'Ancient Dogmatism and Scepticism Analytical Essay

'Ancient Dogmatism and Scepticism
An analysis of Hellenistic schools of thought, focusing particularly on the philosophies of dogmatism and scepticism.
# 146729 | 2,450 words | 12 sources | APA | 2008 | GB
Published on Jan 14, 2011 in Philosophy (Ancient Greek)

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This paper delves in the Hellenistic philosophies of dogmatism and scepticism, noting that the Greek philosophical schools of the Hellenistic age were divided over the possibility of distinguishing between true and false impressions. The paper explains that philosophers from the Stoic and Epicurean schools, "dogmatists," provided theories on how this distinction was to be made, but fully believed in the possibility of doing so. Conversely, the paper asserts, the Academics and Pyrrhonists, "sceptics," challenged the belief that it was indeed feasible to discriminate between a true and false belief. These exegetical and opposing positions on epistemology were upheld during the entire Hellenistic period and came to characterize the philosophy of that time, the paper contends. The paper concludes that although a broader statement of suggesting that all dogmatists and all sceptics interacted in this manner, it is certain to say that the Academics and Stoics, with regard to cognitive impressions, can definitely to be judged to be in continuous dialectic.

From the Paper:

"The final proof to display the existence of a lively and constant exchange between the Academics and the Stoics is shown by the Stoic response to the indiscernability thesis. An answer is given for both subjective and objective indiscernability before a further clause is added to the definition of the cognitive impression in lieu of the Academic challenge. The Stoics respond to subjective indiscernability by claiming that impressions received in an abnormal state are not the impressions of a normal person, and so, do not affect the status of the cognitive impression's definition. With regard to the objective indiscernability, the Stoics have a much more substantial response. They refute the claims by using their metaphysical principle that there is nothing in the world that is exactly alike anything else in the world. Stoics also provide the argument that, with training, there is the ability to distinguish between similar-looking objects, like a mother can between twins and a farmer can between eggs. All that is needed is to be an expert in the certain field to certainly attain a cognitive impression. Of course, the Stoics recognise that the world is full of people who make poor decisions and cannot recognise cognitive impressions. The point is only that it is possible for knowledge to exist, recognised by cognitive impressions. Academic arguments for indiscernability have, therefore, been considered and refuted by the Stoic school actively engaging in a discussion with their counterparts. It is not within the context of this essay to arbitrarily decide which side was the more convincing, but rather recognise the presence of a dialectic exchange occurring. A further consequence of this latest debate was a further adaptation to the definition of the cognitive impression. Added to the definition was the statement that a cognitive impression was 'one which has no impediment'. Further showing a Stoic proposition that is in direct relation to an Academic notion. From this moment there seems to be a stand-of between the Stoics and the Academics, where each side '...regards itself as adequately meeting the other side's points, and establishing its case'. No longer is the definition for the cognitive impression adapted, precisely because there are no more new threats produced from the Academy. However, the final clause was definitively produced because of the dialectic that occurred between the two schools, and more specifically, because of the indiscernability these of the Academics."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Allen. J. Academic Probabilism and Stoic Epistemology. The Classical Quarterly. 44. (1994), pp. 85-113.
  • Annas. J. 'Stoic Epistemology' in Inwood. B. (ed.). 1990. Epistemology (Cambridge Companions to Ancient Thought I). (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 184-203.
  • Cooper. J.M. 2004. Knowledge, Nature, and the Good. Essays on Ancient Philosophy. (Princeton: Princeton University Press).
  • Frede. M. 1987. Essays in Ancient Philosophy. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).
  • Frede. M. 'Stoic Epistemology' in Algra. K., Barnes. J., Mansfeld. J. & Schofield. M. (eds.). 2005. The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 295-322.

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