Who is Sextus Empiricus (Sextus Empiricus)?June 26, 2021
Sextus Empiricus (Sextus Empiricus) was a famous Roman physician and philosopher who provided information on Ancient Greek skepticism.
Although there are different opinions about the birth and death dates of Sextus Empricus, M.S. It is estimated that he lived between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. He is a physician affiliated with a medical school. As far as is known, medicine showed a remarkable development in the Antiquity. The point discussed in the field of medicine in this period; The question is whether the physician should know the “cause” or the “symptoms” of the disease.
Some medical schools suggested that first the structure of the human body should be known, and then it should be determined how diseases occur in the body. After finding the last cause that caused the disease, it was desired to search for and find a medicine that would cure this disease. This view was opposed by experimental physicians, including Sextus Empiricus. According to them, it should not start from any assumptions, but rather the symptoms of the disease should be the starting point. First, the symptoms of the disease should be carefully observed, and then trials should be made on drugs that will cure the disease.
Sextus is not a septic. As his middle name, Empiricus, means, he is an ‘experimenter’. According to him, all of our knowledge must necessarily be based on experience and should never go beyond the limits of experimentation. However, an explanation or prediction based on observation and experiment has the ability to be correct in the future. All assumptions outside the experiment, especially metaphysical assumptions, contain unreliable information. The thing to do, then, is to explain what we have obtained through experimentation and to make measured predictions about the future based on that. Any behavior that goes beyond this becomes only a belief, belief and knowledge cannot be compatible. Thus we can show the main views of the school to which Sextus Empiricus belonged. If one pays attention, it can be seen that this school differs from the Stoics in many ways; because, according to Stoa, all kinds of knowledge are ultimately based on a belief.
Schools of this period had conflicting and controversial views on the universe and life. These schools of philosophy are “together” of those who share the same worldview. These schools are also a reflection of the views and attitudes that will take the place of religion for a Greek. This is also not meaningless, because the period when the schools of philosophy we mentioned emerged was a period when the Greek national religion lost its power and influence.
The rivalry between the philosophy schools, which we also discussed on our site, started in BC. It seems to have ended in the first century. Until this century, although the schools of philosophy were a community of people with the same view on the universe and life, M.O. Towards 150 years philosophy schools have succeeded in becoming a “University”. In other words, philosophy schools have ceased to be a society of thought formed by people who have the same views, and have become an educational institution where young people go to learn certain things. Especially “Roman” youth took an interest in these schools. The children of wealthy families were going to Athens to learn philosophy at that time. This change caused the opposition between the various schools to lose their intensity.
After this change, “eclecticism” (electivism) began in the field of philosophy. When eclecticism is mentioned, it is understood as a philosophy that does not have a single and specific direction, and gathers together what it deems necessary from various philosophical movements. The main purpose of the period in question is to preserve the “philosophical heritage”. Although the opposition (contrast) between the various schools of philosophy has not disappeared completely, it has only been pushed into the background.
On the other hand, it was based on the preservation of the philosophical heritage, regardless of its source, whether it was from Plato, Aristotle, Stoic or Epicureanism. Regarding this development, we witness that the extreme philosophical movements in Athens, especially skepticism, lost their importance and power. During this period, a work called “On the Universe”, which was written within the framework of the Peripatos School and which was later said to belong to Aristotle, is characteristic. Because in this work, we witness that special efforts are made to unite and reconcile the ideas of Aristotle and the Stoic School.
Describing all scientific and philosophical teachings other than skepticism as dogmatism, Sextus argued that there are two basic criteria in life, the first of which is the theoretical criterion of the existence or non-existence of things, and the other is the practical criterion that serves to do or not do certain things. stated that the skeptic should take the practical criterion as his guide.
It explains with perception that correct information cannot be reached. In terms of perception, every person is created differently. The same things can cause different perceptions in different people. Perceptions vary according to the environment. So there is no truth that everyone can agree on. He is not a sophist.
Sextus Empiricus and Empiricism
Source: Atatürk University Sociology