Introduction To Eight Part Series - Stoic Challenges To Epicurean Philosophy

  • Cassius Amicus

    March 7 at 7:13pm

    I apologize to any of our regular readers who are not pleased to see eight consecutive posts with Stoic arguments in them, but these are a special case, I think - a distinguished Stoic leader has kindly collected them for us and presented them here. They are well stated and largely taken from the classic anti-Epicurean arguments that have prevailed with the majority of the Academic world for hundreds and even thousands of years. I cannot think of a better test and exercise of our understanding of Epicurean philosophy than to consider these and compose appropriate responses. I have posted them in separate threads to make discussion of responses more orderly. As you think about responses, think about the founder of our philosophy and how he might reply, and also consider what Cosma Raimondi wrote:

    "But since I have always followed and wholly approved the authority and doctrine of Epicurus, the very wisest of men, and now see his standing bitterly attacked, harassed, and distorted by you, I have taken it upon myself to defend him. It is only right that tried and true pupils (as I have proved myself in all fields of learning) should defend their master’s teaching when it is attacked. Otherwise when teachers are criticized the pupil’s studies may themselves seem to be under attack: the great pains you have taken to gather material against Epicurus seem directed not so much at refuting him but me, his follower and disciple. But I shall pay you back as you deserve.

    It is not just a dispute between ourselves, for all the ancient philosophers, principally the three sects of Academics, Stoics and Aristotelians, declared war to the death against this one man who was the master of them all. Their onslaught sought to leave no place for him in philosophy and to declare all his opinions invalid — in my view, because they were envious at seeing so many more pupils taking themselves to the school of Epicurus than to their own. So I shall now set about doing within the limits of a letter what I had meant to do at greater length elsewhere and defend him as fully as I can. And if the defense appears rather long-winded, it might well seem too short when you consider that debate on this topic could fill not just a longish letter but thick books."

    And from Lucian of Samosata: "My object, dear friend, in making this small selection from a great mass of material has been twofold. First, I was willing to oblige a friend and comrade who is for me the pattern of wisdom, sincerity, good humor, justice, tranquillity, and geniality. But secondly I was still more concerned (a preference which you may be far from resenting) to strike a blow for Epicurus, that great man whose holiness and divinity of nature were not shams, who alone had and imparted true insight into the good, and who brought deliverance to all that consorted with him."

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    14Elli Pensa, Matt Jackson and 12 others


    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus It took a long time (even centuries) to come up with these questions, so we will not be able to answer them completely today or this week. I will find a way to link to them in the future so we can find the discussion and supplement it over time.
    Like · Reply · 3 · March 7 at 7:21pm · Edited

    ɳɑʈɧɑɳ ɧɑɾɾʏ ɓɑɾʈɱɑɳ

    ɳɑʈɧɑɳ ɧɑɾɾʏ ɓɑɾʈɱɑɳ I wish to invoke a maxim my mother always told me when I was a kid, without purposefully appropriating the verbiage of the Stoics, but, I can't, so, here goes:

    "Patience is a virtue."

    (Sorry!) Or, perhaps:

    "Patience is pleasurable."

    Or, better yet, I'll be neutral, here:

    "Patience... far out!"