The Continuing Challenge of Epicureanism - Michael Wilson

  • Thanks Hiram. This one seems to be a kind of rambling overview rather than making any particular point. I find it to be pretty much just a compendium of the ordinary observations, many of which are highly questionable.

    One thing that catches my eye is this statement about Epicurean "communities":

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    Followed by this later in the article:

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    His cite for that is to Erler in the Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism. Here is the relevant paragraph:

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    I note that this allegation is to "Epicureans" and not necessarily to "Epicurean Communities" which is the issue that frequently gets raised (were there actual Epicurean "communities" outside the Garden in Athens? Does the Garden itself count as a community?)

    I have to stop tracing references at the moment but wanted to note that this appears to be another example where an allegation of Epicurean "Communities" is unsubstantiated.

  • On the other hand this is looks like a worthwhile citation to Mill (haven't checked it yet):

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    But here comes the typical nod to asceticism:

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    OK this is WAY off course. Epicurus had a NEGATIVE view of nature??


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    And here's the expected modern emphasis, turning everything on its head:

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  • However this is well stated and exactly on point as to "virtue":

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    Next is an important paragraph, but the author is exactly wrong. Not only is he wrong to say "clearly," but "stretching" the meaning of pleasure to "comprehend all value" is exactly what Epicurus does. If we value something, it is simply and solely because it brings us pleasure / reduces pain / allows greater pleasure. The issue is the feeling, not any other consideration, because in the end all consideration comes down to feeling.


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    On the other hand, this is AWFUL - an allegation that materialism cannot serve as a basis for ethics.


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  • Oh I see! Great catch Godfrey! That probably explains why the article is kind of a summary without any real point and with absolutely no "conclusion" at the end. He's an eclectic working on researching as many competitive strategies as he can, which he will then meld together into his own religious stew.

    WHO IS MIKE?

    For over 30 years I have been full-time engaged in cross-cultural ministry both overseas and in Australia. I have taught courses at Moore Theological College, Christ College Sydney, Sydney Missionary and Bible College, Wesley Institute, Brisbane School of Theology and overseas. Subject areas include Ministry Across Cultures, Understanding Buddhism and Old Testament.


    I lived in a Muslim country for many years. For 12 years I provided training, consultancy and resources for ministry to migrant peoples for churches in the Sydney Anglican Diocese. Then for 8 years I coordinated cross-cultural ministry for the Presbyterian Church of NSW. I have served as a Regional Ministry Director (NSW/ACT/QLD) for SIM Australia and am now helping SIM to connect with and serve churches.

  • Godfrey I can't remember if I have posted this elsewhere but a quick search doesn't turn it up. This article follows much the same standard pattern that I wrote down earlier after reading the Sonya Wurster article:

    Philodemus and Epicurean Philosophy: Changing Perceptions - Sonya Wurster


    It gets tedious to make the same observations over and over and over and yet I think the pattern is clear. The issue is how best to address the pattern clearly and concisely in a single place to which we can point over and over to prevent reinventing the wheel each time.

  • Perhaps we could assign a number or nickname to each error type-- corresponding to the Not Neo-Epicurean list? And then note some common patterns by the same shorthand-- "this is the 1-2-5 error", etc.


    Back when I was politically outspoken on my prior FB personal page, I got tired of making repetitive rebuttals to nonsense. So I wrote a long, numbered "note" with all my arguments, evidence and references included. Every time someone would use one of the arguments I'd already countered, I would just post a link to my note with the relevant number. Occasionally there were long conversations in which my opponents kept repeating the same long fallacious statements, nothing new or creative, and my responses were only numbers, often the same numbers repeated.

  • Cassius the pattern you wrote down for the Wurster article is a great start to a list of fallacious arguments. Elayne, the idea of using numbers is hilarious!


    An additional tactic is to create additional content explaining the point of view that we're pursuing here. It's already being discussed in other threads (podcast, books...) Also there's some excellent content on the forum already: there must be a way to get some of it into the mainstream or on to Academia or Jstor or similar sites or journals. Maybe at some point it will reach a critical mass. (Although I say this as someone who's not a writer or a philosopher and not contributing much in the way of content, so I'm kind of blowing hot air. Apologies for that :/)

  • <<kinetic pleasures are not only physical but also include, for example, holding discussions with friends, and solving problems>>.


