Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism

Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism

by Adrian Kuzminski
     
 

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Pyrrhonism is commonly confused with scepticism in Western philosophy. Unlike sceptics, who believe there are no true beliefs, Pyrrhonists suspend judgment about all beliefs, including the belief that there are no true beliefs. Pyrrhonism was developed by a line of ancient Greek philosophers, from its founder Pyrrho of Elis in the fourth century BCE through Sextus

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Overview

Pyrrhonism is commonly confused with scepticism in Western philosophy. Unlike sceptics, who believe there are no true beliefs, Pyrrhonists suspend judgment about all beliefs, including the belief that there are no true beliefs. Pyrrhonism was developed by a line of ancient Greek philosophers, from its founder Pyrrho of Elis in the fourth century BCE through Sextus Empiricus in the second century CE. Pyrrhonists offer no view, theory, or knowledge about the world, but recommend instead a practice, a distinct way of life, designed to suspend beliefs and ease suffering.

Adrian Kuzminski examines Pyrrhonism in terms of its striking similarity to some Eastern nondogmatic soteriological traditions-particularly Madhyamaka Buddhism. He argues that its origin can plausibly be traced to the contacts between Pyrrho and the sages he encountered in India, where he traveled with Alexander the Great. Although Pyrrhonism has not been practiced in the West since ancient times, its insights have occasionally been independently recovered, most recently in the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Kuzminski shows that Pyrrhonism remains relevant, perhaps more than ever, as an antidote to today's cultures of belief.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of Buddhist Ethics
Kuzminski does a commendable job of pointing out the marked similarities or congruencies between Indian Buddhism and Pyrrhonism. Moreover, what I found particularly interesting and fruitful —something not often discussed in much detail in the Pyrrhonist literature— were the sections devoted to an examination of the sort of practical life adherence to Pyrrhonist (and Buddhist) attitudes yield. This, in particular, is sure to spark or encourage further enquiry.
Sara Ahbel-Rappe
A thought provoking exercise in comparative philosophy. This book allows us to interrogate the meaning of Pyrrhonism in light of Madhyamaka Buddhism and vice versa. The result will be of great interest to students of both traditions.
Rana P.B. Singh
In promoting cross-cultural understanding and the quest for linkages between Greek and Buddhist philosophies, the book has paved a radiant path reflecting the continuity of traditions since the third century BCE.
Jay L. Garfield
The connections between Greek Pyrrhonism and Indian Madhyamaka are too striking to ignore. Kuzminski provides welcome attention to the philosophical vision they share and to the arguments Pyrrhonists and madhyamikas deploy to advance that vision. The exposition is clear and accessible to the non-specialist.
July 2010 Philosophy East and West
Throughout this book, Kuzminski boldly challenges an intimidating array of scholars and philosophers in an attempt to show how Pyrrhonism has often been misunderstood. Considering the brevity of the work, Kuzminski is remarkably successful….Kuzminski's study is a welcome addition to the literature on this topic in that he show the benefit of a comparative analysis with Buddhism for a more nuanced understanding of the issues.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739125069
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
06/19/2008
Series:
Studies in Comparative Philosophy and Religion Series
Pages:
170
Sales rank:
1,047,609
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Adrian Kuzminski is research scholar in philosophy at Hartwick College.

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