Titus Level 03
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Posts by Titus

    (3) The nature of how to live.

    This could also be seen as a continuation of the Epicurean Philosophy Navigation Chart to expand the Ethics. A preliminary list of topics that are important to me:

    1. Awareness of becoming and passing away, consciousness of life and death in respect to the nature of the universe, processuality of life

    2. Pursuing/Focussing the natural desires which

    a.) is Nature's yardstick for happiness

    b.) leads to self-sufficiency and autarky

    c.) reveals life as an inexhaustible source of happiness

    d.) sets the focus how to plan/organize our lives according to Nature

    3. Promoting friendship/life in living relationships as a means to achieve security

    4. The imperishable life of the gods as a role model to achieve with our perishable means

    5. Focusing/staying connected with our senses, thus overcoming abstract ideas/desires/fears

    6. Concentration on your body/person as a material being. Awareness about natural and necessary desires, therefore focusing health/wellbeing

    One of the points DeWitt brings out in the final chapter of Epicurus and His Philosophy was that the dying down of the controversies in which the Epicureans were involved with Judeo-Christianity marked the parallel dying down of the Epicurean school as a whole. It might well be that any resurgence of interest in Epicurus will end up being accompanied by the re-lighting of those same flames of controversy.

    Thank you stimulating my appetite for reading. Because of "his antiquated and sometimes opaque writing style" I discontinued reading "Epicurus and His Philosophy" after reading his voluminous biographical notices on Epicurus.

    What I personally have issues with is his tendency to go far beyond what the texts and evidence have to offer. Especially the books written in retirement: Epicurus and His Philosophy and St. Paul and Epicurus. I think he often interprets and extrapolates far too much with very little evidence to make a point he wants to make. Following up on his references is frustrating because his text will say one thing and the reference don't back it up. Or he'll simply make things up for the sake of historical narrative or philosophical stance. He was skilled at creating historical fiction based loosely on the evidence. That's one of my big issues with DeWitt.

    Personally speaking, his creative stance "creating historical fiction" is the reason why I adore "St. Paul and Epicurus" so much. While his assumptions are often experimential and lacking obvious evidence, this is exactely the reason why his work is so valueable. Deciphering and reinterpreting of texts relating to a 2000 years old tradition is quite a tricky task. No other person than an expert in ancient languages and Epicureanism seems to be qualified of recognizing hidden parallels in the original texts. Any other interpreter, who are usually theologians, would be stuck in the spider's net of tradition - or promoting their own agenda. DeWitt's analysises in "St. Paul and Epicurus" can hardly be read as hard evidence, but they are interpretations to talk about. Unfortunately, it seems hardly anyone have discussed his assumptions. In my opinion, they are more groundet than most of theologian's writings.

    Relating to "St. Paul and Epicurus" this is, for the first time, a Christianity which makes sense to me. While DeWitt doesn't formulate his final conclusion, the reader imagines St. Paul bringing the heavens of the blissful and eternal gods to Earth, offering their salvation to mankind!

    The other, again especially in Epicurus and His Philosophy, is his antiquated and sometimes opaque writing style. Parsing DeWitt can sometimes be almost as difficult as parsing ancient Greek! That is one of the reasons I'm reluctant to fully endorse DeWitt as an introduction to Epicurus and his philosophy.

    As a non-native speaker, I definitively agree with you. ^^

    In Germany, religious education is a mandatory part of education in state schools, includes church service on one school day morning per week, and is usually done separately for Catholics and Protestants, whereby Protestants are usually lumped together in one curriculum irrespective of their variants.

    I cannot remember any obligatory church services. This has to be either a regional feature or an issue of the past or both.

    A fear-mongering religion would be ridiculous in Cologne.

    In the meantime, both the Catholic and the Unified Protestant Church in Germany have deleted Hell and Punishment from their curriculum. Their only interest is to keep the money flowing and their business empire growing. The only persistent blasphemy is to opt out the church-tax system.

    Does the philosophy change you? Or perhaps it is better posed as "does the philosophy change your experience of being"?

