This is the discussion thread associated with the article "Objection Your Honor! Attorney Cicero Is Mischaracterizing the Testimony To Mislead The Jury! The Evidence Is Clear: Not Only Is "Ataraxia" Not The Highest Pleasure - Ataraxia Alone Is Not A Pleasure At All!"
"Objection Your Honor! Attorney Cicero Is Mischaracterizing the Testimony To Mislead The Jury! The Evidence Is Clear: Not Only Is "Ataraxia" Not The Highest Pleasure - Ataraxia Alone Is Not A Pleasure At All!
Charity in dealing with a lawyer's motives is a dangerous thing! I like many aspects of Cicero, but I agree with Norman DeWitt here too: "I do not believe he could have misrepresented the truth so successfully had he not understood it so completely."
And I think that conclusion applies to at least a significant number of the modern commentators who can see the same thing that Nikolsky, Wenham, and Gosling & Taylor see, yet who still argue that the Epicurean goal of life amounts to an absence of pleasure as that term is ordinarily understood.
"Do any of the three letters written by Epicurus mention or explain static versus dynamic pleasures? If not, then it is not essential. How about the principle doctrines? Even so, a list of doctrines is never as clear, as a letter. If not then it is not Epicurus himself. Not essential."
<<< To me that is the key and the start of the analysis. The great majority of this k/k analysis comes from Cicero with a little added personal commentary from Diogenes Laertius, which was probably written hundreds of years later even than Cicero. We don't have anything within 200+ years of Epicurus himself that even hints that Epicurus considered a distinction between "static" and "active" to be helpful. And if Epicurus dealt with it at all, it's a safe bet that he did so only to unwind the **harm** of thinking about pleasure as static, and to refute Plato, just as Wenham and Nikolsky indicate. The letter to Menoeceus, where this k/k category would certainly have been discussed if it were significant, does not devote a word to it. Instead it says the opposite - ALL pleasure is desirable, not some pleasures intrinsically more than others, or some pleasures intrinsically for the sake of others.
The only way to read this k/k distinction into Menoeceus is to presume that "absence of pain" means a state of non-feeling, and therefore "absence of pain" means "katastematic" under a different name. That's not just wrong, but absurd, given the clear intent of the rest of the letter and many other reliable statements that pleasure is a feeling we all recognize by nature, not an "absence of" anything else. Pain is to be avoided so that we can experience pleasure, not so we can experience a state of non-feeling. Any attempt to describe the pleasures that we experience when we are living without pain is simply a list of ordinary and familiar mental and bodily pleasures.
But I will go further than to say that "it is not essential." It's not just non-essential, it is terribly harmful to a philosophy based on feeling to state or imply that a state of non-feeling is the goal of life. That is sabotage of the highest order, the kind of thing with have to expect from a master lawyer with an agenda to defeat and wipe out Epicurean philosophy - which it has very nearly succeeded in doing.