Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Ten Oxherding Pictures

A regular reader of this blog, Pete White (Cornell), sent me a message I'd like to share because it addresses an issue I was unaware of:

“In a recent paper “Does Pyrrhonism Have Practical or Epistemic Value?,” you describe a scholar for whom the reading of Sextus's writings prompts a blissful experience similar to that from reading certain Buddhist texts. I have had that experience but it is not with a written text. Perhaps you are familiar with The Ten Oxherding Pictures from the Buddhist tradition I first saw them over 50 years ago and was moved in a way I could not put into words. Pyrrhonism later provided those words. The first 2 pictures “In Search of the Ox” and “Discovery of the Footprints” correspond to noticing the anomalies. Pictures 3 and 4 “Perceiving the Ox” and “Catching the Ox” correspond to the search. “Taming the Ox” and “Riding the Ox Home” are isosthenia. “The Ox Transcended” and “Both the Ox and Self Transcended” are epoche. “Reaching the Source” and “Return to Society” map to ataraxia. The connections between Buddhism and Pyrrhonism have been extensively discussed, but The Ten Oxherding Pictures have been left out of the discussion. Apart from the 'bliss' this overlap provides, this correlation is of practical import. As you and others have discussed many times, critics from ancient times through David Hume to the present day have said Pyrrhonism is not really liveable. Buddhism is followed by millions and I am not aware that critics say Buddhism is unlivable. Since Pyrrhonism maps to Buddhism as presented in those Oxherding Pictures and Buddhism is livable, Pyrrhonism is just as liveable.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Evolutionary Debunking Arguments

The latest issue of Ratio is a special issue devoted to “Evolution and Moral Epistemology.” You can find it here. Some of the articles are open access.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Companions in Guilt

The following volume will be of interest to those working on moral skepticism -- specifically, on moral error theory and moral disagreement:

Christopher Cowie and Richard Roland (eds.), Companions in Guilt Arguments in Metaethics. Routledge, 2019.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Issue 9.4 of IJSS

Issue 9.4 of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism has just been published. It contains articles by Kirk Lougheed and Michael Veber, and book reviews by Harald Thorsrud, Peter Fosl, and Rachel Wiseman. It can be accessed here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


The latest issue of Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy (vol. LVI, Summer 2019) contains two papers on skepticism:

Sources of Doxastic Disturbance in Sextus Empiricus, by D. Machuca.

Augustine's Defence of Knowledge against the Sceptics, by T. Nawar.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Website on Skepticism

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post on a website on philosophical skepticism created by a group of researchers at the Universidad de Córdoba (Spain). It has been substantially updated. If you can read Spanish, you might want to check it here.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Disagreement-Motivated Religious Skepticism

This book will be of interest to those working on the epistemology of disagreement or the epistemology of religion in connection with skepticism:

Monday, September 30, 2019

French Translation of Sextus

Stéphane Marchand has called my attention to a new French translation of Sextus Empiricus, in this case of the two books of Against the Logicians. I think it's the first translation of these books in French, or at least the first complete translation.

Sextus Empiricus, Contre les logiciens. Introduction, notes, and translation by René Lefebvre. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2019.

I haven't had the chance to take a look at the book and I don't know the translator, who as far as I know hasn't published anything on Sextus or ancient Pyrrhonism more generally. For more info, click here.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Workshop on Philo of Alexandria

On October 27–28, 2019, the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies will host a workshop on Philo of Alexandria, focusing on the skeptical elements that can be found in his work. For more information, go here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Conference on Simone Luzzatto

On September 23–25, the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies will host a conference on the skeptical thought of Rabbi Simone Luzzatto (ca. 1583–1663) and its value within seventeenth-century philosophy and political thought. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Skeptical Paths

A new volume has been published in De Gruyter's series Studies and Texts in Scepticism:

G. Veltri, R. Haliva, S. Schmid & E. Spinelli (eds.), Sceptical Paths: Enquiry and Doubt from Antiquity to the Present. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter, 2019.

The volume is open access and can be found here.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Simone Luzzatto

New bi-lingual editions of two works by the seventeenth-century Venetian rabbi, Simone Luzzatto, have just been published by De Gruyter as part of the series Studies and Texts in Scepticism. These works offer a blend of Judaism, skepticism, and political thought. Both books are open access.

Discourse on the State of the Jews. Ed. and trans. by Giuseppe Veltri and Anna Lissa. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter, 2019.

Socrates, or on Human Knowledge. Ed. and trans. by Giuseppe Veltri and Michela Torbidoni. Berlin, & Boston: De Gruyter, 2019.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Issue 9.3 of IJSS

Issue 9.3 of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism has just been published. It is a special issue, “Epistemic Vice and Forms of Scepticism,” with contributions by Yuval Avnur, Genia Schönbaumsfeld, Adam Carter, Pierre Le Morvan, and Aidan McGlynn. It can be accessed here.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Ancient Skepticism and Modern Fiction

The latest issue of the Italian journal Elenchos includes a paper on ancient skepticism: 

John Christian Laursen, “Ancient Skepticism and Modern Fiction: Some Political Implications,” Elenchos 40 (2019): 199-215. 

It can be found here.