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Pyrrhonian Scepticism: Arguments and Beliefs

The sceptic philosophy emanated from the ancient sceptics from Greece. Scepticism emanated from the Greek word scepsis, which means investigation. The sceptics saw themselves as investigators (Machuca, Pyrrhonism in Ancient 11). Sceptics did not propose any ideas or beliefs themselves, neither did they dispute the fact that knowledge could be arrived at. At its epicentre, early scepticism was characterised by a living culture of constant inquiry about the truth of matters.

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The belief retains its concern and attention on belief, just as it does in matters of knowledge. In case knowledge is yet to be obtained, the sceptics’ approach is that of failing to affirm anything. This brings to the fore the most debated ambition by sceptics, which is the ability to live a life without belief. Pyrrhonism, on its part, is a deeper expression of scepticism, where pyrrhonists find tranquillity in appearances and the pride of places, despite living by the lack of belief (Vogt para. 4).

It is possible for someone to be a non-dogmatic sceptic, also known as a pyrrhonian sceptic. It is possible for one to simply live their life merely as per appearances, yet being fully noncommittal to all differing possible truth claims. This kind of living is possible, especially with persons who practice or work in trades that have to do with various points of view and opinions that guide the finding of facts, such as lawyers and politicians.

It involves a system of mentally juggling the minds of audiences in a bid to lead the audiences or fact finders away from one’s uncertainties by playing safe on futuristic doubts (Machuca 49). For example, when giving a legal opinion on an impending case, a lawyer may choose to present the different possibilities and arguments at play, instead of committing to a given stand on the issue at hand due to the uncertainty that taking sides may eventually be contrary to the decision of the court.

Nevertheless, an old objection to this concept submits that the views of sceptics may not be regarded as practicable. The objection goes that though a pyrrhonist may get himself and others in a momentary wonder and confusion from his various profound reasoning. The first event in life, which is the most trivial one, will basically blow away all his doubts and principles and put him with the philosophers of all other sects, in every action and speculation.

In other words, the objection propounds that the fate of the human being is driven by natural occurrences, rather than deliberate decisions. It implies that a person’s life’s events determine his temperament and reasoning (Machuca 48). This objection may, however, not hold much water as it appears to forfeit human reasoning as the guider of decision making concerning nature and life events. It supposes that the various possibilities at play for a pyrrhonist may all be false and nature guides the cause of things. However, this is false because the daily decisions that human beings make determine every step of their lives (Fosl 146).

This philosophy of the pyrrhonist sceptics is fundamentally based on the acceptance that things in the world are unconcerned, uneven, and uncertain. It means that things in the world are never determined, until humans see them as so, they are never stable until humans decide to see them as such, and they are always indifferent, until people subscribe to an opinion that sees them otherwise.

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As a result, this philosophy states that the various arguments, beliefs, traditions, ideas, and so on ought not to be trusted (Fosl 149). Moreover, human beings ought to be without views or inclinations. Moreover, human beings should decisively say that each single thing is no more than is not, or together is and is not, or neither is nor is not. In other words, the world is the way it is and all that people do is from opinions of the nature of the circumstances, as they are based on peoples’ points of view.

The argument is that opinions, beliefs, religions, points of view, traditions, and other relative mind-sets do not come to change the world, but to give it meaning in the viewer’s way. It is this set of circumstances that calls for the inquisitive nature of this philosophy in order to find out the real truth of matters. This argument basically shifts a lot of matters in the present arguments to justify their truthfulness or otherwise. In the inquisitor’s nature of the pyrrhonist sceptic, the truth is inquired and brings forth the various arguments and beliefs (Fosl 152).

It is widely argued and claimed that pyrrhonist sceptics have no beliefs and that they assent to only that which they are constrained so to do. Pyrrhonist sceptics are said to basically present alternatives to a given set of circumstances that they find themselves in. However, this argument may be countered by the fact that the alternatives that the pyrrhonist sceptic presents are real, as they are not fictitious creations of the mind, but clear impending possibilities (Vogt para. 15). In other words, pyrrhonist sceptics will be indecisive in a given set of circumstances or beliefs because it is the reality that either of the beliefs could carry the day.

The pyrrhonist sceptic believes in the validity of every belief, instead of pushing all other ideologies aside and assuming one of them to be the right one. For example, in matters of religion, a non-sceptic will argue that a particular religion is right and approved and the rest of the religions are false and faulty. The non-sceptic will seek to argue out his position from such a view (Vogt para. 17). However, the pyrrhonist sceptic will seek to critically examine the circumstances in all the religions and find that there exist certain elements of truth and other elements of falsehoods in the various religions and, thereby, present his argument as such. That does not make his argument wrong, but it gives an argument a wider analysis of the circumstances, instead of restricting the mind to one set of a belief (Wieland 280).

As a result, there may be questions about this line of thought, especially in regard to whether there is anything known as the absolute truth. This question may be raised from the argument presented above that there may be several sets of truth, according to the argument presented by the pyrrhonist sceptic. However, absolute truth, indeed, does exist. It is improper for anyone to suggest that the argument of the pyrrhonist sceptic deletes the applicability of absolute truth. First, not all matters are arguable to present a set of beliefs. This majorly lies in matters that may be opinionated, such as faith and beliefs, politics, or law. However, the same approach of argument may not be applied to factual matters, such as science or history (Fosl 153).

When a scientific test is conducted to bring out certain results, the same is precise and factual and there may be no beliefs to extract from the test and the interplay arguments. Similarly, history is factual. The fact that there was a bombing of the Twin Towers in 9/11 in America cannot be subjected to an argument, as it is what it is. Secondly, absolute truth continues to exist, despite the existence of the pyrrhonist sceptic approach because absolute facts are those that are created by the pyrrhonist sceptic arguments. In other words, absolute facts are what the pyrrhonist sceptic establishes as the several alternatives of truth. For example, where a pyrrhonist sceptic argues that all religions are right, that is the absolute truth in the given circumstance. As a result, the arguments in this philosophy guide the opinions and subscriptions of truth and falsehoods as such (Machuca 55).

In conclusion, the pyrrhonist sceptic gets to not only exist, but to also live the most fruitful life free of arguments, differences of opinion, and beliefs. He lives by the mere appearance, thus he may be able to fit into different societies and cultures without much difficulty. As observed earlier, many politicians have mastered the art of pyrrhonist scepticism. They conceal the identities of their religions in regions where religion is an electoral factor and they submit and subscribe to the opinions of the majority as a tactic for political survival. Their appearances express their minds and lives and they subscribe to that which suits the day and the moment when they act.

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Works Cited

Fosl, Peter S. “Skepticism and the Possibility of Nature.” The New Synthese Historical Library 70 (2012): 145-169. Print.

Machuca, Diego E (Ed). Modern, and Contemporary Philosophy. London: Springer, 2011. Print.

Machuca, Diego E. “Pyrrhonism and the Law of Non-Contradiction.” The New Synthese Historical Library 70 (2012): 51-77. Print.

Vogt, Katja. “Ancient Skepticism.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2014). Web.

Wieland, Jan Willem. “Can Pyrrhonists act normally?” Philosophical Explorations 15.3 (2012): 277-289. Print.

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