Who was Pyrrho of Elis?

Pyrrho was a philosopher and founder of skepticism and Pyrrhonism, born in the city of Elis around 360 B.C. and died in 270 B.C. His first contact with philosophy was through the writings of Democritus.

In his expedition to the East, together with Anaxarchus and Alexander the Great, in 334 BC, Pyrrho met the gymnosophists who were wise men from India and learned from them that everything in this life is vanity. In 324 B.C. he returned to Elis, where he began to teach and live.

Pyrrho did not found a proper school, like Epicurus. In fact, he got admirers of his teachings and they became his disciples.

He left nothing in writing. His philosophy was preserved and transmitted by his disciples.

Pyrrho’s main ideas

Pyrrho said that to achieve happiness one must pay attention to three things:

  1. Observe how things are by nature;
  2. Question what our attitude should be towards them;
  3. To think about the consequences of our attitudes;

Timon, a disciple of Pyrrho, lists some points of his master’s philosophy, these are:

  1. Things are indifferent, have no stability and are indiscriminate. Therefore, our opinions are neither true nor false;
  2. If our opinions are neither true nor false, then we must remain without opinions (aphasia) and inclinations, unperturbed about the reality of things.
  3. Whoever can follow this to the letter will achieve imperturbability of the soul (ataraxia), apathy.


The main thesis of Pyrrho of Elis and of Skepticism as a whole is that truth does not exist. This fact can be easily verified by observing the differences of opinion among philosophers. There is no consensus, each one thinks differently. In view of this, one wonders: why bother with all philosophical problems?

Man is not sure of anything, because he can know nothing, this is the basis of skepticism.

Therefore, man can know nothing about the nature of things, so he should avoid wasting his time judging and wanting to know reality, for this only brings disturbance and worry.

Finally, man should discard all opinion and live carefree, ataraxia is the most appropriate attitude.

After Plato’s death, skepticism began to gain influence in the Academy, and Plato’s metaphysical principles, such as the theory of forms, gradually lost relevance.

Cite This Work

Vieira, S. (2022, January 17). Pyrrho. Filosofia do Início. Retrieved from

Vieira, Sadoque. “Pyrrho.” Filosofia do Início, January 17, 2022.

Vieira, Sadoque. “Pyrrho.” Filosofia do Início, 17 Jan. 2022,


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