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The School of Doubt (Brill Studies in Skepticism)

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The School of Doubt conducts a parallel philological and philosophical examination of Cicero’s Academica, a work on Hellenistic epistemology written in the first half of 45 bce. The treatise has a unique history, insofar as fragments of two different versions are extant: the second of a two-volume first edition, a dialogue known as the Lucullus; and, forty-six paragraphs of the first book of a four-volume second edition, the Academic Books.1 Both versions ostensibly explore a controversy that divided Plato’s Academy at the turn of the first century bce, pitting Philo of Larissa against his pupil Antiochus of Ascalon. Their dispute was centered on a disagreement over the foundation of knowledge. As the story goes—a story in large part drawn from the pages of the Academica— Antiochus took issue with certain teachings of Philo’s Academy, whose tradition, developed during the school’s Hellenistic period, came to stand for the unknowability of all perceptual and conceptual objects (impressions, or visa) and for withholding assent to any such impression. These two postures, which defined Academic teaching in the third and second centuries bce, were known as akatalêpsia and epochê respectively.
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