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4.1: Pyrrhonism

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    SEXTUS EMPIRICUS - OUTLINES OF PYRRHONISM, Book 135

    CHAPTER I. -- OF THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PHILOSOPHIC SYSTEMS

    The natural result of any investigation is that the investigators either discover the object of search or deny that it is discoverable and confess it to be inapprehensible or persist in their search. So, too, with regard to the objects investigated by philosophy, this is probably why some have claimed to have discovered the truth, others have asserted that it cannot be apprehended, while others again go on inquiring. Those who believe, they have discovered it are the "Dogmatists," specially so called -- Aristotle, for example, and Epicurus and the Stoics and certain others; Cleitomachus and Carneades and other Academics treat it as inapprehensible: the Sceptics keep on searching. Hence it seems reasonable to hold that the main types of philosophy are three -- the Dogmatic, the Academic, and the Sceptic. Of the other systems it will best become others to speak: our task it present is to describe in outline the Sceptic doctrines first premising that of none of our future statements do we positively affirm that the fact is exactly as we state it, but we simply record each fact, like a chronicler, as it appears to us at the moment.

    CHAPTER II. -- OF THE ARGUMENTS OF SCEPTICISM

    Of the Sceptic philosophy one argument (or branch of exposition) is called "general," the other "special." In the general argument we set forth the distinctive features of Scepticism, stating its purport and principles, its logical methods, criterion, and end or aim; the "Tropes," also, or "Modes," which lead to suspension of judgement, and in what sense we adopt the Sceptic formulae, and the distinction between Scepticism and the philosophies which stand next to it. In the special argument we state our objections regarding the several divisions of so-called philosophy. Let us, then, deal first with the general argument, beginning our description with the names given to the Sceptic School.

    CHAPTER III. -- OF THE NOMENCLATURE OF SCEPTICISM

    The Sceptic School, then, is also called "Zetetic" from its activity in investigation and inquiry, and "Ephectic" or Suspensive from the state of mind produced in the inquirer after his search, and "Aporetic" or Dubitative either from its habit of doubting and seeking, as some say, or from its indecision as regards assent and denial, and "Pyrrhonean" from the fact that Pyrrho appears to us to have applied himself to Scepticism more thoroughly and more conspicuously than his predecessors.

    CHAPTER IV. -- WHAT SCEPTICISM IS

    Scepticism is an ability, or mental attitude, which opposes appearances to judgements in any way whatsoever, with the result that, owing to the equipollence of the objects and reasons thus opposed, we are brought firstly to a state of mental suspense and next to a state of "unperturbedness" or quietude. Now we call it an "ability" not in any subtle sense, but simply in respect of its "being able." By "appearances" we now mean the objects of sense-perception, whence we contrast them with the objects of thought or "judgements." The phrase "in any way whatsoever" can be connected either with the word "ability," to make us take the word "ability," as we said, in its simple sense, or with the phrase "opposing appearances to judgements"; for inasmuch as we oppose these in a variety of ways – appearances to appearances, or judgements to judgements, or alternando appearances to judgements, -- in order to ensure the inclusion of all these antitheses we employ the phrase "in any way whatsoever." Or, again, we join "in any way whatsoever" to "appearances and judgements" in order that we may not have to inquire how the appearances appear or how the thought-objects are judged, but may take these terms in the simple sense. The phrase "opposed judgements" we do not employ in the sense of negations and affirmations only but simply as equivalent to "conflicting judgements." "Equipollence" we use of equality in respect of probability and improbability, to indicate that no one of the conflicting judgements takes precedence of any other as being more probable. "Suspense" is a state of mental rest owing to which we neither deny nor affirm anything. "Quietude" is an untroubled and tranquil condition of soul. And how quietude enters the soul along with suspension of judgement we shall explain in our chapter (XII.) "Concerning the End."

    CHAPTER V. -- OF THE SCEPTIC

    In the definition of the system there is also implicitly included that of the Pyrrhonean philosopher: he is the man who participates in this "ability."

    CHAPTER VI. -- OF THE PRINCIPLES OF SCEPTICISM

    The originating cause of Scepticism is, we say, the hope of attaining quietude. Men of talent, who were perturbed by the contradictions in things and in doubt as to which of the alternatives they ought to accept, were led on to inquire what is true in things and what false, hoping by the settlement of this question to attain quietude. The main basic principle of the Sceptic system is that of opposing to every proposition an equal proposition; for we believe that as a consequence of this we end by ceasing to dogmatize.

    CHAPTER VII. -- DOES THE SCEPTIC DOGMATIZE?

    When we say that the Sceptic refrains from dogmatizing we do not use the term "dogma," as some do, in the broader sense of "approval of a thing" for the Sceptic gives assent to the feelings which are the necessary results of sense-impressions, and he would not, for example, say when feeling hot or cold "I believe that I am not hot or cold"); but we say that "he does not dogmatize" using "dogma" in the sense, which some give it, of "assent to one of the non-evident objects of scientific inquiry"; for the Pyrrhonean philosopher assents to nothing that is non-evident. Moreover, even in the act of enunciating the Sceptic formulae concerning things non-evident -- such as the formula "No more (one thing than another)," or the formula "I determine nothing," or any of the others which we shall presently mention he does not dogmatize. For whereas the dogmatizer posits the things about which he is said to be dogmatizing as really existent, the Sceptic does not posit these formulae in any absolute sense; for he conceives that, just as the formula "All things are false" asserts the falsity of itself as well as of everything else, as does the formula "Nothing is true," so also the formula "No more" asserts that itself, like all the rest, is "No more (this than that)," and thus cancels itself along with the rest. And of the other formulae we say the same. If then, while the dogmatizer posits the matter of his dogma as substantial truth, the Sceptic enunciates his formulae so that they are virtually cancelled by themselves, he should not be said to dogmatize in his enunciation of them. And, most important of all, in his enunciation of these formulae he states what appears to himself and announces his own impression in an undogmatic way, without making any positive assertion regarding the external realities.

    CHAPTER VIII. -- HAS THE SCEPTIC A DOCTRINAL RULE?

    We follow the same lines in replying to the question "Has the Sceptic a doctrinal rule?" For if one defines a "doctrinal rule" as "adherence to a number of dogmas which are dependent both on one another and on appearances," and defines "dogma" as "assent to a nonevident proposition," then we shall say that he has not a doctrinal rule. But if one defines "doctrinal rule" as "procedure which, in accordance with appearance, follows a certain line of reasoning, that reasoning indicating how it is possible to seem to live rightly (the word 'rightly' being taken, not as referring to virtue only, but in a wider sense) and tending to enable one to suspend judgement, then we say that he has a doctrinal rule. For we follow a line of reasoning which, in accordance with appearances, points us to a life conformable to the customs of our country and its laws and institutions, and to our own instinctive feelings.

    CHAPTER IX. -- DOES THE SCEPTIC DEAL WITH PHYSICS?

