Apr 15, 2021
Richard Bett specializes in ancient Greek philosophy, with a particular focus on ethics and epistemology. He also has interests in modern ethics and epistemology, as well as a significant side-interest in Nietzsche. He is the author of Pyrrho, his Antecedents and his Legacy (Oxford, 2000), and of translations of Sextus Empiricus' Against the Ethicists (Oxford, 1997, with introduction and commentary), Against the Logicians (Cambridge, 2005, with introduction and notes), Against the Physicists (Cambridge, 2012, with introduction and notes), and Against Those in the Disciplines (Oxford, 2018, with introduction and notes). He is also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Scepticism (2010). A collection of his essays, under the title How to be A Pyrrhonist, was published in 2019 (Cambridge). He has published articles in Phronesis, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Apeiron (of which he is an Editorial Board member), and elsewhere. His publications have been especially on ancient Greek skepticism (sometimes including comparisons with modern approaches to skepticism), but also include papers on the Stoics, Socrates, Plato, the Sophists, and Nietzsche. He spent 1994–95 as a Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, DC. From January 2000 to June 2001, he was acting executive director of The American Philosophical Association, and from 2003-13 he was secretary-treasurer of its Eastern Division; since 2013 he has been Vice Chair of its Board of Officers.
Along with Stoicism and Epicureanism, Skepticism is one of the
three major schools of ancient Greek philosophy that claim to offer
a way of living as well as thinking. How to Keep an Open
Mind provides an unmatched introduction to skepticism by
presenting a fresh, modern translation of key passages from the
writings of Sextus Empiricus, the only Greek skeptic whose works
While content in daily life to go along with things as they appear to be, Sextus advocated—and provided a set of techniques to achieve—a radical suspension of judgment about the way things really are, believing that such nonjudging can be useful for challenging the unfounded dogmatism of others and may help one achieve a state of calm and tranquility. In an introduction, Richard Bett makes the case that the most important lesson we can draw from Sextus’s brand of skepticism today may be an ability to see what can be said on the other side of any issue, leading to a greater open-mindedness.
Complete with the original Greek on facing pages, How to Keep an Open Mind offers a compelling antidote to the closed-minded dogmatism of today’s polarized world.
"[How to Keep an Open Mind] gives a modern audience an accessible introduction to the school of thought, and shows us a better way to think about skepticism in a radically polarized world."—Steven Gambardella, The Sophist (Medium)
“In a world overflowing with information, ‘What should I believe?’ can be a daunting question. The ancient philosopher Sextus Empiricus addresses this issue, asking, what if the pressure to form beliefs is itself a major source of distress and turmoil in our lives? This accessible, engaging translation of key parts of Sextus’s most famous work shows how to achieve a more tranquil life by suspending judgment and keeping an open mind.”—Christiana Olfert, Tufts University
"This excellent volume offers a timely introduction to ancient skepticism, which argues that much of our anguish and conflict is the product of dogmatism and that only an open mind can lead to tranquility. This is surely a message for our times.”—John Sellars, author of The Pocket Stoic