Posts by Cassius



    This post is a very narrow point on a huge subject, the question of “what is truth?” Some will say this is so obvious as to be unnecessary to discuss, but I don’t think that is correct. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the modern religious/academic/humanist dispositions with which most of us are indoctrinated require this reminder as to the nature of “truth.”


    First, we know that Diogenes Laertius recorded:


    “We must begin with the first after some few preliminary remarks upon his division of philosophy. It is divided into three parts—Canonics, Physics, Ethics. Canonics forms the introduction to the system and is contained in a single work entitled The Canon. The physical part includes the entire theory of nature; it is contained in the thirty-seven books Of Nature and, in a summary form, in the letters. The ethical part deals with the facts of choice and aversion: this may be found in the books On Human Life, in the letters, and in his treatise Of the End.”


    Note that while translations such as Epicurus.net often contain a parenthetical expression that “Canonics” refers to “truth” – in this opening section the word “truth” does not appear in literal translations such as Bailey’s Extant Remains. But the word “truth” does appear shortly thereafter:

    Now in The Canon Epicurus affirms that our sensations and preconceptions and our feelings are the standards of truth; the Epicureans generally make perceptions of mental presentations to be also standards. His own statements are also to be found in the Summary addressed to Herodotus and in the Principal Doctrines. Here is the Bailey version, where he translates “perceptions of mental impressions” as “intuitive apprehensions of the mind.”


    Laertius does not give an extended discussion of “truth,” so we refer next to the references in the letter to Herodotus and the Principal Doctrines, which are fairly straightforward. First the letter to Herodotus:


    In the first place, Herodotus, you must understand what it is that words denote, in order that by reference to this we may be in a position to test opinions, inquiries, or problems, so that our proofs may not run on untested ad infinitum, nor the terms we use be empty of meaning. For the primary signification of every term employed must be clearly seen, and ought to need no proving; this being necessary, if we are to have something to which the point at issue or the problem or the opinion before us can be referred. Next, we must by all means stick to our sensations, that is, simply to the present impressions whether of the mind or of any criterion whatever, and similarly to our actual feelings, in order that we may have the means of determining that which needs confirmation and that which is obscure. When this is clearly understood, it is time to consider generally things which are obscure.

    And then we refer to the relevant Principal Doctrines:


    22. We must consider both the ultimate end and all clear sensory evidence, to which we refer our opinions; for otherwise everything will be full of uncertainty and confusion.

    23. If you fight against all your sensations, you will have no standard to which to refer, and thus no means of judging even those sensations which you claim are false.

    24. If you reject absolutely any single sensation without stopping to distinguish between opinion about things awaiting confirmation and that which is already confirmed to be present, whether in sensation or in feelings or in any application of intellect to the presentations, you will confuse the rest of your sensations by your groundless opinion and so you will reject every standard of truth. If in your ideas based upon opinion you hastily affirm as true all that awaits confirmation as well as that which does not, you will not avoid error, as you will be maintaining the entire basis for doubt in every judgment between correct and incorrect opinion.

    25. If you do not on every occasion refer each of your actions to the ultimate end prescribed by nature, but instead of this in the act of choice or avoidance turn to some other end, your actions will not be consistent with your theories.


    With these as background, before we can understand “Canonics” as a “test of truth” we have to understand what we mean by “truth.”

    These points of reference on the processing of information do not come to us without a clear Epicurean context, because we already know vital aspects of the nature of the universe and what we can expect and not expect from our exertions on this or any other topic.


    In the Epicurean universe there are no supernatural gods, no center point in space, and no beginning point in time. The universe is uncreated, the universe as a whole is boundless, and time is and always has been “eternal” – nothing more than a function of matter moving through space.


    In such a universe there is no divine standard of right, wrong, or truth; there is no absolute standard by which a “truth” applicable to all places, people and time can be checked; there is no center point in the universe at which one can stand and say “this is yellow” or “this is large” or “this is small.” All perceptions formed mentally into conceptions are relative and “true” based on the judgment of the observer who is making them at a particular place and time.


