I was wondering, what materials or ways do we have for presenting our teachings to others who have never seen them before? How effective are they? How much do they draw interest? How much understanding do they provide? How well do they motivate others to learn more?
Would it be useful to compile a list of these materials? Are there any gaps we could fill or materials to be improved?
Among our materials, I find intermediate and rich depth for those already interested in Epicureanism, but not much for someone with only a little curiosity or just trying to make philosophy seem a little less foreign.
Here are a few materials and my opinions on them.
Memes and Graphics:
These are very simple, great for social media, and summarize Epicureanism well. However, I am not sure how much interest they generate nor how much depth they carry. How well are these working and how are we using them?
Other memes more directly connected to sources seem to be too in-depth or too strong for introductions.
Catius' Cat: https://epicureanfriends.com/houseofcatius/
These are fun and correlate strongly with sources. They seem great for Epicureans to teach their children (a very useful niche!), but I am not sure how effective they would be for other purposes.
Forums: FAQ Answers And Discussion
There are some excellent links and discussions here, but they are either not very compiled/organized/accessible or seem to be at an intermediate level. One would need a decent amount of interest already to dive through threads to learn.
This is a fantastic resource for those serious about learning about Epicureanism. Not so great for first introductions, other than the motivation and knowledge reading the original sources can give.
Dense Writings: http://societyofepicurus.com/writings/
Self-Guided Study: http://societyofepicurus.com/self-guided-study-curriculum/
In my personal efforts, I wrote a few fun stories which carefully present neat lessons. They are meant for to be enjoyed (so people will want to read them) as well as focus heavily on one topic or lesson. These stories could be shared with friends without them feeling you are forcing anything onto them and could help others feel more comfortable with philosophy in general.
I am a utilitarian (I believe utilitarianism is directly based on Epicureanism), so these stories have both Epicurean and utilitarian elements.
My Cat's Terrible Roommate
A month ago, my cat, Magni, vented about some roommate of his yet again to another feline - which is strange since I do not know of anyone who shares his room with him (excluding myself, of course).
Magni complains his roommate does not respect his privacy.
This creep periodically checks his food and water for no apparent reason - and sometimes even goes so far as to mess with it!
Magni does not even want to know why his roommate keeps peeking at his personal litterbox....
He also grumbles about how this roommate does not respect his property.
So many times, the roommate has borrowed a dead mouse of his. Even after months, Magni has yet to get a single mouse back. When confronting him about it, his roommate always changes the subject: "Aww, that's such a cute meow you have!", he says, or "Did you want a treat, Little Prettypaws?".
Not to mention, his roommate occasionally rearranges Magni's cat toys. He tries to excuse this behavior by saying my cat will enjoy them more if they are switched out or moved. Pff, as if Magni wanted his favorite ball taken from the closet floor, where Magni rolled it under and stored it so neatly, and thrown randomly into the hall.
Perhaps worst of all, this lousy roommate has no concept of personal space.
Magni does not know how many countless times his roommate has randomly - and viciously - hugged him without warning.
However, things got better.
Magni is proud to report the roommate left about a month ago. Strangely, around the time the new college semester started, the creepy roommate whom I oddly seem to have never met left for another state.
Reflecting over why my cat was upset, it is clear he was not angry with this roommate, he was angry with the assumptions he made about what the roommate was doing.
My cat doesn't know why the roommate repeatedly checked his food and water, but whatever reason he had, it was strong enough in his mind to warrant doing it. Perhaps the decision was based on poor reasoning. Perhaps it was supported by great good reasons my cat is unaware of.
Instead of becoming irritated with roommates or anyone around us, stop to consider: why might they have done that action?
There may be something you do not understand about the situation or the offense may have been unintentional. If so, then anger over the action is unhelpful and perhaps even harmful.
If someone does make a poor decision, remember, no one wants to choose poorly.
Often, one makes a bad choice when they feel an overwhelming urge it will make things better (even if only temporarily) or experiences weakness or a lapse in judgment.
Whatever the cause, they chose poorly since, at the time, something made them feel it was a good decision.
He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. . . . He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Chapter 2
Those who desire virtue for its own sake, desire it either because the consciousness of it is a pleasure, or because the consciousness of being without it is a pain, or for both reasons united; as in truth the pleasure and pain seldom exist separately, but almost always together, the same person feeling pleasure in the degree of virtue attained, and pain in not having attained more. If one of these gave him no pleasure, and the other no pain, he would not love or desire virtue, or would desire it only for the other benefits which it might produce to himself or to persons whom he cared for
Utilitarianism, Chapter 4
John Stuart Mill
The man who best knows how to meet external threats makes into one family all the creatures he can; and those he can not, he at any rate does not treat as aliens; and where he finds even this impossible, he avoids all dealings, and, so far as is advantageous, excludes them from his life.
Epicurus, Principal Doctrines, 39
No one chooses a thing seeing that it is evil; but being lured by it when it appears good in comparison to a greater evil, he is caught.
Epicurus, Vatican Sayings, 16
many who are capable of the higher pleasures, occasionally, under the influence of temptation, postpone them to the lower. But this is quite compatible with a full appreciation of the intrinsic superiority of the higher. Men often, from infirmity of character, make their election for the nearer good, though they know it to be the less valuable; and this no less when the choice is between two bodily pleasures, than when it is between bodily and mental. They pursue sensual indulgences to the injury of health, though perfectly aware that health is the greater good.
John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, Chapter 2