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Cross-references to the indi- vidual chapters will help the reader to trace agreements and disagreements on points of detail. As a result they were later generally referred to as books 7—11 of Adversus Mathematicos. We have left it to the individual contributors to decide which form was most appropriate, given the overall design of their chapter.

The surviving material accordingly consists of three corpora: 1 M 1—6, 2 M 7—11, and 3 PH 1—3. Our two books Against the Physicists belong to 2. It is in principle possible, as Betegh argues elsewhere in this volume p. See also the contributions of Betegh, Bobzien and Brennan to the present volume. Blomqvist De Tranq.


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We also know that Plutarch composed a work entitled Selections and Refutations of Stoics and Epicureans no. As we have just seen, the stylistic argument i has been used to argue both ways, so it does not naturally and obviously favour one particular relative chronology. Argument ii may look more promising, but below pp. This leaves us for the moment with argument iii , which certainly has some prima facie plausibility.

PH is in many respects the better-ordered text, and why should we not assume that the better-ordered text is the later one? Moreover, a passage such as PH 3. Introduction 7 two works must be a revised version of the other one. Other authors show some reservations on points of detail and adduce passages in M that make it hard to believe that the counterpart in PH must be the later version, or in general that any one of the two treatises should be seen as the source for the other.

The structure of Against the Physicists The two books Against the Physicists provide a sceptical discussion of dogmatic physics, or physical theory. Sextus starts out 9. Conversely, M 9. Hence Against the Physicists is made to follow Against the Logicians. This focus on what is most comprehensive should not be taken to mean that the text contains no detailed arguments, for it abounds with them.

The key concepts that Sextus discusses are: god 9. The comparison, in the introduction, of these key concepts to the foundations of a city wall leads us to expect that, being the foundations of physics, they are somehow interconnected, and that the individual sections discussing each of them are also interconnected. Active and passive principles or causes are recognized by all who do physics M 9. So we should start with these. But before starting with these, we may discuss a special case of an active cause: god 9.


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On the introductory section of M 9, see also Bett in this volume, p. Introduction 9 discussion of god thus in a way prefaces the more general discussion of active and passive principles or causes 9.

Sextus Empiricus and Ancient Physics Algra

Since subtraction and addition, in their turn, involve the idea of wholes and parts 9. The latter discussion is accordingly presented as somehow subservient to the discus- sion about addition and subtraction, and eo ipso to the discussion of active and passive causes. This part of book 9 i. Moreover, the section which now follows, on body, hardly deals with body as connected with active and passive causation. See White, in this volume, p.


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See Betegh, in this volume, p. Now, according to the doxographical part of this section on body 9. Nevertheless, there are some oddities in this part of the discussion as well. First, as we saw, the discussion of body very quickly transforms itself into a discussion of mathematical body, and in that connection it takes along surface, one of the incorporeals, as well.

Secondly, the subject matter of the following sections, which are explicitly devoted to the incorporeals, does not match with the set of incorporeals mentioned in the doxogra- phical overview 9. The latter comprised numbers, surfaces and Ideas. Yet, number is now the only item from this original set which is being covered. Ideas are not discussed at all.

At the end of the account of bodies 9. The discussion of place The discussion of motion What is more, the fact that motion is not just the motion of a body changing place but also occurs in time Since, in its turn, the measurement of time involves number, the next subject for discussion is number Yet, here we run into another oddity: the discussion of number which now follows does not treat it in the ordinary arithmetical sense in which number may be said to be connected with time or motion but instead embarks on a critical discussion of what we might call number metaphysics of a Pythagorean or Platonic bent.

Here we have one more instance where the contents of a chapter do not match with its place within the structure of the overall argument of the book as suggested by Sextus. By now our initial suspicion that it is primarily the nature of the available source material which has determined the contents and much of the internal structure of his discussion seems hard to put aside.

This time, however, we are not told that the discussion of coming-to-be and passing- away is in a sense required by the discussion of one or more concepts that preceded it. After all, it is claimed, we have established the untenability of the notions of time, change or motion , causes, subtraction and addition, and touch apparently a reference to M 9.

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Nevertheless, the subject of coming-to-be and passing-away apparently deserves to be discussed in its own right, and this discussion of change in the most general sense and as the central subject of physics may even be said to crown books 9 and In dealing with Diogenes Laertius 9 and its relation to its sources, Jonathan Barnes usefully distinguished two extreme views on how a writer like Diogenes should be positioned in relation to his source or sources.

