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Giulio Castellani (1528-1586): A Sixteenth-Century Opponent of Scepticism CHARLES B. SCH1VHTT THE PROBLEMOF THE ORIGINS of scepticism in early modern philosophy has been a much debated issue. Sanches, Montaigne, Charron, and Bayle all contributed to the milieu which made it possible for the sceptical direction of thought to develop into such a potent force by the time of David Hume. The actual origins of modern scepticism, which seem to go back to a slightly earlier date, lie in the confluence of several different intellectual movements during the early years of the sixteenth century: Christian anti-intellectualism, the reintroduction of the literary remains of the ancient sceptical tradition, the epistemological developments of scholastic nominalism, and certain inherent tendencies of Renaissance humanism. It is in the early decades of the sixteenth century that the seeds which later blossomed forth at the time of Hume originally took root. Hume himself merely reaped the harvest of several hundred years of sceptical preparation? Aside from certain manifestations of doubt which developed out of the epistemological theories of fourteenth-century nominalism , the origins of modern scepticism are generally held to date from the first publication of Sextus Empiricus' ancient summaries of Pyrrhonism during the decade of the 1560's. While it has previously been recognized that at least hints of scepticism were current in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the implications to be derived from this fact do not seem to have been adequately exploredT I shall not here go into these early manifestations of scepticism in a detailed way. Rather, I shall briefly touch upon a few little-known examples of the influence of ancient scepticism during the Reniassance and, then, I shall focus upon an early and practically neglected attack upon scepticism published before the first printings of Sextus Empiricus' writings. I shall discuss the circumstances of the composition of Giulio Castellani's anti-sceptical work, Adversus Marci TuIlii Ciceronis academicas questiones disi For a recent survey of early modem scepticism see Richard H. Popkin, The History o] Scepticism /tom Erasmus to Descartes (Assen: 1960). Of the large literature which connects scepticism with religious doubt during this period see especially Henri Busson, Les sources et le dgveloppement du rati~nalizme dar~ la litt~rature ]ran~aise de la Renaissance (Paris: 1957) and Don Cameron Allen, Doubt's Boundless Sea (Baltimore: 1964). The di.~cussionof this period seems to be the weakest part of Popkin's excellent book, particularly with regard to the treatment which he gives to Italian thought. See, also, his other articles, especially,"Skepticismand the Counter-Reformation in France," Archiv/fir Re/armationsgeschichte , LI (1960),58-86and "The High Road to Pyrrhonism," American Philosophical Quarterly, II (1965),18--32.In my forthcoming study, Gian]rancesco Pico (1469-1533) and His Critique o/Aristotle, I give a detailed analysis of the major representative of early sixteenthcentury scepticism. [151 16 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY putatio (1558), which antedates the first printing of Sextus Empiricus by four years, indicating that scepticism was already widespread enough to provoke an attack from the camp of the dogmatists. Furthermore, I shall analyze Castellani 's arguments in the context of the philosophical views of the mid-sixteenth century. Scepticism in the Early Renaissance Direct knowledge of the major ancient source of scepticism, the already mentioned writings of Sextus Empiricus, was rare throughout the Middle Ages. There are but two known extant Latin manuscripts which date before 1400. s From the fifteenth century we know of two more manuscripts, neither complete in itself , but together containing a significant portion of the extant writings of Sextus. 4 This evidence indicates that Sextus' works were not well known in translation before the first Latin editions of The Oulines o] Pyrrhonism (1562) and of Against the Mathematicians (1569). With the advent of an increased interest in and knowledge of Greek in Western Europe in the fifteenth century, we find a corresponding increase in the number of Greek manuscripts of Sextus Empiricus. Consequently, by the time of the first printings, an appreciable number of copies of his writings were available. Some were brought from the East, but a large number also are attributable to European scribes. 5 We also know that in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 15-39
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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