Pyrrhonism is a system of scepticism, the founder of which was Pyrrho, a Greek philosopher, about whom very little is known except that he died in 270 B.C. The best known of Pyrrho's disciples was Timon of Philius, known as the sillographer. Pyrrho's scepticism was so complete and comprehensive that the word Pyrrhonism is sometimes used as a synonym for scepticism, The scepticism of Pyrrho's school covered three points.
From this account of the principles of Pyrrhonism, it is evident that Pyrrho's aim was ethical. Like all the philosophers of the period in which he lived, he concerned himself principally with the problem of happiness. The Stoics sought to found happiness on the realization of the reign of law in human nature as well as in nature. The Epicureans grounded happiness on the conviction that transitory feeling is the one important phenomenon in human life. The Eclectics placed the intellectual basis of happiness in the conviction that all systems of philosophy are equally true. The Pyrrhonist, as well as the other sceptics of that period, believed that there is no possibility of attaining happiness unless one first realizes that all systems of philosophy are equally false and that the real truth of things cannot be attained. Pyrrhonism is, therefore, an abdication of all the supposed rights of the mind, and cannot be dealt with by the ordinary rules of logic or by the customary canons of philosophical criticism.
BRODERSEN, De Philos. Pyrrhonis (Kiel, 1819); LANGHEINRICH, Diss. Tres de Timone Sillographo (Leipzig, 1720) ; ZELLER, Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics, tr. REICHEL (London, 1892); TURNER, History of Philosophy (Boston, 1903), 184 sqq.
APA citation. (1911). Pyrrhonism. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12587a.htm
MLA citation. "Pyrrhonism." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12587a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
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