On Academic Scepticism

On Academic Scepticism PDF/EPUB ä On Academic


On Academic Scepticism [Read] ➪ On Academic Scepticism By Marcus Tullius Cicero – Polishdarling.co.uk Charles Brittain s elegant new translation of Cicero s Academica makes available for the first time a readable and accurate translation into modern English of this complex yet crucial source of our kn Charles Brittain s elegant new translation of Cicero s Academica makes available for the first time a readable and accurate translation into modern English of this complex yet crucial source of our knowledge of the epistemological debates between the sceptical Academics and the StoicsBrittain s masterly Introduction, generous notes, English Latin Greek Glossary, and Index further commend this On Academic PDF/EPUB ² edition to the attention of students of Hellenistic philosophy at all levels.

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  • Paperback
  • 224 pages
  • On Academic Scepticism
  • Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • English
  • 22 May 2019
  • 0872207749

About the Author: Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist Cicero is widely considered one of Rome s greatest orators and prose stylistsAlternate profiles Marco Tulio Cicer nCic ronCicer nCiceronCiceroNote All editions should have Marcus Tullius Cicero as primary author Editions with another name on the cover should have that name added as secondary author.



10 thoughts on “On Academic Scepticism

  1. Steve Steve says:

    Most of Marcus Tullius Cicero s 106 43 BCEAcademicahas been lost to the winds of time He produced two editions of this work, the first in two books, of which we have only the second, and the second edition in four books, of which we have only portions of the first book And the bits of the latter we do have don t fit together very well with the former, due to changes in thedramatis personae and dates This promises a field day for a philologist, but, for one interested in philosophy, to Most of Marcus Tullius Cicero s 106 43 BCEAcademicahas been lost to the winds of time He produced two editions of this work, the first in two books, of which we have only the second, and the second edition in four books, of which we have only portions of the first book And the bits of the latter we do have don t fit together very well with the former, due to changes in thedramatis personae and dates This promises a field day for a philologist, but, for one interested in philosophy, to find most of the beginning of an argument missing is somewhat disheartening During Cicero s time the intellectuals of the Roman empire were themselves Greek or bilingual Romans So philosophy was simply done in Greek, by everybody Forced out of public life by Julius Caesar s dictatorship, Cicero wanted to reach out to the non Greek reading Romans, and in order to do so he had to invent a philosophical vocabulary in Latin Fortunately for the Romans, Cicero was particularly well suited for this task The Romans accepted his neologisms and increasingly philosophized in Latin for reasons well known to all, they subsequently influenced philosophizing in most of the European languages, as well I mention this because, though he may not have been the most original philosopher of ancient times, he was a particularly well informed one, and because the book under review was part of his project to bring philosophy into the Latin language.The book takes the form of a debate between a character who changed between the first and second editions for reasons I won t go into representing the position of the Stoics and one coincidentally named Cicero in both editions representing that of the so called Academic sceptics, though there are subsidiary characters participating in the discussion Unlike many of Plato s dialogues , Cicero s is an authentic exchange of views TheAcademicawas written late in Cicero s life, and by then and possibly much earlier, but that is being argued by the experts he adhered to the positions and techniques then being taught at the Academy in Athens Briefly summarized, they held that under close scrutiny, almost all philosophical positions crumbled that there are positionspersuasive i.e which crumble less swiftly than others, but there are almost none that a rational person could accept as the Truth One of the techniques students of that school had to practice was to argue both sides of every question So, when Cicero set out to present two distinct philosophical positions, he earnestly made the argument on both sides in contrast to Plato As he had studied all of the major philosophical schools, he correctly represented the position of the Stoics in this dialogue according to the experts.The argument in theAcademicais focused on epistemology, i.e on truth and knowledge What are they and can we attain them Epistemology is still a central field of study in modern academic philosophy, but the arguments have become very technical The basic positions argued in this dialogue are still in play today But be warned, though the arguments in this book are less technical than those to be found in the modern literature, they are still not easy reading for many.Since much of the Stoic literature Cicero could pull out of his legendary library and unroll at his convenience has not survived, a good portion of what we know about Hellenistic Stoicism has been gleaned second hand from Latin texts like this one Reading this book offers one of the few opportunities to catch a reliable glimpse into the thoughts of Chrysippus, the third head of the Stoic school in Athens, who, had his works survived as Plato s and most of Aristotle s did, could well be regarded as their equal now Philosophical Stoicism was essentially formed in the estimated 705 books Chrysippus wrote, of which not a single manuscript has survived inthan fragmentary fashion Ach, wie man tr umt By the time Cicero wrote this book, the Stoic Academic debate about epistemology had already been underway for 250 years One of the great services of this edition translated and commented by Charles Brittain is that he provides an overview of what we know about the historical development of this 250 year old argument from this and other sources This eases the entry into the dialogue s topics, but Brittain also analyzes how the different historical layers of the debate are reflected in Cicero s text and, thus, significantly aids understanding an incomplete text like this Even with these aids, the usefulness and pleasure of reading this book are mitigated by its incompleteness Nonetheless, the entire second book of the first edition is here, and after making the necessary transition, aided by Brittain s introduction and notes, one is soon engaged in the very clear and interesting exchange of ideas that Cicero so deftly presents It then becomes a real pleasure How many philosophical books are written now with illustrative examples taken from mythology and literature As for the remaining fragments of the first book of the second edition, the first 20 pages are complete, and then the text breaks off in mid sentence After that, only pieces What a shame.For those who understand French, I strongly recommend that you also read the fine review by Yann of a French edition of this book reviews supplement each other nicely.Let me close with Cicero s graceful words However, I should come to a close, Lucullus, since it s time for me to sail, as the west wind s whispers as well as the boatman s signals are telling me, and since I have said quite enough I suspect that he did have such views much earlier, because such a philosophical position would enable him to avoid the danger that his political and oratorical manipulations, which were made with little regard for what was actually true, would be inconsistent with his philosophy if we cannot unimpeachably know truth, then one need not and cannot take it into account in one s actions But perhaps I have the cart before the horse

