SELF-REFUTATION AND ANCIENT SKEPTICISM (Samorefutacja i starozytny sceptycyzm)
L. Castagnoli in his book Ancient Self-Refutation rightly observes that self-refutation is not falsification; it overturns the act of assertion but does not prove that the content of the act is false. He argues against the widely spread belief that Sextus Empiricus accepted the self-refutation of his own expressions. Castagnoli also claims that Sextus was effective in answering to the self-refutation charge. The achievement of the book is discovery that in passages where Sextus seems to embrace the self-refutation of his expressions (PH 1.14-15), he does not use the term peritropé, technical for self-refutation, but term perigrafé, which means self-bracketing. Self-bracketing is weakening one's own thesis but not overturning it. Castagnoli claims that Sextus embraces the self-bracketing of his expressions but never accepts their self-refutation. However, Castagnoli is not right that self-refutation is shameful mistake for everybody. The mature skeptic cannot even think that self-refutation is wrong, because it would be a dogmatic view. Sextus seems accept the self-refutation at the end of Against Logicians where he presents the argument against proof and the metaphor of the ladder (M 8.480-1). Regardless of Sextus declarations, we have reasons to think that he does not avoid self-refutation in pragmatic sense. Self-bracketing of his position is not a consistent dialectical strategy, as Castagnoli writes, but the end of rational discussion. Sextus avoids absolute self-refutation (we cannot falsify what he suggests) but he is unable to avoid pragmatic self-refutation (there is no way to assert his position without contradiction). It is the case, even if Sextus refuses asserting his position.
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