    Despite this, a concept of “truth” is of vital importance in successful living. Conceptual reasoning is a priceless tool by which humans can gain far greater control over their surroundings than any other living being (about which we know on this earth, at least). By means of conceptual reasoning we can observe objects, notice similarities and differences, and assemble sounds which we can speak and letters which we can write to transmit and expand on this information. And based on this process of conceptual reasoning and communication, we have assembled a civilization of which humans are justly proud.


    But the issue here is this: At no point in the assembly of observations into sounds and letters and our communication of these to others does our decision to assign particular words or letters indicate that we are in communication with a divine god or with a center of absolute truth.


    To a savage in a jungle an I-PHONE is no more useful than a block of wood or a chunk of stone – and within the context of the jungle, the I-PHONE is considerably less useful, as it smashes on impact and cannot be shaped into weapons. The savage has no means of unlocking the power of an I-PHONE any more than we today can unlock the power of the cells of our bodies to regenerate themselves so as to provide eternal health and happiness. In the right conditions the I-PHONE can revolutionize the life of a savage, and as medicine advances we will likely unlock the powers of our cells to regenerate, but neither capabilities are always and inherently within the power of every particular person.


    Over my years of studying Epicurus it has been a continuing source of debate as to whether the “Epicurean Canon” really consists of three legs, as Laertius says Epicurus held, or four legs, as Laertius says “other” (presumably “later”) Epicureans held. DeWitt sides strongly with three, and I agree with DeWitt’s reasoning, which I will not attempt to repeat here except in brief summary: DeWitt’s argument is essentially that “impressions of the mind” is a reference to conceptions formed after observations and reasoning, much as Laertius records the meaning of anticipations to be a picture we assemble in our minds of a horse or a cow after seeing numerous horses and cows. DeWitt argues that pre-conceptions must precede experience, so that Laertius must be wrong in his summary of the nature of anticipations, and that likewise the “other Epicureans” were wrong in considering “mental impressions” to have the same guarantees of truth as the sensations, anticipations, and feelings. That makes sense to me, and there is no doubt from Laertius that there was a difference of opinion between Epicurus and his later students, so there is SOME division of opinion here that seems more than a game of words.


    But what I want to suggest in this post that whichever interpretation is correct, the more fundamental conclusion is that – whether or not there are three legs of the canon or four, whether or not the “intuitive apprehensions of the mind” are considered of equal rank with feelings and sensations – the important point for us to digest is that “truth” always remains a concept that we ourselves as humans create for ourselves, valid only for ourselves, and useful only to those of us with whom we can accurately communicate a clear context of meaning clearly informed by sensations, feelings, and anticipations/intuitions.


    It makes no difference how complex our logic or conceptual constructions may be, or how much in love with them we may be, or how highly we may esteem them in any way. Our conceptual constructions never reach the level that we imagine to be attached to Divine Pronouncements, or what we like to call Absolute Truth. Our conceptions of “truth” always remain as personal to us as our feelings of pain and pleasure, and our sensations and anticipations by which we function as human beings in experiencing our lives.


    As long as the meaning of “truth” is kept in context, I can understand and accept that “mental impressions” – as some kind of product of thinking – could be considered a “fourth leg.” But I also see an extreme danger in doing so, because the products of mental processes are inherently subject to error in opinion-formation. It is the absence of error from opinion that is exactly why the sensations, feelings, and anticipations were elevated to their status as canonical in the first place, and the products of observation and thought do not carry that indicia of reliability.


    It may well be possible to define a type or procedure of mental impression which is totally or largely free from the error of opinion. If so, then I can see how such a procedure could be considered canonical. For example, it might be argued that a person who has lived around horses can “automatically” develop a word/concept “horse.” For that person, and for the person with whom he communicates successfully, the word/concept horse can become a point of reference. Is it wise to consider this type of reference to be of equal importance as direct feeling of pleasure or pain, or his sensation of hot or cold? Possibly, but I question whether that it wise, and I believe that is why Epicurus saw a line here which should not be crossed.