    We make a similar reply also to the question "Should the Sceptic deal with physical problems?" For while, on the one hand, so far as regards making, firm and positive assertions about any of the matters dogmatically treated in physical theory, we do not deal with physics; yet, on the other hand, in respect of our mode of opposing to every proposition an equal proposition and of our theory of quietude we do treat of physics. This, too, is the way in which we approach the logical and ethical branches of so-called "philosophy."

    CHAPTER X. – DO THE SCEPTICS ABOLISH APPEARANCES?

    Those who say that "the Sceptics abolish appearances," or phenomena, seem to me to be unacquainted with the statements of our School. For, as we said above, we do not overthrow the affective sense-impressions which induce our assent involuntarily; and these impressions are "the appearances." And when we question whether the underlying object is such as it appears, we grant the fact that it appears, and our doubt does not concern the appearance itself but the account given of that appearance, -- and that is a different thing from questioning the appearance itself. For example, honey appears to us to be sweet (and this we grant, for we perceive sweetness through the senses), but whether it is also sweet in its essence is for us a matter of doubt, since this is not an appearance but a judgement regarding the appearance. And even if we do actually argue against the appearances, we do not propound such arguments with the intention of abolishing appearances, but by way of pointing out the rashness of the Dogmatists; for if reason is such a trickster as to all but snatch away the appearances from under our very eyes, surely we should view it with suspicion in the case of things non-evident so as not to display rashness by following it.

    CHAPTER XI. -- OF THE CRITERION OF SCEPTICISM

    That we adhere to appearances is plain from what we say about the Criterion of the Sceptic School. The word "Criterion" is used in two senses: in the one it means "the standard regulating belief in reality or unreality," (and this we shall discuss in our refutation); in the other it denotes the standard of action by conforming to which in the conduct of life we perform some actions and abstain from others; and it is of the latter that we are now speaking. The criterion, then, of the Sceptic School is, we say, the appearance, giving this name to what is virtually the sense-presentation. For since this lies in feeling and involuntary affection, it is not open to question. Consequently, no one, I suppose, disputes that the underlying object has this or that appearance; the point in dispute is whether the object is in reality such as it appears to be.

    Adhering, then, to appearances we live in accordance with the normal rules of life, undogmatically, seeing that we cannot remain wholly inactive. And it would seem that this regulation of life is fourfold, and that one part of it lies in the guidance of Nature, another in the constraint of the passions, Another in the tradition of laws and customs, another in the instruction of the arts. Nature's guidance is that by which we are naturally capable of sensation and thought; constraint of the passions is that whereby hunger drives us to food and thirst to drink; tradition of customs and laws, that whereby we regard piety in the conduct of life as good, but impiety as evil; instruction of the arts, that whereby we are not inactive in such arts as we adopt. But we make all these statements undogmatically.

    CHAPTER XII. -- WHAT IS THE END OF SCEPTICISM?

    Our next subject will be the end of the Sceptic system. Now an "end" is "that for which all actions or reasonings are undertaken, while it exists for the sake of none"; or, otherwise, "the ultimate object of appentency." We assert still that the Sceptic's End is quietude in respect of matters of opinion and moderate feeling in respect of things unavoidable. For the skeptic, having set out to philosophize with the object of passing judgment on the sense impressions and ascertaining which of them are true and which false, so as to attain quietude thereby, found himself involved in contradictions of equal weight, and being unable to decide between them suspended judgment; and as he was thus in suspense there followed, as it happened, the state of quietude in respect of matters of opinion. For the man who opines that anything is by nature good or bad is for ever being disquieted: when he is without the things which he deems good he believes himself to be tormented by things naturally bad and he pursues after the things which are, as he thinks, good; which when he has obtained he keeps falling into still more perturbations because of his irrational and immoderate elation, and in his dread of a change of fortune he uses every endeavor to avoid losing the things which he deems good. On the other hand, the man who determines nothing as to what is naturally good or bad neither shuns nor pursues anything eagerly; and, in consequence, he is unperturbed.

    The Sceptic, in fact, had the same experience which is said to have befallen the painter Apelles. Once, they say, when he was painting a horse and wished to represent in the painting the horse's foam, he was so unsuccessful that he gave up the attempt and flung at the picture the sponge on which he used to wipe the paints off his brush, and the mark of the sponge produced the effect of a horse's foam. So, too, the Sceptics were in hopes of gaining quietude by means of a decision regarding the disparity of the objects of sense and of thought, and being unable to effect this they suspended judgment; and they found that quietude, as if by chance, followed upon their suspense, even as a shadow follows its substance. We do not, however, suppose that the Sceptic is wholly untroubled; but we say that he is troubled by things unavoidable; for we grant that he is cold at times and thirsty, and suffers various affections of that kind. But even in these cases, whereas ordinary people are afflicted by two circumstances, -- namely, by the affections themselves and, in no less a degree, by the belief that these conditions are evil by nature, --the Sceptic, by his rejection of the added belief in the natural badness of all these conditions, escapes here too with less discomfort. Hence we say that, while in regard to matters of opinion the Sceptic's End is quietude, in regard to things unavoidable it is "moderate affection." But some notable Sceptics have added the further definition "suspension of judgment in investigations."

    CHAPTER XIII. -- OF THE GENERAL MODES LEADING TO THE SUSPENSION OF JUDGEMENT

    Now that we have been saying that tranquillity follows on suspension of judgment, it will be our next task to explain how we arrive at this suspension. Speaking generally, one may say that it is the result of setting things in opposition. We oppose either appearances to appearances or objects of thought to objects of thought or alternando. For instance, we oppose appearances to appearances when we say "The same tower appears round from a distance, but square from close at hand"; and thoughts to thoughts, when in answer to him who argues the existence of providence from the order of the heavenly bodies we oppose the fact that often the good fare ill and the bad fare well, and draw from this the inference that providence does not exist. And thoughts we oppose to appearances, as when Anaxagoras countered the notion that snow is white with the argument, "Snow is frozen water, and water is black; therefore snow also is black." With a different idea we oppose things present sometimes to things present, as in the foregoing examples, and sometimes to things past or future, as, for instance, when someone propounds to us a theory which we are unable to refute, we say to him in reply, "Just as, before the birth of the founder of the school to which you belong, the theory it holds was not as yet apparent as a sound theory, although it was really in existence, so likewise it is possible that the opposite theory to that which you now propound is already existent, though not yet apparent to us, so that we ought not as yet to yield assent to this theory which at the moment seems to be valid."

    But in order that we may have a more exact understanding of these antitheses I will describe the modes by which suspension of judgment is brought about, but without making any positive assertion regarding either their number or their validity; for it is possible that they may be unsound or there may be more of them than I shall enumerate.

    CHAPTER XIV. -- CONCERNING THE TEN MODES

    The usual tradition amongst the older skeptics is that the "modes" by which "suspension" is supposed to be brought about are ten in number; and they also give them the synonymous names of "arguments" and "positions." They are these: the first, based on the variety in animals; the second, on the differences in human beings; the third, on the different structures of the organs of sense; the fourth, on the circumstantial conditions; the fifth, on positions and intervals and locations; the sixth, on intermixtures; the seventh, on the quantities and formations of the underlying objects; the eighth, on the fact of relativity; the ninth, on the frequency or rarity of occurrence; the tenth, on the disciplines and customs and laws, the legendary beliefs and the dogmatic convictions. This order, however, we adopt without prejudice.