    Sometimes I ask myself the same question and realize most people won't ever walk in the same trails as I do. It's quite impressive, because I consider the Epicurean worldview as substantial to the recognition of happiness. It's not about the single elements, as there are normal people out there who know how to live a happy life, too. It's rather the unique approach of developing a comprehensive philosophy, starting with particles and ending up proclaiming self-esteem and the reign of pleasure.

    I had become quite a fundamentalist, focusing on Epicurean philosophy only and its implications all day long. I've tried to "normalize" in the last months, but it seems I feel better in the "Epicurusphere" as I don't understand much of what's going on outside of my bubble anymore. It does not feel real, not focussed and obsolete.

    I also like the religious flavour, adhering true philosophy and recognizing Epicurus as my saviour. ;)

    I've already got an answer!

    Dear Mr. ,

    many thanks for your enquiry. I don't recall hearing anything about

    such a discovery.

    Best regards,

    Holger Essler.

    > Dear Mr. Essler,


    > I take part in an online study group on Epicureanism. Currently, we discussed the Cyrenaic philosopher Hegesias of Cyrene. In an online article (https://www.academia.edu/39345959/THE_APOKARTERON?sm=b) it is claimed, essential parts of his work "The Apokarteron" were discovered in Herculaneum in 2018. Unfortunately, we are not able to find any other reference to "The Apokarteron" in any archives available. We would like to know, to what degree the posted version of "The Apokarteron" ist fictional. Do you know something about a 2018 find?


    > Many thanks in advance. Kind regards,

    Thanks for this. The only caveat is that this is "a speculative reconstruction." It appears that it's not the actual text of Apokarteron but an attempt to construct what it could have been using other ancient texts and filling in a dialogue format. For example, Hegesias is not listed in the available authors at Papyri.info, and there appears to be no P.herc.1913 & 1914 as mentioned in the 2nd footnote. Papyri.info only lists up to P.herc. 1824. So the citation is meant to provide verisimilitude to the fictional reconstruction, like Tolkien saying The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were translated from Bilbo's and Frodo's Red Book of Westmarch (with later additions by Sam Gamgee).

    Not saying the article isn't interesting, but it shouldn't be taken as an ancient text.

    I see, this issue needs more research. The introduction to the text is in my opinion too concrete in its argumentation than to be just a fictional work. But I agree in your point, the subhead speaks of a "speculative reconstruction", which contrasts the introduction. I will write to the Würzburg Center and ask for more information. Perhaps, their website isn't up-to-date. It also seems they have slowed down their activities. I know the founder seems to have retired and with him PhD students doing research and work. Hopefully, they can give us an answer (email has already been sended).

    It seems, there may be also an issue with footnote 2 in the text, refering to an article that do not exist in the quoted volume.

    None of this, however, is as strong as the testimony of Cicero,[4] who claims that Hegesias wrote a book called Death by Starvation (Greek: ἀποκαρτερῶν), in which a man who has resolved to starve himself is introduced as representing to his friends that death is actually more to be desired than life, and that the gloomy descriptions of human misery which this work contained were so overpowering that they inspired many people to kill themselves, in consequence of which the author received the surname of Death-persuader (Peisithanatos). The book was said to have been published at Alexandria, where he was, in consequence, forbidden to teach by king Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BC).

    Interesting, how the same questions and views appear throughout history again and again.

    Have you ever heard of the Werther effect or Copycat suicide? Or the letters of/to Ana (Anorexia nervosa)? The novel by Goethe was also forbidden to be sold in several countries, as websites promoting ATTE (Ana till the end) are banned today.

    In Epicureanism we see that there are things under our control and some things which aren't.

    Your statement is quite amazing. Indirectely, I agree with you, but distinguishing between what's within and what's beyond our control is known as a key point of Stoic philosophy. "...in a World Out of Your Control" seems to be rather aiming to attract people who might think this world is out of control and Stoicism shows the methods how to get back in control.

    I own a "Epicurus workbook and journal" which I bought via amazon. I haven't checked the contents yet, but the first glimpse looked good.

    I also wrote a 12 months workbook approximately 10 years ago. But I would have to 1.) actualize it and 2.) do a translation (which nowadays thanks to advanced translation tools isn't that kind of problem).

    Both of us agree that DeWitt probably goes too far in the analogies that he draws, but depending on one's background one will find the book either super-interesting or unnecessarily speculative.

