Dead Reddit / The "Isms" Thread

  • Evge - Bravo Nate ! :thumbsup: ...and as Epicurus, if he was alive, he would say to us as an honest grandpa : Dear my grandchildren, remember always that that : ALL-isms are the "ypolepsis" i.e. false suppositions; and not the "prolepsis" i.e. anticipations that means also intuitions with which we the human beings are born, and before those insidious who are speaking about all -isms, they are the same persons that are damaging our faculties, as given to us by Nature, which are: our senses and feelings. With these faculties we are able to achieve the goal of pleasure. All else is the folly that is made by those human minds who their only desire is for us living as subordinated andrapoda (slaves). Here is how the swerve happens, when someone realizes where and which are the obstacles to his freedom that is synonym with pleasure and eudaemonia. ;)

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

  • I'm looking for clarification on the following quotation by De Witt:

    "...Epicureanism was primarily a cult of the founder..."

    Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 9.06.35 PM.png


    In discussions with Hiram and Charles about Reddit, I was re-reading a familiar passage which contradicts my assertion that Epicurus needs not to have existed for the canon of Epicurean philosophy to have been understood. Is De Witt saying this with regards to the specific behavioral norms that were set within the Gardens? [http://societyofepicurus.com/w…DbT2jh-10rXR_-7-gLNK9bA9c]

  • Excellent topic, Nate! He is of course using "cult" as a Classicist here, free of its modern sinister connotations.


    To my mind there are two questions here. Could the Epicurean system of thought have developed independent of Epicurus? I should think the answer to that—at least in broad strokes—would be, "Of course!" Already in Greece, prior to Epicurus, there was atomism (Democritus), indeterminism (Aristotle), hedonism (Aristippus), and cosmic pluralism (Anaximander). There's no "secret sauce"; most of what Epicurus taught is self-evident, or else arrived at through very simple argumentation. He was merely, as DeWitt writes elsewhere, "the first to survey the whole field"; and to synthesize from it a universal world-philosophy.


    And, is there any value for the student of a system in giving honor to the founder? Again I should answer "yes"; indeed that is Epicurus' own position, given in the Vatican Sayings;


    "Honoring a sage is itself a great good to the one who honors." VS 32


    But I think that position is another we could have arrived at without him. There is pleasure in the honest emotion of gratitude, if nothing else; and there is fellowship in belonging to a "school". With the Epicureans in particular, we are told that they called him Soter (saviour), carved him in statuary, and bore his likeness on signet rings. If Lucretius and Diogenes had not felt this kind of devotion, the fragments surviving from the Epicurean tradition would be paltry indeed.


    This begins to look like two interconnected paths to the same summit; analytical thinkers like Polyaenus and Thomas Jefferson would be happy to throw themselves into the work of studying the system. Passionate missionaries like Diogenes of Oenoanda and Frances Wright, into studying the man who wrought it. And in Lucretius, the two streams blend into something like perfection.


    But here's an important point; with a religion like Christianity, devotion is the main thing and good practice is insufficient. In the system devised by Epicurus, practice is the essential key. Devotion is useful primarily for sustaining interest and emotional engagement in the practice.

  • I agree with Joshua and will add more:


    my assertion that Epicurus needs not to have existed for the canon of Epicurean philosophy to have been understood.

    I believe this is also a correct statement, and i don't think there is any contradiction between the two positions.


    As Joshua says, the combination of ideas could have been assembled by others at other times and places. But the personality of Epicurus is what allowed that combination to be assembled at the time and the place that it was, and but for the personality of Epicurus other separate and distinct combinations would have emerged, but probably not nearly as successfully.


    I think we regularly find ourselves realizing that Epicurean philosophy is a revolt against idealism and the suggestion that abstractions exist in the air without connection to reality. Epicurus was a real person with real friends, and real followers, and a philosophy that is devoted to reality has to have living breathing people involved in it. Epicurus' personality was such that it inspired devotion among his friends, and the way he conducted himself reinforced the movement.


    There are all sorts of other analogies with different leaders over history that could be used to argue that their personal presence was essential for the success of their movements, and i think those observations apply to Epicurus without there being a sinister aspect. I think Joshua is right that DeWitt was using the term "cult" in an academic sense, but I do wish he had used another word. I suspect this is another area where DeWitt slips due to his affection for Christianity. I suspect he would call Christianity a "cult" of Christ, and in his habit of analogizing the Epicurean movement with Christianity he applied the same word to Epicurus.

  • Another thing that I think is VERY important about the role of Epicurus. From Diogenes Laertius:


    "He [the wise man] will be more susceptible of emotion than other men: that will be no hindrance to his wisdom. However, not every bodily constitution nor every nationality would permit a man to become wise."


