrrho, does not

necessarily imply that he considered Pyrrho their author, for

Diogenes invariably combines the teachings of the followers of a

movement with those of the founders themselves; he gives these

Tropes after speaking of Aenesidemus' work entitled _Pyrrhonean

Hypotyposes_, and apparently quotes from this book, in giving at

least a part of his presentation of Pyrrhonism, either directly

or through, the works of others. Nietzsche proposes a correction

of the text of Diogenes IX. 11, 79, which would make him quote the

Tropes from a book by Theodosius,[2] author of a commentary on

the works of Theodas. No writer of antiquity claims for the

Tropes an older source than the books of Aenesidemus, to whom

Aristocles also attributes them.[3] They are not mentioned in

Diogenes' life of Timon, the immediate disciple of Pyrrho.

Cicero has no knowledge of them, and does not refer to them in

his discussion of Scepticism.

[1] Compare Saisset _Op. cit._ p. 78.

[2] Brochard _Op. cit._ 254, Note 4.

[3] Aristocles _Eus. praep. ev._ XIV. 18. 8.

Aenesidemus was undoubtedly the first to formulate these Tropes,

but many things tend to show that they resulted, in reality,

from the gradual classification of the results of the teachings

of Pyrrho, in the subsequent development of thought from his own

time to that of Aenesidemus. The ideas contained in the Tropes

were not original with Aenesidemus, but are more closely connected with the thought of earlier times. The decidedly

empirical character of the Tropes proves this connection, for

the eight Tropes of Aetiology, which were original with Aenesidemus, bear a far stronger dialectic stamp, thus showing a

more decided dialectic influence of the Academy than is found in

the Tropes of [Greek: epochê]. Many of the illustrations given

of the Tropes also, testify to a time of greater antiquity than

that of Aenesidemus. The name Trope was well known in ancient

times, and the number ten reminds us of the ten opposing principles of Pythagoras, and the ten categories of Aristotle,

the fourth of which was the same as the eighth Trope.


terminology, however, with very few exceptions, points to a

later period than that of Pyrrho. Zeller points out a number of

expressions in both Diogenes' and Sextus' exposition of the

Tropes, which could not date back farther than the time of

Aenesidemus.[1] One of the most striking features of the whole

presentation of the Tropes, especially as given by Sextus, is

their mosaic character, stamping them not as the work of one

person, but as a growth, and also an agglutinous growth, lacking

very decidedly the symmetry of thought that the work of one mind

would have shown.

[1] Zeller _Op. cit._ p. 25.

At the time of the separation of Pyrrhonism from the Academy, no

other force was as strong in giving life to the school as the

systematic treatment by Aenesidemus of the Ten Tropes of


epochê]. The reason of this is evident. It was not that the

ideas of the Sceptical Tropes were original with Aenesidemus,

but because a definite statement of belief is always a far more

powerful influence than principles which are vaguely understood

and accepted. There is always, however, the danger to the

Sceptic, in making a statement even of the principles of Scepticism, that the psychological result would be a dogmatic

tendency of mind, as we shall see later was the case, even with

Aenesidemus himself. That the Sceptical School could not escape

the accusation of dogmatizing, from the Dogmatics, even in

stating the grounds of their Scepticism, we know from Diogenes.[1] To avoid this dogmatic tendency of the ten Tropes,

Sextus makes the frequent assertion that he does not affirm

things to be absolutely true, but states them as they appear to

him, and that they may be otherwise from what he has said.[2]

[1] Diog. IX. 11, 102.

[2] _Hyp._ I. 4, 24.

Sextus tells us that "Certain Tropes, ten in number, for producing the state of [Greek: epochê] have been handed down

from the older Sceptics."[1] He refers to them in another work

as the "Tropes of Aenesidemus."[2] There is no evidence that the

substance of these Tropes was changed after the time of Aenesidemus, although many of the illustrations given by Sextus

must have been of a later date, added during the two centuries

that elapsed between the time of Aenesidemus and Sextus.


giving these Tropes Sextus does not claim to offer a systematic

methodical classification, and closes his list of them, in their

original concise form, with the remark, "We make this order

ourselves."[3] The order is given differently by Diogenes, and

also by Favorinus.[4] The Trope which Sextus gives as the tenth

is the fifth given by Diogenes, the seventh by Sextus is the

eighth given by Diogenes, the fifth by Sextus, the seventh by

Diogenes, the tenth by Diogenes, the eighth by Sextus.


says that the one he gives as the ninth Favorinus calls the

eighth, and Sextus and Aenesidemus the tenth. This statement

does not correspond with the list of the Tropes which Sextus

gives, proving that Diogenes took some other text than that of

Sextus as his authority.[5] The difference in the order of the

Tropes shows, also, that the order was not considered a matter

of great importance. There is a marked contrast in the spirit of

the two presentations of the Tropes given by Sextus and Diogenes. The former gives them not only as an orator, but as

one who feels that he is defending his own cause, and the school

of which he is the leader, against mortal enemies, while Diogenes relates them as an historian.

