The Philosophy of Francisco Sanches: Academic Scepticism and Conjectural Empiricism

  • Claudio BuccoliniEmail author
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 221)


This paper proposes an interpretation of Sanches’ scepticism based on a study of the full range of his writings, both philosophical and medical. Sanches’ criticisms of traditional idea of scientia indicate a closeness to the themes of Academic scepticism, with particular interest in the Renaissance Academic tradition, but Academic scepticism and Ciceronian criticism do not represent the aim of his philosophical project. Rather, they complement proposals for a new idea of empirical and conjectural knowledge, a new way of deploying reason and experience to attain a provisional rather than an absolute knowledge, a kind of “conjectural empiricism”. Even if his initial project to publish other philosophical texts after the Quod Nihil Scitur was abandoned and his philosophic-epistemological reflections on the status of this new empiricism remained at the stage of initial drafts. Sanches’ proposal of an empirical and conjectural knowing is based not on scepticism as negative dogmatism but on a denial of the practicability of certain and absolute knowledge (perfecta cognitio) in both philosophy and medicine. This denial complements the need to recalibrate and rethink ways of knowing in order to establish some points of support by which a new kind of knowledge – a conjectural empiricism – can profitably be achieved.


Conjecture Dumb philosophy Empiricism Experience Experimentum Judgement Knowledge Probable Temperament Verisimilar 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNR-ILIESIRomeItaly

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