    Epicurus existed in a very specific society - ancient Greece, and his philosophy prospered in a very specific society - the ancient Greco-Roman world. It has never flourished in any other society other than that one.


    That's why Nate's observation is so important: YES, the ideas are available to everyone, in every society, and mixing them together is not so hard either -- but that manifestly has NOT been done by any other person, in any other society, than by Epicurus and the ancient Greco-Romans in their own circumstances. Nate's observation is proof of the statement made by Epicurus - not every nationality or "bodily constitution" is going to be fertile ground for the spread of numbers of people who follow Epicurean viewpoints.


    That's not to say that there can't be individuals who adopt for themselves a mix of ideas very similar to Epicurus, but that for an Epicurean "movement" to flourish is going to take a very particular mix of people with cultural, educational, religious, and other characteristics to allow the sum total to spread.

  • "Ionic", by C.P Cavafy


    That we’ve broken their statues,

    that we’ve driven them out of their temples,

    doesn’t mean at all that the gods are dead.

    O land of Ionia, they’re still in love with you,

    their souls still keep your memory.


    Cavafy will write in his poem Ionic. A statement of the eternally Greek Cavafy who invariably perceived christians as the plague of Greece. Christians should not hasten to count Cavafy as one of their own. For they will be deluded. Everybody and his dog will laugh at them. Cavafy is a stranger to christianity, as strange as a midnight sun. In 1929, four years before he died, he will declare his final verdict in the poem Myris:


    I felt that he, a Christian, was united with his own people

    and that I was becoming a stranger, a total stranger... and had always been a stranger.


    Three times he underlines that word. Even marking it with that irrevocable always. Three cries [Τρὶς ἴαχεν]. Thrice did Achilles raise his mighty cry over the trench, and thrice did the Trojans and their horses shudder and turn back. When Cavafy underlines something there is a good reason. In his entire body of work he has only underlined a total of eight words. Now, on the other hand, there are many passages in his work where he declares his christianity in a genuine and telling manner. I love the church, he says. And he speaks of the glory of Byzantium. About chalices and grails, incense burners and chants, the cross, the invocations, the litanies and the candelabras. His verses are awash with mitres, priestly tiaras and the robes of monks.

    Deviousness, dear reader. Deviousness and pretence. All such references are like the ink of a squid, to muddle the water. Like Themistocles and his servant, so that the Medes would think he had joined them. In order to gain a “free pass” he had to pretend to be one of them. Yet he is always on the side of the Lacedaemonians, as he makes it known at their Thermopylae.


    The issue of what kind of relationship Cavafy maintained with christianity can only be understood only when considered from its very beginnings. Cavafy differentiates himself at the root from all other Greek poets who profess the Greek orthodox spirit. Solomos, for example, Kalvos, Palamas, Seferis, Elytis, and other notable individuals. Even in the asymmetrical and inadequate case of Kazantzakis. Because the writings of Kazantzakis, with Jesus and christianity as a reference point, when compared to the work of Cavafy, are nothing but the scribblings of a toddler. Literally.


    Liantinis Dimitris from his book "Gemma"

    .

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

  • Cassius wrote : <<I suspect this is another area where DeWitt slips due to his affection for Christianity.>>


    Deviousness, dear reader. Deviousness and pretense. All such references are like the ink of a squid, to muddle the water. Like Themistocles and his servant, so that the Medes would think he had joined them. In order to gain a “free pass” he had to pretend to be one of them. Yet he (Dewitt) is always on the side of the Epicureans, as he makes it known at his book "Epicurus and his philosophy". ^^

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

  • I have some news. I read carefully the following ES 80 and I've noticed a particular greek word.


    LXXX.(80) Νέῳ σωτηρίας μοῖρα τῆς ἡλικίας τήρησις καὶ φυλακὴ τῶν πάντα μολυνόντων κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τὰς οἰστρώδεις.


    80. The first measure of security is to watch over one’s youth and to guard against what makes havoc of all by means of maddening desires.


    Here Epicurus for describing such desires he uses a greek word that is "οίστρος-oιστρώδεις" [pron. oestros-oestrodes]. What meant in ancient greek this word? Mainly it has the meaning of the "horsefly" (*).


    Who gave the characterization to himself as a "horsefly" in his "Apology" ? Well, Socrates did. :P

    Anyone who has suffered from this insect, the horsefly, knows that there is nothing more annoying. Socrates was ironical, divisive and annoying, he declares that in his "apology" through Plato.