    As superordinate to these there stand three Modes -- that based on the subject who judges, that on the object judged, and that based on both. The first four of the ten Modes are subordinate to the Mode based on the subject (for the subject which judges is either an animal or a man or a sense, and existent in some condition): the seventh and tenth Modes are referred to that based on the object judged: the fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth are referred to the Mode based on both subject and object. Furthermore, these three Modes are also referred to that of relation, so that the Mode of relation stands as the highest genus, and the three as species, and the ten as subordinate subspecies. We give this as the probable account of their numbers; and as to their argumentative force what we say is this:

    The First argument (or Trope), as we said, is that which shows that the same impressions are not produced by the same objects owing to the differences in animals. This we infer both from the differences in their origins and from the variety of their bodily structures. Thus, as to origin, some animals are produced without sexual union, others by coition. And of those produced without coition, some come from fire, like the animalcules which appear in furnaces, others from putrid water, like gnats; others from wine when it turns sour, like ants; others from earth, like grasshoppers; others from marsh, like frogs; others from mud, like worms; others from asses, like beetles; others from greens, like caterpillars; others from fruits, like the gall-insects in wild figs; others from rotting animals, as bees from bulls and wasps from horses. Of the animals generated by coition, some -- in fact the majority -- come from homogeneous parents, others from heterogeneous parents, as do mules. Again, of animals in general, some are born alive, like men; others are born as eggs, like birds; and yet others as lumps of flesh, like bears. It is natural, then, that these dissimilar and variant modes of birth should produce much contrariety of sense affection, and that this is a source of its divergent, discordant, and conflicting character.

    Moreover, the differences found in the most important parts of the body, and especially in those of which the natural function is judging and perceiving, are capable of producing a vast deal of divergence in the sense-impressions [owing to the variety in the animals]. Thus, sufferers from jaundice declare that objects which seem to us white are yellow, while those whose eyes are bloodshot call them blood-red. Since, then, some animals have eyes which are yellow, others bloodshot, others albino, others of other colors, they probably, I suppose, have different perceptions of color. Moreover, if we bend down over a book after having gazed long and fixedly at the sun, the letters seem to us to be golden in color and circling round. Since, then, some animals possess also a natural brilliance in their eyes, and emit from them a fine and mobile stream of light, so that they can even see by night, we seem bound to suppose that they are differently affected from us by external objects. Jugglers, too, by means of smearing lamp wicks with the rust of copper or with the juice of the cuttlefish make the bystanders appear now copper-colored and now black -- and that by just a small sprinkling of extra matter. Surely, then, we have much more reason to suppose that when different juices are intermingled in the vision of animals their impressions of the objects will become different. Again, when we press the eyeball at one side the forms, figures, and sizes of the objects appear oblong and narrow. So it is probable that all animals which have the pupil of the eye slanting and elongated such as goats, cats, and similar animals -- have impressions of the objects which are different and unlike the notions formed of them by the animals which have round pupils. Mirrors, too, owing to differences in their construction, represent the external objects at one time as very small -- as when the mirror is concave, -- at another time as elongated and narrow -- as when the mirror is convex. Some mirrors, too, show the head of the figure reflected at the bottom and the feet at the top. Since, then, some organs of sight actually protrude beyond the face owing to their convexity, while others are quite concave, and others again lie in a level plane, on this account also it is probable that their impressions differ, and that the same objects, as seen by dogs, fishes, lions, men, and locusts, are neither equal in size nor similar in shape, but vary according to the image of each object created by the particular sight that receives the impression.

    Of the other sense organs also the same account holds good. Thus, in respect of touch, how could one maintain that creatures covered with shells, with flesh, with prickles, with feathers, with scales, are all similarly affected? And as for the sense of hearing, how could we say that its perceptions are alike in animals with a very narrow auditory passage and those with a very wide one, or in animals with hairy ears and those with smooth ears? For, as regards this sense, even we ourselves find our hearing affected in one way when we have our ears plugged and in another way when we use them just as they are. Smell also will differ because of the variety in animals. For if we ourselves are affected in one way when we have a cold and our internal phlegm is excessive, and in another way when the parts about our head are filled with an excess of blood, feeling an aversion to smells which seem sweet to everyone else and regarding them as noxious, it is reasonable to suppose that animals too -- since some are flaccid by nature and rich in phlegm, others rich in blood, others marked by a predominant excess of yellow or of black gall -- are in each case impressed in different ways by the objects of smell. So too with the objects of taste; for some animals have rough and dry tongues, others extremely moist tongues. We ourselves, too, when our tongues are very dry, in cases of fever, think the food proffered us to be earthy and ill-flavored or bitter -- an affection due to the variation in the predominating juices which we are said to contain. Since, then, animals also have organs of taste which differ and which have different juices in excess, in respect of taste also they will receive different impressions of the real objects. For just as the same food when digested becomes in one place a vein, in another an artery, in another a bone, in another a sinew, or some other piece of the body, displaying a different potency according to the difference in the parts which receive it; -- and just as the same unblended water, when it is absorbed by trees, becomes in one place bark, in another branch, in another blossom, and so finally fig and quince and each of the other fruits; -- and just as the single identical breath of a musician breathed into a flute becomes here a shrill note and there a deep note, and the same pressure of his hand on the lyre produces here a deep note and there a shrill note, -- so likewise is it probable that the external objects appear different owing to differences in the structure of the animals which experience the sense-impressions.

    But one may learn this more clearly from the preferences and aversions of animals. Thus, sweet oil seems very agreeable to men, but intolerable to beetles and bees; and olive oil is beneficial to men, but when poured on wasps and bees it destroys them; and seawater is a disagreeable and poisonous potion for men, but fish drink and enjoy it. Pigs, too, enjoy wallowing in the stinking mire rather than in clear and clean water. And whereas some animals eat grass, others eat shrubs, others feed in the woods, others live on seeds or flesh or milk; some of them, too, prefer their food high, others like it fresh, and while some prefer it raw, others like it cooked. And so generally, the things which are agreeable to some are to others disagreeable, distasteful, and deadly. Thus, quails are fattened by hemlock, and pigs by henbane; and pigs also enjoy eating salamanders, just as deer enjoy poisonous creatures, and swallows gnats. So ants and wood lice, when swallowed by men, cause distress and gripings, whereas the bear, whenever she falls sick, cures herself by licking them up. The mere touch of an oak twig paralyses the viper, and that of a plane leaf the bat. The elephant flees from the ram, the lion from the cock, sea monsters from the crackle of bursting beans, and the tiger from the sound of a drum. One might, indeed, cite many more examples, but --not to seem unduly prolix -- if the same things are displeasing to some but pleasing to others, and pleasure and displeasure depend upon sense impression, then animals receive different impressions from the underlying objects.