    The distinction of pleasures as kinetic and static and as lower and higher is a totally false idea that comes from the methodology of dialectics and particularly is an invention by Aristotle. The only distinction that Epicurus makes on pleasures is only in the duration of time and the variety, but Epicurus did not mention anywhere the pleasures as higher or lower. For Epicurus all pleasures are good. And when Epicurus says that prudence is higher than philosophy he connects and the prudence which teaches us how to live a pleasant life "ηδέως ζην" [hedeos zin].


    Example how misleading is the distinction on pleasures : I have a meal with my friends, and I discuss with them during the time of that meal...what the heck of pleasure is that ? a lower kinetic pleasure or a higher static pleasure or something third ?


    As the author remarks kinetic pleasures are not only physical i.e. "holding discussions with friends are not physical pleasures" and that means that when you discuss with your friends this happens without your bodies like to be ghosts (see photo)ghosts.jpg. HA :D

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • And the author mr Mike says : "So Spinoza defined good as what we perceive as pleasure and bad as that which brings pain. Like Epicurus he recognised that people do experience pleasure in the pleasure of others and ultimately in the well-being of all nature".



    Epicurus recognized that people do experience pleasure in the pleasure of others ....yes, but WHO ARE THOSE OTHERS ?!



    That means that when Plato wrote all of his nonsense and he was pleased, Epicurus had had to be pleased too saying : Wow, Plato is pleased, so I feel pleased too. Plato said it all... and since ataraxia and aponia is my goal, I rest my case.

    Files

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • Perhaps we could assign a number or nickname to each error type-- corresponding to the Not Neo-Epicurean list? And then note some common patterns by the same shorthand-- "this is the 1-2-5 error", etc.


    Back when I was politically outspoken on my prior FB personal page, I got tired of making repetitive rebuttals to nonsense. So I wrote a long, numbered "note" with all my arguments, evidence and references included. Every time someone would use one of the arguments I'd already countered, I would just post a link to my note with the relevant number. Occasionally there were long conversations in which my opponents kept repeating the same long fallacious statements, nothing new or creative, and my responses were only numbers, often the same numbers repeated.

    That is an excellent idea Elayne. At present it is easy enough for me to add new material to the Not Neo list here, which is in fact what we planned. If it gets too unwieldy, or to make it easier we want multiple editors, I can add it to the wiki and share permissions to that. But for the time being I will add to the document here and consider it to be the main copy: Not Neo-Epicurean, But Epicurean

  • Also there's some excellent content on the forum already: there must be a way to get some of it into the mainstream or on to Academia or Jstor or similar sites or journals.

    Godfrey this is an interesting point and one I think about a lot. No doubt we do want to get some of these alternate ideas into the "mainstream" and/or academia. On the otherhand, what we are talking about is essentially the "belly of the beast" --- Academia is fully invested in the Stoic model, and they are not going to take kindly to contradiction.


    Already DeWitt, Gosling & Taylor, Nikolsky, and Wenham have published excellent articles with no discernable impact on "academia."

    What I am getting at here is that it may well be a doomed plan to ever expect our "enemies" to embrace this point of view. After all, it's not rocket science, and in fact it doesn't take much effort at all to see the errors of the mainstream approach.


    There is more going on here that innocent error, and that means we need to think intelligently about the proper strategy. And that strategy probably includes going "around" them, with our own websites and content-generators, rather than ever expect any help from academia. And not only can we probably not expect help, but I feel absolutely confident that if / when we ever come to their attention, we will meet a solid phalanx of outraged opposition. :-)

    Of course at this point I don't have any "magic bullets" and so we ought to entertain all suggestions.

  • Oh - one more point about Elayne's numbered list suggestion: I've already been working on the FAQ which is here https://www.epicureanfriends.com/wcf/index.php?faq/


    So it's kind of natural to coordinate these two efforts. I don't think at this point that it makes sense to merge the documents, because the "Not Neo" document is more targeted to quick response and inoculation against common fallacies. It's a summary of major errors/problems, and needs to be separate so that we can refer to those all in one place with people who are more experienced in reading the standard academic material.


    On the other hand the FAQ is targeted to a more general audience looking not only for responses to negative issues but also positive statements, and less in need of immediate "deprogramming." This is more like the group of people who read DeWitt early in the process, never get led too far astray, and so don't need to be hit immediately with a list of mistakes.


    But it's easy to see that a FAQ could point to items in the Not-Neo list and how they complement each other.