    In the opposite, Epicurus with this ES 80 declares that we must be apart from such "horseflies", and he meant idealistic ideas by Socrates and the like. It is wrong that I read somewhere that Epicurus with this expression "oestrodes epithimies" i.e. maddening desires, he did mean the sexual desires. No, he meant that we have to go apart from mad people that produce madness. Yes, Epicurus, you are a great philosopher indeed, you used the right words since your philosophy is so clear and against the madness and illness of people!


    From his letter to Pythocles : "But to assign a single cause for these occurrences, when phenomena demand several explanations, is madness, and is quite wrongly practiced by persons who are partisans of the foolish notions of astrology, by which they give futile explanations of the causes of certain occurrences, and all the time do not by any means free the divine nature from the burden of responsibilities". :thumbup:


    (*) https://bugguide.net/node/view/13234

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

  • 80. The first measure of security is to watch over one’s youth and to guard against what makes havoc of all by means of impetuous desires for idealistic ideas. :evil:

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

  • I'm looking for clarification on the following quotation by De Witt:

    "...Epicureanism was primarily a cult of the founder..."

    To many followers, Epicurus was a salvific figure, a cultural hero of humanism and science. Plotina (stepmother of Emperor Hadrian, circa 120 of Common Era) called Epicurus her Savior, Lucian praised him as holy (in Alexander the Oracle Monger, also by the second century), and Lucretius refers to Epicurus also in soteriological / salvific language saying that he alone among men pierced the nature of things and elevating him to cosmological significance because of that. This was late, but even in the early Garden, Colotes revered Epicurus.


    One of the reviews of Catherine Wilson's books, or one of her articles (the Aeon one?) shows a depiction of Epicurus looking like a Savior figure and with the serpent of superstition / religion under his feet, which is reminiscent of how the Virgin is represented in Catholic imagery, but of course this derives from Lucretius' praise in DRN, and how he casts away the darkness of the mind. So this is how Epicureans referred to him. This imagery is positively religious-looking.


    And, of course, in "the Sculpted Word" there is a full study of the Epicurean sculptural tradition and how Epicureans used art in their missionary work. These sculptures invariably appealed to religious feelings by consciously and purposefully imitating Greek religious standards.

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

  • On “-Isms” and Pleasure Wisdom



    "Epicureanism" vs. "Epicurean Philosophy"


    The Society of Friends of Epicurus has dedicated extensive dialogue to the suffix "-ism". In the Epicurean spirit of παρρησíα (or “parrhēsíā) meaning frank speech” or “speaking candidly”, it is important to recognize that the ancient Greek language does not employ the "-ism" when referring to the philosophy of Epicurus; thus, while the word can be functionally employed for practical purposes, "Epicureanism" may NOT be appropriate word to invoke when referring to the philosophy of Epicurus. "Epicureanism" does not quite capture the nuance of Epicurean Philosophy.


    -ISMs


    The English suffix, "-ism" — according to BOTH common and academic usages — is employed to designate a distinctive "doctrine", "theory", "attitude", "belief", "practice", "process", "state", "condition", "religion", "system", or "philosophy". According to this definition, it is NOTincorrect to add a simple "-ism" at the end of "the philosophy of Epicurus", as it should, appropriately and accurately, render the word "Epicureanism" (or even "Epicurism").


    In more succinct terms, we can visualize "Epicurean-ism" simply as "Epicurean-philosophy".


    While this works for practical purposes, it may lead to several misconceptions:


    [1] Bracketing the suffix “-ism” to a name often indicates devotional worship of a historical figure (consider the differences between the old, misleading usage of “Mohammedanism” versus the preferred, contemporary usage of “Islam). Epicureans do NOT worship Epicurus as a supernatural prophet, NOR as a manifestation of a transcendental ideal.


    [2] In the modern era, “-ism” is frequently used to identify political typologies. Terms like “Monarchism”, “Liberalism”, “Conservatism”, “Communism”and “Fascism” express ideological systems that — contrary to Epicurean philosophy — presuppose the existence of an ideal state or utopia, organized according to the dimensions of a perfect, timeless principle.


    [3] The suffix "-ισμός" (or "-ismós") was rarely employed in ancient Greek; few examples of “-ism” (or "-ismós") exist prior to the linguistic conventions of the modern period. In giving preference to the term “Epicurean philosophy”, we acknowledge the importance of privileging ancient Greek historical sources as opposed to relying upon Latin translations.


    -ISMVS


    Our tradition of adding "-ism" to the end of words — in which we express distinctive "ideologies" — begins in the post-Classical period, corresponding to the Renaissance. Coming from the Latin “re-” (meaning “again”) and “nasci” (meaning “to be born”), the Renaissance, or cultural “rebirth” resurrected the innovations of Antiquity. This revival adapted translations through the Latin language, using the Romanalphabet, sheathing ancient Greek observations.Liberally, scholars began to apply the suffix “-ismus” — as we would recognize it today — during this period of New Latin.


