[Update 07/27/19: This post was originally made April 29, 2015, with subsequent revisions as indicated. These standards are implemented by our Not Neo-Epicurean, But Epicurean and our Posting Policy statements and associated posts.]
The purpose of EpicureanFriends.com is to promote the study and application of the philosophy of Epicurus, and to allow those who share this goal to communicate with one another in a dedicated community. Posters should conduct themselves as part of a community of friends and always treat each other with graciousness and consideration "as though Epicurus were watching." Participants should be ready to receive criticism and disagreement with frankness, firmness, and good humor, and should consult the principles followed by ancient Epicureans, as referenced in Norman DeWitt's article "Organization and Procedure in Epicurean Groups."
Participants in this site are in no way "members" of any organization or pledged to hold a particular set of beliefs. Participants are in no way submitting to any authority or doctrinal rules. However, this community was founded by and for people who are devoted to applying Epicurean philosophy accurately, and experience has shown that there are identifiable characteristics that typify the sincere Epicurean, as exemplified by the following:
- An Epicurean does not have a Stoic-like ascetic personality which views pleasure with suspicion and seeks to eliminate all but the most necessary of desires. The Epicurean follows Vatican Saying 63 in holding: "Frugality too has a limit, and the man who disregards it is like him who errs through excess."
- An Epicurean is not a "Tranquilist" who construes "absence of pain" as something separate or distinct from the goal of pleasurable living. The Epicurean understands that "pleasure" describes a faculty which encompasses all pleasurable physical and mental activities and which is in itself the guide to the best way of life. The Epicurean holds: "[W]e call pleasure the beginning and end of the blessed life. For we recognize pleasure as the first good innate in us, and from pleasure we begin every act of choice and avoidance, and to pleasure we return again, using the feeling as the standard by which we judge every good." The Epicureanunderstands that there is no need for argument to prove that "pleasure" is desirable, The Epicurean remembers that Epicurus said "I know not how to conceive the good, apart from the pleasures of taste, of sex, of sound, and the pleasures of beautiful form.” The Epicurean therefore recognizes with Cicero that Epicurus taught that “Nothing is preferable to a life of tranquility crammed full of pleasures.” (Cicero - Defense of Publius Sestius)
- An Epicurean does not seek "virtue" or "nobility" or a "greater good" as superior to the goal of living pleasurably. The Epicurean understands "virtue" as a tool which successfully produces pleasurable living, not an end in itself. The Epicurean agrees with Diogenes of Oinoanda: "But since, as I say, the issue is not 'what is the means of happiness?' but 'what is happiness and what is the ultimate goal of our nature?,' I say both now and always, shouting out loudly to all Greeks and non-Greeks, that pleasure is the end of the best mode of life, while the virtues, which are inopportunely messed about by these people (being transferred from the place of the means to that of the end), are in no way an end, but the means to the end."
- An Epicurean does not embrace Platonic / Aristotelian / Socratic devotion to "logic" and "reason" as goals in themselves which are superior to pleasurable living. The Epicurean views logic and reason as tools for producing pleasurable living.
- An Epicurean does not embrace Platonic / Aristotelian / Socratic "idealism" which holds that truth exists only in some other and higher dimension above the reality in which we live. The Epicurean holds that this life is all that we have, and that the state of being dead is a state of nothingness to us.
- An Epicurean does not embrace Stoic / Platonic / Aristotelian / Socratic religious abstractions such as supernatural gods, prime movers or divine fire.
- An Epicurean does not embrace eclecticism or the radical skepticism that holds that reality is not knowable and that nothing is certain.
Please also observe the following:
1) Posters shall respect the right of each member to "live unknown" to the extent that he or she sees fit. Postings here are available to others to reread for an indefinite time in the future, so please post responsibly.
2) Posters shall adhere to the purpose of this forum, which is to participate in a community of friends to promote the philosophy of Epicurus. Many forums for the discussion of other philosophers exist elsewhere, and discussion of other philosophies should be done here only to assist in the better understanding of Epicurus. Posts which are primarily discussion of non-Epicurean ideas should be made elsewhere.
3) In order to encourage the free flow of information, participants are welcome to register with a pseudonym / "pen name." Use of real names is not necessary, and posting of personal information of any kind should be minimized. Participants are free to disclose personal information about themselves as they see fit, but personal information about participants shall not be disclosed without their consent.
4) Discussion of specific modern political issues should be severely limited. That is not because Epicurean philosophy has no application to these issues, but because we are in the early stages of building a viable Epicurean community, and contentious discussion of specific political issues which divide us before that can be accomplished is not consistent with the goal of this site. Please keep the big picture in perspective, and if you must discuss application of Epicurus to modern politics please do it privately or elsewhere.
5) Do not create posts composed of nothing other than links. Any links to locations outside the forum must contain comment on whether they are endorsed or criticized which explain how they relate to the forum. (Added 09/15/19)
6) All posts are subject to moderation. Leadership of the forum retains at all times the right to accept, reject, and remove any post and any participant at any time for any reason.
Thank you for your participation here!
A Further Note On Why This Website Is Not "Stoic In Disguise"
Many people who come here have been influenced by the modern tendency to emphasize the alleged importance of a distinction between "kinetic" and "katastematic" pleasure. This argument is unsound, probably not of Epicurean origin at all, and can be very damaging to a proper understanding of Epicurus. To research this issue, start with Boris Nikolsky's "Epicurus on Pleasure," which argues that the katastematic issue was not introduced by Epicurus and reflects a later Stoic-influenced viewpoint. Next, read the chapters on Epicurus in Gosling and Taylor's "The Greeks on Pleasure," from which Nikolsky got the inspiration for his article. Add to that the Wentham article "Cicero's Interpretation of Katastematic Pleasure," which highlights how emphasis on katastematic pleasure contradicts other core aspects of Epicurean philosophy. These shorter articles should then take you back to the best general book on Epicurus, Norman DeWitt's "Epicurus and His Philosophy." DeWitt provides a sweeping overview of Epicurus which hardly mentions the katastematic - kinetic distinction except to point out how - even if one considers the categories relevant - Epicurean philosophy embraces both types. If you don't read anything else at this website, check out the articles listed above, and you'll see how important this issue is to a proper understanding of Epicurean philosophy.
For a detailed summary of Epicurean Philosophy assembled from the passages of the ancient texts, see the video below:
The text of this narrative is available at the wiki here.