Monday, April 20, 2015
Pyrrho- The Skeptic
For my first post I will be talking about the Greek skeptic: Pyrrho. It is probably no surprise to my group mates that this would be one of my topics, but that is beside the point. Pyrrho is credited with being the first skeptic. Skepticism is the philosophical belief that knowledge can never be certain. That is to say, we cannot know anything with certainty. My favorite way of describing this way of thinking is by holding out a pen and asking the person I am talking to what will happen if I drop the pen. The person will then almost certainly reply that the pen will fall. When they answer, I ask them how they know that, to which they reply they have seen it happen before. This is when I explain that they have not seen this exact pen drop at this exact moment, so you cannot know what it will do. It might float to the ceiling, or stay still in the air. All we can do is draw upon our previous experiences and make educated guesses as to what will happen. That, in essence, is skepticism.
I do not know why I am as drawn to Pyrrho as I am. It might be because I find his personal philosophy completely absurd, yet at the same time completely fascinating. Pyrrho is the man who doubts everything, including if he could actually die. Pryyho was unsure if he would die if he fell from a cliff onto rocks. It is interesting to note that whenever Pyrrho made an observation, he was never concrete about it, often using phrases such as “It seems to me”, “It appears”, and “Perhaps”. This goes back to Pyrrho’s philosophy of skepticism in the way that we cannot know anything for certain. Pyrrho is a very interesting man who sadly never wrote anything down. The most we have are some of his words written in the Siolli, a coletion of satirical poems. That is all on Pyrrho for now, but stay tuned for next time as we delv into the mind of Timon of Phlius, the student of Pyrrho.