    I tend to be part of the super-interesting wing, while I also agree the tone of his arguments sounds speculative. He claims there is a philological underpinning of his arguments and that his new translations are able to demystify passages he claims to be making no sense in a classical way of reading.

    It would be quite important to consult an expert on this issue to check some of his claims.

    What's still impressive to me is the fact that it seems DeWitt doesn't introduce any kind of new theological interpretation. Instead he sharpens Paul's profil. Indeed, Paul's message sounded more impressive and attractive to me than I did expect in the beginning.

    There's also The Herculaneum Society, promoting the study of the archeological site and of the papyri. They hold a biannual conference and minor events througout the year. I tried to attend last year, but the conference had been already sold out.

    Offtopic: It seems there is amazing progress in digital unrolling of yet unaccessible papyri. Unfortunaly, the data surpasses my browsers capacity, perhaps someone else can check out some of the scans.

    My note: I think frugal hedonist is a good description of Epicurus's lifestyle, much better than the ascetic he's made out to be.

    My thoughts: Frugality in an Epicurean context could mean to focus on one's senses and impressions, rather than pursuing foreign ideas of what happiness is made of. Leaving things behind can help to focus on our measuring instruments and on what makes us happy personally.

    I can tell you from my actual holidays, touched by a thousand beautiful impressions a day. Eating an elaborated meal or driving a cool car couldn't add anything to my happiness. The openness of my senses already fills up the cup to its fullest.

    Frugality could also teach us about the limits we're able to live with and therefore how to improve resilience.

    In the end I would argue, it's not about frugality, but pursuing elemental features of ourselves.

    Titus could you elaborate on what you mean?

    According to my reading of DeWitt, it seems St. Paul is able to offer something greater than the fullness of pleasure to the former Epicureans. He is offering the fullness of the life of immortal beings. These are just some thoughts that touched me while reading your comments on Lucian.

    Concerning your initial question, I personally would see pleasure as part of the epistemology rather than something to be treated in the quite ethically centred principal doctrines.

    I have to think of "St. Paul and Epicurus" where DeWitt indirectly suggests St. Paul is opening a path to the heavens. Consequently, the gods would experience something more valuable than our current pleasures. I personally think it has to do with their physics, being made of a different kind/quality of atoms.

    Presuming you are right about that (and I have no reason to doubt!) then it would be really interesting to read Diels' commentaries on Lucretius in particular or Epicurus in general.

    I just decided to do so because I really appreciate Diels colourful and powerful art of writing ;) . I cannot imagine to do so without a positive attitude. My edition doesn't include any commentary by him and there may be none as he passed away before publication. I checked Wikipedia for further information and it seems he exchanged letters with Usener (!) and did a university lecture on Greek philosophy. Both were published some years ago and might be of interest.

    I wonder if it would be worth going from German to English to pick up any twists that Diels might have seen in some of the key passages, such as around line 62 in book one.

    For detailed discussions it might be of interest listening to another voice. One could use translation software to translate foreign translations into English. On the other hand, there are already many professional English translations available (Bailey, Munro etc.). The translation of a translation (especially by software) also may have some issues. For your passage, Diels sounds this way:

    When, before the eyes of men, life was ignominious on earth

    Bowed down by the burden of heavy-weighted religion,

    That stretched out its head from the lofty heights of heaven

    And with a hideous grimace dreadfully afflicts mankind,

    Then first a Greek dared to turn the mortal eye

    Against the monster, and boldly to oppose it.

    Not the fable of the gods, not the lightning and thunder of the sky

    Scared him with their threat. No, only the stronger rose

    Higher and higher his courage. So first he dared the locked doors.

    the closed gates of Mother Nature in a mighty storm.

    And so it happened. His courageous spirit remained victorious, and boldly

    He set foot far above the flaming walls of the universe

    And he penetrated the infinite universe with an inquiring spirit.

    From there he brought back the truth as the spoils of victory:

    What can become, what cannot? And how is everyone surrounded

    Its working power and the fundamentally resting landmark?

    Thus, as if in retaliation, religion lies at our feet

    Completely defeated, but us, triumph lifts us to heaven.

    Traducido con DeepL