Pyrrho (Πύῤῥων), a Greek philosopher of much eminence, is especially noted as the fomunder of the Pvrrhonian or first Sceptic school of Greece. He was the son of Pleistarchus. or Pleistocrates, and a native of Elis, a town of Peloponnesus. He lived about the time of Philip and Alexander of Macedonia, and was originally a poor painter; but, after having learned the elements of science from Dryson, he followed Alexander the Great in his Eastern expedition, and thus became acquainted with the doctrines of the Indian gymnosophists and the Persian magi (Diog. Laert. 9:11, 2). He was also an ardent admirer of Democritus. During the greater part of his life he dwelt in quiet retirement, abstaining from pronouncing any decided opinion upon anything, and endeavoring to preserve the greatest calmness and composure in whatever circumstances he was placed. Notwithstanding this apparently iinactive and indolent mode of life, he was highly honored by his countrymen, who not only made him their high-priest, but, for his sake, decreed that all philosophers should be exempt from payment of taxes (Diog. Laert. 9, 11, 5). Pausanias (6, 24, 4) saw his statue in a portico at Elis, and a monument erected in honor of him at a little distance from the town. The Athenians honored him with the franchise of their city. He died at the advanced age of ninety. Cicero (not so far wrongly either) ranks him among the Socratics; and, indeed, he was as much opposed to the pretensions of the Sophists as Socrates himself, though from a different point of view. An undisturbed peace of mind (ἀπαθια) appeared to Pyrrho the highest object of philosophy; and, thinking that this peace of mind was disturbed by the dogmatic systems and the disputes of all other philosophic schools, he was led to scepticism; but he was by no means of that class of thorough-going scepticism which is usually associated with his name, and which is synonymous with absolute and unlimited infidelity. He simply considered a real scientific knowledge of things to be altogether impossible. His fundamental principle was, that there is nothing true or false, right or wrong. honest or dishonest, just or unjust; that there is no standard in anything, but that all things depend upon law and custom, and that uncertainty and doubt belong to everything. Yet, like the eminent modern German thinker, he appears to have tenaciously maintained the obligations of morality, and he declared virtue to be the only thing worth striving after (Cicero, De Fin. 4:16). On all occasions, therefore, he answered his opponents, "What you say may be true, but I cannot decide." This and other similar expressions drew upon him the ridicule of his adversaries; and most of the absurd anecdotes respecting his conduct in the common occurrences of life, which Diogenes repeats with all the credulity of a gossip, are probably the fabrications of his opponents, made for the purpose of ridiculing Pyrrho. He had many distinguished followers and disciples, who are called Pyrrhoeni, or simply Sceptics: some of them are mentioned and characterized by Diogenes Laertius (ix, c. 7, etc., and c. 12; comp. Gellius, 11:5; and Cicero, De Orat. iii, 17). Their doctrines and mode of reasoning are seen clearest in the works of Sextus Empiricus: their object was rather to overthrow all other systems than to establish a new one; hence we can scarcely speak of a school of Pyrrhonists, inasmuch as they opposed every school. The whole philosophy of Pyrrho and his followers is called Pyrrhonism — a name which in subsequent times has been applied to any kind of scepticism, though the Pyrrhonian philosophy in reality is, as we have seen above, only one particular, and an elementary, form of scepticism. Cicero, in several passages, speaks of the philosophy of Pyrrho as long exploded and extinct. Pyrrho himself is said by some ancient authors to have left no works behind him; the tropes or epochs, or ftindamental principles of his philosophy, being justly ascribed to one or more of his followers. But Sextus Empiricus (Adv. Math. i, 282) says that he wrote a poem addressed to Alexander the Great, for which he was richly rewarded; and Athenaeus (x, p. 419) quotes a passage from a work of Pyrrho, the character of which is entirely unknown. The first writer on the scepticism of Pyrrho is said to have been Timon, his friend and disciple, whose life is written by Diogenes Laertius. See English Cyclop. s.v.; Smith, Dict. of Class. Biog. s.v.; Kingsley, Alexandria and her Schools, p. 59 sq.; Ueberweg, Hist. of Philos. (see Index in vol. ii); Mackintosh, Works, i, 306, 307; Bordas-Demoulin, Melanges Philosophiques (Par. 1846), p. 47 sq.

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