Epicurus "On Nature" - Book 25: On Moral Development

  • I had already written a commentary of a commentary on this book (from an English source), but I have re-read the book in French from Les Epicuriens, with new insights. Here is the initial essay I wrote years ago:


    My notes:

    The work has many long sentences, and is hard to follow sometimes because of that.


    We see in philosophy and anthropology a tension between nature and culture, and this is reflected in this book, where Epicurus compares "the original constitution" of an individual versus the "product in the process of development" (his character), and finally the "developed product"--a fully mature character of someone who understands his "causal responsibility".


    Epicurus talks about the "germs" or "seeds" (spermata) that we carry from birth of both wisdom and virtue, as well as ignorance and vices. In p. 103, E says "at first people act out their "seeds", but later, a time comes where the developed product ... depends absolutely on us and on our own opinions, which we ourselves have formed". Our opinions or beliefs are linked to our moral development in this manner

    p. 106 E says again "I don't stop rambling on this point", referring to how the "permanent attribute" of our character is the same as a sort of seed or germ, and he says that many things we do by contribution of our nature, many we do without its contribution, many where we discipline our nature, and many where we use our nature as guide that "leads us out of our inertia"



    p 104 says we have an "anticipation of our causal responsibility" (moral faculty in the canon), and this has repercussions on praise and blame



    E says that if all our views are born of necessity, then no one can change the opponent's mind.

    This reminded me of a study that shows that political ideology may be pre-determined or is genetic; I wonder what others make of this




    This is distinct from the problem of "empty words" that E addresses elsewhere.

    In p 104, E says that determinists are "merely changing names" when they make moral claims or assign blame / praise, or classify people for their right / wrong thinking.

    In p 105, Epicurus says he does not stop re-hashing and restating that what determinists are arguing is nothing more than a mere exchange of words.

    "Please always remember my doctrines!" - Epicurus' last words

  • Cassius

    Changed the title of the thread from “Book 25: On Moral Development” to “Epicurus "On Nature" - Book 25: On Moral Development”.