Skip to main content Accesibility Help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 3
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Bénatouïl, Thomas and Ierodiakonou, Katerina 2018. Dialectic after Plato and Aristotle.

    Snyder, Charles E. 2018. Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy. p. 1.

    Brunschwig, Jacques 2012. A Companion to Ancient Philosophy. p. 465.

  • Print publication year: 1984
  • Online publication date: December 2009

11 - The sceptic's two kinds of assent and the question of the possibility of knowledge


Traditionally one associates scepticism with the position that nothing is, or can be, known for certain. Hence it was only natural that for a long time one should have approached the ancient sceptics with the assumption that they were the first to try to establish or to defend the view that nothing is, or can be, known for certain, especially since there is abundant evidence which would have seemed to bear out the correctness of this approach. After all, extensive arguments to the effect that there is no certain knowledge or that things are unknowable play a central role in our ancient sources on scepticism. And thus Hegel, Brandis, Zeller, and their successors were naturally led to take these arguments at face value and to assume that the sceptics were trying to show that nothing can be known. Closer consideration of the matter, though, shows that it cannot have been the position of the major exponents of ancient scepticism, whether Academic or Pyrrhonean, that nothing is, or can be, known. And this for the simple reason that the major ancient sceptics were not concerned to establish or to defend any position, let alone the position that nothing is, or can be, known. In fact, they went out of their way to point out that, though they produced arguments for it, they did not actually take the position that nothing can be known (cf. S.E., PH 1. 200–1).

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Philosophy in History
  • Online ISBN: 9780511625534
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *