Best skeptic arguments, five tropes of Agrippa are these: (wiki)

Dissent – The uncertainty demonstrated by the differences of opinions among philosophers and people in general.

Progress ad infinitum – All proof rests on matters themselves in need of proof, and so on to infinity, i.e., the regress argument.

Relation – All things are changed as their relations become changed, or, as we look upon them from different points of view. "the existing object appears to be such-and-such relative to the subject judging and to the things observed together with it, but we suspend judgement on what it is like in its nature." (Sextus Empiricus, Pyrrhōneioi hypotypōseis i., from Annas, J., Outlines of Scepticism Cambridge University Press. (2000).)

Assumption – The truth asserted is based on an unsupported assumption.

Circularity – The truth asserted involves a circularity of proofs.

Because of these tropes, skeptics withhold jugdment concerning reality, and only go with the appearances, their goal is to have tranquility in the end. Suspending judgment presumably achieves this goal. So, agnosticism about the nature of reality creates a calm and unperturbed state of mind according to the Pyrrhonists (as far as I understood).

Coming to Jain philosophy, there is the concept of Anekāntavāda which is 'many sidedness of reality'. Many sidedness of reality is perhaps best reflected in the parable of the elephant and blind men. Each man inspecting the elephant likens it to a pillar, wall or snake according to the correspoding part they inspected, the foot, the sides and the trunk. The overall message of the parable is 𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘶𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘰𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘹 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘪𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺, 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴. That is why noone's partial viewpoint can be held as absolute. Only when the partial viewpoints of the blind men are put together and combined, do we get a wholer picture of the elephant, or of reality.

So, what is the relationship, if there is any, between skepticism and Anekantavada? Can someone accepting the Anekantavada principle tell to the skeptic putting forth the five tropes, that since the skeptic does not have access to the totality of reality, although reflecting his partial point of view, nevertheless, does not succeed at establishing the truth of skepticism? And, is Anekantavada a more open-minded approach about metaphysics and nature (and reality overall) than skepticism is? Because it encourages further interrogation and communication with different perspectives regarding metaphysics rather than suspending judgment?

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    It may not be like you wished. Skepticism has many factions and forms, some radical ones like “reject any view” is obviously liar paradoxical when applied to itself, but “judgement suspension” from Buddhism tradition may be very well self-consistent. Furthermore the all inclusive both a and not a, and the skeptical neither a nor not a are all possible truth values in paraconsistent logic, no one is really better than the other, and the neither/nor operator perhaps can express more (Pierce stroke)… Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 0:27
  • On the other hand, wiki ref talked about criticism of the Anekāntavāda doctrine: ... posited by medieval era Buddhists and Hindus applied the principle on itself, that is if nothing is definitely true or false, is anekāntavāda true or false? ... the Anekantavada doctrine accepts the norm in Indian philosophies that all knowledge is contextual, that object and subject are interdependent. However, as a theory of relations, it does not solve the deficiencies in other progress philosophies, just "compounds the felony by merely duplicating the already troublesome notion of a dependence relation" Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 6:55
  • Actually I read another article about Anekantavada,, where it is explained that it is not doubtfulness, everything is uncertain, etc. medium.com/jinswara/…
    – november
    Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 16:54
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    Your last comment about truth from point of views is simply the popular perspectivism. And it's famous that many people practicing Jainism are very humble. This is all consistent with my main thesis that in reality it largely depends on the person who practiced ***ism, some proud people may also interpret Jainism in terms of their agenda and thesis... As for Anekantavada's main criticism above "as a theory of relations, it does not solve the deficiencies in other progress philosophies", one yet to see how exactly various contradictions relate... Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 0:18
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    But unlike babies, it's only a "suspension" not "annihilation" so that it doesn't exclude the possibility that propositions and deeds will be judged somewhere else or afterlife. Sounds easy to suspend judgement but in practice it's as hard as Nirvana as referenced by the same Surangama sutta chapter 4 page above: you now base your knowledge on awareness and perception; but that is fundamental ignorance. The absence of a view regarding awareness and perception is Nirvana - the true purity of no outflows. How could there be anything else in the midst of it? Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


Anekantavada is essentially a pluralism of truths, in which every claim is a respectable account of Truth; i.e. each such claim is an aspect of reality. Each statement is an incomplete account of Truth, no matter how widely accepted it is. The ultimate set of all truth-functional propositions is the ultimate truth.

On the other hand, Pyrrhonic scepticism is quite different. It's not a position of the plurality of truth claims combining into the absolute account of truth. Pyrrhonic sceptic aims at the truth. For instance, in the debate, a Pyrrhonic sceptic can be impartial and present arguments of his adversaries, while suspending judgement. Sceptic's goal is to establish the most indubitable claim that can withstand a variety of arguments against either side. As such, a sceptic does not believe in a plurality of truth claims like Jains do. Such sceptic believes that there is only one truth and that some claims must be false.

(This account of Pyhrronic scepticism is based on the book "Scepticism" by philosopher Arne Naess.)

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