Godfrey Moderator
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Posts by Godfrey

    Don't take this as personal, but

    Not at all Don , I was just too lazy to type "katastematic"! Which I've now done. Which just shows that it doesn't pay to be lazy ^^

    To show that I don't learn from my mistakes, I'd now like to put a thought which isn't fully formed out there.... If one accepts the assertion that pleasures/pains can vary in intensity, duration and location, can the concept (for that's really all that it is) of katastematic pleasure be clarified in any useful way by examining these categories?

    At first blush I don't see intensity as being particularly relevant for katastematic pleasure, so I'll skip over it for now.

    It would seem that duration is a key part of the concept: a pleasure that lasts a relatively long time seems to me to be katastematic, whereas a brief pleasure seems to be kinetic.

    Location would also seem to be a critical part of the concept. Is it worthwhile to speak of katastematic pleasure in your toe? Or in your hand, as in the infamous Chrysippus quote? Pleasure located in the mind can be katastematic. However, I think that the reason for that is that once you've reasoned something out, the pleasure obtained with the conclusion is of relatively long duration. What if you define magnitude of location as "breadth" of location? For instance a general sense of physical well-being. Or a pleasure located in several "areas" of the mind? Such as something that you enjoy while you're doing it, but also gives you a sense of lasting connectedness or purpose.

    This is leading me to an amorphous thought that katastematic pleasure is something that maximizes an individual's duration and breadth of pleasure. Everybody has a different way of achieving this, but the goal in striving for katastematic pleasure would be to maximize the breadth and duration of the individual's pleasure.

    What I'm trying to get at is a reasoned description of katastematic pleasure that not only is useful in daily life, but that also emphasizes that katastematic pleasure is a practical concept and not a "fancy pleasure" or a woo-woo state. Any thoughts?

    Sounds like pleasure is a feeling, pre-rational and universally desirable rather than concept with a specific definition.

    :thumbup: :thumbup:

    Epicurus seems to be labeling every mental or physical living experience as "pleasure" so long that experience is not explicitly felt to be painful.

    Well said. I may have been asleep, but I don't recall hearing it stated quite like that.

    When you look at it like this, which is how it should be looked at, I suppose the first concern is to prove that there's no neutral state. This can be done in at least two ways:

    - attending to one's experience, and noticing that what was originally thought to be neutral, upon more careful attention, always has an element of either pleasure or pain in it

    - examining a circumplex, which shows that 0,0 is the only place where pleasure or pain don't occur. And realizing that 0,0 is so infinitesimally tiny as to be meaningless in practical terms.

    Then you need to figure out how to get practical benefit from such a broad range of experience. Epicurus did this by defining the categories of desires. These can then be used to examine one's personal desires. Once one has examined their desires and becomes increasingly aware of their personal pleasures and pains, they can think about prudent ways to increase their pleasure. Epicurus' extant texts give these criteria in that regard, at least to my understanding:

    - all pleasures are finite, because one's life is finite

    - pleasures and pains can be broken down only into intensity, duration and location. Their magnitudes can be varied in each of these ways.

    Only at this juncture and in this context does it make sense to discuss things like mental v physical pleasures or static v kinetic pleasures.

    The attached article showed up in my inbox this morning. I think it's worth reading, although Mecci seems to have relied too much on The Great Obfuscator (that would be Cicero) and, perhaps, Wikipedia. Particularly for his presentation of pleasure. However as he gets further into his article his take on the gods seems reasonable to me: what I would call a combination of the realist and idealist viewpoints.

    There are copious footnotes, but I didn't dig into them.

    Here's a footnote from Melville: "the vessel itself | Produced the flaw: a Platonic analogy (cf. Gorgias 493a ff.), but one which links to a complex of imagery within the poem: see above on 3. 936, 1003, and cf. Epicurus fr. 396."

    In his translation at 3.936 he refers to the leaky vessel as an "ungrateful mind".

    I see Don already linked to the Gorgias text :thumbup:

    Quote from Cassius

    The development of exercises to encourage people to focus on seeing how mental pleasures and physical pleasures combine to constitute the full goal of "pleasure" is probably a good idea.

    The way I read PD09, which is the way about half of the translations render it, is that pleasures and pains can be described by intensity, duration and location. Thinking about activities that expand the location of pleasures can then help with what's stated in the above quote.

    For instance, many pleasures are experienced both physically and mentally at the same time: relief at escaping trauma, the awe of a blazing sunset, the list goes on.... Thinking about this facet (location, or breadth as I also like to think of it) can be useful in understanding the nature of pleasure.

    Quote from Don

    Pleasure do differ, that's my interpretation of PD09 from the grammar. But I'm still not sure I understand where you're getting the specific parameters of intensity, duration, and breadth from the words that are in PD09.

    From what I read, Epicurus is specifically saying "Every pleasure *cannot* condensed nor be present at the same time and in the whole of one's nature or its primary parts." The "if.." clause cannot happen, and so the pleasures do differ from one another.

