Heroes 9: the scepsis

Francois de la Mothe le Vayer

Francois de la Mothe le Vayer

The study of Antiquity started as a debate about fraud. Italian scholar Nanni had published fake souces and had caused quite a debate, especially because he also introduced the distinction between primary and secondary sources. This man was not an ordinary fraudster whose “discovery” might easily be set aside. It took a long chronological debate to find out what was wrong. In the meantime, scholars learned to look for the sources of the sources: although there were hardly any primary sources from Antiquity, we might try to approach them.

Although the foundations of a more reliable study of the distant past were being laid, the basic response to the unmasking of Nanni was scepsis. The seventeenth century witnessed the rise of a kind of historical scepsis that is sometimes called “historical pyrrhonism”.

he study of Antiquity started as a debate about fraud. Italian scholar Nanni had published fake souces and had caused quite a debate, especially because he also introduced the distinction between primary and secondary sources. This man was not an ordinary fraudster whose “discovery” might easily be set aside. It took a long chronological debate to find out what was wrong. In the meantime, scholars learned to look for the sources of the sources: although there were hardly any primary sources from Antiquity, we might try to approach them.

[Read more on the blog of Ancient History Magazine.]

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