    (I'm going to call the tradition — in which modern English-speakers partake — the "Ism-ism", or, in other words, "the systemic practice of adding '-ism' to idea-expressing words". Due to the profound influence of Latin, and the linguistic conventions of the modern era, we ALL — in one way or another — have become dedicated Ismists.)


    From the perspective of the contemporary world, the suffix -ISMVS or "-ismus" was first borrowed from the Old Latin language of the Romans, and later appropriated by post-Classical peoples as New Latin and Contemporary Latin. We find an abundance of "-ism" and "-ismus" in bothRomance and Germanic language families. As in Latin, the “-ism” indicates distinctive "doctrines", "theories", “attitudes”, "beliefs", “religions”, “systems”, and "philosophies".


    Here, however, is where we note a difference that our Mediterranean friends have often observed: while the Greek language — like Celtic, Indic,and other Indo-European languages — has evolved from a common root, it did NOT adopt Latin conventions the same way that Romance andGermanic languages have. Ancient Greek philosophers, especially Epicurus, would not have thought of “philosophies” as “-isms”.


    -ize | -ίζω | -ízō |


    We receive the Latin -ISMVS or "-ismus" from the ancient Greek "-ισμός" ("-ismós"), which, itself, is a bracketing of two other ancient Greek words, those words being "-ίζω" ("-ízō") and "-μός" ("-mós"). We'll start with the former word. The suffix "-ίζω" ("-ízō") was added to nouns to form new verbs. Let's look at (x3) examples:


    [1] canonize | κανονίζω | kanonízō


    κανών or “kann literally referred to a “reed”, and carried the connotation of a “measuring rod” or “standard

    + "-ίζω" ("-ízō or "-ize") rendered "κανονίζω", "kanonízō" or “canonize” meaning "to make standard".


    [2] Hellenize | ἑλληνίζω | Hellēnízō


    ἑλλην or “llēn” literally referred to that which is “Greek”.

    + "-ίζω" ("-ízō or "-ize") rendered "ἑλληνίζω", "Hellēnízō", or “Hellenize” meaning "to make Greek".


    [3] synchronize | συγχρονίζω | súnkhronosízō


    σύγχρονος or “súnkhronos literally referred to “synchronous

    + "-ίζω" ("-ízō or "-ize") rendered "συγχρονίζω", "súnkhronosízō", or “synchronize” meaning "to sync".


    The key point with “-ίζω" ("-ízō") — and our Modern English suffix "-ize" — is that we can turn any concept into a verb, or, in more philosophically interesting terms, we can ACTIVATE it.


    -μός | -mós


    The second suffix from which the ancient Greek “-ισμός" ("-ismós") was bracketed is "-μός" ("-mós"). Contrary to the convention of ACTIVATING a word that represents a concept, adding "-μός" ("-mós") ABSTRACTS an action. We can demonstrate this convention through (x3) other examples that translate well into Modern English:


    [1] cataclysm |κατακλυσμός | kataklusmós


    κατακλύζω (kataklúzō) – literally meant "to wash away”.

    + "-μός" ("-mós") rendered "κατακλυσμός", “kataklusmós” or "cataclysm", meaning a "great flood".


    [2] sarcasm | σαρκασμός | sarkasmós


    σαρκάζω” or “sarkázō literally, and figuratively meant "tearing apart" or "to tear off the flesh”.

    + "-μός" ("-mós") rendered "σαρκασμός", “sarkasmós” or "sarcasm", meaning "(figuratively) tearing apart".


    [3] syllogism | συλλογισμός | sullogismós


    συλλογίζομαι (sullogízomai) literally meant "to compute" or "to infer”.

    + "-μός" ("-mós") rendered "συλλογισμός", “sarkasmós”, or "syllogism", meaning an “inference".


    The key point with "-μός" ("-mós") is that the ancient Greeks could turn any verb into a word that expressed an abstract concept, or, in more philosophically interesting terms, it could systematize activity into an idea.


