Do Pigs Value Katastematic Pleasure? ( Summer 2022 K / K Discussion)

  • I've never been happy that we have a full statement of the problem in this website. Elayne's article On Pain Pleasure and Happiness is good, and I have my collection of cites in the Fullness of Pleasure article.

    At the moment the only cite I would put here is one I always thought was the most clear - from Cicero in a moment of honesty when he was attacking an Epicurean:. That the Epicureans held "that nothing was preferable to a life of tranquility crammed full of pleasures."". Which means to me that the situation we find ourselves in when all pains are gone is well described not as being some strange state of transcendance but what ordinary people can well understand as "crammed full of pleasures" (of any kind and combination, both mental and physical).

    Cicero, In defense of Publius Sestius, 10.23: “He {Publius Clodius} praised those most who are said to be above all others the teachers and eulogists of pleasure {the Epicureans}. … He added that these same men were quite right in saying that the wise do everything for their own interests; that no sane man should engage in public affairs; that nothing was preferable to a life of tranquility crammed full of pleasures. But those who said that men should aim at an honorable position, should consult the public interest, should think of duty throughout life not of self-interest, should face danger for their country, receive wounds, welcome death – these he called visionaries and madmen.” Note: Here is a link to Perseus where the Latin and translation of this can be compared. The Latin is: “nihil esse praestabilius otiosa vita, plena et conferta voluptatibus.” See also here for word translations.

  • OK abiding probably isn't a great word choice ;) I'm having trouble coming up with a correct word; background condition is one attempt, maybe underlayment is another. I'm trying to express it from experience, not texts, so it's challenging.

    The words of Epicurus in his work On Choice are : "Peace of mind and freedom from pain are pleasures which imply a state of rest ; joy and delight are seen to consist in motion and activity."

    Thanks for this quote Don . it's been some time since I read Nikolsky, Wenham or Gosling and Taylor; how does this square with their arguments? Isn't their point that katastematic and kinetic weren't terms used by Epicurus? This would seem to contradict that view.

  • Cicero:

    nihil esse praestabilius otiosa vita, plena et conferta voluptatibus

    "nothing is better than a life of ease, full of, and loaded with, all sorts of pleasures"

    Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, ōtĭōsus

    Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, plēnus

    Charlton T. Lewis, An Elementary Latin Dictionary, cōnfertus

    My question: Does this describe a life of katastematic pleasure as a foundation filled with kinetic pleasure?

  • background condition is one attempt, maybe underlayment is another.

    That's my take, as of (looks at time on phone...). Katastematic, from its basic meaning of "a condition or state of health," means to me the proper, undisturbed functioning of our body and minds. Free from fear. Free from anxiety. Free from pain, for the most part. We are mortal beings after all. Mens sana in corpore sano, so to speak. From that ground/foundation, we can better make sound, practical choices and rejections and enjoy the day to day pleasures as they arise, including the occasional luxury that becomes available, but also be unperturbed if circumstances change and we have to deal with scarcity from time to time. The absolutely necessary pleasures are easily obtained.

  • Quote from Don

    My question: Does this describe a life of katastematic pleasure as a foundation filled with kinetic pleasure?

    Reading it in this context and considering the source, it strikes me as quite a sarcastic and misleading description of that. As we often discuss, "a life of ease", of otiosus, might be absolute pleasure to some people yet entirely odius to others. And "crammed full of pleasures" seems to indicate disdain for prudent choices and avoidances.

  • Now on the last comment there Godfrey I think probably Cicero's description is literally true but the sarcastic tone (which really was present) comes from the cultural bias against pleasure. This is also very similar to what Torquatus says in the "proof" sequence where he says imagine the life filled with pleasures of every kind and no pain - can we imagine anything better?

    As for abiding to some extent maybe the issue is "confidence" or "attitude" which is something that seems to stay on over time.

    As for the DL references to rest / katastematic, as you probably saw in G&T there had been a long history of Greeks talking about replenishment and active and resting pleasures, so Epicurus certainly would known of the terms and could have used them. So the issue is not whether he ever used the terms at all - the issue is more "Were these terms of significance to Epicurus as a focus and centerpiece of his philosophy?". We don't see Epicurus very often talking about types of pleasure, but he does so only occasionally.