  2. Katie Katie says:

    I really loved this dialogue Cicero is growing on me, and I enjoyed this one eventhan The Nature of the Gods It s a lovely translation as well, very stirring and accompanied by very helpful yet unobtrusive notes Cicero s concern here is the question of knowledge, particularly the parameters of its attainability Lucullus is theStoic leaning member of the dialogue though if I remember correctly, he sprecisely attached to Antiochus of Ascalon s school and his speech comes I really loved this dialogue Cicero is growing on me, and I enjoyed this one eventhan The Nature of the Gods It s a lovely translation as well, very stirring and accompanied by very helpful yet unobtrusive notes Cicero s concern here is the question of knowledge, particularly the parameters of its attainability Lucullus is theStoic leaning member of the dialogue though if I remember correctly, he sprecisely attached to Antiochus of Ascalon s school and his speech comes first he puts forth the claim that the Stoic conception of knowledge based on kataleptic impressions, sensory impressions that are received in manner than the recipient know that they must be true is true and the most beneficial to living a virtuous life His opponents the Academics, he argues, only serve to undermine the foundations of reason, wisdom, society, and the virtuously lived life by their incessant questioning of sensory perceptions and their ability to lead to definite knowledge If one follows the course of their logic, society, language, and logic itself falls apart, and the individual is left helpless and immobileIf these Academic views are true, reason the light and illumination of life, as we might call it is entirely done away with If all impressions were the way the Academics say they are, so that they could just as well be false and no examination could discriminate them, how could we say that anyone had proved anything or discovered anything And since philosophy ought to be progress by arguments, how will it get results Indeed, what will become of wisdom2.26 27 When Lucullus has made his case, Cicero takes up the impassioned defense of his cause Here,than De natura deorum, you can see what a rhetorical powerhouse he must have been There are parts of this speech that are really beautiful, and genuinely stirring Cicero s central argument here serves not only to question the Stoic ability to distinguish true and false impressions, but also attacks what he perceives to be their intellectual arrogance He seems to find it genuinely stunning that the Stoics claim to possess an understanding of the universe, one that they can declare with certaintyThis is what I can t bear you forbid me to assent to anything unknown, claiming that this is shameful and excessively rash, and yet you take it upon yourself to expound a philosophical system expressing wisdom So you re going to unveil the nature of the universe, shape my character, determine the ethical ends, set out appropriate actions for me, define the kind of life I should adopt and you claim, simultaneously teach me the criteria and methods of argument and understanding How are you going to manage it so that I never slip up, never form an opinion, while I m taking on these countless doctrines And then which philosophical system is it that you re going to take me off to, if you prise me from my own I m afraid you ll be rather presumptuous if you say your own and yet you must say thatImagine someone who is in the process of becoming wise, but isn t yet exactly which view or system will he choose Whichever he chooses, he will choose without wisdom 2.114 115 Cicero is vehemently against the idea of dogmatism, not the idea of knowledge He forms opinions, he possesses beliefs, but refuses to assert them with certainty It s not epistemological pessimism, though he seems rather to think that the dogmatic thinkers around simply aren t setting the bar high enough He seems genuinely startled when Lucullus asks him if he is not satisfied with the majesty of the senses, and if he would demand that the gods provide him with I just wish he would ask, so he could hear how badly he has done by usmy reply to that gods of yours would be impudent I am not at all happy with the eyes I haveDon t you think that moles want the light Though I wouldn t complain to god that I can t see far enough as much as I would that I can see what isn t true.Cicero s skepticism is one that strives, that refuses to stop asking questions because questions and criticisms are what push knowledge closer to the truth, bit by bit It s a lovely dialogue, and I highly recommend it even if you don t have a background in philosophy