    -ism | -ισμός | -ismós


    The re-bracketing of the suffix "-μός" ("-mós") appended with "-ίζω" ("-ízō") presents us with “-ισμός" ("-ismós") or the suffix "-ism", a convention which systematizes a verb that has been activated from a noun. Very few examples exist in ancient Greek. A suitable example for English mono-linguists can be demonstrated in the word “Sabbath”:


    [1] σάββατον | sábbaton literally means “the Sabbath” (borrowed from the Hebrew שבת or "shabát”)

    + "-ίζω" ("-ízō or "-ize") σαββατίζω | sabbatízō means “to make, observe, or keep the Sabbath

    + "-ισμός" ("-ismós") σαββατισμός | sabbatismós means “the state of making or keeping the Sabbath


    Unlike the ubiquitous "-ismus" of Latin, and the overused "-ism" of Modern English, the ancient Greek "-ismos" is almost NEVER used. The ancient Greeks did NOT shared our zeal for Ismism. When faced with the need to express a NEW word with FRESH meaning, the ancient Greeks built words from either [1] the names of people and objects they directly knew or observed, and [2] active forces they felt or experienced, but NOTas [3] abstract systems.


    So, why NOT "Epicureanism"?


    The Epicurean path to wisdom recognizes that we EXPERIENCE NATURE DIRECTLY and NOT indirectly as abstract systems. Epicurean philosophy and the phenomena it observes — the sensation of an atomic reality, the feelings of pleasure and pain, and the anticipation of natural patterns — neither depends upon allegiance to a single leader, nor initiation into a secret society, nor longing for a golden age, nor adhering to institutional precepts, nor devotion to a holy ideal.


    Christ's resurrection would not be known to the contemporary era without the Gospels.

    Muhammad's revelation would not be known to the contemporary era without the Qur'an.


    Even without the historical personage of Epicurus, humanity would still have sensed an atomic reality, felt pleasure and pain, and anticipated the patterns of nature. Humanity would still have documented the social changes throughout history, would still have seen the rise and fall of Empires and their ideologies. Humans would still have made choices with the intention of benefitting their lives in avoiding sickness and pursuing pleasure.


    Without Jesus of Nazareth, Christians would not recite the Lord's Prayer.

    Without Muhammad, Muslims would perform Salah to Mecca five times a day.


    Without Epicurus, however, humanity would still have pursued pleasure. NATURE, itself, is so much LARGER, more important, and more fundamental than any one historical personage, including Epicurus. Vocabulary aside, the wise person would still have engaged the natural world, and pursued pleasure to its fullest.


    "Epicureanism" (or, also, "Epicurism") carries a connotation – albeit very slightly – that our path to wisdom is just another doctrinal institution that advertises immaterial truths from an untouchable dimension. It is not quite as accurate to categorize seekers of pleasure wisdom as "Epicureanists" who follow "Epicureanism" as it is to identify as "Epicureans" who study "Epicurean philosophy". Our endeavor rests within our own bodies; NATURE, itself, is the greatest teacher.


    All that being said …


    … for practical purposes, there most certainly isn't anything inherently wrong about employing the term "Epicureanism". The "Epicurean-" part is unchanged, and the "-ism", literally, and harmlessly, identifies a "philosophy". In Modern English, this does correctly indicate our love of natural wisdom, apart from any oath to a mythic principle.


    Nonetheless, the employment of "Epicurean philosophy" over “Epicureanism” serves to keep our anticipations FRESH, to indicate to others that our interactions are bigger than disembodied souls paddling ideas back and forth in a court of Mind, and to act as a reminder that the path to wisdom is not a map that has been given to us from an eternal place of perfection, but that we each carry a well-calibrated compass within ourselves to know the world and guide us to happiness.


    "DON'T call [my belief system] an -ism!"


    While “Epicurean philosophy” may better reflect its own etymological origin (without the “-ism”), it should NOT indicate that the suffix “-ism” should be reserved as a derogation for non-Epicurean ideas, nor exclusively employed as a polemic toward idealism. Even Epicurean philosophy,itself, incorporates atomism, hedonism, naturalism, and materialism; most certainly, these “-isms” are NOT idealistic.


    While Epicurean philosophy boasts a unique foundation upon materialism (and lambasts its opponents for idealism), it should also be noted that other ancient Greek schools — ALSO — did NOT employ the “-ism”. Members of Plato's Academy were “Academics”; members of Aristotle's Lyceum with “Peripatetics”; members of Zeno's Stoa were “Stoics”. It was only later that scholars began to employ the terms “Platonism”, “Aristotelianism”, and “Stoicism”.


    Furthermore, this same acknowledgment applies to religious traditions:


    The earliest rendering of the religion we refer to as Judaism was יהדות or “Yahadút”, from the Hebrew word יהודיy'hudá” meaning “the Jewish people” and the suffix ־ות (“-ót ) meaning “the tradition of”. The ismed word that we employ — Judaism — is first found in Maccabees 2 in the Koine Greek language by Hellenistic Jews, written around 124 BCE (over a thousand years after the foundation of Hebrew monotheism), rendered as ιουδαϊσμός (“Ioudaismós”).


