Skeptical expressions in “Outlines of Pyrrhonism” and Descartes’ project of “Meditations on First Philosophy”




dogmatism, certainty, hyperbolic doubt, equipollence, suspension of judgement, persuasiveness


The paper aims to prove the hypothesis that Sextus Empiricus’ Neo-Pyrrhonism is significantly influenced by the Cartesian meditation as a genre of philosophizing. It refutes theses about (1) the non-predicativity of Sextus’ language and about (2) Sextus’ epochê as an automatic result of the action of opposite things or statements, and it argues that both Sextus and Descartes distinguish between (a) internal (forced) agreement with clarity and (b) the personal acceptance of this agreement which depends on a volitional decision. Sextus’ recognition of the clarity of appearance as appearance gives Descartes the only chance to refute the skepticism of Sextus, which is invulnerable to external criticism. Therefore, Descartes developed meditation as a special model of purely immanent criticism (the very word “skepticism” is never mentioned in the Meditations), focused on dealing with states of clarity and evidence. The author’s hypothesis is that the key elements to which this model appeals are the “history of a skeptic” set out in Outlines of Pyrrhonism and the conception of skeptical expressions. This hypothesis can be tested further by proving or disproving the thesis that the discourse of I, II, and at least partially of III Meditations is based on the pattern of skeptical expressions, focused on the internal states of the speaker, and not on clarifying the “objective” state of affairs (i.e. not on dogmatic inferences).

Author Biography

Oleg Khoma, Vinnytsia National Technical University

Doctor of sciences in philosophy, Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Humanities


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How to Cite

Khoma, O. (2022). Skeptical expressions in “Outlines of Pyrrhonism” and Descartes’ project of “Meditations on First Philosophy”. Sententiae, 41(2), 24–65.






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