    But if the same things appear different owing to the variety in animals, we shall, indeed, be able to state our own impressions of the real object, but as to its essential nature we shall suspend judgment. For we cannot ourselves judge between our own impressions and those of other animals, since we ourselves are involved in the dispute and are, therefore, rather in need of a judge than competent to pass judgment ourselves. Besides, we are unable, either with or without proof, to prefer our own impressions to those of the irrational animals. For in addition to the probability that proof is, as we shall show, a nonentity, the so-called proof itself will be either apparent to us or non-apparent. If, then, it is non-apparent, we shall not accept it with confidence; while if it is apparent to us, inasmuch as what is apparent to animals is the point in question and the proof is apparent to us who are animals, it follows that we shall have to question the proof itself as to whether it is as true as it is apparent. It is, indeed, absurd to attempt to establish the matter in question by means of the matter in question, since in that case the same thing will be at once believed and disbelieved, -- believed in so far as it purports to prove, but disbelieved in so far as it requires proof, -- which is impossible. Consequently we shall not possess a proof which enables us to give our own sense impressions the preference over those of the so-called irrational animals. If, then, owing to the variety in animals their sense impressions differ, and it is impossible to judge between them, we must necessarily suspend judgment regarding the external underlying objects.

    By way of super-addition, too, we draw comparisons between mankind and the so-called irrational animals in respect of their sense impressions. For, after our solid arguments, we deem it quite proper to poke fun at those conceited braggarts, the Dogmatists. As a rule, our school compare the irrational animals in the mass with mankind, but since the Dogmatists captiously assert that the comparison is unequal, we – super-adding yet more -- will carry our ridicule further and base our argument on one animal only, the dog for instance if you like, which is held to be the most worthless of animals. For even in this case we shall find that the animals we are discussing are no wise inferior to ourselves in respect of the credibility of their impressions.

    Now it is allowed by the Dogmatists that this animal, the dog, excels us in point of sensation: as to smell it is more sensitive than we are, since by this sense it tracks beasts that it cannot see; and with its eyes it sees them more quickly than we do; and with its ears it is keen of perception. Next let us proceed with the reasoning faculty. Of reason one kind is internal, implanted in the soul, the other externally expressed. Let us consider first the internal reason. Now according to those Dogmatists who are, at present, our chief opponents -- I mean the Stoics -- internal reason is supposed to be occupied with the following matters: the choice of things congenial and the avoidance of things alien; the knowledge of the arts contributing thereto; the apprehension of the virtues pertaining to one's proper nature and of those relating to the passions. Now the dog -- the animal upon which, by way of example, we have decided to base our argument -- exercises choice of the congenial and avoidance of the harmful, in that it hunts after food and slinks away from a raised whip. Moreover, it possesses an art which supplies that which is congenial, namely hunting. Nor is it devoid even of virtue; for certainly if justice consists in rendering to each his due, the dog that welcomes and guards its friends and benefactors but drives off strangers and evildoers, cannot be lacking in justice. But if he possesses this virtue, then, since the virtues are interdependent, he possesses also all the other virtues; and these, say the philosophers, the majority of men do not possess. That the dog is also valiant we see by the way he repels attacks, and intelligent as well, as Homer too testified when he sang how Odysseus went unrecognized by all the people of his own household and was recognized only by the dog Argus, who neither was deceived by the bodily alterations of the hero nor had lost his original apprehensive impression, which indeed he evidently retained better than the men. And according to Chrysippus, who shows special interest in irrational animals, the dog even shares in the far-famed "Dialectic." This person, at any rate, declares that the dog makes use of the fifth complex indemonstrable syllogism when, arriving at a spot where three ways meet, after smelling at the two roads by which the quarry did not pass, he rushes off at once by the third without stopping to smell. For, says the old writer, the dog implicitly reasons thus: "The creature went either by this road, or by that, or by the other: but it did not go by this road or by that: therefore it went by the other." Moreover, the dog is capable of comprehending and assuaging his own sufferings; for when a thorn has got stuck in his foot he hastens to remove it by rubbing his foot on the ground and by using his teeth. And if he has a wound anywhere, because dirty wounds are hard to cure whereas clean ones heal easily, the dog gently licks off the pus that has gathered. Nay more, the dog admirably observes the prescription of Hippocrates: rest being what cures the foot, whenever he gets his foot hurt he lifts it up and keeps it as far as possible free from pressure. And when distressed by unwholesome humors he eats grass, by the help of which he vomits what is unwholesome and gets well again. If, then, it has been shown that the animal upon which, as an example, we have based our argument not only chooses the wholesome and avoids the noxious, but also possesses an art capable of supplying what is wholesome, and is capable of comprehending and assuaging its own sufferings, and is not devoid of virtue, then -- these being the things in which the perfection of internal reasons consists -- the dog will be thus far perfect. And that, I suppose, is why certain of the professors of philosophy have adorned themselves with the title of this animal.

    Concerning external reason, or speech, it is unnecessary for the present to inquire; for it has been rejected even by some of the Dogmatists as being a hindrance to the acquisition of virtue, for which reason they used to practice silence during the period of instruction; and besides, supposing that a man is dumb, no one will therefore call him irrational. But to pass over these cases, we certainly see animals -- the subject of our argument -- uttering quite human cries, -- jays, for instance, and others. And, leaving this point also aside, even if we do not understand the utterances of the so-called irrational animals, still it is not improbable that they converse although we fail to understand them; for in fact when we listen to the talk of barbarians we do not understand it, and it seems to us a kind of uniform chatter. Moreover, we hear dogs uttering one sound when they are driving people off, another when they are howling, and one sound when beaten, and a quite different sound when fawning. And so in general, in the case of all other animals as well as the dog, whoever examines the matter carefully will find a great variety of utterance according to the different circumstances, so that, in consequence, the so-called irrational animals may justly be said to participate in external reason. But if they neither fall short of mankind in the accuracy of their perceptions, nor in internal reason, nor yet (to go still further) in external reason, or speech, then they will deserve no less credence than ourselves in respect of their sense impressions. Probably, too, we may reach this conclusion by basing our argument on each single class of irrational animals. Thus, for example, who would deny that birds excel in quickness of wit or that they employ external reason? For they understand not only present events but future events as well, and these they foreshow to such as are able to comprehend them by means of prophetic cries as well as by other signs.

    I have drawn this comparison (as I previously indicated) by way of super-addition, having already sufficiently proved, as I think, that we cannot prefer our own sense impressions to those of the irrational animals. If, however, the irrational animals are not less worthy of credence than we in regard to the value of sense impressions, and their impressions vary according to the variety of animal, -- then, although I shall be able to say what the nature of each of the underlying objects appears to me to be, I shall be compelled, for the reasons stated above, to suspend judgment as to its real nature.

