Sextus Empiricus, Against the Ethicists

LCL 311: 384-385

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Sextus Empiricus


1Τὰς μὲν κομιζομένας ὑπὸ τῶν σκεπτικῶν ἀπορίας εἴς τε τὸ λογικὸν καὶ φυσικὸν τῆς φιλοσοφίας μέρος πρότερον ἐπεληλύθαμεν, ὑπόλοιπον δέ ἐστι καὶ τὰς εἰς τὸ ἠθικὸν φέρεσθαι δυναμένας προσυποτάττειν· οὕτω γὰρ ἕκαστος ἡμῶν τὴν τελείαν καὶ σκεπτικὴν ἀπολαβὼν διάθεσιν κατὰ τὸν Τίμωνα βιώσεται

ῥῇστα μεθ᾿ ἡσυχίης αἰεὶ ἀφροντίστως καὶ ἀκινήτως κατὰ ταὐτά, μὴ προσέχων αἴνοις1 ἡδυλόγου σοφίης.

2ἀλλ᾿ ἐπεὶ τὴν ἠθικὴν θεωρίαν συμφώνως σχεδὸν ἅπαντες ὑπειλήφασι περὶ τὴν τῶν ἀγαθῶν τε καὶ κακῶν διάκρισιν γίνεσθαι, καθὸ καὶ ὁ πρῶτος αὐτὴν δόξας κεκινηκέναι Σωκράτης παρήγγειλεν ὡς ἀναγκαιότατον ζητεῖν

ὅττι τοι ἐν μεγάροισι κακόν τ᾿ ἀγαθόν τε τέτυ- κται,

δεήσει καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐν ἀρχαῖς εὐθὺς περὶ τῆς ἐν τούτοις διαφορᾶς σκοπεῖν.


Against the Ethicists

Against the Ethicists

We have already discussed the difficulties brought1 forward by the Sceptics with regard to the Logical and Physical divisions of philosophy, and now it remains for us to subjoin further those which can be brought against the Ethical division; for in this way, by acquiring the perfect and sceptical frame of mind, each of us will (in the words of Timona) pass his life—

In great comfort and calm, Ever devoid of care, uniformly free from distraction, Quite regardless of all Sweet-voiced Science’s tales.

But since almost all have with one accord supposed2 that the study of Ethics is concerned with the distinction between things good and evil,b—even as Socrates, who is thought to be the first who introduced it, proclaimed as the most necessary subject of inquiry—

Whatso of evil and good within these homes is enacted,c

we too shall have to begin at once by considering the difference which exists between them.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.sextus_empiricus-ethicists.1936