  3. Yann Yann says:

    Cet ouvrage est de Cic ron Le sujet en est l pist mologie, et plus particuli rement la question de la v rit et de la connaissance, et qui est sans doute celle qui me passionne le plus Cic ron pr sente ici, encore sous la forme d un dialogue, les th ories de deux coles importantes celle des Sto ciens, et celle de la Nouvelle Acad mie de Platon, pour la distinguer de l ancienne, qui interpr tait dogmatiquement l uvre du fondateur d o le titre de l uvre, Acad miques Cic ron fait un Cet ouvrage est de Cic ron Le sujet en est l pist mologie, et plus particuli rement la question de la v rit et de la connaissance, et qui est sans doute celle qui me passionne le plus Cic ron pr sente ici, encore sous la forme d un dialogue, les th ories de deux coles importantes celle des Sto ciens, et celle de la Nouvelle Acad mie de Platon, pour la distinguer de l ancienne, qui interpr tait dogmatiquement l uvre du fondateur d o le titre de l uvre, Acad miques Cic ron fait un remarquable travail d histoire de la philosophie en expliquant la gen se de ces diff rents mouvements de la pens e grecque.Philosophie, un bien trange mot quand on y pense, car lier l amour, le plus inconstant et capricieux des sentiments, la plus violente et la plus douce des passions, celle dont ont dit qu elle rend aveugle, l amour donc, avec la grave et prudente sagesse, celle qui s accorde bien avec la vieillesse, et qu on repr sente plus avec une barbe et des sourcils fronc s, plut t que comme un Cupidon, un Satyre ou une V nus, n est ce pas marier des contraires Car amoureux, c est bien un qualificatif que l on pourrait donner ces romains qui se piquent de philosophie, et embrassent avec ardeur les querelles des coles, et se chamaillent avec tout le c ur que peut leur inspirer leur passion pour la v rit , comme des pr tendants rivaliseraient de jactance pour s duire une belle Mais, il n en va pas ainsi, car le grec est moins avare que le fran ais pour rendre les degr s de l amour, en distinguant , ,Que cet amour reste donc raisonnable, puisque l tymologie le permet Pour les Sto ciens, d fendus par Varron, les Acad miciens d raisonnent voil qu ils refusent d accorder qu aucune repr sentation ne puisse tre d clar e vraie ou fausse Nos sens nous mentiraient C est d truire le fondement m me de la v rit S il n y a plus aucune certitude, nous sommes r duits l impuissance, n tant plus capable de r gler notre conduite sur rien de solide Non, il faut se d fier de leurs raisonnements captieux, leur sorite qui consiste travailler par degr gagner l acquiescement une s rie de raisons, et qui nous jette bient t dans la perplexit Les sens ne nous mentent pas, et le vrai sage n embrasse jamais que des opinions vraies nous ne nous tromperons jamais Belles paroles, mais fausses, r torquent les Acad miciens, repr sent s par Cic ron Il s en faut de beaucoup que les sens ne nous trompent pas, comme le montre l image d une rame bris e lorsqu elle est moiti dans l eau, ou les r ves ou hallucinations qui peuvent nous abuser Et enfin, pourquoi essayer vainement de nous effrayer en pr tendant que sans certitude, rien ne puisse tre d cid il nous suffit d une probabilit que rien de vient arr ter Enfin, nous ne d truisons pas la v rit , nous pr tendons juste que n avons pas les moyens de la conna tre Pourquoi vouloir nous faire embrasser de toutes forces vos vues O est donc ce sage soi disant infaillible, parmi tous ces grands hommes qui se sont contredits En ne donnant prudemment notre assentiment aucune proposition, c est nous qui ne nous tromperons jamais S il y a par contre un point sur lesquelles nos deux amis se rejoignent, c est pour d nigrer picure Le seul fait de para tre embrasser une des opinions semble si embarrassant que cela devient un puissant argument pour d stabiliser l adversaire Les arguments que Cic ron place dans ce dialogue sont pleins d humour et d ironie, mais ils ne manquent pas non plus d loquence, de raison et d rudition L int r t et le plaisir sont au rendez vous.Mais enfin, pour donner mon opinion, quoique on aime la v rit , c est beaucoup de ne vouloir jamais se tromper, beaucoup trop ambitieux, et franchement d raisonnable D un cot , les Sto ciens ont raison la v rit a besoin d un crit re, il faut donner un sens aux mots, mais ils se fourvoient avec cette crainte excessive de l erreur qui semblerait les r duire l impuissance, tant ils croient cet fable de l infaillibilit du sage A l inverse, les Acad miciens raisonnent bien en acceptant la probabilit , mais ils renversent effectivement tout crit re de v rit en d truisant la pertinence des sensations Mais aussi, bien que je reconnaisse que cela soit utile et n cessaire, je me demande aussi si ce n est pas un peu facile de se contenter de prendre une attitude critique, de ne jamais prendre parti, sans ne jamais rien construire c est vivre au crochet d autrui, peu de frais et sans grand risque, se couvrir de gloire en se hissant sur le labeur des autres Que l on essaie donc aussi un peu, de voir en quoi tel syst me douteux pourrait tre am lior Que l on essaie de mettre sa cervelle l alambic, et de d crire le monde de mani re coh rente Que l on essaie de voir o nous m nent les probabilit s, qui par l habitude nous m nent bient t des certitudes qui nervent notre prudence Qu en est il Le vrai ou le faux d coulent d un jugement de comparaison entre un mod le interpr tatif subjectif que nous conservons dans notre esprit, et des sensations, qui soit nous reviennent par la m moire, soient s offrent nous par la perception Les sens ne nous trompent pas plus qu ils n auraient toujours raison Par contre, notre m moire peut nous trahir, si on l exerce trop peu En v rit , c est nous m mes qui nous trompons en construisant un mod le interpr tatif qui ne s accorde pas avec la r alit , ou en ne nous en souvenant que mal ou partiellement Mais nous avons une telle r pugnance de la culpabilit ou de l erreur, que nous accusons nos malheureux organes d pourvus de toute capacit de jugement, plut t que notre entendement, qui seul comprend nos facult s de m moire, d intelligence et de jugement A notre entendement la faute, c est dire nous m mes, et pas un autre, ou un autre dans nous m mes qui voudrait, sentirait, penserait ou jugerait notre place, parfois pour nous tromper Soit nous ne nous apercevons pas de l cart entre notre mod le interpr tatif et nos sensations, par manque d analyse, d attention, de m thode, de m moire, soit cet cart devient manifeste et c est alors la chose la plus heureuse qui puisse nous arriver Bien loin de la fuir, nous devons au contraire rechercher nos erreurs avec bien plus d ardeur que la v rit , non pas qu il soit glorieux de s tre tromp , mais il est tr s heureux de se corriger Il faut donc bien adopter des opinions, tout en gardant l esprit que nous restons sujet l erreur, et c est l opinion que Cic ron donne enfin Catulus, disciple de Carn ade, alors que nos philosophes romains se s parent l pilogue de ce beau, de ce tr s beau dialogue

