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Plato's Unwritten Teaching by Gerard Watson

By Gerard Watson

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Consider next a passage early in the second book of the Outlines where Sextus is responding to the charge that the Sceptic cannot investigate (or even think about) those matters about which the dogmatic philosopher holds beliefs. 11 Sextus writes: Consider whether even now the dogmatists are not precluded from investigation. For those who agree that they do not know how objects are in their nature it is not inconsistent (ïP . . IíÆŒüºïıŁïí) to investigate them; but for those who think they know them accurately, it is.

From the fact that there is no reason to believe either p or its negation. And that is so, the argument continues, because any consideration that could serve as a reason to believe p rather than its negation, or vice versa, would itself be an object of perception or an object of thought and, for that reason, subject to the dispute it is supposed to resolve. 32 The Search for Truth Sceptic aims to discover the truth, he also aims to do whatever is required in order for him (or anyone else) to discover the truth.

25 The consensus among commentators is that according to Sextus the necessity that characterizes the Sceptic’s suspension of judgement is causal: its appearing to one that there is no reason to believe either p or its negation is related to suspension of judgement about whether p as cause to eVect. That is why, and the sense in which, if it appears to the Sceptic that there is no reason to believe either p or its negation, he must suspend judgement about whether p. But, as I shall argue in Chapter 2, if the Sceptic is engaged in the search for truth, then it is possible to see the necessity that characterizes the Sceptic’s suspension of judgement not only as causal but also, and primarily, as hypothetical.

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