    It is really only the "alleged" linkeage between katastematic pleasure (which occurs very rarely) and " absence of pain" (which does seem to be an important term, as it describes the limit) that allows these commentators to put katastematic pleasure in a special class.

    Once that linkeage is exposed as a mirage, the DL comments take on much less significance.

    Again, any focus on a single "type of pleasure" as especially important is going to have this same logical problem - the focus on that pleasure tends to expand to "take over" the whole philosophy. The true focus seems to be that all pleasures are desirable, and personal to the person who feels them, and the only caution in pursuing them is that you need to be aware of their price in pain, because if you aren't willing to pay that price then "don't make the purchase!"

    We can list all sorts of pleasures, and the price that they cost in pain, but in a non-fated non-supernatural world the choice of which to pursue is always going to be contextual. When you are lying on the train tracks and hear a whistle in the distance, it's not the "pleasures of rest" that you want but the pleasures of "action."

    But I do agree - you always want to keep the attitude of confidence that you understand the basic scheme of things with you, and this is going to make you a much stronger person than those who believe in myths. You want to build that into your frame just like you exercise to build muscles. And that's clearly something that Epicurus encouraged and wanted. But is there any real profit to be gained in calling that " katastematic pleasure," or evidence that when Epicurus discussed those attributes of confidence and strength of mind that he used that term?

  • I found a paper that I just started reading, then did a search here and found it only mentioned by Cassius in 2019. For ease of access:

    Here is Cassius 's 2019 response:

    And here is the direct link to the paper:

    "Epicurus’ “Kinetic” and “Katastematic” Pleasures. A Reappraisal", Elenchos xxxvi (2015) fasc. 2: 271-296.
    In this paper I shall offer new definitions for what seem to be the most dominant terms in Epicurus’ theory of pleasures – “kinetic” and “katastematic”. While…

    I'm not sure I have the same reaction as Cassius , but hey it's early in the morning. I'll report back later, maybe after rereading Nikolsky, too.

  • More by the same author:

    Abstr act. In this article I wish to emphasize the significance of τὸ κατ' ἔνδειαν ἀλγοῦν, an expression appearing in our sources on Epicurean ethics which…

    "Epicurus' Varietas and ἡ κινητικὴ ἡδονή", Mnemosyne 71 (2018) 777-798.
    According to Epicurus’ view which locates the summit of pleasure in the absence of all pain, once pain has been removed pleasure cannot be increased, but it…

  • Cassius

    Changed the title of the thread from “Do Pigs Like Katastematic Pleasure? (2022 K / K Discussion/)” to “Do Pigs Value Katastematic Pleasure? ( Summer 2022 K / K Discussion)”.
  • Someone said to me recently something that I think is an important part of this discussion:

    "To an introvert, everything that the extrovert likes would seem to create anxiety and pain."

    I think that's correct, and similarly:

    To an extrovert, everything that the introvert likes would seem trifling and oppressively boring.

    You can come up with all sorts of Mars v. Venus analogies.

    The point is that the pleasures of one nature are going to pains to another nature, and vice versa, and that is why we are always going to get into trouble unless we philosohically reach for the higher ground, which is that it is "Pleasure" not "My kind of pleasure" which has to be identified as the best description of the ultimate goal of life philosophically.

    Epicurus therefore embraced BOTH active and static pleasures, and did not obsess over ranking one higher than the other, because he knew that people and circumstances differ.

    Identifying the generic goal of pleasure leads to the philosophic understanding that the real contest is not types of pleasure against types of pleasure. The real philosophic contest for all the marbles is pleasure vs "virtue" and "religious piety" and capital "R" "Reason."

    On an individual level it is esssntial that we know our own selves and identify what types of pleasure are most valuable to our own natures. But in the game of Philosophy vs. Philosophy, we can't let the enemies of Pleasure divide us amongst ourselves by suggesting that only certain types of pleasure are acceptable. That's the old "divide and conquer problem, and that is exactly what "they" have done to Epicureans and Epicurean philosophy for 2000+ years.

