What is it about?
This paper aims to examine a specific passage of Sextus Empiricus’s work: the final section of the second book of the Outlines of Pyrrhonism (=ph ii, 229–259), about the question of the validity or invalidity and ‘pragmatic dissolution’ of sophisms.
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Why is it important?
I shall concentrate my attention on a very limited yet crucial topic, namely the question of the validity or invalidity and ‘pragmatic dis-solution’ of an allegedly strong tool such as sophisms and their dialectical structure. Such a theme is treated by Sextus in a very specific passage of his work, in the final section of the second book of the Outlines of Pyrrhonism (=PH II, 229-259) . And one should also always bear in mind that this is the only place where Sextus deals with sophisms; indeed, neither are there any parallel passages in the books Against the Logicians (M VII-VIII) nor any vague traces anywhere else in his rich corpus (although we parenthetically read in PH II 259: “However, we shall also discuss these matters later on”). Once granted that these chapters are a sort of conceptual 'hapax legomenon' , it seems evident that they acquire the role of a very valuable source for judging not only the dogmatic assumptions condemned by Sextus, but also (and especially) the Pyrrhonian ‘way out’ from the presumed impasse generated by sophisms.
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This page is a summary of: Dialectic and Sophisms: The Sceptical Dissolution of Dogmatic Logic, Méthexis, March 2022, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/24680974-34010006.
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