The Dissoi Logoi and Early Greek Scepticism

  • Thomas M. Robinson
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 145)


Dissoi Logoi (“Contrasting Arguments”) is the name of a little-known anonymous document that is found appended to the works of Sextus Empiricus in the manuscripts containing his writings. It was first published in Paris in 1570,1 and since that date there has been dispute, among its handful of readers, concerning its date, authorship, purpose and overall philosophical commitments.2


False Statement Predicative Statement Liar Paradox Contrary Argument Philosophical Stance 
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  1. 1.
    In H.StephanusDiog. Laert. Opera 1(Paris, 1570), pp. 470–482.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the most recent edition of the work, see T. M. Robinson, Contrasting Arguments: An Edition of the Dissoi Logoi (New York: Arno Press, 1979), from which the various translations in this essay are taken.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See especially 1.8, “And in the matter of war (I shall speak first of the most recent events) the Spartan victory over the Athenians and their allies was good for the Spartans, but bad for the Athenians and their allies…”.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For the various views on authorship that have been put forward over the years see Robinson, Contrasting Arguments,pp. 41–54. A notable recent exception to the currently accepted view is that of Thomas M. Conley, “Dating the Dissoi Logoi: A Cautionary Note,” Ancient Philosophy 5.1 (1985): 59–65, which upholds the possibility of anonymous Byzantine authorship.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    H.Diels and W. Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (Berlin: Weidmann, 19516), ad loc.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    For details see Robinson, Contrasting Argumentspp. 55 ffGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ibid., pp. 59 ff.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    A.J.Levi, “On Twofold Statements,” American Journal of Philology61 (1940): 292–306Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    ff.= Protagoras A 1, B 6a DK6.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Aristophanes Clouds 882–884; Aristotle Rhet.1402a 23 = Protagoras B 6b DK6.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    For proponents of the view see Robinson Contrasting Argumentsp. 73.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., p. 76.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    For discussion of the passage, see Rosamond Kent Sprague, Aristotle on Mutilation:Metaphysics 5.27,Syllecta Classica 2 (1990): 20.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

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  • Thomas M. Robinson

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