In the academic year 1979-80, Dal Pra delivered a course of lessons on the question of realism in the history of thought, in which his main concern was the relation between realism and skeptical thought. In his opinion, radical Pyrrhonism has a dialectical function: in its paradoxical outcomes, it shows that metaphysical realism is untenable. When rigorously applied, radical Pyrrhonism thus leads to empirical realism. In contrast, moderate Phyrrhonism, which according to Dal Pra is a sound philosophical attitude, seems to imply the denial of a realistic approach. In the author’s opinion, both these conclusions are questionable. However, he agrees with Dal Pra in believing that a deep understanding of the philosophical debate on realism cannot avoid facing the challenge of skepticism and that all discussion which simply ignores skeptical arguments inevitably runs the risk of being superficial.
Keywords: Dal Pra, realism, skepticism, Wittgenstein