George Carlin - You have no rights -- reactions?

  • Camotero something else going on here that I think is relevant, and I see myself making this point a lot lately:


    It may look like we (I? Epicurus?) are taking things to unnecessary extremes by carrying things out to "extreme" logical conclusions, but I think that is exactly what Epicurus was doing. Epicurus was faced with teaching philosophy in ancient Athens, where everyone who was anyone was expected to know and understand the arguments of Plato and other similar authorities, starting with Philebus on pleasure but also lots of other dialogues with similar arguments. Those guys in Athens were fully committed to "logic" as the key to everything, so Epicurus could ill afford to take half-measures and appeal to practicality like we might do today. I think that is one reason that some of us have problems coming to grips with how extreme some of the conclusions can sound, but after going through Philebus and other Platonic dialogues a couple of times I am convinced that Epicurus thought that if he left any logical conclusion unanswered then his entire system would be ridiculed into obscurity.


    Yes we are appealing to the sensations and feelings as the ultimate guide of how to live, but we are doing so only after a rigorously logical argument as to why we are doing so. Anything less than than would be pure assertion on our part, and make our philosophy arbitrary, as a result of which it would rightly be laughed out of Athens.

  • Anything less than than would be pure assertion on our part, and make our philosophy arbitrary, as a result of which it would rightly be laughed out of Athens.

    I wonder if my implying that the ultimate test of the validity of the system is that is logical makes me a Platonist myself? ;-)


    I think Epicurus would smile at that thought too, but that ultimately this is the example of how "true logic" or "true reason" (a term I gather at least Lucretius used) does in fact support Epicurean conclusions, because we are resting the validity of our assertions on the observations of the sensations, anticipations, and feelings.

  • I think you are probably trying to separate out mental and bodily pleasures in a way that would contradict the position just stated in the above quotations. If one feels pleasure it can be from any source, mental or bodily, and this I think is playing in to your resistance to the saying that the wise man will on occasion die for a friend, which is something that can be extended very far into war, etc. If in our own personal calculatons/feelings we would feel so awful if our friend died when we could have attempted to do something about it, then for some number of people such a result would mean such agonizing pain for the rest of their lives that they would rather die. That's the comparison that each person has to make for themselves, weighing the result of each action in terms of total future pain and pleasure (and this again is a situation where I think duration - length of time - is only one of the factors involved).

    I think I understand it better with the following aid: When we talk about mental or bodily pleasures, we're talking about the source of the pain or pleasure, not where said pain or pleasure is felt. I remember DeWitt saying something about the mind as another source of sensation, and I think I may have gotten confused about the posibility of experiencing pain or pleasure in an abstract way (as in, as an example, being able find proof of some mathematical thing would be satisfactory intellectually without the need of experience said satisfaction in the body) vs a tangible way; I know, it sounds weird now that I re think it. I now understand that pain or pleasure are only felt in a tangible way, in the body, but the sources of stimulus may be from our physical senses, that interact with atoms outside the body, or from the mind, which interacts with atoms inside the body. Does this make sense?

  • Camotero something else going on here that I think is relevant, and I see myself making this point a lot lately:


    It may look like we (I? Epicurus?) are taking things to unnecessary extremes by carrying things out to "extreme" logical conclusions, but I think that is exactly what Epicurus was doing. Epicurus was faced with teaching philosophy in ancient Athens, where everyone who was anyone was expected to know and understand the arguments of Plato and other similar authorities, starting with Philebus on pleasure but also lots of other dialogues with similar arguments. Those guys in Athens were fully committed to "logic" as the key to everything, so Epicurus could ill afford to take half-measures and appeal to practicality like we might do today. I think that is one reason that some of us have problems coming to grips with how extreme some of the conclusions can sound, but after going through Philebus and other Platonic dialogues a couple of times I am convinced that Epicurus thought that if he left any logical conclusion unanswered then his entire system would be ridiculed into obscurity.


    Yes we are appealing to the sensations and feelings as the ultimate guide of how to live, but we are doing so only after a rigorously logical argument as to why we are doing so. Anything less than than would be pure assertion on our part, and make our philosophy arbitrary, as a result of which it would rightly be laughed out of Athens.

    It's clear, thanks.

  • I wonder if my implying that the ultimate test of the validity of the system is that is logical makes me a Platonist myself?

    Ha, I hadn't thought of that, but what I gather from this is that you're trying, as they did back in Athens, to have the most logically solid argument, not because that's what gives actual validation to the system, but because it improves the possibility of it being recognized at the outset as a valid system, to later be actually validated by experience, logic taking the back seat.

  • Quote from ,"Cassius"
    Quote
    Quote from Don It's not that virtue isn't important, but virtue can be instrumental to our pleasure.

    I flagged this due to the word "can." I think a reading of the Torquatus section that Don is quoting from shows that for a thing to be virtuous it has to be in fact instrumental toward pleasure, otherwise it is foolishness, because the only legitimate goal is pleasurable living, not "glory" or "duty" or anything else that might tend toward an absolutist view of what is virtuous in any situation.

    Just to be clear, I used that "can" to imply that virtues are one of the things that "can" bring is pleasure. I fully endorse Cassius 's characterization here in his post. Well put, Cassius ! :)

  • Camotero in regard to the part of this thread devoted to "fighting" / "war" etc, I came across today this very interesting article by Frank Bourne that elaborates at length on how Julius Caesar's actions can be reconciled with his being an Epicurean.



    I have only read about half of it so far myself, but I bet you would find it interesting. It can be read for free here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4…=1#page_scan_tab_contents

  • I have now finished reading the full article "Caesar the Epicurean" and find it to be very well written and reasoned. It's interesting to me that the writer never really deals with what I presumed to be the main issue - that there is no real record of Caesar calling himself an Epicurean - but he produces a long list of circumstantial evidence that seems very persuasive to me.


    In fact the only real reason to doubt that Caesar was an Epicurean is the same "presumption" that all Epicureans were against involvement in politics, because once you deal with that by recognizing the contextual nature of such advice, the rest of Caesar's life does reveal numerous similarities, and the author documents.


    I was familiar with the episode from the Cataline conspiracy where Caesar recommended against execution of the conspirators on the ground that that is really not as severe as long-term incarceration, so that makes sense to me, but the author doesn't attempt to make much of Caesar's father-in-law being the owner of the Epicurean library at Herculaneum, which also seems to me to be relevant.


    But in general I think it's a very well written article packed with lots of references to Epicurean theory and good citations to how a life of activism CAN be consistent with Epicurean theory, if that's the type of person you are and that's the kind of thing you find pleasure in:




    So I see this as a very well written and useful article covering a lot of topics in one place.