    Such, then, is the First of the Modes which induce suspense. The Second Mode is, as we said, that based on the differences in men; for even if we grant for the sake of argument that men are more worthy of credence than irrational animals, we shall find that even our own differences of themselves lead to suspense. For man, you know, is said to be compounded of two things, soul and body, and in both these we differ one from another.

    Thus, as regards the body, we differ in our figures and "idiosyncrasies," or constitutional peculiarities. The body of an Indian differs in shape from that of a Scythian; and it is said that what causes the variation is a difference in the predominant humors. Owing to this difference in the predominant humors the sense impressions also come to differ, as we indicated in our first argument. So too in respect of choice and avoidance of external objects men exhibit great differences: thus Indians enjoy some things, our people other things, and the enjoyment of different things is an indication that we receive varying impressions from the underlying objects. In respect of our "idiosyncrasies," our differences are such that some of us digest the flesh of oxen more easily than rockfish, or get diarrhea from the weak wine of Lesbos. An old wife of Attica, they say, swallowed with impunity thirty drams of hemlock, and Lysis took four drams of poppy juice without hurt. Demophon, Alexander's butler, used to shiver when he was in the sun or in a hot bath, but felt warm in the shade: Athenagoras the Argive took no hurt from the stings of scorpions and poisonous spiders; and the Psyllaeans, as they are called, are not harmed by bites from snakes and asps, nor are the Tentyritae of Egypt harmed by the crocodile. Further, those Ethiopians who live beyond Lake Meroe on the banks of the river Astapous eat with impunity scorpions, snakes, and the like. Rufinus of Chalcis when he drank hellebore neither vomited nor suffered at all from the purging, but swallowed and digested it just like any other ordinary drink. Chrysermus the Herophilean doctor was liable to get a heart attack if ever he took pepper; and Soterichus the surgeon was seized with diarrhea whenever he smelled fried sprats. Andron the Argive was so immune from thirst that he actually traversed the waterless country of Libya without needing a drink. Tiberius Caesar could see in the dark, and Aristotle tells of a Thasian who fancied that the image of a man was continually going in front of him.

    Seeing, then, that men vary so much in body -- to content ourselves with but a few instances of the many collected by the Dogmatists, -- men probably also differ from one another in respect of the soul itself, for the body is a kind of expression of the soul, as in fact is proved by the science of Physiognomy. But the greatest proof of the vast and endless differences in men's intelligence is the discrepancy in the statements of the Dogmatists concerning the right objects of choice and avoidance, as well as other things. Regarding this the poets, too, have expressed themselves fittingly. Thus Pindar says:

    The crowns and trophies of his storm-foot steeds

    Give joy to one; yet others find it joy

    To dwell in gorgeous chambers gold-bedeckt;

    Some even take delight in voyaging

    O'er ocean's billows in a speeding barque.

    And the poet [Homer] says: "One thing is pleasing to one man, another thing to another." Tragedy, too, is full of such sayings; for example:

    Were fair and wise the same thing unto all,

    There had been no contentious quarrelling.

    And again:

    Tis strange that the same thing abhorrd by some

    Should give delight to others.

    Seeing, then, that choice and avoidance depend on pleasure and displeasure, while pleasure and displeasure depend on sensation and sense-impression, whenever some men choose the very things which are avoided by others, it is logical for us to conclude that they are also differently affected by the same things, since otherwise they would all alike have chosen or avoided the same things. But if the same objects affect men differently owing to the differences in the men, then, on this ground also, we shall reasonably be led to suspension of judgment. For while we are, no doubt, able to state what each of the underlying objects appears to be, relatively to each difference, we are incapable of explaining what it is in reality. For we shall have to believe either all men or some. But if we believe all, we shall be attempting the impossible and accepting contradictories; and if some, let us be told whose opinions we are to endorse. For the Platonist will say "Plato's", the Epicurean, "Epicurus's" -- and so on with the rest; and thus by their unsettled disputations they will bring us round again to a state of suspense. Moreover, he who maintains that we ought to assent to the majority is making a childish proposal, since no one is able to visit the whole of mankind and determine what pleases the majority of them -- for there may possibly be races of whom we know nothing amongst whom conditions rare with us are common, and conditions common with us rare, -- possibly, for instance, most of them feel no pain from the bites of spiders, though a few on rare occasions feel such pain; and so likewise with the rest of the "idiosyncrasies" mentioned above. Necessarily, therefore, the differences in men afford a further reason for bringing in suspension of judgment.

    When the Dogmatists -- a self-loving class of men -- assert that in judging things they ought to prefer themselves to other people, we know that their claim is absurd; for they themselves are a party to the controversy; and if, when judging appearances, they have already given the preference to themselves, then, by thus entrusting themselves with the judgment, they are begging the question before the judgment is begun. Nevertheless, in order that we may arrive at suspension of judgment by basing our argument on one person -- such as, for example, their visionary "Sage" -- we adopt the Mode which comes Third in order.

    This Third Mode is, we say, based on differences in the senses. That the senses differ from one another is obvious. Thus, to the eye paintings seem to have recesses and projections, but not so to the touch. Honey, too, seems to some pleasant to the tongue but unpleasant to the eyes; so that it is impossible to say whether it is absolutely pleasant or unpleasant. The same is true of sweet oil, for it pleases the sense of smell but displeases the taste. So too with spurge: since it pains the eyes but causes no pain to any other part of the body, we cannot say whether, in its real nature, it is absolutely painful or painless to bodies. Rain-water, too, is beneficial to the eyes but roughens the windpipe and the lungs; as also does olive oil, though it mollifies the epidermis. The cramp-fish, also, when applied to the extremities produces cramp, but it can be applied to the rest of the body without hurt. Consequently we are unable to say what is the real nature of each of these things, although it is possible to say what each thing at the moment appears to be.

    A longer list of examples might be given, but to avoid prolixity, in view of the plan of our treatise, we will say just this. Each of the phenomena perceived by the senses seems to be a complex: the apple, for example, seems smooth, odorous, sweet, and yellow. But it is non-evident whether it really possesses these qualities only; or whether it has but one quality but appears varied owing to the varying structure of the sense organs; or whether, again, it has more qualities than are apparent, some of which elude our perception. That the apple has but one quality might be argued from what we said above regarding the food absorbed by bodies, and the water sucked up by trees, and the breath in flutes and pipes and similar instruments; for the apple likewise may be all of one sort but appear different owing to differences in the sense organs in which perception takes place. And that the apple may possibly possess more qualities than those apparent to us we argue in this way. Let us imagine a man who possesses from birth the senses of touch, taste, and smell, but can neither hear nor see. This man, then, will assume that nothing visual or audible has any existence, but only those three kinds of qualities which he is able to apprehend. Possibly, then, we also, having only our five senses, perceive only such of the apple's qualities as we are capable of apprehending; and possibly it may possess other underlying qualities which affect other sense organs, though we, not being endowed with those organs, fail to apprehend the sense objects which come through them.