    But even if one chooses to consider mental processes a fourth leg, the larger point remains: there is NO GOD, NO CENTRAL ABSOLUTE TRUTH, by which a Supernatural God, or the universe personified as Nature, can stand up and say “You’re wrong.” People can create all sorts of concepts and conclusions in their mind, and hold them tightly as “truth” to them, and those can be (in their minds) just as real as “yellow” or “hot.” People choose to live and die by such conclusions every day, and there is no supernatural arbiter which has the right to say “they were wrong.”


    In summary, if Epicurus were here today to talk to us, I think his caution would be something like this:


    (1) Remember that the opinions and conclusions we form in our minds are much more subject to error than are our direct sensations, feelings, and anticipations;


    (2) Remember that no matter how much you value your opinions and conclusions, they are not sanctioned by God, nor are they sanctioned by Nature as absolute truth;


    (3) Remember that your “truth” is yours, and belongs only to you and to those with whom you can accurately communicate and persuade of your correctness; and


    (4) Remember that when you die, your “truth” dies with you, so if it is of value to you, live it NOW, while you are alive.



    https://newepicurean.com/epicu…e-question-what-is-truth/

    For this Twentieth I would like to return to a recurring theme – that of restating what I see to be some of the most important take-away implications of Epicurean philosophy. I firmly believe that each one of us has an individual context, which means that we will reach individual and differing conclusions about how we will best pursue and secure our own happiness. However, as we consider and select from among the options available to us, there are important fundamental premises found in the Principles Doctrines of Epicurus which must always be applied. Here are a few:


    1 – There are NO supernatural gods creating or supervising universes, or controlling our lives. Among the many reasons we can be sure of that is that any being truly worthy of the name “god” would have no more time for game-playing with humans than we humans have time for game-playing with ants.


    2 – This life is our only chance to experience whatever pleasures we wish to experience. All evidence tells us that when we die our personalities and consciousnesses cease to exist, just as do the personalities and consciousnesses of our most beloved dogs or cats. No one expects any other animal’s consciousness to survive death, nor should we expect our own. We only live once, and death is forever afterward, so we should spend our time the best way we can and never procrastinate.


    3- Idealism is as false a god as Allah or Yahweh or Jesus or “Humanity.” No matter how important our ideals are to us, we are ourselves totally irrelevant to our ideals. No ideal is keeping score and giving us credit for our work in this life so that we can be rewarded in a future life. What Nature gave us as a guide and goal is not idealism but pleasure – pleasure of all kinds – mental and physical. If we aren’t measuring all our choices according to whether those choices will maximize long-term net pleasure over pain then we are chasing an illusion and will catch only bitter disillusion and disappointment.


    4 – Pain holds no more magical power over us than Lucifer or Satan or any fictionalized devil. All of life requires exertion in order to achieve the pleasure we want before we die, but if we order our lives reasonably we can in most cases (not ALL cases, because there are no guarantees in life – no fate or supervising gods!) we can expect the pain we encounter to be manageable. Nor need we fear the unmanageable pain, because if extreme that pain will be short, and death will end it for us.


    5 – “Virtue” has no more absolute substance than does Yahweh or Allah or idealism. The achievement of pleasure in life requires that we act in ways that are most likely to deflect our challenges and enemies, and to elicit positive pleasurable responses in our friends. Those actions which are successful in achieving that goal can in retrospect be seen to be “virtuous,” and those which in retrospect were counterproductive can be seen to be “unvirtuous.” But that is the only way to judge between the two categories – the success or failure in achieving net pleasurable living is the only standard by which categories like “virtuous” have any meaning.


    6 – Since the measure of an action is the result, and the measure is not a false standard of “absolute virtue,” and since pleasure has meaning only to the living, ANY choice or avoidance which secures our lives and protection from our enemies is naturally good. The label of “naturally good” comes only from the result in protecting us, not because it conforms to some idealistic notion of being a “good person.”