Of course various positions in between these extremes can be envisaged, and indeed Sextus as an author does seem to take up such an intermediate position. And, as we saw, he does try to impose some kind of general structure, which is meant to bring out these connections. On the other hand, the material on which he draws does not allow him to let these connections shine through as clearly as one would perhaps wish. Nor does he use his own conception of how the various topics hang together in order to have them eliminate each other, although there are some passages where this possibility is at least hinted at, as in the case of coming-to-be and passing-away.

To a certain extent this also goes for the internal structure of the separate chapters. Why is it only in the case of the section on god that we are given a separate preliminary section on. See La Sala Introduction 13 the various views on how people acquired the relevant notion i. All in all, it turns out to be a fair guess that it is primarily this strong dependence on the contents and structure of his sources that is respon- sible for what we called the rather haphazard impression M 9 and 10 make on the reader.

Then we turn to change 3. Finally the text dis- cusses the necessary conditions for change, namely place 3. The ordering of the subjects is thus more systematic — moving from kinds of causes to bodies and compounds of bodies to kinds of change to kinds of incorporeals — as is especially clear from the way in 30 Cicero, ND 2.

Clearly, the latter genre implies a stronger degree of authorial intervention than the former. On the other hand, precisely by studying M 9 and 10 as a whole, as this volume allows us to do, we may be able to detect some underlying patterns and to clarify what goes on in one chapter by comparing it with what happens in others. First of all, they may indeed be contradictory. Instead in most cases god, cause, body, coming-to-be and passing-away what we get is the opposition of things thought and other things thought.

Sextus Empiricus

In two cases where the existence of place and motion is at issue the pro consider- ations can be seen either to articulate place or simply to represent motion the evidence of the phainomena, so that in these cases we are actually dealing with phainomena being opposed to nooumena. In the case of motion, enargeia is explicitly invoked at M Here we may focus on another surprising aspect, namely the fact that they concern existence. So, essential scepticism remains the backbone of the argumentative structure. In the section on motion M The reason why Sextus nevertheless sticks to the existential framing of his critical conclusions may well be that they are often supposed to be matched, whether explicitly or implicitly, by positive conclusions on the basis of enargeia on the other side of the balance: such considerations of enargeia usually do not concern the nature of x, but merely its existence, and that may well have determined the form of the counter- arguments as well.

True, in these two books arguments, as assembled by the sceptics against the dogmatist positions, are basically what we are given on the negative side. These counter- arguments may sometimes go back to the interscholastic debates of the dogmatists themselves, but they are largely taken, we may suppose, from the arsenals of the earlier sceptical tradition on which see below, pp. In discussing the existence and nature of god, cause and number, it is perhaps less viable to point to enargeia than it is in the case of motion or place or even time, where the existence seems obvious, but the attempt to determine its.

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On the contra side we have the defusing arguments of the sceptic hence, also nooumena. Negative conclusions and suspension of judgment In principle the problem appears to be clear. We may recall that the programmatic statement of PH 1. As a matter of fact, however, the only section in M 9 and 10 to present a really neat example of the procedure of getting from opposed accounts directly to suspension of judgment is the section on god.

First, a closer look at the way in which these apparently dogmatic conclusions are embedded within the overall argumentative context of the relevant chapters suggests that they should not be taken at face value. The section on place seems to point in the same direction, for there Sextus initially describes his procedure as aiming at suspension of judgment M Clearly these two claims are intended to be compatible.

Pyrrho and Ancient Skepticism

Introduction 21 of this Nebeneinander of the language of suspension and equipollence on the one hand, and conclusions to the non-existence of a particular object or skill on the other. First of all, we have just seen that there are a number of indications that the Sextus of M 9 and 10 believed the relevant passages to be compatible with other passages which more clearly represent his own preferred brand of Pyrrhonism including suspension of judgment as a conclusion , and there is nothing to indicate that he was at any point in any strong sense committed to a form of negative dogmatic conclusions.

See Blank liv—lv and Spinelli —9. See also Bobzien, in this volume, pp. The whole section is exclusively negative. See also Barnes , with n. Finally, a general point about the use of phrases that may seem to indicate a commitment to negative dogmatism may be in order here.