    "But," it may be objected, "Nature made the senses commensurate with the objects of sense." What kind of "Nature"? we ask, seeing that there exists so much unresolved controversy amongst the Dogmatists concerning the reality which belongs to Nature. For he who decides the question as to the existence of Nature will be discredited by them if he is an ordinary person, while if he is a philosopher he will be a party to the controversy and therefore himself subject to judgment and not a judge. If, however, it is possible that only those qualities which we seem to perceive subsist in the apple, or that a greater number subsist, or, again, that not even the qualities which affect us subsist, then it will be non-evident to us what the nature of the apple really is. And the same argument applies to all the other objects of sense. But if the senses do not apprehend external objects, neither can the mind apprehend them; hence, because of this argument also, we shall be driven, it seems, to suspend judgment regarding the external underlying objects.

    In order that we may finally reach suspension by basing our argument on each sense singly, or even by disregarding the senses, we further adopt the Fourth Mode of suspension. This is the Mode based, as we say, on the "circumstances," meaning by "circumstances" conditions or dispositions. And this Mode, we say, deals with states that are natural or unnatural, with waking or sleeping, with conditions due to age, motion or rest, hatred or love, emptiness or fullness, drunkenness or soberness, predispositions, confidence or fear, grief or joy. Thus, according as the mental state is natural or unnatural, objects produce dissimilar impressions, as when men in a frenzy or in a state of ecstasy believe they hear demons' voices, while we do not. Similarly they often say that they perceive an odor of storax or frankincense, or some such scent, and many other things, though we fail to perceive them. Also, the same water which feels very hot when poured on inflamed spots seems lukewarm to us. And the same coat which seems of a bright yellow color to men with bloodshot eyes does not appear so to me. And the same honey seems to me sweet, but bitter to men with jaundice. Now should anyone say that it is an intermixture of certain humors which produces in those who are in an unnatural state improper impressions from the underlying objects, we have to reply that, since healthy persons also have mixed humors, these humors too are capable of causing the external objects -- which really are such as they appear to those who are said to be in an unnatural state -- to appear other than they are to healthy persons. For to ascribe the power of altering the underlying objects to those humors, and not to these, is purely fanciful; since just as healthy men are in a state that is natural for the healthy but unnatural for the sick, so also sick men are in a state that is unnatural for the healthy but natural for the sick, so that to these last also we must give credence as being, relatively speaking, in a natural state.

    Sleeping and waking, too, give rise to different impressions, since we do not imagine when awake what we imagine in sleep, nor when asleep what we imagine when awake; so that the existence or non-existence of our impressions is not absolute but relative, being in relation to our sleeping or waking condition. Probably, then, in dreams we see things which to our waking state are unreal, although not wholly unreal; for they exist in our dreams, just as waking realities exist although non-existent in dreams.

    Age is another cause of difference. For the same air seems chilly to the old but mild to those in their prime; and the same color appears faint to older men but vivid to those in their prime; and similarly the same sound seems to the former faint, but to the latter clearly audible. Moreover, those who differ in age are differently moved in respect of choice and avoidance. For whereas children -- to take a case -- are all eagerness for balls and hoops, men in their prime choose other things, and old men yet others. And from this we conclude that differences in age also cause different impressions to be produced by the same underlying objects.

    Another cause why the real objects appear different lies in motion and rest. For those objects which, when we are standing still, we see to be motionless, we imagine to be in motion when we are sailing past them.

    Love and hatred are a cause, as when some have an extreme aversion to pork while others greatly enjoy eating it. Hence, too, Menander said:

    Mark now his visage, what a change is there

    Since he has come to this! How bestial!

    'Tis actions fair that make the fairest face.

    Many lovers, too, who have ugly mistresses think them most beautiful.

    Hunger and satiety are a cause; for the same food seems agreeable to the hungry but disagreeable to the sated.

    Drunkenness and soberness are a cause; since actions which we think shameful when sober do not seem shameful to us when drunk.

    Predispositions are a cause; for the same wine which seems sour to those who have previously eaten dates or figs, seems sweet to those who have just consumed nuts or chickpeas; and the vestibule of the bathhouse, which warms those entering from outside, chills those coming out of the bathroom if they stop long in it.

    Fear and boldness are a cause; as what seems to the coward fearful and formidable does not seem so in the least to the bold man.

    Grief and joy are a cause; since the same affairs are burdensome to those in grief but delightful to those who rejoice.

    Seeing then that the dispositions also are the cause of so much disagreement, and that men are differently disposed at different times, although, no doubt, it is easy to say what nature each of the underlying objects appears to each man to possess, we cannot go on to say what its real nature is, since the disagreement admits in itself of no settlement. For the person who tries to settle it is either in one of the aforementioned dispositions or in no disposition whatsoever. But to declare that he is in no disposition at all -- as, for instance, neither in health nor sickness, neither in motion nor at rest, of no definite age, and devoid of all the other dispositions as well -- is the height of absurdity. And if he is to judge the sense-impressions while he is in some one disposition, he will be a party to the disagreement, and, moreover, he will not be an impartial judge of the external underlying objects owing to his being confused by the dispositions in which he is placed. The waking person, for instance, cannot compare the impressions of sleepers with those of men awake, nor the sound person those of the sick with those of the sound; for we assent more readily to things present, which affect us in the present, than to things not present.

    In another way, too, the disagreement of such impressions is incapable of settlement. For he who prefers one impression to another, or one "circumstance" to another, does so either uncritically and without proof or critically and with proof; but he can do this neither without these means (for then he would be discredited) nor with them. For if he is to pass judgment on the impressions he must certainly judge them by a criterion; this criterion, then, he will declare to be true, or else false. But if false, he will be discredited; whereas, if he shall declare it to be true, he will be stating that the criterion is true either without proof or with proof. But if without proof, he will be discredited; and if with proof, it will certainly be necessary for the proof also to be true, to avoid being discredited. Shall he, then, affirm the truth of the proof adopted to establish the criterion after having judged it or without judging it? If without judging, he will be discredited; but if after judging, plainly he will say that he has judged it by a criterion; and of that criterion we shall ask for a proof, and of that proof again a criterion. For the proof always requires a criterion to confirm it, and the criterion also a proof to demonstrate its truth; and neither can a proof be sound without the previous existence of a true criterion nor can the criterion be true without the previous confirmation of the proof. So in this way both the criterion and the proof are involved in the circular process of reasoning, and thereby both are found to be untrustworthy; for since each of them is dependent on the credibility of the other, the one is lacking in credibility just as much as the other. Consequently, if a man can prefer one impression to another neither without a proof and a criterion nor with them, then the different impressions due to the differing conditions will admit of no settlement; so that as a result of this Mode also we are brought to suspend judgment regarding the nature of external realities.

    The Fifth Argument (or Trope) is that based on positions, distances, and locations; for owing to each of these the same objects appear different; for example, the same porch when viewed from one of its corners appears curtailed, but viewed from the middle symmetrical on all sides; and the same ship seems at a distance to be small and stationary, but from close at hand large and in motion; and the same tower from a distance appears round but from a near point quadrangular.

