Who is Ainesidemos?December 13, 2020
We do not know much about Ainesidemos. We only learn that he lived in Alexandria and turned skepticism into a “system”. The principles of septic philosophy were collected by this thinker in a number of short judgments called “tropos”.
Ainesidemos starts from the following view: The source of our knowledge is either “perceptions” or “reason”. First, let’s admit that “apaths” are essential for information: Every animal has its own sense organs. For example, the human eye is different from the eye of the fish. Likewise, the eye of the fish is different from that of the insect.
Man sees the world through human eyes, fish sees the world through fish eyes, and insects sees the world through insects. Which of these eyes can see the universe as it is? Which one sees is the universe true and true? It is impossible to give an exact answer to this question. So we cannot talk about how the “true shape” of the universe is, at best we can say how “ourselves” see the universe. This judgment made for the eye is also valid for other sensations.
When we call objects solid or soft, we make this judgment because our sense of touch shows us objects like this. However, the sense of touch of an animal whose organ of touch is covered with hair will of course be different than that of a human whose organ of touch is covered only with skin.
This difference seen between various animal breeds also exists among humans. People’s eyes are not exactly the same as the other. Which human eye can see the universe as it is? Likewise, there is no answer to this question either. Therefore, for every human being, the universe is as shown by his own eye.
Let’s look at an apple in front of me. My eyes see this apple in a certain color and shape. However, my sense of touch shows me the same apple as my eye, not in color, but only as hard and soft. Likewise, my tongue doesn’t tell me anything about the color of this apple, but it reports that it’s sour or sweet.
Now, which of these various sensations is introducing me to the true reality of apples? This is also an unanswered question. As a matter of fact, if we had other sensations, we would have perceived the apple with other characteristics that we do not realize now. So it is impossible to learn the true qualities or true reality of an object by relying on our sensations.
Now let’s compare man and fish once more: There is air between the human eye and the object; whereas there is water between the fish’s eye and the object. Can we see the object in its true form with air or water? Likewise, there is no answer to this either. Our senses do not show us objects as they are; we know objects only as our senses introduce them to us.
Let’s take a horn now. This horn can be of various colors. But if I scratch the top of the horn, the horn, for example dark before I scratch it, becomes lighter after it is scratched. What is the true color of this horn? Is the horn dark colored or light colored? Likewise, a correct answer cannot be given to this either. So we cannot reach the real structure of the thing based on our sensations. Our sensations only introduce us to the “appearances” of things.
As for the “mind”, which is shown as the source of knowledge:
First, what is this thing we call a thought? Thinking involves reasoning. When making reasoning, it is necessary to have a judgment, an opinion before. For example, a mathematician derives his reasoning from certain judgments and certain clear and precise information.
Where does this obvious and precise information come from? This clear and precise information may have been derived from other judgments. However, this will not solve the problem. Because it is necessary to know where the judgments from which clear precise information is finally derived also come from. So considering this genre, it will be necessary either to continue this reasoning indefinitely or to stand in any judgment.
But also, when I get results, I can trust and believe in the correctness of the judgments I rely on. However, believing is not knowledge. Faith never proves the truth of judgments. As a matter of fact, the philosophy of the Stoics was also based on belief. This belief is doomed to remain completely false. In that case, thinking based on reason will either be a thinking that extends to limitlessness or it will have to believe that the judgment taken as a starting point is correct.
As a result, neither “forgiveness” nor “reason” can lead us to accurate information that can be proven. If perception and reason alone are not enough to lead us to the truth, they cannot bring us to the truth when both are combined. Because we can never expect two false witnesses to give an accurate testimony. These are the evidences of Ainesidemos.
Septics characteristically directed their criticism to two points. First, they argue that the universe itself cannot be “known”. Second, they criticize the concept of causation. Later septics in particular believe that they find the center of gravity of knowledge in the concept of causation.
All our knowledge searches for “why”, one head