Antiochus of Ascalon (/ænˈtaɪəkəs/; Greek: Άντίοχος ὁ
Ἀσκαλώνιος; c. 125 – c. 68 BC) was an Academic
philosopher. He was a pupil of
Philo of Larissa
Philo of Larissa at the Academy, but he
diverged from the
Academic skepticism of
Philo and his predecessors.
He was a teacher of Cicero, and the first of a new breed of eclectics
among the Platonists; he endeavoured to bring the doctrines of the
Stoics and the
Peripatetics into Platonism, and stated, in opposition
to Philo, that the mind could distinguish true from false. In doing
so, he claimed to be reviving the doctrines of the Old Academy. With
him began the phase of philosophy known as Middle Platonism.
5 Further reading
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Antiochus was born in Ashkelon. He was a friend of
antagonist of Mithridates) and the teacher of
Cicero during his
Athens in 79 BC; but he had a school at
Alexandria also, as
well as in Syria, where he seems to have died. He was a philosopher
of considerable reputation in his time, for
Strabo in describing
Ascalon, mentions his birth there as a mark of distinction for the
Cicero frequently speaks of him in affectionate and
respectful terms as the best and wisest of the Academics, and the most
polished and acute philosopher of his age.
Antiochus studied under the Stoic Mnesarchus, but his principal
teacher was Philo, who succeeded Clitomachus as the head (scholarch)
of the Academy. He is, however, better known as the adversary than the
disciple of Philo; and
Cicero mentions a treatise called Sosus,
written by him against his master, in which he refutes the scepticism
of the Academics. Another of his works, called Canonica, is quoted by
Sextus Empiricus, and appears to have been a treatise on logic.
Antiochus was called the founder of the "fifth Academy," in the same
Philo was called the founder of the fourth. This split
occurred just before the
First Mithridatic War
First Mithridatic War began in 88 which would
lead to the destruction of the Academy in 86. During this time,
Antiochus was resident in Alexandria. He had returned to
Athens by the
Cicero studied there in 79, and he seems to have died around 68.
Academic skepticism of the Academy before Antiochus probably had
its origin in Plato's successful attempts to lead his disciples to
abstract reasoning as the right method of discovering truth, and not
to trust too much to the impressions of the senses.
Cicero even ranks
Plato himself with those philosophers who held that there was no such
thing as certainty in any kind of knowledge; as if his depreciation
of the senses as trustworthy organs of perception, and of the kind of
knowledge which they convey, invalidated also the conclusions of the
Later philosophers, either by insisting too exclusively on the
uncertainty of the senses (in order like
Arcesilaus to exaggerate by
comparison the value of speculative truth), or like
Philo, by extending the same fallibility to reason, had fallen into a
degree of scepticism that seemed to strike at the root of all truth,
theoretical and practical. It was, therefore, the chief object of
Antiochus, besides promoting particular doctrines in moral philosophy,
to examine the grounds of our knowledge, and our capacities for
discovering truth; though no complete judgment can be formed of his
success, as the book in which
Cicero gave the fullest representation
of his opinions has been lost.
Antiochus professed to be reviving the doctrines of the Old Academy,
or of Plato's school, when he maintained, in opposition to
Carneades, that the intellect had in itself a test by which it could
distinguish truth from falsehood; or in the language of the Academics,
discern between the images arising from actual objects and those
conceptions that had no corresponding reality. For the argument of
the sceptics was, that if two notions were so exactly similar as that
they could not be distinguished, neither of them could be said to be
known with more certainty than the other; and that every true notion
was liable to have a false one of this kind attached to it: therefore
nothing could be certainly known. This reasoning was obviously
overthrown by the assertion that the mind contained within itself the
standard of truth and falsehood; it was also attacked more generally
by the argument that all such reasoning refutes itself, since it
proceeds upon principles assumed to be true, and then concludes that
there can be no certain ground for any assumption at all. In this
manner Antiochus seems to have taken the side of the
defending the senses from the charge of complete uncertainty brought
against them by the Academics.
It is evident that in such discussions the same questions were
examined which had formerly been more thoroughly sifted by
Aristotle, in analyzing the nature of science and treating of the
different kinds of truth, according as they were objects of pure
intellectual apprehension, or only of probable and uncertain
knowledge. The result was an attempt to revive the dialectic art which
the Academics had ignored, so the existing accounts of Antiochus'
moral teaching seem to show. Without yielding to the paradoxes of the
Stoics, or the skepticism of the Academics, he held in the main
doctrines nearly coinciding with those of Aristotle: that happiness
consists essentially in a virtuous life, yet is not independent of
external things. So he denied the Stoic doctrine that all crimes
were equal, but agreed with them in holding that all the emotions
ought to be suppressed. On the whole, therefore, though Cicero
inclines to rank him among the Stoics, it appears that he
considered himself an eclectic philosopher, and attempted to unite the
doctrines of the
Stoics and Peripatetics, so as to revive the old
^ Dorandi 1999, p. 49.
^ Plutarch, Cicero, c. 4; Lucullus, c. 4; Cicero, Academica, ii. 19.
^ Strabo, xiv.
^ Cicero, Academica, ii. 35; Brutus, 91.
^ Cicero, Academica, iv. 4.
^ Sextus Empiricus, vii. 201.
^ Cicero, Academica, ii. 23.
^ Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, ix. 8.
^ Cicero, Academica, ii. 18
^ Cicero, Academica, ii. 13
^ Cicero, Academica, ii. 34
^ Cicero, Academica, ii. 32
^ Cicero, Academica, ii. 42; de Finibus, v. 25; Tusculanae
Quaestiones, v. 8.
^ a b Cicero, Academica, ii. 43
^ Sextus Empiricus, i. 235.
Dorandi, Tiziano (1999). "Chapter 2: Chronology". In Algra, Keimpe; et
al. The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780521250283.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Prichard, Constantine Estlin (1870). "Philon
(3. the Academic)". In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman
Biography and Mythology. 1. p. 192.
Algra, K., J. Barnes, J. Mansfeld and M. Schofield (eds.), 1999. The
Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge
Barnes, J., 1989. “Antiochus of Ascalon”, in Philosophia Togata:
Essays on Philosophy and Roman Society, M. Griffin and J. Barnes
(eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dillon, J., The Middle Platonists, 2° éd., Ithaca: Cornell
University Press, 1996. Chap. 2.
Fleischer, K., “Der Stoiker Mnesarch als Lehrer des Antiochus im
Index Academicorum”, in
Mnemosyne 68/3, 2015, pp. 413–423.
Glucker, J., Antiochus and the Late Academy, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck
& Ruprecht, 1978.
Sedley, D. (ed.), The Philosophy of Antiochus, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2012.
Striker, G., “Academics fighting Academics”, in Brad Inwood &
Jaap Mansfeld, Assent and Argument. Studies in Cicero's Academic
Books, Leiden: Brill, 1997, pp. 257–275.
Tarrant, H., Scepticism or Platonism? The Philosophy of the Fourth
Academy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Allen, James. "Antiochus of Ascalon". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Platonism Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Menedemus of Pyrrha
Eudoxus of Cnidus
Philip of Opus
Crates of Athens
Philo of Larissa
Philo of Alexandria
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Origen the Pagan
Disciples of Plotinus
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Plutarch of Athens
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