Pyrrho, His Antecedents and His Legacy

Pyrrho, His Antecedents and His Legacy


By (author) Richard Bett


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 280 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 239mm x 15mm | 440g
  • Publication date: 9 October 2003
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199256616
  • ISBN 13: 9780199256617
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: references, indexes

Product description

Richard Bett presents a ground-breaking study of Pyrrho of Elis, who lived in the late fourth and early third centuries BC and is the supposed originator of Greek scepticism. In the absence of surviving works by Pyrrho, scholars have tended to treat his thought as essentially the same as the long subsequent sceptical tradition which styled itself 'Pyrrhonism'. Bett argues, on the contrary, that Pyrrho's philosophy was significantly different from this later tradition, and offers the first detailed account of that philosophy in this light. Bett considers why Pyrrho was adopted as the figurehead for that tradition: his answer suggests that we should distinguish two phases within Pyrrhonism, of which the initial phase is much closer to Pyrrho's own thought than is the better-known later phase. Bett also investigates the origins and antecedents of Pyrrho's ideas; in particular, Plato is singled out as an important inspiration. The result is the first comprehensive picture of this key figure in the development of philosophy. The new claims that Bett puts forward have major implications for the history and interpretation of ancient Greek thought.

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Author information

Richard Bett is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University. He was educated at Oxford and at the University of California, Berkeley, and he was Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas, Arlington, from 1986 to 1991.

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. Pyrrho the Non-Sceptic ; 2. Putting it into Practice ; 3. Looking Backwards ; 4. Looking Forwards ; References ; Index of Names ; Index Locorum ; Index of Subjects