Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism

LCL 273: 326-327

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Sextus Empircus

ἐκεῖνο προειπόντες ὅτι τῷ μὲν βίῳ κατακολουθοῦντες ἀδοξάστως φαμὲν εἶναι θεοὺς καὶ σέβομεν θεοὺς καὶ προνοεῖν αὐτοὺς φαμέν, πρὸς δὲ τὴν προπέτειαν τῶν δογματικῶν τάδε λέγομεν.

Τῶν ἐννοουμένων ἡμῖν πραγμάτων τὰς οὐσίας ἐπινοεῖν ὀφείλομεν, οἷον εἰ σώματά ἐστιν ἢ ἀσώματα. ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ εἴδη· οὐ γὰρ ἄν τις ἵππον ἐννοῆσαι δύναιτο μὴ οὐχὶ πρότερον τὸ εἶδος τοῦ ἵππου μαθών. τό τε ἐννοούμενον ἐννοεῖσθαί που 3ὀφείλει. ἐπεὶ οὖν τῶν δογματικῶν οἱ μὲν σῶμά φασιν εἶναι τὸν θεὸν οἱ δὲ ἀσώματον, καὶ οἱ μὲν ἀνθρωποειδῆ οἱ δὲ οὔ, καὶ οἱ μὲν ἐν τόπῳ οἱ δὲ οὔ, καὶ τῶν ἐν τόπῳ οἱ μὲν ἐντὸς κόσμου οἱ δὲ ἐκτός, πῶς δυνησόμεθα ἔννοιαν θεοῦ λαμβάνειν μήτε οὐσίαν ἔχοντες αὐτοῦ ὁμολογουμένην μήτε εἶδος μήτε τόπον ἐν ᾧ εἴη; πρότερον γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι ὁμολογησάτωσάν τε καὶ συμφωνησάτωσαν ὅτι τοῖόσδε ἐστὶν ὁ θεός· εἶτα ἡμῖν αὐτὸν ὑποτυπωσάμενοι οὕτως ἀξιούτωσαν ἡμᾶς ἔννοιαν θεοῦ λαμβάνειν. ἐς ὅσον δὲ ἀνεπικρίτως διαφωνοῦσιν, τί νοήσομεν ἡμεῖς ὁμολογουμένως παρ᾿ αὐτῶν οὐκ ἔχομεν.

4Ἀλλ᾿ ἄφθαρτόν τι, φασί, καὶ μακάριον ἐννοήσας, τὸν θεὸν εἶναι τοῦτο νόμιζε. τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν εὔηθες· ὡς γὰρ ὁ μὴ εἰδὼς τὸν Δίωνα οὐδὲ τὰ συμβεβηκότα αὐτῷ ὡς Δίωνι δύναται νοεῖν, οὕτως ἐπεὶ


Outlines of Pyrrhonism, III

about God,a first premising that although, following the ordinary view,b we affirm undogmatically that Gods exist and reverence Gods and ascribe to them foreknowledge, yet as against the rashness of the Dogmatists we argue as follows.

When we conceive objects we ought to form conceptions of their substancesc as well, as, for instance, whether they are corporeal or incorporeal. And also of their forms; for no one could conceive “Horse” unless he had first learnt the horse’s form. And of course the object conceived must be conceived <as existing> somewhere. Since, then, some of the3Dogmatists assert that God is corporeal, others that he is incorporeal, and some that he has human form, others not, and some that he exists in space, others not; and of those who assert that he is in space some put him inside the world, others outsided; how shall we be able to reach a conception of God when we have no agreement about his substance or his form or his place of abode? Let them first agree and consent together that God is of such and such a nature, and then, when they have sketched out for us that nature, let them require that we should form a conception of God. But so long as they disagree interminably, we cannot say what agreed notion we are to derive from them.

But, say they,e when you have conceived of a Being4imperishable and blessed, regard this as God. But this is foolish; for just as one who does not know Dion is unable also to conceive the properties which belong to him as Dion, so also when we do not know the

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.sextus_empiricus-outlines_pyrrhonism.1933