Gorgias’ Περὶ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος and Its Relation to Skepticism

In: International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
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  • 1 Johns Hopkins University, Department of Philosophy, Baltimore, United States

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Abstract

The paper examines whether Gorgias’ On What Is Not should be considered an instance of skepticism. It begins with an analysis of the work as reported by the two sources, Sextus Empiricus and the anonymous author of On Melissus, Xenophanes and Gorgias. It is then argued that the Pyrrhonian skeptics did not regard On What Is Not as skeptical. Nonetheless, it is possible to read the work as offering counter-arguments to Parmenides, with a view to inducing suspension of judgment in Pyrrhonian fashion. However, it is also possible to regard it as skeptical in a sense current in modern philosophy: that is, as posing challenges to our understanding of things with a view to forcing philosophers to come up with better theories. In this light, it can be seen as an important stimulus to the philosophical breakthroughs apparent in Plato’s Sophist.

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