What Would An Epicurean Use In Their Toolkit For Making Their Hedonic Calculus?

  • I just noticed this and I want to comment:

    I use natural and necessary or unnecessary as a first step to evaluate a given desire, then I think about whether the various costs involved (pain) will add up to more or less than the resultant pleasure.

    I agree that the natural or necessary analysis is a good first step in the analysis, but it's good to remember that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the pleasures in either of these multiple categories, but because these categories are thumbnail rules for helping us predict the amount of pain that is going to come from the choice, as explained by Torquatus in On Ends.


    The point of my posting is to emphasize that this is the starting point of the analysis, not the end point, and not a substitute in itself for the issue of "what will happen" and the eventual result of whether the end is net positive or net negative as to the pleasure/pain balance.


    Thumbnail rules are highly useful, but they exist in a larger context that can sometimes be dramatically violated. The goal is to keep your eye on the END, which is pleasure, and never to let any tool (like virtue, or even this system of categories) to take the place of it.

  • I really like Hiram idea of looking at it like how an accountant does their work. We have a ton of terms to try to relate them to epicurean philosophy for net pleasure vs net pains. Like loans, interest, investments, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.

    Like investment could be lesser net pains that we endure(invest) in to gain greater net pleasures. Other investments would be like taking more days off from work in order to spend more time with friends and family this type of investment is the net gratitude memories that we gain over time vs net profit we make at work. We could setup some type of a gratitude journal worksheet. Speaking of jobs perhaps we could make a job likability score sheet net profits vs net pleasure at the job.

    Loans could be what the epicureans talk about mutual aid or time spend with friends but in the hopes that your friend returns the favor or if you are the benefactor please return the favor when the time comes.

    I think gratitude from what I read about the research in positive psychology one could use it as a sort of interest (but a small one or a large one depending on what type of net gratitude you use) because it is accumulate over time to create a lot of net pleasures.

  • It occurs to me that there is another reason why I like the "spreadsheet" model. Because when you focus on fitting your activities into and you think about the pains and pleasures that come from them, you're going to list your activities and the natural results and in doing so you naturally realize that "absence of pain" is not an ACTIVITY. You're never going to even consider starting a line with "absence of pain." Absence of pain is something that is an "attribute" of engaging in pleasures that drive out pains, but it's not an activity in itself.

    Even if you want to say "meditate" or "Take time to reflect on your blessings" those are activities no different in principle from any other mental activity like reading a book or listening to music.


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  • This is funny that Hiram brings this up because I am currently wanting to setup an investment. I think I will read the book my former accountant recommended to me which is called "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham.

  • Cassius Even though it is just a question an answer worksheet should I eventually make it into a spreadsheet so it is easily moveable as you suggested?

    I think This worksheet can help with the maximization of pleasure spreadsheet. So after one understands and gets on paper the common questions epicureans would ask their students with the correct answers(I will make more examples just a few for each question so they have an idea what to put there.). They can make the proper judgement of what to put in that spreadsheet.

  • Yes, Godek, compare your list with my list of considerations at the bottom of the current version of the spreadsheet.


    I am a big fan of outlining and I am constantly shifting the items in the list to indicate priority, so yes any format that is easily shiftable would be good.


    I do think making a Google spreadsheet with one consideration per line would make it easy to re-order the items to fit the current situation.


    Once it is on Google docs then someone could download it and use for themselves locally (or copy to their individual google doc folder)

  • Current project is "To pursue or to avoid a desire" worksheet. I think I will create a work sheet for each epicurean virtue and state on each one that it is just a means(tool) to mean an end and not an end in itself. My favorite virtue is gratitude so probably do a worksheet on that next. These are therapy worksheets based on epicurean thought. What do you fellow epicureans think of the title I picked?

  • Sounds good to me. As an aside I don't know that there are specific virtues that are distinctly Epicurean, although it is probably fair to say that there are some virtues that Epicurus stressed more than other in the surviving records.

  • This worksheet just a means a tool for you to pursue pleasure but not an end in itself ultimately you decide what to do.

    Is the desire natural and necessary?

    Is the desire natural but not necessary?

    Is the desire neither natural nor necessary?

    Question the desire what will happen if the desire is achieved and what will happen if it is not?

    Ask yourself does this desire have pain if so does it give greater pleasure later?

    Is the desire pleasurable but it brings greater pain afterwards?

  • I think a lot of healthy pleasures start out as pains first then greater pleasure later. Going to figure out how to word that the best way. I think I read this in some recovery guide online.