    Zoroastrianism” is first attested from 1854 as an anglicization of the ancient Greek Ζωροάστρης “Zōroástrēs” (or “Zoroaster”) borrowed from the original Avestan word 𐬰𐬀𐬭𐬀𐬚𐬎𐬱𐬙𐬭𐬀 or “Zarathustra”. Ancient Iranians referred to their religion as 𐬨𐬀𐬰𐬛𐬀𐬌𐬌𐬀𐬯𐬥𐬀 or “Mazdayasna” translating to “worship of Mazda” (sometimes romanized as “Mazdaism”) in which 𐬀𐬯𐬥𐬀 or “Mazda” both expresses the name of the Iranian Creator deity, and also, a word for “wisdom”.


    The isming of the religion of post-Classical Arabs has been identified in the contemporary era as being inadequate and largely offensive to the populations who practice it. Until the 20th century, the monotheistic religion of ٱلْإِسْلَام, or “al-Islām” was identified by Europeans as "Mohammedanism" (or “Muhammadanism), inappropriately implying that the prophet Muhammad was divine himself, in the same way that Christians think of Jesus of Nazareth as divine.


    People from the Punjab region of India refer to their religious tradition as ਸਿੱਖੀ or “Sikhī”, anglicized to the English-speaking world as “Sikhism”. The word comes from a Sanskrit root शिक्षा or “śikṣā” meaning “to learn” or “to study” (this recognition of the practitioner as a “student” is also found in the Confucian tradition).


    The same is true of Hinduism, an anglicization of the Sanskrit सनातन धर्म or "Sanātana Dharma" meaning "Eternal Order". In fact, the word "Hindu" itself was used by non-Indians to refer to people living around the Indus river. Ancient Indo-Iranian populations would have referred to themselves as आर्य or "Arya" (from which we get the term "Aryan").


    Jainism” is first attested from 1858 as an anglicization of the Sanskrit adjective जैन Jaina”, which comes from the Sanskrit name for the 6thcentury >em class="western"> tradition जिन or “Jina”. The word “Jina” is related to the verb जि meaning “to conquer” similar to जय jaya” meaning “victory”. “Jain” literally means “an overcomer” or spiritual “conqueror”.


    Our rendering of Buddhism is an anglicization of the original Pali बुद्ध धम्म or "Buddha Dhamma" meaning approximately "The Awakened One's Eternal Law". The first recorded use of “Buddhism was sometime in the late 18th, or early 19th centuries, after Europeans romanized the spelling of Indic vocabulary.


    There is NO direct Chinese equivalent to the word “Confucianism” since it has never been organized as a formal institution. The word was coined in 1836 by Sir Francis Davis, a British sinologist, and second Governor of Hong Kong who reduced the vast collection of ancient Chinese practices into a title named after the philosopher Kǒng Fūzǐ (“Master Kong”). While no single Chinese word or logogram represents the collection of beliefs and practices that developed from the teachings of Master Kong (anglicized as “Confucius”), the word or “” roughly translates as “man receiving instruction from Heaven” or “scholar” and identifies a student of this collective body of works.


    Like early Christians, the ancient Chinese Taoists identified their universal principle as or “Dào”, meaning “road”, “path” or “Way”. In China, the religious tradition is written 道教 or “Dàojiào” pronounced /'daʊ.ʨaʊ/ (or, for English mono-linguists, roughly transliterated asdow-chyow”). This tradition was anglicized as “Taoism”.


    Shintoism, the anglicized name for the native religious ideology of Japan provides an interesting example of an ismized tradition. "Shinto” is of Chinese origin, constructed from the Kanji logogram for the words Shén” (meaning “God”) and Dào”, (meaning “Way”)rendering 神道 or “Shéndào. However, native Japanese populations do not employ this as often as they do かむながらのみち or “kan'nagara no michi”, loosely translated as way of the divine transmitted from time immemorial”). “Shintoism therefor, is an anglicization of Eastern logograms, inherited from ancient China, used to express a Japanese philosophy.


    Christianity is the dominant tradition of the English-speaking world; thus, it has avoided being popularly -ismed, since those who accused other traditions of being mere “-isms” (Renaissance scholars and speakers of Latin) were overwhelmingly Christian, themselves. The rare occasion the word “Christianism” is employed (like “Islamism”), it is typically employed as a derogation by ideological opponents of the tradition suggestion radical and dangerous ideology.