    7 – Fame and status are no more intrinsically good than are obscurity and living unknown. The test of all our actions is what will result from selecting them, and either fame or obscurity (or both at different times and circumstances) can be employed according to the result that they bring in terms of our individual happiness.


    8 – No pleasure is intrinsically “evil” or intrinsically “good.” NO pleasure. NONE AT ALL! Not one single pleasure no matter how perverted your imagination is “intrinsically” bad or good in and of itself. That conclusion is the clear and unavoidable corollary of the observation that there is no god and no universal absolute standard by which intrinsic labels can be affixed. All pleasure is pleasurable, and the test is not whether we think the pleasure makes us a good person, but whether engaging in that pleasure brings us more pain in the long run than is worthwhile to us. Merely stating this or reading this can make uncontrollable shivers run down the spine of those who conform to the standards of majority morality. Worse yet, some people will want to clench their fists and beat you over the head – or worse. But get used to understanding this if you’re going to be an Epicurean – and realize that your sentimentalities will never create the god or the absolute standard that could alone justify a label of something being “intrinsically” evil.


    9 – There are many reasons not to overindulge yourself in a single type of pleasure, not the least of which is that to do so would be impossible in the real world, and any effort to do so would guarantee a short lifespan and nasty death. But realize too that if you could immerse your full experience in a single pleasure, you would be denying yourself the experience of many other desirable pleasures. Nature gave you a sensory capacity to perceive innumerable types of physical and mental pleasures – she didn’t give you a handwritten list and a command to pursue only one or even just a few.


    10 – Remember that no matter how much you may personally despise certain people or ideas or things, none of them are by nature “evil” or “despicable” or “bad” or “wrong.” All living things are commissioned by Nature to pursue pleasure as they are constituted. Dogs are despicable in the eyes of cats, and cats are loathsome in the eyes of dogs, but both cats and dogs, and all other forms of conscious life, are produced and justified by nature in pursuing their own forms of pleasure. At the highest level of analysis it is only pleasure that is desirable and pain that is undesirable. Just as we ourselves do (or should!) claim the right to pursue the best mix of the two for ourselves, all living things were born by nature to do the same. And that is what they will continue to do so – and in the case of humans that is what they will do unless and until they are perverted by false philosophies! Count on that being a case, and learn from observing nature. If you’re a cat don’t plan to surround yourself indiscriminately with dogs. If your’e a cat enjoy being with dogs that are friendly, but be extremely careful about which dogs are in fact your friends.


    --------


    That’s all I have time for this Twentieth. Strap on your shields, join together with your friends, and fight for your happiness!


    As Seneca recorded: Sic fac omnia tamquam spectet Epicurus! So do all things as though watching were Epicurus!

    And as Philodemus wrote: “I will be faithful to Epicurus, according to whom it has been my choice to live.”

    Additional discussion of this post and other Epicurean ideas can be found at EpicureanFriends.com.





    https://www.facebook.com/group…Philosophy/?ref=bookmarks

    THUS SPOKE DIMITRIS LIANTINIS

    In our time the seven dire wounds are the seven deadlocks, which brought us opposite the abnormal treatment and ignoring the command-warning as described of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

    It is the demographic, ecological, the imperialist, the nuclear, the religious, the notional, the totalitarian deadlock of the modern world.

    Demographically the population of Earth is increased and it is unbearable. Ten thousand people on Earth in 20,000 BC, forty million in 2500 BC, three hundred and fifty million in the records of Octavian August. One billion in 1801 AC, two billion in 1930, three billion in 1960, four billion in 1975, five billion in 1987. We will eat one another in cities-ant hills.

    The human breath is deadly for mankind, says Rousseau. And unfortunately we cannot find space with new settlements and new migrations. These days for a spaceship to reach for A’ Century, the nearest place possible, in distance 4.2 light-years, according to data of modern technology, we have to travel non-stop for forty-nine thousand years.

