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Greek Philosopher Arcesilaus

Updated on August 29, 2010

Arcesilaus, Greek philosopher, founder of the Middle Academy, born at Pitane in Aeolis. His doctrine, which is known only through the writings of others, was a form of agnosticism based on the conviction that intellectual certainty is impossible.

Arcesilaus (316-241 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher who is considered the founder of the Middle or New Academy. His name appears also as Arcesilas.

He was born in Pitane, Aeolis, and studied philosophy at Athens under Theophrastus and Grantor. On the death of Crates he became head of the Academy. Opposing the Stoics, Arcesilaus denied the certainty of intellectual and sensuous knowledge and recommended abstinence from all dogmatic judgments.

He held that one must act on grounds of probability. Although he left no writings, he exerted a wide influence on philosophy.

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