  4. Markus Markus says:

    CICERO 106 43AD ACADEMICA Les Academiques is a bi lingual translation Latin French.A good translation, but a subject not easy to read Mostly a matter for scholars in Ancient Philosophy For me, of historical and intellectual interest.The work presented by Cicero in his usual style by conversations with friend Philosophers and Roman Intellectuals It is about the Schools of Philosophy in Ancient Greece, the Academies.Sextus Empiricus, in his writings, tells us that there have been basically CICERO 106 43AD ACADEMICA Les Academiques is a bi lingual translation Latin French.A good translation, but a subject not easy to read Mostly a matter for scholars in Ancient Philosophy For me, of historical and intellectual interest.The work presented by Cicero in his usual style by conversations with friend Philosophers and Roman Intellectuals It is about the Schools of Philosophy in Ancient Greece, the Academies.Sextus Empiricus, in his writings, tells us that there have been basically three Academies the oldest by Plato and his followers, the second by Arcesilas, student of Pol mon, the third, the new one by Carneades and Clitomaques, some add a fourth by Philon and Charmidas, and others a fifth by Antiochus and his followers.There is ample material for a book and even two books Cicero in his first book describes his conversation with his friends Atticus, the Epicurean and Marcus Varron, a well known Roman intellectual and follower of the Ancient Greek Philosophy by Plato.They first come to discuss their ambitions of translating Ancient Greek writings into Latin, but have to admit that vocabulary available in Latin would not suffice to translate all the deeper meanings of the Greek, but then Cicero points out, that the Greek language for Philosophy is different in many ways of the common language, and that a translator into Latin would have to create, similar special vocabulary to overcome the problem Then Varron comes to explain why he is a follower of Plato s first Academy, speaking of Ethics, of Physics, of Dialectics and Rhetorics, andCicero then explains why he is a follower of the New Academy which, he says, is wrongly named because it relates directly to all of Plato s teachings.The second book is a conversation that takes place at the villa of Hortensius where Cicero, Catullus, and Lucullus meet.Lucullus, a great statesman, and Philosopher is now the spokesman to defend the so called New Academy He will go over all the chapters, like wisdom, moral, doubt, memory, dreams, madness, probability, truth, sensations, virtues, etc.While reading, you come to realize the problems they would have had due to insufficient clarity in vocabulary and language for one And that they could not distinctly separate mythology with gods and heroes of all kind, as well as beliefs based on poetry and Greek Tragedies, from reality and real history.The last word in the book says We have to adjourn So we may conclude that they are still discussing.I enjoyed reading this bookthan I had expected, for it takes a while to get into the subject

  5. Whitlaw Tanyanyiwa Mugwiji Whitlaw Tanyanyiwa Mugwiji says:

    Cicero on Academic Scepticism provides us with an insight into the Hellenistic philosophy in general and in particular, Stoicism and Academic Scepticism The book is written in the form of a dialogue between Cicero Academic Scepticism and two Stoic interlocutors Lucullus and Varro This book was directly translated from Cicero s original Latin text I personally found it a bit hard to understand because the discussions assumes the reader has prior knowledge of the on going discussions I forgi Cicero on Academic Scepticism provides us with an insight into the Hellenistic philosophy in general and in particular, Stoicism and Academic Scepticism The book is written in the form of a dialogue between Cicero Academic Scepticism and two Stoic interlocutors Lucullus and Varro This book was directly translated from Cicero s original Latin text I personally found it a bit hard to understand because the discussions assumes the reader has prior knowledge of the on going discussions I forgive Cicero for this oversight because the discussions were probably topical at the time when the text was written I probably need to read the book again, perhaps a third time, to fully grasp the whole debate That said, I think it is a must read for those interested in Hellenistic philosophy

  6. Zachary Rudolph Zachary Rudolph says:

    Nor is there any difference between us and those people who fancy that they know something, except that they do not doubt at all that those doctrines which they uphold are the truth, while we account many things as probable which we can adopt as our belief, but can hardly positively affirm.

  7. Ethan Ethan says:

    This is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Academic Skepticism, one of two forms of skepticism in Hellenistic philosophy the other being Pyrrhonism It should also appeal to people with interests in epistemologygenerally Those familiar with other forms of skepticism may find it interesting as a compare and contrast exercise The extent to which the Academics arguments about the senses are a forerunner to the likes of Montaigne and Descartes is particularly intere This is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Academic Skepticism, one of two forms of skepticism in Hellenistic philosophy the other being Pyrrhonism It should also appeal to people with interests in epistemologygenerally Those familiar with other forms of skepticism may find it interesting as a compare and contrast exercise The extent to which the Academics arguments about the senses are a forerunner to the likes of Montaigne and Descartes is particularly interesting.Brittain s translation is quite readable despite the incompleteness of the texts, and Brittain s introduction, footnotes, and other supplementary material such as an analytical table of contents, glossary of names, and glossary of English Latin Greek terms are extremely helpful Cicero isn t always easy for a guy who doesn t know anything he sure seems to want to show off how much he s read , but the dialogue format works well for injecting some life into subjects that can sometimes seem dry and lifeless, at least for those without a previously awakened passion for epistemology and or the history of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy

  8. Alina Alina says:

    Very good exposition of Epircurean, Stoic, and the Academic Skeptic thought As can be expected, Cicero s style is clear and appealing.