    Ecologically the air is contaminated, the water and the seas are contaminated, the land that nourishes us is infected, even “fire” is infected, the fourth element, and the most pure. It became a neutron bomb and it can eradicate mankind, dishonestly and deviously.

    Imperialism created a closed power club, a ruthless imperia, from the few assholes of world macro economy. Those few who oppress the people, the small and the weak. The statistics say that if they lived all the people of the land, such as living residents in United States, in Western Europe and Japan, then the world population today should not be more than one billion which means: the remaining 4.5 billion of the world's population living as beasts of burden, homeless, destitute and slave driven by the few.

    Nuclear sided the weapons of mass distractions that are stored in the tremendous holes of earth, can today vanish the mankind from the planet eight times.

    Religiously, when the physical exercise will uplift our moral knowledge, the unnatural scholarship sinks us in the “bad demons” of the religion. If one day mankind is lost, an accomplice in this infinite destruction will be religions. (small sample of this great truth today: The Gulf War is declared as war of Arab "martyrs" against the "infidels" ).

    Phony sided the unnatural scholarship made everything fake: Plastic food, plastic children games, plastic world of escape and fantasy with tobacco, whiskey, porn, plastic fun, plastic ... surgeries.

    Totalitarianism is the doleful and unmerciful system of the outright governance of people, under the delight and the carnival of democracy. Oh great Solon, where are you to watch your democracy! The abnormal education leads the man to a global totalitarian ten times worse from the Hitler era and Stalin phenomenon. Where Marx had spoken for the autonomous unit of human resources in a common person, today the abnormal treatment leads the societies in a solid world person numbers without name and without discrimination. It is something similar to the "positrons", as the cosmologist say.

    Do you know what positron is? Positrons are the most peculiar products of mathematical calculations and equations. They participate in the structure of the material, when the universe will reach its end. After 1071 years. They will have the size of thousand billion light years. They will move in orbits around each other so slow that they will require million years to move a centimeter. Until, after 10116 years they will collapse and their particles will evaporate.

    Which moment and which action, Oh my daughter!...]

    Tonight a friend forwarded me a review that George Orwell wrote in 1940 of Adolf Hilter's "Mein Kampf."


    Take a look at the last paragraph, which I will reproduce below. All I would say for now that when a highly reputable Englishman's definition of "hedonism" can be compared unfavorably to Hitler's Germany in 1940, then there are deep issues to be unwound. Let the professional philosophers categorize as they wish, and let those who want to defend "hedonism" defend it all they like. I don't observe that the ancient Epicureans called themselves "hedonists" - they called themselves Epicureans! And that's why I don't apply the term to myself or to Epicureans today.


    Here's Orwell's final paragraph:

    "Also he [Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation ‘Greatest happiness of the greatest number’ is a good slogan, but at this moment ‘Better an end with horror than a horror without end’ is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.”

    Welcome Ron !


    When you have the opportunity, please let us know a little about your background and interest in Epicurean philosophy. Enjoy your stay here!

    Over the years we have sometimes had debates over how important it is to study physics and biology and epistemology (the canon). Some - primarily the anesthesiologists - say knowledge in those areas is not important, but I think that's a laughably silly suggestion. Of all people, Epicureans are MOST in need of knowledge in a broad spectrum of areas, because we do not rely on gods or absolute idealistic standards to tell us what to do. For the Epicurean, the test of every choice, every action, is "What will happen to me if I choose this course of action and what will happen to me if I don't?"


    Accurate predictions about the future results of our courses of actions are hard enough even with a broad knowledge of Natural Science, of Humanity, and of History. Without knowledge in those areas, no accurate predictions about the future are possible at all.


    As recorded from Epicurus himself, the rule is: PD71. "Question each of your desires: 'What will happen to me if that which this desire seeks is achieved, and what if it is not?'"