  • So we don't have much to go on from Epicurus himself, including this fragment:

    The words of Epicurus in his work On Choice are : "Peace of mind and freedom from pain are pleasures which imply a state of rest ; joy and delight are seen to consist in motion and activity."

    Can any significance be derived from the fact that he wrote that peace of mind and freedom from pain imply a state of rest, whereas joy and delight are seen to consist in motion and activity? Could he have been suggesting that a katastematic state isn't experienced directly, but only through such pleasures as peace of mind and freedom from pain? Could he have been discounting katastematic pleasure altogether and answering Plato, et al, that it is only a mental description based on experienced pleasures?

    This is a great example of the much documented issue of lack of documentation X/

    Further, Cicero’s opposition to Epicurus is well established. Knowing his agenda, relying on his presentation of what has become such a key idea is pretty much guaranteed to lead us into the conundrum we're grappling with. This was his agenda after all.

  • Could he have been discounting katastematic pleasure altogether and answering Plato, et al, that it is only a mental description based on experienced pleasures?

    It's always dangerous to put too much weight on a few words without additional backup, but if the text supports the "imply" distinction as being something that has to be reasoned out, then your suggestion makes sense.

    Clearly Epicurus did in fact state in other circumstances that, for example, we can understand that a limited life can have as great a pleasure as an unlimited life but it takes reasoning to reach that conclusion.

    So that suggestion ould not be unreasonable at all. What I think is unreasonable is the commentariat's suggestion that the only goal in life that anyone should pursue is "katastematic pleasure" or "absence of pain," and that pleasure as people ordinarily understand the word is something that is not worth pursuing.

    I am not convinced that this understanding of the Epicurean worldview is properly called katastematic pleasure, but I am convinced that the understanding of the Epicureans worldview does allow a complete and satisfied life without worrying about gods and eternal torture in hell or the fact that we can't live forever.

    The main implications that I would purge from the narrative is (1) that the goal should be defined as something other than "Pleasure," and (2) that when we use the word "Pleasure" as the goal, that there is any tension or absolute hierarchy between "active" or "resting" pleasures.

    Said another way. I think that the confidence and strength of mind and calmness in the face of troubles that comes from the Epicurean worldview is in fact the most advanced and productive and accurate to the facts philosophy that anyone can hold, so in that sense such a level of understanding is the ultimate goal to which we all should aspire. As Torquatus says, such a person would be surrounded with pleasures of many kind (that are pleasurable to that person) and have no pain or fear of pain. That is a very good definition of the goal.

    But is that definition of the goal accurately called katastematic pleasure? I doubt that a good case can be constructed for that position. Were someone to try to do it I suspect the academics, who I do admit to be adept with the citations, would pretty effectively shoot down such a suggestion. And to close with a warrior analogy, I am not at all sure that that particular battle is worth fighting, even if we are "David.". There are too many other Goliaths waiting in the wings who need to be dealt with more urgently.

  • This is a great example of the much documented issue of lack of documentation

    Well put! Exactly.

    Remember, too, that when you say...

    Can any significance be derived from the fact that he wrote that peace of mind and freedom from pain imply a state of rest, whereas joy and delight are seen to consist in motion and activity?

    That's not exactly what Epicurus said. That's an extrapolation and Interpretation of:

    "ἡ μὲν γὰρ ἀταραξία καὶ ἀπονία καταστηματικαί εἰσιν ἡδοναί: ἡ δὲ χαρὰ καὶ ἡ εὐφροσύνη κατὰ κίνησιν ἐνεργείᾳ βλέπονται."

    That whole "which imply a state of rest" is contained in καταστηματικαί. The only thing that we can be sure is that that first sentence reads:

    "For ataraxia and aponia are 'katastēmatikai' pleasures..."

    What did Epicurus mean by katastēmatikai pleasures?? That's the rub. LSJ says

    καταστηματικός , ή, όν,

    A.pertaining to a state or condition

    as well as, in relation to musical instruments, "calming"

    Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, Κκ , κατάσσυ^τος , καταστηματικός

    That's a LOT of commentary and Interpretation that gets thrown about from "scholars" and "experts " and a LOT of it gets filtered through a Platonic lens before it ever settles on Epicurus.

