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Pyrrho

der, knowledge and disputes

PYRRHO, pir'6, Greek philosopher: b. Elis, about 365 ex.; d. about 270 s.c. He was a pttpil of the Democritean philosopher Anaxar chus of Abdera, whom he accompanied to India in the train of Alexander the Great. During this journey he became acquainted with the doc trines of the Brahmans, Magi and other eastern philosophers. His doubts concerning positive knowledge were strengthened as he proceeded in his studies, until at length he came to hold all knowledge uncertain, and considered virtue alone as valuable. In all disputes his answer to his opponents was, '‘What you say may, or may not, be true; I cannot decide? and he taught in his school that truth could not be attained, and that we must be content to suspend our judgment on all subjects. He spent much of his life in solitude, and by abstaining from all decided opinions concerning moral and physical phenom ena, endeavored to attain a state of tranquillity unaffected by fear, joy or sorrow. His country men, the Abderites, made him high-priest, and exempted all philosophers from the payment of taxes. The Athenians erected a statue in honor

of him, and his countrymen raised a monument to his memory. His skepticism is easily ac counted for. His master, Democritus, held that except the immediate elements of bodies (atoms) nothing was real, and that all perception was subjective. He was confirmed in these views by the doctrines of Socrates, to whom, in his character, he bore great resemblance, and his skepticism is allied to the irony of that philos opher. Led by his temperament and manner of life to esteem uninterrupted tranquillity the great object of all philosophy, believing that nothing tended so much to destroy this quiet as the interminable disputes of the schools of the dogmatists, and that uncertainty was increased by their contentions, he determined to seek in some other way the peace which he despaired of finding in dogmatical philosophy. A dispo sition to doubt is often called, from this philos opher, Pyrrhonism. Consult Uberweg-Prachter, der geschichte der Philosophe' (Berlin 1914).