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10 thoughts on “On Academic Scepticism

  1. Steve Steve says:

    Most of Marcus Tullius Cicero s 106 43 BCEAcademicahas been lost to the winds of time He produced two editions of this work, the first in two books, of which we have only the second, and the second edition in four books, of which we have only portions of the first book And the bits of the latter we do have don t fit together very well with the former, due to changes in thedramatis personae and dates This promises a field day for a philologist, but, for one interested in philosophy, to Most of Marcus Tullius Cicero s 106 43 BCEAcademicahas been lost to the winds of time He produced two editions of this work, the first in two books, of which we have only the second, and the second edition in four books, of which we have only portions of the first book And the bits of the latter we do have don t fit together very well with the former, due to changes in thedramatis personae and dates This promises a field day for a philologist, but, for one interested in philosophy, to find most of the beginning of an argument missing is somewhat disheartening During Cicero s time the intellectuals of the Roman empire were themselves Greek or bilingual Romans So philosophy was simply done in Greek, by everybody Forced out of public life by Julius Caesar s dictatorship, Cicero wanted to reach out to the non Greek reading Romans, and in order to do so he had to invent a philosophical vocabulary in Latin Fortunately for the Romans, Cicero was particularly well suited for this task The Romans accepted his neologisms and increasingly philosophized in Latin for reasons well known to all, they subsequently influenced philosophizing in most of the European languages, as well I mention this because, though he may not have been the most original philosopher of ancient times, he was a particularly well informed one, and because the book under review was part of his project to bring philosophy into the Latin language.The book takes the form of a debate between a character who changed between the first and second editions for reasons I won t go into representing the position of the Stoics and one coincidentally named Cicero in both editions representing that of the so called Academic sceptics, though there are subsidiary characters participating in the discussion Unlike many of Plato s dialogues , Cicero s is an authentic exchange of views TheAcademicawas written late in Cicero s life, and by then and possibly much earlier, but that is being argued by the experts he adhered to the positions and techniques then being taught at the Academy in Athens Briefly summarized, they held that under close scrutiny, almost all philosophical positions crumbled that there are positionspersuasive i.e which crumble less swiftly than others, but there are almost none that a rational person could accept as the Truth One of the techniques students of that school had to practice was to argue both sides of every question So, when Cicero set out to present two distinct philosophical positions, he earnestly made the argument on both sides in contrast to Plato As he had studied all of the major philosophical schools, he correctly represented the position of the Stoics in this dialogue according to the experts.The argument in theAcademicais focused on epistemology, i.e on truth and knowledge What are they and can we attain them Epistemology is still a central field of study in modern academic philosophy, but the arguments have become very technical The basic positions argued in this dialogue are still in play today But be warned, though the arguments in this book are less technical than those to be found in the modern literature, they are still not easy reading for many.Since much of the Stoic literature Cicero could pull out of his legendary library and unroll at his convenience has not survived, a good portion of what we know about Hellenistic Stoicism has been gleaned second hand from Latin texts like this one Reading this book offers one of the few opportunities to catch a reliable glimpse into the thoughts of Chrysippus, the third head of the Stoic school in Athens, who, had his works survived as Plato s and most of Aristotle s did, could well be regarded as their equal now Philosophical Stoicism was essentially formed in the estimated 705 books Chrysippus wrote, of which not a single manuscript has survived inthan fragmentary fashion Ach, wie man tr umt By the time Cicero wrote this book, the Stoic Academic debate about epistemology had already been underway for 250 years One of the great services of this edition translated and commented by Charles Brittain is that he provides an overview of what we know about the historical development of this 250 year old argument from this and other sources This eases the entry into the dialogue s topics, but Brittain also analyzes how the different historical layers of the debate are reflected in Cicero s text and, thus, significantly aids understanding an incomplete text like this Even with these aids, the usefulness and pleasure of reading this book are mitigated by its incompleteness Nonetheless, the entire second book of the first edition is here, and after making the necessary transition, aided by Brittain s introduction and notes, one is soon engaged in the very clear and interesting exchange of ideas that Cicero so deftly presents It then becomes a real pleasure How many philosophical books are written now with illustrative examples taken from mythology and literature As for the remaining fragments of the first book of the second edition, the first 20 pages are complete, and then the text breaks off in mid sentence After that, only pieces What a shame.For those who understand French, I strongly recommend that you also read the fine review by Yann of a French edition of this book reviews supplement each other nicely.Let me close with Cicero s graceful words However, I should come to a close, Lucullus, since it s time for me to sail, as the west wind s whispers as well as the boatman s signals are telling me, and since I have said quite enough I suspect that he did have such views much earlier, because such a philosophical position would enable him to avoid the danger that his political and oratorical manipulations, which were made with little regard for what was actually true, would be inconsistent with his philosophy if we cannot unimpeachably know truth, then one need not and cannot take it into account in one s actions But perhaps I have the cart before the horse


