Pyrrhonian position whereby even the dialectic undermining the trickster reason is eventually itself to be regarded quizzically: in his famous metaphor, it acts like a purgative, expelling itself along with the diseases it cures.His scepticism is confined to the adela or theoretical world beyond experience; central to his philosophy is the distinction between indicative signs, which are signs taken improperly, as pointing to things lying beyond experience, and commemorative or recollective.The distinction anticipates the.British empiricists ' difficulties in understanding how ideas can ever represent anything except more ideas.Sextus' writings include many central themes of these successors, including a distinction between primary and secondary qualities, and a view of causation similar to Hume's.The aim of scepticism is to show how in life we must take appearances as they come, and the virtue of the sceptic is the imperturbability ( ataraxia ) with which he confronts the fact that this is all we can.
Sextus Empiricus was a Pyrrhonian Skeptic living probably in the second or third century CE, many of whose works survive, including the.Outlines of Pyrrhonism, which is the best and fullest account we have of Pyrrhonian skepticism.(Book I of that work consists of Sextus codification of the nature of Pyrrhonian skepticism, which he contrasts with the outlooks of other schools of philosophy.) Fittingly, we know little or nothing about the life of Sextus Empiricus, including when and where he lived.Best estimates put him anywhere between 100 CE and the first half of the third century CE (House 1980 but it has been suggested that he was already well known by the end of the second century (Barnes 2000: xii).Sextus is called Empiricus because he belonged to the Empirical School of Medicine (Deichgrber 1965: 401).There were three main schools of medicine, the Rationalists, the Empiricists, and the Methodists.
Confusingly, even though Sextus was an Empiricist, he actually states.Outlines of Pyrrhonism, i 236 that while Pyrrhonism is very similar to the Empirical School of Medicine, Pyrrhonists might rather adopt Methodism.This is a standing puzzle for interpreters of Sextus (see section.7 below).