Arcesilaus ärsĕs˝ĭlā´əs [key], c.316–c.241 BC, Greek philosopher of Pitane in Aeolis. He was the principal figure of the Middle Academy. Despite his position in the Academy , his teachings diverged from Platonic doctrine. By emphasizing the doubt expressed by Socrates as to the possibility of gaining knowledge, he took a position comparable to that of the Skeptics (see skepticism ). He argued that knowledge and opinion could not be distinguished from each other, so that what anyone claims to know may be more or less probable but not certain. In denying the possibility of certainty he was a major opponent of the Stoics (see Stoicism ). Arcesilaus indirectly influenced Carneades and his school.
See A. A. Long, The Hellenistic Philosophers (2 vol. 1987).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Philosophy: Biographies
Browse by Subject
- Earth and the Environment +-
- History +-
- Literature and the Arts +-
- Medicine +-
- People +-
- Philosophy and Religion +-
- Places +-
- Australia and Oceania
- Britain, Ireland, France, and the Low Countries
- Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic Nations
- Germany, Scandinavia, and Central Europe
- Latin America and the Caribbean
- Oceans, Continents, and Polar Regions
- Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and the Balkans
- United States, Canada, and Greenland
- Plants and Animals +-
- Science and Technology +-
- Social Sciences and the Law +-
- Sports and Everyday Life +-