    These effects are due to distances; among effects due to locations are the following: the light of a lamp appears dim in the sun but bright in the dark; and the same oar bent when in the water but straight when out of the water; and the egg soft when inside the fowl but hard when in the air; and the jacinth fluid when in the lynx but hard when in the air; and the coral soft when in the sea but hard when in the air; and sound seems to differ in quality according as it is produced in a pipe, or in a flute, or simply in the air.

    Effects due to positions are such as these: the same painting when laid flat appears smooth, but when inclined forward at a certain angle it seems to have recesses and prominences. The necks of doves, also, appear different in hue according to the differences in the angle of inclination.

    Since, then, all apparent objects are viewed in a certain place, and from a certain distance, or in a certain position, and each of these conditions produces a great divergency in the sense-impressions, as we mentioned above, we shall be compelled by this mode also to end up in suspension of judgment. For in fact anyone who purposes to give the preference to any of these impressions will be attempting the impossible. For if he shall deliver his judgment simply and without proof, he will be discredited; and should he, on the other hand, desire to adduce proof, he will confute himself if he says that the proof is false, while if he asserts that the proof is true he will be asked for a proof of its truth, and again for a proof of this latter proof, since it also must be true, and so on ad infinitum. But to produce proofs to infinity is impossible; so that neither by the use of proofs will he be able to prefer one sense impression to another. If, then, one cannot hope to pass judgment on the afore-mentioned impressions either with or without proof, the conclusion we are driven to is suspension; for while we can, no doubt, state the nature which each object appears to possess as viewed in a certain position or at a certain distance or in a certain place, what its real nature is we are, for the foregoing reasons, unable to declare.

    The Sixth Mode is that based on admixtures, by which we conclude that, because none of the real objects affects our senses by itself but always in conjunction with something else, though we may possibly be able to state the nature of the resultant mixture formed by the external object and that along with which it is perceived, we shall not be able to say what is the exact nature of the external reality in itself. That none of the external objects affects our senses by itself but always in conjunction with something else, and that, in consequence, it assumes a different appearance, is, I imagine, quite obvious. Thus, our own complexion is of one hue in warm air, of another in cold, and we should not be able to say what our complexion really is, but only what it looks like in conjunction with each of these conditions. And the same sound appears of one sort in conjunction with rare air and of another sort with dense air; and odors are more pungent in a hot bathroom or in the sun than in chilly air; and a body is light when immersed in water but heavy when surrounded by air.

    But to pass on from the subject of external admixture, -- our eyes contain within themselves both membranes and liquids. Since, then, the objects of vision are not perceived apart from these, they will not be apprehended with exactness; for what we perceive is the resultant mixture, and because of this the sufferers from jaundice see everything yellow, and those with bloodshot eyes reddish like blood. And since the same sound seems of one quality in open places, of another in narrow and winding places, and different in clear air and in murky air, it is probable that we do not apprehend the sound in its real purity; for the ears have crooked and narrow passages, which are also befogged by various vaporous effluvia which are said to be emitted by the regions of the head. Moreover, since there reside substances in the nostrils and in the organs of taste, we apprehend the objects of taste and smell in conjunction with these and not in their real purity. So that, because of these admixtures, the senses do not apprehend the exact quality of the external real objects.

    Nor yet does the mind apprehend it, since, in the first place, its guides, which are the senses, go wrong; and probably, too, the mind itself adds a certain admixture of its own to the messages conveyed by the senses; for we observe that there are certain humors present in each of the regions which the Dogmatists regard as the seat of the "Ruling Principle" -- whether it be the brain or the heart, or in whatever part of the creature one chooses to locate it. Thus, according to this Mode also we see that, owing to our inability to make any statement about the real nature of external objects, we are compelled to suspend judgment.

    The Seventh Mode is that based, as we said, on the quantity and constitution of the underlying objects, meaning generally by "constitution" the manner of composition. And it is evident that by this Mode also we are compelled to suspend judgment concerning the real nature of the objects. Thus, for example, the filings of a goat's horns appear white when viewed simply by themselves and without combination, but when combined in the substance of the horn they look black. And silver filings appear black when they are by themselves, but when united to the whole mass they are sensed as white. And chips of the marble of Taenarum seem white when planed, but in combination with the whole block they appear yellow. And pebbles when scattered apart appear rough, but when combined in a heap they produce the sensation of softness. And hellebore if applied in a fine and powdery state produces suffocation, but not so when it is coarse. And wine strengthens us when drunk in moderate quantity, but when too much is taken it paralyzes the body. So likewise food exhibits different effects according to the quantity consumed; for instance, it frequently upsets the body with indigestion and attacks of purging because of the large quantity taken. Therefore in these cases, too, we shall be able to describe the quality of the shaving of the horn and of the compound made up of many shavings, and that of the particle of silver and of the compound of many particles, and that of the sliver of Taenarean marble and of the compound of many such small pieces, and the relative qualities of the pebbles, the hellebore, the wine, and the food, -- but when it comes to the independent and real nature of the objects, this we shall be unable to describe because of the divergency in the sense impressions which is due to the combinations.

    As a general rule, it seems that wholesome things become harmful when used in immoderate quantities, and things that seem hurtful when taken to excess cause no harm when in minute quantities. What we observe in regard to the effects of medicines is the best evidence in support of our statement; for there the exact blending of the simple drugs makes the compound wholesome, but when the slightest over-sight is made in the measuring, as sometimes happens, the compound is not only unwholesome but frequently even most harmful and deleterious. Thus the argument from quantities and compositions causes confusion as to the real nature of the external substances. Probably, therefore, this Mode also will bring us round to a suspension of judgment, as we are unable to make any absolute statement concerning the real nature of external objects.

    The Eighth Mode is that based on relativity; and by it we conclude that, since all things are relative, we shall suspend judgment as to what things are absolutely and really existent. But this point we must notice -- that here as elsewhere we use the term "are" for the term "appear," and what we virtually mean is "all things appear relative." And this statement is twofold, implying, firstly, relation to the thing which judges (for the external object which is judged appears in relation to that thing), and, in a second sense, relation to the accompanying percepts, for instance the right side in relation to the left. Indeed, we have already argued that all things are relative -- for example, with respect to the thing which judges, it is in relation to some one particular animal or man or sense that each object appears, and in relation to such and such a circumstance; and with respect to the concomitant percepts, each object appears in relation to some one particular admixture or Mode or combination or quantity or position.

    There are also special arguments to prove the relativity of all things, in this way: Do things which exist "differentially" differ from relative things or not? If they do not differ, then they too are relative; but if they differ, then, since everything which differs is relative to something (for it has its name from its relation to that from which it differs), things which exist differently are relative. Again, -- of existing things some, according to the Dogmatists, are summa genera, others infimae species, others both genera and species; and all these are relative; therefore all things are relative. Further, some existing things are "pre-evident," as they say, others nonevident, and the apparent things are significant, but the non-evident signified by the apparent; for according to them "the things apparent are the vision of the non-evident." But the significant and the signified are relative; therefore all things are relative. Moreover, some existent things are similar, others dissimilar, and some equal, others unequal; and these are relative; therefore all things are relative. And even he who asserts that not all things are relative confirms the relativity of all things, since by his arguments against us he shows that the very statement "not all things are relative" is relative to ourselves, and not universal.