    Nonetheless, even early Christians did NOT refer to their wisdom tradition using the same vocabulary as do modern Christians. They used the term της οδου or “tês hodoû”, meaning "The Way". A non-Christian, Greek community in Antioch that first coined the term Χριστιανός or"christianós". Within 70 years, the early Church Father Ignatius of Antioch employed the term of Χριστιανισμός or "Christianismós" to refer to the tradition.


    Pleasure Wisdom


    Whether we employ the term “Epicureanism”, or the sometimes-preferred “Epicurean philosophy”, the distinguishing feature of Epicurus' wisdom is his insistence that pleasure is the supreme goal of life, that this is a tangible happiness, free from physical pain and emotional anguish, grounded in a knowable reality, formed from particles, sensible to living beings, who feel their way to pleasure, and anticipate the consequences of their choices. No cosmic principle precedes, or supersedes the universe, nor was the universe divined for any purpose greater than the satisfaction of the subjects who enjoy it. The wisdom of pleasure was NOT invented by any one prophet, nor divinely revealed to illuminate humanity; simply, Epicurus was one of many insightful friends who observed this reality, and shared in the wisdom of pleasure.


    Cheers, friends!






    Works Cited


    Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, H.W. Wilson Co., 1988.


    Beekes, Robert, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Leiden, Netherlands, Brill, 2010.


    Buck, Carl Darling, A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages, University of Chicago, 1949, reprinted 1988.


    de Vaan, Michiel, Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages, vol. 7, of Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series, Alexander Lubotsky ed., Leiden: Brill, 2008.


    Fowler, H.W., A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Oxford University Press, 1926.


    Grose, Francis, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, London, 1785; 2nd ed., London, 1788; 3rd ed., London, 1796; expanded by others as Lexicon Balatronicum. A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence, London, 1811.


    Hall, J.R. Clark, A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 1894, reprint with supplement by Herbert D. Meritt, University of Toronto Press, 1984.


    Johnson, Samuel, A Dictionary of the English Language, London, 1755.


    Klein, Dr. Ernest, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, Amsterdam: Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co., 1971.


    Lewis, Charlton T., and Short, Charles, A New Latin Dictionary, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1891.


    Liberman, Anatoly, Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology, University of Minnesota Press, 2008.


    Liddell, Henry George, and Robert Scott, eds., Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford University Press, 1883.


    McSparran, Frances, chief editor, The Middle English Compendium, University of Michigan, 2006.


    Room, Adrian, Place Names of the World, 2nd ed., McFarland & Co., 2006.


    The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., Clarendon Press, 1989.


    Watkins, Calvert, ed., The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000.


    Weekley, Ernest, An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, John Murray, 1921; reprint 1967, Dover Publications.


    Whitney, William Dwight, ed., The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, New York: The Century Co., 1902

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  • "Without Muhammad, Muslims would perform Salah to Mecca five times a day."

    should be

    Without Muhammad, Muslims would not perform Salah to Mecca five times a day."

  • Nate a lot of hard work went into that - thanks!


    Has that been reviewed by Hiram or others as representative of a collective view of the Society of Epicurus? I note the opening reference to that and it seems to be written as such, but I wasn't clear. The last paragraph in general, and the final sentence in particular, sounds like it was intended as such, and wasn't part of your earlier comments on this subject if I recall correctly. And in that context I am interested in the thought process behind the last sentence, because I don't really agree with that formulation myself. I would probably not comment about except for the inference that this might be intended to be a statement of the Society of Epicurus (if that was intended) in which case I think the conclusion is something to discuss further.


    I would particularly question "the distinguishing feature of Epicurus' wisdom is his insistence that pleasure is the supreme goal of life" and "

    The wisdom of pleasure was NOT invented by any one prophet, nor divinely revealed to illuminate humanity; simply, Epicurus was one of many insightful friends who observed this reality, and shared in the wisdom of pleasure."

  • I had the same concerns. Specifically, Epicurus didn't just have the goal of pleasure-- he laid out a detailed and thorough philosophy supporting pleasure as the goal. The way he linked his physics and the Canon to his ethics was profoundly novel. If he was just one of many who did that, the others didn't publish, so that's a surprising thing to say.


    It's true that he came to his conclusions by observations-- he didn't invent reality but discovered how things work. However, that's not a reason to downplay his contribution. We don't say "well Einstein was just one of many, nothing special, because it's not like he invented relativity."


    Anyone who closely and intelligently observed nature could have come to Epicurus' conclusions. Or Einstein's. But they didn't.

    I came to much of his philosophy independently, but I lacked the sturdy framework to defend my position. Including to myself, to stay determined about living pleasurably, when I am surrounded by those who disagree.