  2. Katie Katie says:

    I really loved this dialogue Cicero is growing on me, and I enjoyed this one eventhan The Nature of the Gods It s a lovely translation as well, very stirring and accompanied by very helpful yet unobtrusive notes Cicero s concern here is the question of knowledge, particularly the parameters of its attainability Lucullus is theStoic leaning member of the dialogue though if I remember correctly, he sprecisely attached to Antiochus of Ascalon s school and his speech comes I really loved this dialogue Cicero is growing on me, and I enjoyed this one eventhan The Nature of the Gods It s a lovely translation as well, very stirring and accompanied by very helpful yet unobtrusive notes Cicero s concern here is the question of knowledge, particularly the parameters of its attainability Lucullus is theStoic leaning member of the dialogue though if I remember correctly, he sprecisely attached to Antiochus of Ascalon s school and his speech comes first he puts forth the claim that the Stoic conception of knowledge based on kataleptic impressions, sensory impressions that are received in manner than the recipient know that they must be true is true and the most beneficial to living a virtuous life His opponents the Academics, he argues, only serve to undermine the foundations of reason, wisdom, society, and the virtuously lived life by their incessant questioning of sensory perceptions and their ability to lead to definite knowledge If one follows the course of their logic, society, language, and logic itself falls apart, and the individual is left helpless and immobileIf these Academic views are true, reason the light and illumination of life, as we might call it is entirely done away with If all impressions were the way the Academics say they are, so that they could just as well be false and no examination could discriminate them, how could we say that anyone had proved anything or discovered anything And since philosophy ought to be progress by arguments, how will it get results Indeed, what will become of wisdom2.26 27 When Lucullus has made his case, Cicero takes up the impassioned defense of his cause Here,than De natura deorum, you can see what a rhetorical powerhouse he must have been There are parts of this speech that are really beautiful, and genuinely stirring Cicero s central argument here serves not only to question the Stoic ability to distinguish true and false impressions, but also attacks what he perceives to be their intellectual arrogance He seems to find it genuinely stunning that the Stoics claim to possess an understanding of the universe, one that they can declare with certaintyThis is what I can t bear you forbid me to assent to anything unknown, claiming that this is shameful and excessively rash, and yet you take it upon yourself to expound a philosophical system expressing wisdom So you re going to unveil the nature of the universe, shape my character, determine the ethical ends, set out appropriate actions for me, define the kind of life I should adopt and you claim, simultaneously teach me the criteria and methods of argument and understanding How are you going to manage it so that I never slip up, never form an opinion, while I m taking on these countless doctrines And then which philosophical system is it that you re going to take me off to, if you prise me from my own I m afraid you ll be rather presumptuous if you say your own and yet you must say thatImagine someone who is in the process of becoming wise, but isn t yet exactly which view or system will he choose Whichever he chooses, he will choose without wisdom 2.114 115 Cicero is vehemently against the idea of dogmatism, not the idea of knowledge He forms opinions, he possesses beliefs, but refuses to assert them with certainty It s not epistemological pessimism, though he seems rather to think that the dogmatic thinkers around simply aren t setting the bar high enough He seems genuinely startled when Lucullus asks him if he is not satisfied with the majesty of the senses, and if he would demand that the gods provide him with I just wish he would ask, so he could hear how badly he has done by usmy reply to that gods of yours would be impudent I am not at all happy with the eyes I haveDon t you think that moles want the light Though I wouldn t complain to god that I can t see far enough as much as I would that I can see what isn t true.Cicero s skepticism is one that strives, that refuses to stop asking questions because questions and criticisms are what push knowledge closer to the truth, bit by bit It s a lovely dialogue, and I highly recommend it even if you don t have a background in philosophy


