Beyond Quietism: Transformative Experience in Pyrrhonism and Wittgenstein

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
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  • 1 Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Konstanz, Germany

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Pyrrhonian skepticism is usually understood as a form of quietism, since it is supposed to bring us back to where we were in our everyday lives before we got disturbed by philosophical questions. Similarly, the ‘therapeutic’ and ‘resolute’ readings of Wittgenstein claim that Wittgenstein’s ‘philosophical practice’ results in the dissolution of the corresponding philosophical problems and brings us back to our everyday life. Accordingly, Wittgenstein is often linked to Pyrrhonism and classified as a quietist. Against this reading, I will employ Laurie Paul’s notion of epistemically transformative experience and argue that Pyrrhonian skepticism and Wittgenstein’s philosophy can be interpreted as a philosophical practice that changes our self-understanding in significant ways. I will argue that this practice can evoke transformative experiences and is thereby able to yield a non-propositional insight into the finitude of the human condition. This shows that Pyrrhonian skepticism and Wittgenstein’s philosophy go beyond quietism.

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