    Discussion at Facebook is here: https://www.facebook.com/group…rmalink/1856428411072777/


    My comments:


    "For someone who doesn't, but believes happiness and pleasure to be the highest goal then they may decide to seek other means, outside of Epicurus. If that gives them pleasure then we cannot judge since all pleasures are true. So if someone likes meditation, prayer or singing hymns in their choir and it gives them pleasure, what good is it to take those things away?" >> In this back and forth exchange above I think we have to be careful in arguing for or against "true" pleasure or "real" pleasure. It seems to me that the Epicurean texts say that pleasure is pleasure, so if we feel pleasure from an activity then that is by definition a pleasurable activity. The question more "VS 71. Question each of your desires: “What will happen to me if that which this desire seeks is achieved, and what if it is not?”" If the pleasure of chanting hymns (just one example) leads in fact to a lifetime of pleasure, then that's the only validation that activity needs, per PD10 and other texts.


    However it is the Epicurean observation that it is in the nature of things that humans face many threats to their long term happiness, both internal and external to themselves, and that we cannot as a matter of reality confidently expect that all pleasurable activities will lead to net lifetime maximized pleasure and minimized pain. Epicurus considered his natural physics, ethics, and canonics to be the most reliable way to achieve lifetime maximized pleasure, and we have to challenge deviations from those observations as to whether they will in fact in the circumstances of the deviator be successful.


    So that's the approach I would take to analyzing any attempts at eclectic combinations with other philosophies or supernatural religions: “What will happen to me if that which this desire seeks is achieved, and what if it is not?”" Or, which is I think is essentially the same thing, "What will happen to me if I engage in this activity and what will happen to me if I do not?" In one of my rare moments of agreement with Karl Marx, I consider supernatural religious based philosophies or actions to be "the opiate of the people." And while opiates can be very effective in relieving pain or providing pleasure in the short run, they rarely provide us the focus to anticipate and to see the many many challenges to our long-term pleasures that almost all of us face.


    Poster:
    My main point is that EP is not going to banish religion away. Unless a person is truly going to give up and renounce/denounce their faith or if they never had one to begin with then you aren't going to have scores of people embracing the philosophy. There has to be a more restrained and moderate point of view. Otherwise the choices are atheism or classical Epicurean theology (which falls apart just as quick as any supernatural religion). There are many things that are valuable that Epicurus spoke of that may truly interest a broad range of people. But if they must become atheists or believe the myths of the supernatural Epicurean gods only, then it will remain a tiny movement. It's just my opinion, everyone has their own view on it.


    Poster from Greece:


    “Piety according to sources of epicurean philosophy”, by Γεώργιος Καπλάνης, founder and member of the Group of friends of Epicurean Philosophy-Garden in Thessaloniki.

    For two years now have been discussed two possibilities:

    a) Whether Epicurus was an atheist, and was hidden behind a theology to avoid persecution,

    b) Whether Epicurus was indeed pious, and he meant that.

    Of course, Cicero explicitly states that the Epicurean methodology of thinking does not accept disjunctive dilemmas, but that is another big issue.

    However, in both the above cases, Epicurus, integrating his theology, "On the divine word" in his philosophy, should have faced the problem of cohesion. That is to say, if we likened his philosophy to a coherent system, we should be able to go from one point to another. But if he was built a theology simply to exist and be covered behind it, he risked to build something strange, unrelated to the rest, and becoming ridicules, since, in that era, people would understood this immediately.

    Therefore, in order for his teachings to remain coherent, he should manifest his piety to the gods, and be able to go from Physics to Canon, and to Ethics.