    If this is a direct quote from Epicurus from his On Choices (and Rejections), then there's no doubt Epicurus had words to say about different kinds of pleasure. He says it right there:

    ἀταραξία καὶ ἀπονία are this type of pleasures (ἡδοναί hēdonai); χαρὰ and ἡ εὐφροσύνη are ....

    βλέπονται "seen" possibly "experienced? exist?"

    Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, βλέπω

    κατὰ κίνησιν ἐνεργείᾳ (kata kinēsin "through/by way of motion" energeiai "activity, etc.")….04.0057:entry=e)ne/rgeia Note that LSJ has it defined as "the opposite of ἕξις" which is "a state or habit of mind" which seems exactly to me what the katastematic Pleasures point to: a state of being. So that dichotomy is reinforced using ἐνεργείᾳ...

    Greek Word Study Tool

  • It seems to me that, just from observation, there are at least two types of pleasures that exist as states of being, as Epicurus points out, such as:

    - being in a calm, tranquil state of mind (ataraxia)

    - and feeling the the positive feeling of a body without pain in good working order (aponia)

    We can work toward those states, and part of it is dispelling fears and anxiety and also taking care of our physical bodies. But once they are there, we don't "work at" feeling that pleasure. It just is (until our minds start to wander or we get distracted by that itch in our elbow...)

    Then, on the other hand, there are pleasures that we derive from volitional actions in the moment, such as

    - talking with friends

    - remembering past pleasures

    - taking a drink after a long hike

    - eating your favorite food

    So, right now, that's where I'm heading on "katastematic pleasures" and "pleasures of action". Whether there's any academic papers that back that up, I don't know.

  • Have we brought up Fragment 68 yet?

    68. To those who are able to reason it out, the highest and surest joy is found in the stable health of the body and a firm confidence in keeping it. (Saint-Andre)

    τὸ γὰρ εὐσταθὲς σαρκὸς κατάστημα (katastēma) καὶ τὸ περὶ ταύτης πιστὸν ἔλπισμα τὴν ἀκροτάτην χαρὰν καὶ βεβαιοτάτην ἔχει τοῖς ἐπιλογίζεσθαι δυναμένοις.

    Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, κατάστημα

    εὐσταθὲς = "well based, standing firm, stable (relatively unchanging)"

    σαρκὸς (sarkos, genitive) = "of the material which covers the bones of a creature; of the flesh; of the body (as opposed to the mind/soul/spirit"

    κατάστημα = "bodily or mental condition" So, Saint-Andre's "health" is a translation decision. The phrase at its most basic is "the stable condition of the body" which to me, again, implies homeostasis, a stable, well-balanced, body in good c working condition.

    Saint-Andre notes VS33 as a complement:

    33. The body cries out (σαρκὸς φωνὴ) to not be hungry, not be thirsty, not be cold. Anyone who has these things, and who is confident of continuing to have them, can rival the gods for happiness (εὐδαιμονίας eudaimonias).

    σαρκὸς φωνὴ τὸ μὴ πεινῆν, τὸ μὴ διψῆν, τὸ μὴ ῥιγοῦν· ταῦτα γὰρ ἔχων τις καὶ ἐλπίζων ἕξειν κἂν <διὶ> ὑπὲρ εὐδαιμονίας μαχέσαιτο.

    LSJ also gives some references to Diogenes of Oenoanda, so I dug those up for our discussion here:

    DCLP/Trismegistos 865216 = LDAB 865216

    The inscripion

    And so the .......... [are] ....... If .................. [prudence.]

    Let us now [investigate] how life is to be made pleasant for us both in states and in actions.

    Let us first discuss states, keeping an eye on the point that, when the emotions which disturb the soul are removed, those which produce pleasure enter into it to take their place.

    [- ca.7 -] εισαν τὰ φ̣ρόν[ιμα].