    Epicurus not only described reality-- he had the courage to teach about it in the presence of strong opposition. So I am grateful to him and enjoy feeling intense admiration.

  • Noted observation, Elayne! I appreciate that. I think I will re-work the conclusion a bit.


    Cassius, Hiram actually created me a login with the Society page to publish the piece after he read it, so I'm just posting this for peer review.

  • Cassius, Hiram actually created me a login with the Society page to publish the piece after he read it, so I'm just posting this for peer review.

    Yes, that makes a lot of difference. I've always been sensitive about when I or someone else is speaking for themselves vs when they are speaking for some kind of group entity. Everyone has their own opinions and deserves total latitude (as far as I am concerned) in holding them. The issues arise when we speak or write and imply that what we are saying amounts to speaking for someone else, or for a group, for obvious reasons. It's a difficult balancing act. The part in the last sentence about Epicurus being one of many is consistent with the manner in which Hiram often writes, and is a style that makes sense when trying to appeal to wider audiences, and it's not something that I am generally comfortable with myself -- but it all depends on the context and all the surrounding circumstances. As a personal opinion stated by you or anyone else it can come across as a totally benign remark, but if affixed to a "group" statement made by a group devoted to Epicurean philosophy then it could come across with a much different implication.


    Issues like this are an inevitable part of trying to "grow" something so I don't see them as bad - it's just necessary to work through them.

  • Has that been reviewed by Hiram or others as representative of a collective view of the Society of Epicurus? I note the opening reference to that and it seems to be written as such, but I wasn't clear. The last paragraph in general, and the final sentence in particular, sounds like it was intended as such, and wasn't part of your earlier comments on this subject if I recall correctly. And in that context I am interested in the thought process behind the last sentence, because I don't really agree with that formulation myself. I would probably not comment about except for the inference that this might be intended to be a statement of the Society of Epicurus (if that was intended) in which case I think the conclusion is something to discuss further.


    I would particularly question "the distinguishing feature of Epicurus' wisdom is his insistence that pleasure is the supreme goal of life" and "

    The wisdom of pleasure was NOT invented by any one prophet, nor divinely revealed to illuminate humanity; simply, Epicurus was one of many insightful friends who observed this reality, and shared in the wisdom of pleasure."

    I reviewed the essay and when he posts it, i was going to link my own essay on isms so that people see some of the discussions that we have had on this


    http://societyofepicurus.com/on-isms/


    The entire essay was authored by Nathan and even reflects his own creativity with different kinds of fonts etc so I want to respect his voice, and I also think this is a well articulated essay.


    As for statements of the Society of Epicurus, I would not be comfortable with requiring everyone to share each and every opinion in unison. We now share the Tenets. We can build from there.


    Concerning Nathan’s closing statement I approve of it and would prefer if he does not change it. I would like @Nathan to continue developing as an Epicurean intellectual with his own ideas. Our final authority is nature and the canon, so for instance we know that Epicurus was wrong about the size of the sun because of the canon. For a similar reason I can see and appreciate Ilkka’s third / atheistic interpretation of the gods, which he and I argue is in line with the canon.


    Finally it was Aristippus who invented pleasure ethics, and it was Anniceris the Cyrenaic who invented hedonic calculus. So while Epicurus perfected pleasure ethics to where we know it today, with the help of his friends, and we are right to almost revere him, I am also ok w Nathan’s statement that we do not see him as a kind of prophet. Many after and before him, like Diogenes of Oenoanda and Michel Onfray, and the Lokáyata school in india, and Yang Chu of china, have made contributions of their own to pleasure ethics.

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

  • I actually was not suggesting that Nate should change anything, more inquiring as to the background and purpose of writing it the way he did. As I have been commenting in nearby posts I see these discussions as necessary "growing pains" as we work to produce something that's more lasting than just a facebook post that flies by and is quickly forgotten. It's very easy to fall into patterns that might be something that we change our minds about later.


    Another example is that I am not at all sure that I agree that it helps anything to label Epicurus as "pleasure ethics" and lump him with others who discuss pleasure from different perspectives, just as I have never cared for the term "hedonism." I think pleasure is an issue that is quite a ways downstream from the more basic holdings about the nature of the universe, and other than Democritus and other atomists (with whom Epicurus may not have been particularly close in ethics) it would be necessary to dissect what their opinions are that led them to discuss pleasure before we could really be safe in knowing that they are consistent with the thrust of Epicurean philosophy.


    All these are issues that everyone has to address for themselves and make up their own minds, and expressing individual opinions is only natural. But the process of coming up with "group" positions is very different and there are a lot of other factors involved. No doubt a lot of this will become clear too as you make public the core tenets you are mentioning.