    And here we have to define "piety". It is very easy, because it is defined by Lucretius (in his work "DE RERUM NATURA", Book V, f. 1200 - 1205):

    << Piety is…. to be able to see everything with reasonable calculus (sober reasoning) without anxiety>>. And so, since "everything" goes back to the Nature of things, the disregard on Ethics and the "calculus" in the Canon, the consistency exists, at least in the practical part, the experiential approach of theology. This is the piety. Ever since, according to Lucretius, it is not to present yourself with your head covered, to bow in stones, to visit all the altars, to raise your hands to the sanctuaries, to knit prayers one after another,


    But when you can see all the things with sober calculus, the piety is the imitation of the gods, but also the rivalry to the gods, which ultimately function as templates, and in my view as archetypes, meaning as prototypes, that is as reference points, but this issue, if you would like, we can discuss it another time. Thus, the Epicurean reaches to live as a god among men ("see Letter to Meneoceus, 135). This corresponds to the "theosis" that other religions pursue. But that "theosis" requires many sacrifices, pains, fasts, etc., while here whoever lives according to the Epicurean philosophy, he becomes pious as he competing straight the gods in happiness. Noteworthy is Diogenis Oenondas's report: "Because neither little are, nor ineffective, that make our mental mood the same as the gods, and show that we are not inferior to the blessed and incorruptible being, even though we are mortal…”For as long as we are alive, we are just as happy with the gods ... " (Diogenis of Oinoanda "The Great Inscription", apt. 125, publications of "Thyrathen").


    Thus, we conclude that the course of Epicuru's life, which is a course of the study of Nature, is at the same time a course of theosis - in the epicurean sense. So, is a course of initiation, but without secret/mystical teachings.


    This process also includes participation in religious feasts, because they honor the divine standards, as well as the prayer.


    As for the prayer, Epicurus said that it is «οικείον» intimate to our nature to pray, and advised us to pray, not because the gods need prayers, but because in this way we can capture the value and perfection of the gods. Thus, in practice, prayer activates the mental and ethical forces of man, but in addition it also activates his brain functions, stimulates the mind and helps to bring inspiration to the person who prays.


    For years now I was looking for an epicurean prayer, but it was finally in front of me. In my opinion, Lucretius begins his work with a prayer to Aphrodite. Lucretius begins to write a scientific work, a scientific research on the Nnature of things. At first, he briefly refers to the dynamic of nature that moves the things, and he attributes this to Aphrodite:


    Mother of Rome, delight of Gods and men,

    Dear Venus that beneath the gliding stars

    Makest to teem the many-voyaged main

    And fruitful lands- for all of living things

    Through thee alone are evermore conceived,

    Through thee are risen to visit the great sun-

    Before thee, Goddess, and thy coming on,

    Flee stormy wind and massy cloud away,

    For thee the daedal Earth bears scented flowers,

    For thee waters of the unvexed deep

    Smile, and the hollows of the serene sky

    Glow with diffused radiance for thee!

    Seeking a way to stimulate his mental functions and to enliven his inspiration, Lucretius continues the prayer :

    “And since 'tis thou alone

    Guidest the Cosmos, and without thee naught

    Is risen to reach the shining shores of light,

    Nor aught of joyful or of lovely born,

    Thee do I crave co-partner in that verse

    Which I presume on Nature to compose”

    Thus, Aphrodite, Lucretius and his work become one.

    Cassius:


    " Unless a person is truly going to give up and renounce/denounce their faith or if they never had one to begin with then you aren't going to have scores of people embracing the philosophy. There has to be a more restrained and moderate point of view. Otherwise the choices are atheism or classical Epicurean theology (which falls apart just as quick as any supernatural religion)"

    This is to me a question that each of us has to answer. If it means that scores of people never embrace the philosophy, then that's the way it is, and I think Epicurus endorsed separating ourselves from the crowd when that is necessary.

    But I don't think that that is necessarily so. There's ONE fundamental point: "There. Are. No. Supernatural. Gods." People who refuse to accept that are always going to stay outside the core Epicurean umbrella, and they are going to try to pick and choose Epicurean sayings to fit their own desires, just like people (a much larger group of people) do the same with ancient Stoicism.

    If there are Supernatural Gods then everything in Epicurean philosophy is nonsense and harmful. If there are no supernatural gods then Epicurean philosophy is the only one that consistently pieces together a philosophy of how to live best.

    And I think over time as space travel becomes more advanced, and as we discover life outside of Earth, the paradigm will begin to shift and people will more easily accept that humanity is not the highest form of NATURAL life in the universe, and the Epicurean system will make perfect sense.

