Is Pyrrho’s Thesis From the Aristocles Passage Truly of the Tetralemmatic Kind? (A Preliminary Point of Analysis Deciding a Buddhist Influence)

Andrej Kalaš, Katarína Rajtíková


Recently there has been a debate on whether Pyrrho’s philosophy could be influenced by Indian Buddhist philosophy. Discussions revealing striking similarities between them often point out Pyrrho’s complicated sentence, referred to as tetralemma, as one of the most striking similarities. The central question of this paper is whether Pyrrho’s sentence is of the tetralemmatic kind. Authors argue that if Pyrrho’s sentence is not fourfold in structure it could scarcely be classified as similar to the Buddhist tetralemma. A careful analysis of the question is provided, arguing that the approach to the problem of tetralemmatic structure cannot be carried out solely on syntactic grounds. An aspect of a deeper philosophical meaning of the formula is applied, which alone enables us (if at all) to link Pyrrho’s philosophy to Buddhism.


Pyrrho of Elis; tetralemma; οὐ μᾶλλον; Buddhism; The Greek Buddha

Full Text:

PDF (Slovak)


Show references Hide references

Beckwith, C. I. (2015): The Greek Buddha. Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia. Princeton University Press.

Bett, R. (2018): Pyrrho. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [online], 2002-08-05, rev. 2018-10-23 [cit. 2019-05-25], dostupné z: <>.

Bett, R. (2000): Pyrrho, his Antecedents, and his Legacy. Oxford University Press.

Caizzi, D. (1981): Pirrone Testimonianze. Bibliopolis.

Flintoff, E. (1980): Pyrrho and India. Phronesis, 25(1), 88–108. dostupné z: <>. | DOI 10.1163/156852880X00052

Frenkian, A. (1957): Sextus Empiricus and Indian Logic. Philosophical Quarterly (India), 30(2), 115–126.

Holba, J. (2011): Buddhismus a aristotelská logika. Filosofie dnes [online], 3(1), 1–5, [cit. 2019-09-25], dostupné z: <>.

Jayatilleke, K. N. (1963): Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge. George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Jayatilleke, K. N. (1967): The Logic of Four Alternatives. Philosophy East and West, 17(1–4), 69–83. | DOI 10.2307/1397046

Johnsons, M. R. – Shults, B. (2018): Early Pyrrhonism as a Sect of Buddhism? A Case Study in the Methodology of Comparative Philosophy. Comparative Philosophy, 9 (2), 1–40.

Kalaš, A. (2009): Ranný pyrrhónizmus alebo blažený život bez hodnôt? Odhalenie filozofického postojaajeho metamorfózy vantike. Univerzita Komenského v Bratislave.

Kalaš, A. (2019): The Problem of Truth and Happiness and Self-Refutation in the Philosophical Viewpoint of the World by Pyrrho of Elis. Studia philosophica, 66 (1), 9–26. | DOI 10.5817/SPh2019-1-2

Liddel, H. G. – Scott, R. – Jones, H. S. (1996): Greek-English Lexicon. Clarendon Press.

Murti, T. (1955): The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. Allen & Unwin.

McEvilley, T. (2002): The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies. Allworth Press.

Patrick, M. M. (1929): The Greek Sceptics. Columbia University Press.

Piantelli, M. (1978), Possibili elementi Indiani nella formazione del pensiero di Pirrone d'Elide. Filosofia, 29 (2), 135–164.

Priest, G. (2018): The Fifth Corner of Four: An Essay on Buddhist Metaphysics and the Catuskoti. Oxford University Press.

Priest, G. (2010): The Logic of the Catuskoti. Comparative Philosophy 1(2), 24–54.

Rajtíková, K. (2018): Pyrrhón ako Grécky Budha? Ostium [online] 14(4), [cit. 2019-11-03], dostupné z: <>.

Robinson, R. H. (1957): Some Logical Aspects of Naagaarjuna's System. Philosophy East and West, 6(4), 291–308. | DOI 10.2307/1397476

Ruegg, D. S. (2012): Používání čtyř pozic čatuškóti a problém popisu skutečnosti v mahájánovém buddhismu, in Holba, J. (ed.) (2012): Nágárdžuna. Filosofie střední cesty, OIKOYMENH, 174–256.

Copyright (c) 2020 Andrej Kalaš, Katarína Rajtíková

Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097