  • I think since epicurean philosophy is material(matter science not money) and empirical. Also the fact that it states you need motion in order to create joy. I thought to add Newton's equal force law to fight the cycle of depression. So doing more especially activities that you enjoy and science shows is best for neurotypical humans to be happy we create more joy and help get rid or cope better with depression. But we also have to remember that we can't have too much of a good thing as epicureans state too. The belly doesn't require unlimited filling. Or about ascetic and extravagance that we need moderation in all things.

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    I thought to add Newton's equal force law to fight the cycle of depression. So doing more especially activities that you enjoy...

    Yesterday I was listening to a podcast of an interview with the author of the book Stress Proof:

    https://www.artofmanliness.com…roof-your-body-and-brain/


    The author is a neuro-opthamologist (I never knew there was such a specialty!) so her approach is very biologically based. godek , there was some discussion of depression as it relates to stress, which is why I'm posting. But of interest to me was the contention that uncertainty is the greatest contributor to stress and some discussion of removing uncertainty, which sounded a lot like autarchy. The author professed her enthusiasm for Stoicism, but the material presented seemed more Epicurean to me! Anyway it's worth a listen; I plan to read the book sometime soon.

  • Yes I agree sounds more epicurean. Plus stoicism contracdicts

    itself with fate so if you are fated to end up in a certain journey what is the point in being virtuous when one has no free will? which also goes against current scientific thought with quantum physics so basically therapists and psychology just cherry pick stoicism and the end result is really epicureanism most of the time. :)

  • Yesterday I was listening to a podcast of an interview with the author of the book Stress Proof:

    https://www.artofmanliness.com…roof-your-body-and-brain/


    The author is a neuro-opthamologist (I never knew there was such a specialty!) so her approach is very biologically based. godek , there was some discussion of depression as it relates to stress, which is why I'm posting. But of interest to me was the contention that uncertainty is the greatest contributor to stress and some discussion of removing uncertainty, which sounded a lot like autarchy. The author professed her enthusiasm for Stoicism, but the material presented seemed more Epicurean to me! Anyway it's worth a listen; I plan to read the book sometime soon.

    yes epicureanism gives us some certainty. But I think epicureans are fine with some uncertainty as being too certain turns into dogma and just as bad as religion with it's superstitious beliefs. There is a famous quote that goes like this "only fanatics are so certain and the wise so full of doubts." I think there is some things in life that we can be certain of. Cassius am I wrong about that? I think there is some epicurean maxim or quote about accepting new facts when we get new facts in through our senses.

  • The uncertainty referred to isn't philosophical dogma, but lack of personal agency. Pursuing autarchy increases our personal agency, thus reducing uncertainty to a degree about events which may occur in our future.

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    PD16, Peter Saint-Andre translation
    Chance steals only a bit into the life of a wise person: for throughout the complete span of his life the greatest and most important matters have been, are, and will be directed by the power of reason.

    Regarding dogma, you're absolutely correct. Here's one example:

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    PD24, Peter Saint-Andre translation

    If you reject a perception outright and do not distinguish between your opinion about what will happen after, what came before, your feelings, and all the layers of imagination involved in your thoughts, then you will throw your other perceptions into confusion because of your trifling opinions; as a result, you will reject the very criterion of truth. And if when forming concepts from your opinions you treat as confirmed everything that will happen and what you do not witness thereafter, then you will not avoid what is false, so that you will remove all argument and all judgment about what is and is not correct.

  • Yes Godek I think you are on the wrong track with your comments about "dogma" - I think Godfrey's quote is good but I would say it sounds Epicurean (as he did too, in another place) as I am not sure that autarchy deals with issues of knowledge.

    But of interest to me was the contention that uncertainty is the greatest contributor to stress and some discussion of removing uncertainty, which sounded a lot like autarchy.

    Godek in Diogenes Laertius you will recall that:

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    [The wise man] will found a school, but not in such a manner as to draw the crowd after him; and will give readings in public, but only by request. He will be a dogmatist but not a mere skeptic; and he will be like himself even when asleep. And he will on occasion die for a friend.


    Of course you also have to recall that you are going to keep an open mind on things where proof is not clear:


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    24. If you reject absolutely any single sensation without stopping to distinguish between opinion about things awaiting confirmation and that which is already confirmed to be present, whether in sensation or in feelings or in any application of intellect to the presentations, you will confuse the rest of your sensations by your groundless opinion and so you will reject every standard of truth. If in your ideas based upon opinion you hastily affirm as true all that awaits confirmation as well as that which does not, you will not avoid error, as you will be maintaining the entire basis for doubt in every judgment between correct and incorrect opinion.



    And in those times you are going to "wait" as against stated by DL.


    But much of book four of Lucretius, especially the very important part about how knowledge is based on the senses, is targeted to the conclusion that we can and should have confidence in things that are clear, and that we should actually scorn those who allege that knowledge (which means our confidence in a certain fact) is impossible.