    Intensity: Hicks uses the word "accumulation", Bailey uses "intensified", DeWitt uses "condensed", White uses "concentrated"; the other translations in Nate's compilation use variations of these. I'm interpreting these English words as describing intensity of pleasure, and, to me, it's clear that pleasures can vary in intensity.

    Duration: all of the translations use "time", "duration", "lasted", or similar references to time. I'm calling these "duration".

    Breadth: the translations all refer to "parts"; I'm using "breadth" to describe the idea that pleasures can vary in the number of "parts" that they affect. These include toes, tongues, mind: various body parts and various states of mind.

    I don't interpret Epicurus' "if" as referring to "condensed". I interpret it as referring to maximizing particular pleasures in all three aspects of intensity duration and breadth. If this could be done, then the pleasures wouldn't differ from each other. They can't be maximized in such a way, so they do differ. But by using intensity, duration and breadth as the three criteria in this statement he is telling us that those are the three variables which affect pleasures and differentiate between them.

    Just to be clear, am I correct in saying that pleasures do differ, but only in intensity, duration and breadth? This is both how I read PD09 and how I reason it out.

    For instance, pleasure/pain in the toe is different from pleasure/pain of equal intensity and duration in the tongue, because of the different nerve endings in the two locations. If we could spread each of these instances of pleasure/pain over both the toe and the tongue, they would be the same. But as long as that doesn't happen, they're different. This, then, becomes a formula for how pleasures/pains vary.

    Don intensity, duration and breadth are how I'm reading PD09 at the moment. Epicurus seems to be saying that all pleasures are equal if these three things are equal. I'm interpreting this as saying if you want to analyze pleasures or maximize pleasure, these are the aspects that you have to work with, in the context of a specific situation (yours, or a hypothetical one).

    At least to my current thinking, the important point in PDs 19 & 20 is limits: finite (limited) v infinite (unlimited). The limits apply to pleasure, well-being and desires equally. Adding the idea of limits to the idea that the three listed criteria of pleasure in PD09 makes the point, I think, that within our finite lifetimes we can maximize our pleasure by maximizing intensity, duration and breadth. But we should realize that we can never cross the limit into the infinite. There's no afterlife: make the most of this life and keep in mind the fact that it's going to end.

    Sorry, I'm playing catch-up.... Referring to PD09, I'm reading that the variables that cause pleasures to differ are intensity, duration and extent (parts of the body and aspects of the mind). If this is the case, then intensity, duration and extent can be considered useful ways to evaluate potential pleasures. This is of course in the context of what each particular individual considers pleasurable in a given situation.

    Which is interesting, because the duration part of this seems to conflict with these PDs:

    PD19. Finite time and infinite time contain the same amount of joy, if its limits are measured out through reasoning.

    PD20.The flesh assumes that the limits of joy are infinite, and that infinite joy can be produced only through infinite time. But the mind, thinking through the goal and limits of the flesh and dissolving fears about eternity, produces a complete way of life and therefore has no need of infinite time; yet the mind does not flee from joy, nor when events cause it to exit from life does it look back as if it has missed any aspect of the best life.

    Measuring it out through reasoning (if you will), it seems that PD19 & 20 are comparing finite and infinite time, whereas PD09 is dealing strictly with finite time and therefore there's no conflict between these.

    With this in mind you can evaluate hypothetical #1(Epicurus) and #2 (shepherd) like this:

    - intensity: #1, intense pain, intense pleasure; intensity of pleasure outweighs pain by uncertain amount. #2, uncertain pain, uncertain pleasure; uncertain which predominates and by how much.

    - duration: #1, one week. #2, one week.

    - extent: #1, great breadth of mental pleasure, somewhat localized physical pain. #2, uncertain breadth of mental pleasure, uncertain physical pleasure and pain.

    So to properly evaluate this hypothetical you need to get a sense of the uncertainties. We have Epicurus' letter describing his situation, but we don't know much about the shepherd. Do they love or hate their job? Are they allergic to grass? What's the breadth of their mental pleasure in this circumstance: does it align with their innermost desires? We therefore need to make up answers for all of these uncertainties, which of course is what makes this a hypothetical in the first place :rolleyes:

    Which would Epicurus choose?

    At this particular moment, despite my poll answer above, I think I'd choose the shepherd. Partly I'm choosing avoidance of pain ;) . But I'm also considering that learning and growth bring me great joy, and the shepherd is probably closer to my stage of growth, which perhaps would give me the space to enjoy the pleasures of nature and experience the process of growth.

    However, the option of Epicurus' final week could serve as a trial run for my own death (not that I anticipate dying in that particular way: more a trial run of the process of dying) and as such could be of value and interest.

    Having now answered a hypothetical, I'm turning and running from the rabbit hole as fast as my legs will carry me!

    "...conscious of his own condition..." in the italicized part of the quote from Torquatus above is so critical to really understanding the lack of a neutral state. It's so easy to think that you're in a neutral state, but paying closer attention invariably reveals subtle pleasure or pain that you were oblivious to. It then becomes a question as to whether the gap between the feelings is infinitely divisible in order to arrive at a point that could be a verifiable neutral state. If there is such a point, I imagine that it's beyond human perception and therefore pretty much useless.