  3. Yann Yann says:

    Cet ouvrage est de Cic ron Le sujet en est l pist mologie, et plus particuli rement la question de la v rit et de la connaissance, et qui est sans doute celle qui me passionne le plus Cic ron pr sente ici, encore sous la forme d un dialogue, les th ories de deux coles importantes celle des Sto ciens, et celle de la Nouvelle Acad mie de Platon, pour la distinguer de l ancienne, qui interpr tait dogmatiquement l uvre du fondateur d o le titre de l uvre, Acad miques Cic ron fait un Cet ouvrage est de Cic ron Le sujet en est l pist mologie, et plus particuli rement la question de la v rit et de la connaissance, et qui est sans doute celle qui me passionne le plus Cic ron pr sente ici, encore sous la forme d un dialogue, les th ories de deux coles importantes celle des Sto ciens, et celle de la Nouvelle Acad mie de Platon, pour la distinguer de l ancienne, qui interpr tait dogmatiquement l uvre du fondateur d o le titre de l uvre, Acad miques Cic ron fait un remarquable travail d histoire de la philosophie en expliquant la gen se de ces diff rents mouvements de la pens e grecque.Philosophie, un bien trange mot quand on y pense, car lier l amour, le plus inconstant et capricieux des sentiments, la plus violente et la plus douce des passions, celle dont ont dit qu elle rend aveugle, l amour donc, avec la grave et prudente sagesse, celle qui s accorde bien avec la vieillesse, et qu on repr sente plus avec une barbe et des sourcils fronc s, plut t que comme un Cupidon, un Satyre ou une V nus, n est ce pas marier des contraires Car amoureux, c est bien un qualificatif que l on pourrait donner ces romains qui se piquent de philosophie, et embrassent avec ardeur les querelles des coles, et se chamaillent avec tout le c ur que peut leur inspirer leur passion pour la v rit , comme des pr tendants rivaliseraient de jactance pour s duire une belle Mais, il n en va pas ainsi, car le grec est moins avare que le fran ais pour rendre les degr s de l amour, en distinguant , ,Que cet amour reste donc raisonnable, puisque l tymologie le permet Pour les Sto ciens, d fendus par Varron, les Acad miciens d raisonnent voil qu ils refusent d accorder qu aucune repr sentation ne puisse tre d clar e vraie ou fausse Nos sens nous mentiraient C est d truire le fondement m me de la v rit S il n y a plus aucune certitude, nous sommes r duits l impuissance, n tant plus capable de r gler notre conduite sur rien de solide Non, il faut se d fier de leurs raisonnements captieux, leur sorite qui consiste travailler par degr gagner l acquiescement une s rie de raisons, et qui nous jette bient t dans la perplexit Les sens ne nous mentent pas, et le vrai sage n embrasse jamais que des opinions vraies nous ne nous tromperons jamais Belles paroles, mais fausses, r torquent les Acad miciens, repr sent s par Cic ron Il s en faut de beaucoup que les sens ne nous trompent pas, comme le montre l image d une rame bris e lorsqu elle est moiti dans l eau, ou les r ves ou hallucinations qui peuvent nous abuser Et enfin, pourquoi essayer vainement de nous effrayer en pr tendant que sans certitude, rien ne puisse tre d cid il nous suffit d une probabilit que rien de vient arr ter Enfin, nous ne d truisons pas la v rit , nous pr tendons juste que n avons pas les moyens de la conna tre Pourquoi vouloir nous faire embrasser de toutes forces vos vues O est donc ce sage soi disant infaillible, parmi tous ces grands hommes qui se sont contredits En ne donnant prudemment notre assentiment aucune proposition, c est nous qui ne nous tromperons jamais S il y a par contre un point sur lesquelles nos deux amis se rejoignent, c est pour d nigrer picure Le seul fait de para tre embrasser une des opinions semble si embarrassant que cela devient un puissant argument pour d stabiliser l adversaire Les arguments que Cic ron place dans ce dialogue sont pleins d humour et d ironie, mais ils ne manquent pas non plus d loquence, de raison et d rudition L int r t et le plaisir sont au rendez vous.Mais enfin, pour donner mon opinion, quoique on aime la v rit , c est beaucoup de ne vouloir jamais se tromper, beaucoup trop ambitieux, et franchement d raisonnable D un cot , les Sto ciens ont raison la v rit a besoin d un crit re, il faut donner un sens aux mots, mais ils se fourvoient avec cette crainte excessive de l erreur qui semblerait les r duire l impuissance, tant ils croient cet fable de l infaillibilit du sage A l inverse, les Acad miciens raisonnent bien en acceptant la probabilit , mais ils renversent effectivement tout crit re de v rit en d truisant la pertinence des sensations Mais aussi, bien que je reconnaisse que cela soit utile et n cessaire, je me demande aussi si ce n est pas un peu facile de se contenter de prendre une attitude critique, de ne jamais prendre parti, sans ne jamais rien construire c est vivre au crochet d autrui, peu de frais et sans grand risque, se couvrir de gloire en se hissant sur le labeur des autres Que l on essaie donc aussi un peu, de voir en quoi tel syst me douteux pourrait tre am lior Que l on essaie de mettre sa cervelle l alambic, et de d crire le monde de mani re coh rente Que l on essaie de voir o nous m nent les probabilit s, qui par l habitude nous m nent bient t des certitudes qui nervent notre prudence Qu en est il Le vrai ou le faux d coulent d un jugement de comparaison entre un mod le interpr tatif subjectif que nous conservons dans notre esprit, et des sensations, qui soit nous reviennent par la m moire, soient s offrent nous par la perception Les sens ne nous trompent pas plus qu ils n auraient toujours raison Par contre, notre m moire peut nous trahir, si on l exerce trop peu En v rit , c est nous m mes qui nous trompons en construisant un mod le interpr tatif qui ne s accorde pas avec la r alit , ou en ne nous en souvenant que mal ou partiellement Mais nous avons une telle r pugnance de la culpabilit ou de l erreur, que nous accusons nos malheureux organes d pourvus de toute capacit de jugement, plut t que notre entendement, qui seul comprend nos facult s de m moire, d intelligence et de jugement A notre entendement la faute, c est dire nous m mes, et pas un autre, ou un autre dans nous m mes qui voudrait, sentirait, penserait ou jugerait notre place, parfois pour nous tromper Soit nous ne nous apercevons pas de l cart entre notre mod le interpr tatif et nos sensations, par manque d analyse, d attention, de m thode, de m moire, soit cet cart devient manifeste et c est alors la chose la plus heureuse qui puisse nous arriver Bien loin de la fuir, nous devons au contraire rechercher nos erreurs avec bien plus d ardeur que la v rit , non pas qu il soit glorieux de s tre tromp , mais il est tr s heureux de se corriger Il faut donc bien adopter des opinions, tout en gardant l esprit que nous restons sujet l erreur, et c est l opinion que Cic ron donne enfin Catulus, disciple de Carn ade, alors que nos philosophes romains se s parent l pilogue de ce beau, de ce tr s beau dialogue


