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