Epicurus' Dying Wishes - James Warren

  • That line of reasoning would annihilate the motivation behind every Epicurean work ever made. The original scrolls, the wall at Oenoanda, the De Rerum Natura; every one of them was made with the understanding that they would live on in influence after their makers had died. Or are we to imagine several hundred square meters of painstakingly chiseled stone erected for one generation of townspeople? Are we to take seriously the notion that 7,000 lines of unparalleled Latin verse really were written for the benefit of one Memmius? Of course not! They were made for, and belong to, the ages.

    Too many people wish to imagine that the egoistic and altruistic hedonisms are sharply divided and non-overlapping. But for the well-ordered mind, there can be deep personal pleasure in service to others; even in service to humanity. Lucretius' proem to Book IV ought to have made that plain.

  • Extremely well written Joshua, thank you.

    It boggles my mind that a reputable scholar would suggest that an Epicurean would be so irresponsible as not to care what happens to his property and his friends after his death.

    To me this is a reminder of what we are up against in rehabilitating a common sense view of Epicurean philosophy. It is and will be worth it, but we shouldn't be blind to how entrenched the opposition really is.

  • These matters, I think, have been discussed before when we have talked about MEANING, as in how philosophy gives us meaning, or gives our lives meaning.

    The key is that (this was not discussed by Philodemus even in his scroll "on death", probably because it does not have to do with death), but we experience a certain pleasure as a result of weaving ourselves into a tradition that belongs to all of humanity, or a portion of it. This is a form of transcendence, of participating in something larger than yourself, which is what working for the Epicurean teaching mission does. There is pleasure in studying philosophy together, and in the friendships we create, and these works of literature are a side product of these pleasures.

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

  • Cassius

    Changed the title of the thread from “Epicurus' dying wishes - James Warren” to “Epicurus' Dying Wishes - James Warren”.