    ἡμ[εῖς δὲ ζη]τ̣ῶ̣μεν ἤ̣δ̣η

    πῶς ὁ βίος ἡμεῖν ἡδὺς

    γένηται καὶ ἐν τοῖς κα-

    τασ̣τήμασι καὶ ἐν ταῖς

    πράξεσιν. περὶ δὲ τῶν

    καταστημάτων πρῶ-

    τον εἴπωμεν, ἐκεῖνο

    τηροῦντες, τὸ δὴ ὅτι τῶν

    10ὀχλούντων τὴν ψυχὴν

    παθῶν ὑπεξαιρεθέν-

    των τὰ ἥδοντα αὐτὴν

    ἀντιπαρέρχεται. ⁦ vac. 1⁩

    τὰ οὖν ὀχλοῦντα τίνα

    Can't find a translation of this one:

    column 3

    σι(*)ν, ⁦ vac. 1⁩ οὐκ ἐκείνας, ⁦ vac. 1⁩ οὐκ ἐ-

    κείνας, ⁦ vac. 1⁩ ὦ Ζήνων καὶ Κλε-

    ά̣νθ̣η̣, ⁦ vac. 1⁩ καὶ σὺ Χρύσιππε, ⁦ vac. 1⁩, καὶ (*)

    ὅσοι τὴν αὐ̣τὴν ὑμεῖν ἄ-

    5[γ]ο[υ]σιν, ⁦ vac. 1⁩ οὐκ ἐκείνας ἀπο(*)-

    φ̣α̣ι̣νόμεθα τὰς ἡδονὰς

    ὑπάρχειν τ[έ]λος τὰς τῶν

    π̣ολ̣λ̣ῶν, ἀλλὰ ταύτας ἃσ

    ἀρ̣τίω̣ς̣ εἰρήκαμεν, ⁦ vac. 2⁩ τέ̣-

    10[λο]ς̣ ̣μ̣όνας. ⁦ vac. 1⁩ εἰ γὰρ ἀρέσ(*)-

    κε̣ι̣ ̣γ̣'̣ὑ̣μεῖν τὸ τῆς φύσεως(*)

    ἀγ̣α̣θ̣ὸ̣ν̣ κατά̣σ̣τ̣ημά τι καὶ(*)

    [οἰκ]ε̣ῖ̣ο̣ν̣ τοῦτ̣'εἶναι τέ(*)-

    λος κατὰ τὸν ἡμεῖν σύν -

    Or this one:

    column 4

    φωνον λόγον, ⁦ vac. 1⁩ τὸ δὲ τ̣[ῆς ἡ-]

    δονῆς ὄνομα μεισε[ῖτε,]

    τί οὐ πάλαι ἡμεῖν ἐλέ̣[ξα-]

    τε; -τὸ μὲν δόγμα ὑμῶ̣[ν ἀ-]

    5ληθές, ἄνδρες, τῷ δὲ [τῆς]

    ἡδονῆς ὀνόματι φα[ύλως]

    κέχρησθε, ἵνα πρὸς [τοῦ-]

    το ὑμεῖν εἴπαμεν· ⁦ vac. 1⁩ [και-]

    νὸν μὲν οὐδαμῶς ν̣[ῦν]

    10τάττομεν τόνδε τὸν [λό-]

    γον κατὰ τοῦ προειρη[μέ-]

    νου καταστήματος, [ἀλ-]

    λ'ἄνωθεν ὡμειλη[μέ-]

    νον πᾶσιν Ἕλλησιν [ ̣ ̣]

    Working on those last two, butt putting here for future reference. LSJ also cites Metrodorus, Fragment 5. Looking for that, too.

  • I am really enjoying this thread!! (and I need to re-read from beginning to end, as may have missed reading a few entries). For me all of this discussion is the basis of well-being and happiness. And we can see what Epicurus may or may not have said. And we can also apply all of this in a practical way.

    For example, yesterday I had a wonderful lunch with a good friend and I felt both very satisfied and also that I had eaten more than what I needed (and so felt overly full). But then not too much later after that, the idea of getting ice cream came to me, but I waited a few hours before getting some. The pleasure of the ice cream lasted only a short time, and then I felt too full again. So what was this craving, I wondered. Then I wondered if eating ice cream was a way to try to deal with any feelings of uncertainty, or was is boredom?

