Saturday, May 31, 2008

Janáček's Papers on Pyrrhonism

I've got excellent news for the students of ancient Pyrrhonism, since Walter de Gruyter has published this book: Karel Janáček, Studien zu Sextus Empiricus, Diogenes Laertius und zur pyrrhonischen Skepsis, edited by Jan Janda and Filip Karfík. The volume brings together fifty papers by Janáček, who was a key interpreter of Pyrrhonism, particularly from a philological point of view. (It's a real pity that my knowledge of German is so weak.) For information about the book, just click here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ioli's Paper

I recommend that those who will read Roberto Polito's paper referred to here first take a look at Roberta Ioli's "Agoge and Related Concepts in Sextus Empiricus", Siculorum Gymnasium 56 (2003): 401–28.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Conference on Inferential Internalism

On June 17-18, there will be a very interesting conference on inferential internalism at the University of Fribourg. It is organized by Andri Toendury and the speakers include Pascal Engel, Adam Leite, Jim Pryor, Josh Schechter, Toendury, and Crispin Wright. For information, go here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oxford Handbook of Skepticism (Again)

You'll be glad to know that, on OUP's webpage, there's complete information about the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Skepticism edited by John Greco. There will be 26 essays, all by leading specialists. In principle, it will be released in August. Click here to go to the page.

Barnes and Frede Bibliographies

For those interested, on Andreas Schmidhauser's webpage there are Jonathan Barnes and Michael Frede bibliographies, which of course include several papers and books on ancient skepticism. Just click here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Italian Conference

On June 12-14, there will be a conference at the University of Rome "La Sapienza", whose subject is "L'etica, la virtù et l'io" (ethics, virtue and the self). I think that the program isn't online yet, so if any of you want it, I can send it to you. Now, what I wanted to say is that the last talk will be Emidio Spinelli's "La distruzione dei valori. Il pirronismo antico e l’etica come problema". Emidio is an expert in Pyrrhonism and Sextus Empiricus' discussion of ethics, so if you're in Italy in June, you should go listen to him.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Paris IV and X

I'm leaving for Paris next Thursday, where I'm going to stay for almost a week. Besides attending the last session of Barnes' seminar on Sextus (May 29), I'm going to deliver an abridged version of a paper I've written on the Pyrrhonist's outlook on the law of non-contradiction at Paris IV (May 31) and a paper on argumentative persuasiveness in Pyrrhonism at Paris X (June 3). I hope that these will be good opportunities to test the strength and coherence of the ideas I put forward in those papers.

Update May 28:
On June 31, the venue of the conference "Certainty and Method" will actually be the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes à la Sorbonne, not the University of Paris IV. I should note that Carlos Lévy will present the paper, "La question de la certitude chez Favorinus".

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Edinburgh Skepticism Workshop and Conference

There's new information about the speakers and the program of both the workshop and the conference on skepticism that Duncan Pritchard is organizing in Edinburgh at the end of May and beginning of June. Go here and here, respectively.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lévy's New Book

Back in March, Carlos Lévy (Paris IV-Sorbonne) published Les scepticismes (PUF, collection Que sais-je?). I haven't got my hands on a copy yet, but I'm sure that it must be a fine book. For information, go here.

Update May 24:
Nassim Taleb (the autor of The Black Swan) has let me know that he's read the book and that it's excellent. I'll try to get a copy in the next days.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Neoplatonism and the History of Philosophy

Last week, from Tuesday 13 till Friday 16, there was at the University of Fribourg a conference on Proclus' Elementatio Theologica and on the Liber de Causis. More precisely, in the morning, Philippe Hoffmann and Cristina d'Ancona Costa offered a detailed analysis of those texts and, in the afternoon, PhD students from Fribourg, Lausanne, and Genève delivered papers on their areas of research. Now, the two key speakers discussed different Neoplatonic theories and these discussions made me think about a couple of things. First, I couldn't help thinking that a Pyrrhonist could have had found, in those metaphysical doctrines, a lot of material to which he could have applied his argumentative weapons very easily.

My second remark refers to something which is not new at all. At the end of the conference, I dared to say something for the first time. I told the two key speakers that, as far as I could see, their analyses had been brilliant from a historical and philological point of view and that their knowledge of the texts was impressive. That said, I asked them if they could say something, from a strictly philosophical point of view, about the doctrines or theories expounded in the texts they had examined. In other words, I asked them if they could tell me something about the epistemic status, as it were, of the theories they had discussed. Of course, I didn't get an answer to my question. My question was in fact very simple given that the event had been organized by a philosophy department. I mean, it should be the question that anyone working in the field of philosophy should ask. Note that I'm not saying that I myself can think philosophically, since I believe that most of the things I've ever written are more historical than systematic. But at least I don't lie to myself by saying that I'm doing real philosophy. However, during the conference I did hear the word "philosophical" and its cognates so many times that I was kind of upset. Of course, this leads to the question about the status of the history of philosophy. My own view is just that one of the main (if not the main) functions of this discipline is the discussion of problems: either to see what others had to say about a problem one is currently thinking about or to be aware of philosophical problems one hasn't thought of yet. I think that good examples of this kind of approach may be Jonathan Barnes, Michael Frede, Myles Burnyeat and, perhaps, Ernest Sosa.

An objection I've often heard is that one becomes less rigurous when one approaches past philosophical systems that way. This is a huge mistake. If one bears in mind the methodological distinction between analyzing a text or a system and discussing a problem, there should be no methodological problem. I mean, I can't stand those scholars who attribute to Parmenides or Heraclitus doctrines expounded in their 800-page books. They should say: reading those Presocratics makes me think about certain things so I construct a given philosophical theory. But insofar as one keeps the distinction in place, one is allowed to discuss or "dialogue" with past philosophers.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Burnyeat's “Conflicting Appearances”

I finally decided to see if I could find Myles Burnyeat's well-known paper “Conflicting Appearances,” published in the Proceedings of the British Academy in 1979. I've found a webpage that contains the PDF of the article: here is the link. [Update 30 Nov. 2017: the article can now be downloaded for free.]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another NYU Skepticism Conference

Definitely this is the year for skepticism. Indeed, I've found out that the NYU Philosophy Department is organizing another conference on skepticism to be held in New York in November. It will be divided into five sessions: four on historical figures - namely, Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche - and one on contemporary skepticism.

Guess what! Unlike what happens in the case of the top-secret NYU Florence conference which will take place in June, we do have information about the New York conference and it is also possible to register: just go here (to see the program, click on "Skepticism").

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Two Papers on Skepticism

I've just noticed that two articles on skepticism have been published recently:

- Roberto Polito, 'Was Skepticism a Philosophy? Reception, Self-Definition, Internal Conflicts', Classical Philology 102 (2007).

- Damian Caluori, 'The Scepticism of Francisco Sanchez', Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2007).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Seminar on Sextus in Paris

Stéphane Marchand has let me know about a very interesting seminar on Sextus given by Jonathan Barnes at the Department of Philosophy of the Ecole Normale Supérieure. As you probably know, Barnes is a leading specialist in Pyrrhonism. The following session is next Thursday and the last one will be on the 29th of May - I'll try to attend the last session. Information about this seminar can be found here.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Pyrrhonism at the University of Paris X

I've just found out that, at the Université de Paris X-Nanterre, there is a group working on Sextus Empiricus' Pyrrhonism. The group includes Baptiste Bondu-Maugein, Stéphane Marchand, and Paula El-Jaick. Their purpose is to compose a complete lexicon of the most important skeptical notions found in Sextus' writings. For information, go here.