Wilson (Catherine), Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity

  • https://www.academia.edu/26175…al_of_Ancient_Materialism


    This turned up in my email this morning; it may add some context to her latest book. This is the intro to a previous book of hers.


    I've only had a chance to read a bit of it. A couple of notes:

    - page 3: Gassendi stripped Epicurus of anti-providentialism, mortality of the soul, multiple worlds and a priori knowledge and in so doing laid the foundation for British empiricism. It sounds to me like he also laid the foundation for the destruction of the philosophy!


    - page 5: "pain... is an unqualified evil". Followed by a decent description of Epicurean pleasure, except for her inclusion of the word "should". At first blush this seems to get to the heart of our disagreement with her: shoulds and unqualifieds imply Ideas, not a material universe.

  • It sounds to me like he also laid the foundation for the destruction of the philosophy!

    A M E N !!!! ;-)


    Godfrey is this the "should" to which you refer?


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    I agree with you. Wilson tends to be very loose with her wording, when she should be referring to Nature, she drops easily into expressing her own view as if everyone would agree with her.


    I also think this illustrates why the older terminology of "choosing and avoiding" makes more sense than calling things "evil" or "good." Those words today in English are loaded with implications about virtue or religion that Epicurus would not associate with them. The situation is simply that pleasure is desirable in itself, and pain is undesirable in itself, and there is no need to load those words with connotations that are foreign to the Epicurean perspective