    I can't say that I am looking for the 30,000 gods of ancient Greece, because I strongly suspect that most of them were the products of overactive imaginations and simple personification of natural forces. As long as we're stuck with the only alternatives being (1) humans are the highest form of life in the universe and (2) Yahweh, Allah, Diana, and the rest, then we're stuck in limbo. But those aren't the only alternatives, just as Epicurus saw that (1) chaos and (2) Divinely-imposed order are not the only two alternatives on the source of the existence of the universe.



    A poster recently made the comment that Vatican Saying 14 reminded him of YOLO - You Only Live Once. I'm convinced that if people firmly grasped that they do indeed only live once, Stoicism and Supernatural Religion (but I am being redundant) would never take root and grow. I looked for a video to serve as a reminder of that theme without much success. There are parts of "You Only Live Twice" that are right in line with VS14, and parts ("don't think of the danger" / over-romanticism of sexual relations) that are not.


    But most of us here who have any grasp of the philosophy should have no trouble filtering that out: (PD 8 - No pleasure is a bad thing in itself, but the things which produce certain pleasures entail disturbances many times greater than the pleasures themselves. VS 71. Question each of your desires: “What will happen to me if that which this desire seeks is achieved, and what if it is not?”)



    Are there other works of art (songs / videos) that can help us illustrate that we only live once? In the meantime we can apply our filters and appreciate the good parts of You Only Live Twice (which is a cute way of saying "once.")



    Let's see where to start! First, I considered this a first draft in posting it, and I look forward to revising it to sharpen the issues. I definitely did not intend it as an endorsement of Sparta over Athens, although i believe that given the contextual nature of what is virtuous, there are indeed times when being organized for war as were the Spartans can be more efficient than running an army by democratic vote. I often point out to my friends in local conversation that the example of the Romans was even to appoint a dictator in times when survival is threatened (the Cincinnatus story?). I doubt very much that Epicurus would say that any form of government is ALWAYS "the best" (other than that which best preserves our lives and ability to live happily under the circumstances.)


    But my main target here was not praise of Sparta but to raise a question for debate as to when and how threats to our safety and happiness should be met by "force" and not just by "debate." I think our current times have brought so much material ease, and with it complacency, that we arguably have been, like the proverbial frog, boiled at low heat for so long that we tolerate far too many things that are - to us - "injustice" - because not conducive to our fundamental happy living.


    I was more sensitive in putting this together to charges of "sexism," because surely especially in the modern world women are able to fight with much the same potency as men. And in that sense it is sometimes very hard to separate the "ladies" from the "men" when it comes to taking charge and leading active countermeasures against threats. So for my purposes in this draft, no subtext of women being weaker or relying on men for all fighting was intended. However I have no doubt that, regardless of our aspirations, in times of physical threats it is the traditional role of men to risk their lives first, and when the men choose to hang back, it is very unfair to call on women to do so in their place.


    While the graphic may overwhelm the text, the text emphasizes Lucian praising Epicurus and Metrodorus as examples of the type of men who stand up with confidence against bitter enemies. And in the full context of Alexander the Oracle Monger, from which the text comes, the Epicurean given as an example risked his life in opposing the fraudulent religious impostor.


    Those are some of the things going through my mind that I would like to frame in a graphic as a means of challenging us to think about our own situations in the way that Cicero addressed one of his most famous lines, to Catiline, to the effect -- "How long, O Catiline, will you go on abusing our patience?" At what point DOES our patience give out, and we resort to more active measures, rather than sitting stoically on our hands while our enemies surround us and choke us past the point of no return?

    Yes I think so! Sex is definitely one of those activities that can be high risk, and therefore must be handled carefully. But no one who accepts pleasure as the goal of living, combined with the shortness of life and the eternity of death, and the pleasures of relationships that come from sex (not to mention the benefits of children!) is going to write it off completely as always prohibited.