  4. Markus Markus says:

    CICERO 106 43AD ACADEMICA Les Academiques is a bi lingual translation Latin French.A good translation, but a subject not easy to read Mostly a matter for scholars in Ancient Philosophy For me, of historical and intellectual interest.The work presented by Cicero in his usual style by conversations with friend Philosophers and Roman Intellectuals It is about the Schools of Philosophy in Ancient Greece, the Academies.Sextus Empiricus, in his writings, tells us that there have been basically CICERO 106 43AD ACADEMICA Les Academiques is a bi lingual translation Latin French.A good translation, but a subject not easy to read Mostly a matter for scholars in Ancient Philosophy For me, of historical and intellectual interest.The work presented by Cicero in his usual style by conversations with friend Philosophers and Roman Intellectuals It is about the Schools of Philosophy in Ancient Greece, the Academies.Sextus Empiricus, in his writings, tells us that there have been basically three Academies the oldest by Plato and his followers, the second by Arcesilas, student of Pol mon, the third, the new one by Carneades and Clitomaques, some add a fourth by Philon and Charmidas, and others a fifth by Antiochus and his followers.There is ample material for a book and even two books Cicero in his first book describes his conversation with his friends Atticus, the Epicurean and Marcus Varron, a well known Roman intellectual and follower of the Ancient Greek Philosophy by Plato.They first come to discuss their ambitions of translating Ancient Greek writings into Latin, but have to admit that vocabulary available in Latin would not suffice to translate all the deeper meanings of the Greek, but then Cicero points out, that the Greek language for Philosophy is different in many ways of the common language, and that a translator into Latin would have to create, similar special vocabulary to overcome the problem Then Varron comes to explain why he is a follower of Plato s first Academy, speaking of Ethics, of Physics, of Dialectics and Rhetorics, andCicero then explains why he is a follower of the New Academy which, he says, is wrongly named because it relates directly to all of Plato s teachings.The second book is a conversation that takes place at the villa of Hortensius where Cicero, Catullus, and Lucullus meet.Lucullus, a great statesman, and Philosopher is now the spokesman to defend the so called New Academy He will go over all the chapters, like wisdom, moral, doubt, memory, dreams, madness, probability, truth, sensations, virtues, etc.While reading, you come to realize the problems they would have had due to insufficient clarity in vocabulary and language for one And that they could not distinctly separate mythology with gods and heroes of all kind, as well as beliefs based on poetry and Greek Tragedies, from reality and real history.The last word in the book says We have to adjourn So we may conclude that they are still discussing.I enjoyed reading this bookthan I had expected, for it takes a while to get into the subject


  5. Whitlaw Tanyanyiwa Mugwiji Whitlaw Tanyanyiwa Mugwiji says:

    Cicero on Academic Scepticism provides us with an insight into the Hellenistic philosophy in general and in particular, Stoicism and Academic Scepticism The book is written in the form of a dialogue between Cicero Academic Scepticism and two Stoic interlocutors Lucullus and Varro This book was directly translated from Cicero s original Latin text I personally found it a bit hard to understand because the discussions assumes the reader has prior knowledge of the on going discussions I forgi Cicero on Academic Scepticism provides us with an insight into the Hellenistic philosophy in general and in particular, Stoicism and Academic Scepticism The book is written in the form of a dialogue between Cicero Academic Scepticism and two Stoic interlocutors Lucullus and Varro This book was directly translated from Cicero s original Latin text I personally found it a bit hard to understand because the discussions assumes the reader has prior knowledge of the on going discussions I forgive Cicero for this oversight because the discussions were probably topical at the time when the text was written I probably need to read the book again, perhaps a third time, to fully grasp the whole debate That said, I think it is a must read for those interested in Hellenistic philosophy


  6. Zachary Rudolph Zachary Rudolph says:

    Nor is there any difference between us and those people who fancy that they know something, except that they do not doubt at all that those doctrines which they uphold are the truth, while we account many things as probable which we can adopt as our belief, but can hardly positively affirm.


  7. Ethan Ethan says:

    This is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Academic Skepticism, one of two forms of skepticism in Hellenistic philosophy the other being Pyrrhonism It should also appeal to people with interests in epistemologygenerally Those familiar with other forms of skepticism may find it interesting as a compare and contrast exercise The extent to which the Academics arguments about the senses are a forerunner to the likes of Montaigne and Descartes is particularly intere This is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Academic Skepticism, one of two forms of skepticism in Hellenistic philosophy the other being Pyrrhonism It should also appeal to people with interests in epistemologygenerally Those familiar with other forms of skepticism may find it interesting as a compare and contrast exercise The extent to which the Academics arguments about the senses are a forerunner to the likes of Montaigne and Descartes is particularly interesting.Brittain s translation is quite readable despite the incompleteness of the texts, and Brittain s introduction, footnotes, and other supplementary material such as an analytical table of contents, glossary of names, and glossary of English Latin Greek terms are extremely helpful Cicero isn t always easy for a guy who doesn t know anything he sure seems to want to show off how much he s read , but the dialogue format works well for injecting some life into subjects that can sometimes seem dry and lifeless, at least for those without a previously awakened passion for epistemology and or the history of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy


  8. Alina Alina says:

    Very good exposition of Epircurean, Stoic, and the Academic Skeptic thought As can be expected, Cicero s style is clear and appealing.


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