[1] _Hyp._ I. 36.

[2] _Adv. Math._ VII. 345.

[3] _Hyp._ I. 38.

[4] Diog. IX. 11, 87.

[5] Diog. IX. 11, 87.

Pappenheim tries to prove[1] that Aenesidemus originally gave

only nine Tropes in his _Pyrrhonean Hypotyposes_, as Aristocles

mentions only nine in referring to the Tropes of Aenesidemus,

and that the tenth was added later. Had this been the case,

however, the fact would surely have been mentioned either by

Diogenes or Sextus, who both refer to the ten Tropes of Aenesidemus.

The Tropes claim to prove that the character of phenomena is so

relative and changeable, that certain knowledge cannot be based

upon them, and as we have shown, there is no other criterion of

knowledge for the Sceptic than phenomena.[2] All of the Tropes,

except the tenth, are connected with sense-perception, and

relate to the difference of the results obtained through the

senses under different circumstances. They may be divided into

two classes, _i.e._, those based upon differences of our physical organism, and those based upon external differences. To

the first class belong the first, second, third and fourth; to

the second class, the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth, and also

the ninth. The eighth, or that of relation, is applied objectively both by Sextus and Diogenes in their treatment of

the Tropes, and is not used for objects of thought alone, but

principally to show the relation of outward objects to each

other. The tenth is the only one which has a moral significance,

and it has also a higher subjective value than the others; it

takes its arguments from an entirely different sphere of thought, and deals with metaphysical and religious contradictions in opinion, and with the question of good and

evil. That this Trope is one of the oldest, we know from its

distinct mention in connection with the foundation theories of

Pyrrho, by Diogenes.[3] In treating of the subjective reasons

for doubt as to the character of external reality, the Sceptics

were very near the denial of all outward reality, a point,

however, which they never quite reached.

[1] Pappenheim, _Die Tropen der Griechen_, p. 23.

[2] _Hyp._ I. 22.

[3] Diog. IX. 11, 61.

There is evidently much of Sextus' own thought mixed with the

illustrations of the Tropes, but it is impossible to separate

the original parts from the material that was the common property of the Sceptical School. Many of these illustrations

show, however, perfect familiarity with the scientific and

medical teachings of the time. Before entering upon his exposition of the Tropes, Sextus gives them in the short concise

form in which they must first have existed[1]--

(i) Based upon the variety of animals.

(ii) Based upon the differences between men.

(iii) Based upon differences in the constitution of the sense organs.

(iv) Based upon circumstances.

(v) Based upon position, distance and place.

(vi) Based upon mixtures.

(vii) Based upon the quantities and constitutions of objects.

(viii) Relation.

(ix) Based upon frequency or rarity of occurences.

(x) Based upon systems, customs and laws, mythical beliefs, and dogmatic opinions.

[1] _Hyp._ I. 36-38.

Although Sextus is careful not to dogmatise regarding the

arrangement of the Tropes, yet there is in his classification of

them a regular gradation, from the arguments based upon differences in animals to those in man, first considering the

latter in relation to the physical constitution, and then to

circumstances outside of us, and finally the treatment of

metaphysical and moral differences.

_The First Trope_.[1] That the same mental representations are

not found in different animals, may be inferred from their

differences in constitution resulting from their different

origins, and from the variety in their organs of sense.


takes up the five senses in order, giving illustrations to prove

the relative results of the mental representations in all of

them, as for example the subjectivity of color[2] and sound.[3]

All knowledge of objects through the senses is relative and not

absolute. Sextus does not, accordingly, confine the impossibility of certain knowledge to the qualities that Locke

regards as secondary, but includes also the primary ones in this

statement.[4] The form and shape of objects as they appear to us

may be changed by pressure on the eyeball. Furthermore, the

character of reflections in mirrors depend entirely on their

shape, as the images in concave mirrors are very different from

those in convex ones; and so in the same way as the eyes of

animals are of different shapes, and supplied with different

fluids, the ideas of dogs, fishes, men and grasshoppers must be

very different.[5]

[1] _Hyp._. I. 40-61.

[2] _Hyp._. I. 44-46.

[3] _Hyp._. I. 50.

[4] _Hyp._. I. 47.

[5] _Hyp._. I. 49.

In discussing the mental representations of animals of different

grades of intelligence, Sextus shows a very good comprehension

of the philogenetic development of the organs of sense, and

draws the final conclusion that external objects are regarded

differently by animals, according to their difference in constitution.[1] These differences in the ideas which different