Although we have done a good job of keeping day to day politics out of our group discussions, this is a topic that should not be left to guesswork on where we stand. Failure to address this topic probably causes dissonance in the minds of many people who think that their own interpretation of Epicurus leads directly to a certain set of political positions.
And I agree with these people. I think Epicurean philosophy does have direct application to political issues. However - and this is a huge caveat - what I don't think is obvious to most people is that Epicurean philosophy won't lead everyone to the same political conclusion any more than it would lead everyone to choose apple pies over chocolate cake.
Depending on one's circumstances, someone applying Epicurean philosophy can probably reach many different political conclusions, almost without limitation on the spectrum. And since we see how Epicurus firmly stated that there is no such thing as absolute justice, I strongly suspect that I should not hedge with the "almost" in that last sentence. What do PD 7-10 establish other than the many alternate paths that people can choose from to pursue pleasure, with the only test of "legitimacy" being whether that path ultimately proves to be successful for them?
Rather than leave all this unstated, I think it is best to make clear from the beginning of anyone's participation here that we personally in this group, and this Epicureanfriends.com forum, are here to promote Epicurean philosophy first, last, and only. That goal is too important to allow anything to stand in the way, and we can't let argument over political interpretations fragment us into warring segments over politics when we have so much to do to reconstruct the full body of Epicurean philosophy.
As an historical point I am increasingly convinced that there were Epicureans on both sides of the Roman civil war who saw nothing about their philosophies that prevented them from taking opposing sides. Not only did they take opposing side, in the case of Atticus some even tried to split the baby right down the middle. And all of those positions were probably correct applications of Epicurean philosophy in their own cases.
Many of us have very strong political viewpoints and political interpretations of Epicurean philosophy. I think that is perfectly natural, understandable, and I think Epicurus would be the first to endorse the widest possible application of his philosophy. However if we allow advocacy for our own views to supplant our more basic work on reconstructing Epicurean philosophy, that will freeze out or suppress others with other political views, and then our mission of promoting Epicurus goes down the drain, sacrificed for the sake of narrow political objectives.
In contrast to politics, the subject of religion is deeply intertwined with Epicurean positions on the nature of the universe and Epicurean positions on the best way of life. Just as introducing political discussions would invite divisions that distract us from our goal, it should be equally clear that supernatural religion, and argument based on supernatural religion, are totally incompatible with Epicurean philosophy. This should be so obvious to everyone that little more should need to be said.
So this graphic is a step toward keeping our focus on the goal of promoting Epicurean philosophy.
PD 25 If on each occasion, instead of referring your actions to the end of nature, you turn to some other nearer standard when you are making a choice or an avoidance, your actions will not be consistent with your principles.
The full text of the graphic is as follows:
|Our Posting Policy At EpicureanFriends.com:|
“No Partisan Politics,” “No Supernatural Religion,” and “No Absolute Virtue”
This forum is dedicated to promoting the philosophy of Epicurus, and not to any partisan political positions whether “left,” “right,” or “center.” The task of rediscovering Epicurean philosophy requires that such discussions be held elsewhere. Posts violating this rule are subject to removal.
Epicurean philosophy firmly rejects the viewpoint that there are any supernatural forces or absolute virtues or Platonic ideals of any kind. Argument which is based on supernatural claims, or “absolute” virtues or ideals of any kind, are in violation of this rule and subject to removal.