Hume is the Enemy of Pyrrho

Philosophy 96 (4):651-674 (2021)
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I offer reasons against reading Hume as a Pyrrhonian sceptic. I argue that Hume's scepticism is motivated differently, that his sceptical strategies are not analogous to Pyrrhonism's, and that it is profitable to read Hume as a critic of Pyrrhonism. I hold that the most informative point of comparison between Hume and Sextus Empiricus is a point of difference, namely, their stands on the connection between suspension of judgement and tranquillity. For Sextus, tranquillity flows naturally from suspending judgement on all opinions. Hume, by contrast, consistently treats radical suspension of judgement as resulting in despair and social detachment. I take a firmer stance than past commentators on this issue by affirming that Hume and Sextus do not merely disagree on this issue, but that Hume's view is more plausible. Reading Hume's sceptical crisis, I propose, reveals an insightful criticism of Pyrrhonism, one that sheds light on human nature's response to radical doubt.



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Dominic K. Dimech
University of Sydney

References found in this work

A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
Dialogues concerning Natural Religion.David Hume & Nelson Pike - 1973 - Religious Studies 9 (2):237-238.

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