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.