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Sextus Empiricus

(403 words)

Author(s): Erler, Michael
[German Version] Sextus Empiricus, a Pyrrhonian Skeptic (Skepticism: I) and empirical physician (D.L. IX 116), probably lived at the end of the 2nd century ce. His Outlines of Pyrrhonian Skepticism ( PH) (book I) contains a presentation of Pyrrhonian Skepticism and – like his Against the Dogmatists (5 books) – a discussion of dogmatic epistemology, natural philosophy, and ethics from a Skeptical perspective (books II and III). His Against the Professors ( Adversus mathematicos, 6 books) examines six of the liberal arts (Artes liberales). Sextus’s works are important …


(591 words)

Author(s): Erler, Michael
[German Version] In the context of natural sciences (Hippocrates, Aristotle), the Greek word ὑπόστασις/ hypóstasis has the meaning “underlayer, support or sediment from a fluid.” The metaphorical philosophical meaning “enduring state,” “existence,” “reality” in contrast to the imaginary (Ocellos; Demetrius Laco) is probably related. In philosophy, the hypostasis concept very closely approximates the ousia concept (Substance). Apparently not in use in the terminology of the Hellenistic schools, hypostasis has meanwhile been distinguished as “percep…


(6,572 words)

Author(s): Erler, Michael | Schönberger, Rolf | Puster, Rolf W. | Figal, Günter
[German Version] I. Antiquity 1. Western philosophy is usually held to begin with the Ionian philosophers of nature (Thales, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Natural philosophy), even if they described their activity less as philosophy than as “history.” The first to refer to himself specifically as a philosopher is said to have been Pythagoras, but this may have been a retrospective reference. The word ϕιλοσοϕεῖν/ philosopheín, “to philosophize,” occurs first in the 5th century bce. Initially, like sophia, it denoted a non-specific interest in a form of knowledge, or familia…

Protagoras of Abdera

(188 words)

Author(s): Erler, Michael
[German Version] (born c. 490 bce), lived to be about 70; the date and circumstances of his death are unknown. Accounts of a trial for impiety, banishment, and death by drowning are doubtful. According to Plato, he was highly respected at an advanced age. He was a Sophist (Sophistic school) who lectured for money. He traveled to Sicily as an itinerant teacher; while there he may have collaborated on the laws for the Panhellenic colony of Thurioi founded in 444/443 bce. Protagoras is described as a teacher of virtue and political skills. He is known for his statements that wh…