    When, however, we have thus established that all things are relative, we are plainly left with the conclusion that we shall not be able to state what is the nature of each of the objects in its own real purity, but only what nature it appears to possess in its relative character. Hence it follows that we must suspend judgment concerning the real nature of the objects.

    The Mode which, as we said, comes Ninth in order is based on constancy or rarity of occurrence, and we shall explain it as follows. The sun is, of course, much more amazing than a comet; yet because we see the sun constantly but the comet rarely, we are so amazed by the comet that we even regard it as a divine portent, while the sun causes no amazement at all. If, however, we were to conceive of the sun as appearing but rarely and setting rarely, and illuminating everything all at once and throwing everything into shadow suddenly, then we should experience much amazement at the sight. An earthquake also does not cause the same alarm in those who experience it for the first time and those who have grown accustomed to such things. How much amazement, also, does the sea excite in the man who sees it for the first time! And indeed the beauty of a human body thrills us more at the first sudden view than when it becomes a customary spectacle. Rare things too we count as precious, but not what is familiar to us and easily got. Thus, if we should suppose water to be rare, how much more precious it would appear to us than all the things which are accounted precious! Or if we should imagine gold to be simply scattered in quantities over the earth like stones, to whom do we suppose it would then be precious and worth hoarding?

    Since then, owing to the frequency or rarity of their occurrence, the same things seem at one time to be amazing or precious and at another time nothing of the sort, we infer that though we shall be able perhaps to say what nature appears to belong to each of these things in virtue of its frequent or rare occurrence, we are not able to state what nature absolutely belongs to each of the external objects. So because of this Mode also we suspend judgment regarding them.

    There is a Tenth Mode, which is mainly concerned with Ethics, being based on rules of conduct, habits, laws, legendary beliefs, and dogmatic conceptions. A rule of conduct is a choice of a way of life, or of a particular action, adopted by one person or many -- by Diogenes, for instance, or the Laconians. A law is a written contract amongst the members of a state, the transgressor of which is punished. A habit or custom (the terms are equivalent) is the joint adoption of a certain kind of action by a number of men, the transgressor of which is not actually punished; for example, the law proscribes adultery, and custom with us forbids intercourse with a woman in public. Legendary belief is the acceptance of unhistorical and fictitious events, such as, amongst others, the legends about Cronos; for these stories win credence with many. Dogmatic conception is the acceptance of a fact which seems to be established by analogy or some form of demonstration, as, for example, that atoms are the elements of existing things, or homoeomeries, or minima, or something else.

    And each of these we oppose now to itself, and now to each of the others. For example, we oppose habit to habit in this way: some of the Ethiopians tattoo their children, but we do not; and while the Persians think it seemly to wear a brightly dyed dress reaching to the feet, we think it unseemly; and whereas the Indians have intercourse with their women in public, most other races regard this as shameful. And law we oppose to law in this way: among the Romans the man who renounces his father's property does not pay his father's debts, but among the Rhodians he always pays them; and among the Scythian Tauri it was a law that strangers should be sacrificed to Artemis, but with us it is forbidden to slay a human being at the altar. And we oppose rule of conduct to rule of conduct, as when we oppose the rule of Diogenes to that of Aristippus or that of the Laconians to that of the Italians. And we oppose legendary belief to legendary belief when we say that whereas in one story the father of men and gods is alleged to be Zeus, in another he is Oceanos -- "Ocean sire of the gods, and Tethys the mother that bare them." And we oppose dogmatic conceptions to one another when we say that some declare that there is one element only, others an infinite number; some that the soul is mortal, others that it is immortal; and some that human affairs are controlled by divine Providence, others without Providence.

    And we oppose habit to the other things, as for instance to law when we say that amongst the Persians it is the habit to indulge in intercourse with males, but amongst the Romans it is forbidden by law to do so; and that, whereas with us adultery is forbidden, amongst the Massagetae it is traditionally regarded as an indifferent custom, as Eudoxus of Cnidos relates in the first book of his Travels; and that, whereas intercourse with a mother is forbidden in our country, in Persia it is the general custom to form such marriages; and also among the Egyptians men marry their sisters, a thing forbidden by law amongst us. And habit is opposed to rule of conduct when, whereas most men have intercourse with their own wives in retirement, Crates did it in public with Hipparchia; and Diogenes went about with one shoulder bare, whereas we dress in the customary manner. It is opposed also to legendary belief, as when the legends say that Cronos devoured his own children, though it is our habit to protect our children; and whereas it is customary with us to revere the gods as being good and immune from evil, they are presented by the poets as suffering wounds and envying one another. And habit is opposed to dogmatic conception when, whereas it is our habit to pray to the gods for good things, Epicurus declares that the Divinity pays no heed to us; and when Aristippus considers the wearing of feminine attire a matter of indifference, though we consider it a disgraceful thing.

    And we oppose rule of conduct to law when, though there is a law which forbids the striking of a free or well-born man, the pancratiasts strike one another because of the rule of life they follow; and when, though homicide is forbidden, gladiators destroy one another for the same reason. And we oppose legendary belief to rule of conduct when we say that the legends relate that Heracles in the house of Omphale "toiled at the spinning of wool, enduring slavery's burden," and did things which no one would have chosen to do even in a moderate degree, whereas the rule of life of Heracles was a noble one. And we oppose rule of conduct to dogmatic conception when, whereas athletes covet glory as something good and for its sake undertake a toilsome rule of life, many of the philosophers dogmatically assert that glory is a worthless thing. And we oppose law to legendary belief when the poets represent the gods as committing adultery and practicing intercourse with males, whereas the law with us forbids such actions; and we oppose it to dogmatic conception when Chrysippus says that intercourse with mothers or sisters is a thing indifferent, whereas the law forbids such things. And we oppose legendary belief to dogmatic conception when the poets say that Zeus came down and had intercourse with mortal women, but amongst the Dogmatists it is held that such a thing is impossible; and again, when the poet relates that because of his grief for Sarpedon Zeus "let fall upon the earth great gouts of blood," whereas it is a dogma of the philosophers that the Deity is impassive; and when these same philosophers demolish the legend of the hippocentaurs, and offer us the hippocentaur as a type of unreality.

    We might indeed have taken many other examples in connection with each of the antitheses above mentioned; but in a concise account like ours, these will be sufficient. Only, since by means of this Mode also so much divergency is shown to exist in objects, we shall not be able to state what character belongs to the object in respect of its real essence, but only what belongs to it in respect of this particular rule of conduct, or law, or habit, and so on with each of the rest. So because of this Mode also we are compelled to suspend judgment regarding the real nature of external objects. And thus by means of all the Ten Modes we are finally led to suspension of judgment.


    This page titled 4.1: Pyrrhonism is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Noah Levin (NGE Far Press) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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