    I have to say that for me, I am starting to see how eating just enough to relieve hunger provides a sense of well-being that "feels better" and "lasts longer" than eating when you aren't really hungry.

  • Ah! Now I see why there was no translation on the inscription website! These columns are from NF192 ("new fragment 192") first described in 2011 and then expanded on in this 2014 paper in JSTOR:

    Diogenes of Oinoanda on the Meaning of 'Pleasure' (NF 192)

    Author(s): Barnaby Taylor

    Source: Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik , 2014, Bd. 191 (2014), pp. 84-89

    Published by: Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH

    Stable URL:

    Here are two selections:

    "Diogenes begins thet hird column by drawing a distinction between two types of pleasure, the 'pleasures of the many' (III.6-8) and the 'aforementioned pleasures' (III.8-9). In a forcefully-expressed sentence3 addressed to Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus and all their followers (III. 1-10), Diogenes states that only the 'aforementioned pleasures' constitute the moral end (ὑπάρχειν τ[έ]λος). As the editors suggest, Diogenes' 'pleasures of the many' must be equivalent to the 'pleasures of the profligate' listed by Epicurus at Men. 131-2: drinking, party-

    ing, fish-eating, feasting, sexual enjoyment of boys and women.5 The 'aforementioned pleasures' are to be identified with the two forms of static pleasure adduced by Epicurus in the very same passage: freedom from bodily pain (aponia) and freedom from mental disturbance (ataraxia). The identification of static

    pleasure with the moral end is standard Epicurean ethical theory: while all pleasures are good per se , any pleasure which is likely to be followed by pain, and thus threatens the stability of the state of painless tranquillity, ought to be avoided.6 As such, not all pleasures are to be included in the moral end."

    " The final sentence of Diogenes NF 192 constitutes important new evidence in this regard. There, as we have seen, Diogenes justifies the Epicurean use of the term 'pleasure' to refer to the experience of the state of tranquillity that constitutes the moral end by stating that such usage is in line with the term's ordinary meaning. Crucially, however, he does not do so simply by appealing to contemporary ομιλία (as does Epicurus at Hdt. 67), but makes an explicitly historical claim, stating that the Epicurean use of the term 'pleasure', far from being a recent development, is in fact in line with what has been that term's ordinary meaning for all Greeks from the beginning. NF 192 thus provides uniquely valuable evidence concerning the Epicurean attitude to the value of ordinary language. Diogenes' defense of the Epicurean use of the term 'pleasure' to refer to tranquillity combines the issues of colloquialism and language history, connecting what he claims to be the contemporary colloquial usage of 'pleasure' with what he claims to have been the ordinary meaning of the same term from the beginning."

    There's not a full complete translation of 3 & 4 in the paper, but there's enough I think for me to puzzle a literal one out later.

  • Okay, here's Metrodorus, Fragment 5:

    I just found this, and it also references Cicero so this may be a known fragment already.

    (PS. I see it also references Epicurus Fragment 68 which has some similar wording. So, Metrodorus's contribution isn't earthshaking but does appear to be reinforcing.)

    Nonetheless, there's our old friend κατάστημα right there (using the alternative c for sigma: κατάcτημα).

    Using as a source for a translation of Metrodorus: "Metrodorus, in his book On the Source of Happiness in Ourselves being greater than that which arises from Objects, says: 'What else is the good of the soul but the sound state of the flesh, and the sure hope of its continuance?'"

    The Greek for Metrodorus's quoted material is:

    αγαθον, φησι ((he) says), ψυχης τι αλλο η το σαρκος ευσταθες καταστημα και το περι ταυτης πιστον ελπισμα.


    αγαθον ψυχης = "the good of the soul/psyche" Note also, is this "The Good" we've talked about elsewhere or just more like "for the benefit/good of the soul"?

    το σαρκος ευσταθες καταστημα = "the sound state (katastema) of the flesh"

    This is from