Opportunities for Activism And Collaboration Here At EpicureanFriends.com

  • I have been thinking again about how to prioritize time among projects.


    Charles made a comment in the most recent Lucretius Today podcast that 98% of the people who come into his Discord or Reddit groups, or the Facebook group, are essentially "NeoEpicurean" in their thinking. They have little interest in the physics or the epistemology, and they think that they have captured Epicurus fully in a couple of remarks about "absence of pain" or "tranquility." We have much better percentages here at EpicureanFriends.com, but that's because we started by actively recruiting people who we knew had read DeWitt or had otherwise shown by long-time posting that they were really motivated to dig into the details of the philosophy.


    Elayne made a comment in the same podcast that I thought was so worth emphasizing that I highlighted it in a short three minute video:



    Given that so many people who are curious about Epicurus are so far off base to start with, probably the best thing we can do for them is to highlight ways that they can consider that there might be more to Epicurus than they realize. I posted about that previously in: How To Convert A Neo-Epicurean Into A Classical Epicurean

    But beyond reading list suggestions, I think by far the best thing to do is to continue working on the Lucretius podcast, which is going to end up producing a long series of educational shows that will step people back through the basics. I may make some more short "highlight" clips like the one above, but primarily what I think needs doing is to both set up new episodes and then make more notes and extend the discussion on each one.


    With the results we will have a full step-by-step progression through the philosophy, from which we can make quizzes and use as "lectures" or background material for more organized presentations such as the as-yet-unlaunched EpicurusCollege.com website with a more extensive on-line learning system.


    So for the moment I think we're on the right track by going through Lucretius in detail and that seems to me to be the thing to focus on for a while.


    But the big holdup in making progress on these and other initiatives is "content," so if you have any extra free time here are things I would ask people to consider doing:


    1. Post comments and questions on the existing episodes of the LucretiusToday podcast. Those are organized by topic, so each episode can have here on the forum an active discussion of the topics in each show.
    2. Post comments and questions about each of the Twelve Fundamentals of Nature, the Principal Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings. Eugenios lately has been doing some of this, and I know other people have too. Rather than post in the "General Discussion" forum, if you post under the individual Doctrine or Saying then we develop a database on the particular items. I took the time to set up a separate subforum, rather than a single thread, for each of these doctrines and sayings so that we can carry on detailed discussions over time.
    3. Post comments and questions about anything that interest you in terms of Art and Literature from the past and present. There's a lot of fascinating material to be dug out of the history books like Joshua and Charles and others have been doing, and the place to post those is here.
    4. We don't have an immediate schedule but we need to open up on-line live discussion to more people. The place to post about that is here: EpicureanFriends Open DIscussion


    If you have ideas about things to be added to this list please post here. Thanks!

  • This may be a bit off-topic, but I must say the title is a bit misleading with the “activism” in it. Perhaps I’m mistaken but for me it connotes political and or social change-seeking activities.


    Other than that, I can only complement by sharing that it’s noteworthy for me that you didn’t include the Dewitt's thread as one of the places to engage more in order to have more of the dabbling Epicureans dive deeper.


    Also, the Lucretius podcast is a lot of fun, but it is indeed (and I think you may have implied this too in one of your posts) a bit harder to digest for people new to the Epicurean philosophy since, even though you guys do a great job at trying to make it relatable to this newer audience (believe me, it’s part of what’s gotten me hooked), it’s not addressing directly the common confusions that exist, and that I assume you bundle in “neo-Epicureanism”.


    Oh, and also, I like the overall strategy you’re proposing here, great work; I’m looking forward to know more about this Epicurean College.

  • Good thoughts. What word would you suggest as more appropriate than "activism"?


    I think most of the issues here revolve around the limited time that those of us who are here have, but there is also an underlying issue of what " activism" should mean. We can write torrents of words here, and definitely gain some pleasure from that, but unless we have "real-life" friends of the type Epicurus was referring to, and nor just "virtual" friends, then the pleasure we gain will not be as full as it could be, nor will the issues of "safety" be addressed.


    I think we have something of a chicken and egg situation in that there is no possibility of having real Epicurean friends unless there are real Epicureans, and there can be no real Epicureans unless work is done as we try here to articulate what that means. (Yes I will be frank and say that I do not consider those who focus on the Academic version of Epicurus to be real Epicureans.)


    It is definitely taking longer to make progress then I had hoped, but I do think the participants here already have helped build a resource the likes of which have not been available for a very long time. And we have taken steps to identify a core of people who are not content to define their goal in life as a pseudonym for nothingness.


    I think most of us here already can articulate that vision in core terms that are sufficient for our day to day use, even while we enjoy pursuing further details.


    The trick now is to find a way to get the message and "vision" out further. The Academic world was apparently not the primary receptive audience in the ancient world, nor is it going to be today. It seems to me that Epicurus was always and will always be the best fit for practical common sense people who are averse to Mumbo-Jumbo and unrealistic expectations, so the issue is how to find and connect with those, who aren't necessarily going to be found on Facebook or Reddit or Twitter, or hanging out in philosophy interest groups (the last of which is possibly the most toxic of all, as it appeals to eclecticism and skepticism).


    Hopefully with the current upheavals going on in society we can identify new alternatives, and hopefully the work we have done so far will be of some help.

  • I know it's a loaded term with tons of baggage, but the word that maybe best describes what you're proposing is evangelism.

    1. We have discovered Epicurus's philosophy.
    2. We have found it to be valuable.
    3. We want to spread that valuable message of "good news" to others - the original meaning of evangelize: "bring good news."

    I fully realize the word has been almost trademarked by the Christians, but even DeWitt used it to describe Epicureanism.

  • Good thoughts. What word would you suggest as more appropriate than "activism"?


    but even DeWitt used it to describe Epicureanism.

    That's what I was going to propose; looking if Dewitt proposed something.



    the word that maybe best describes what you're proposing is evangelism.

    This came to mind as well. But I do think that, while evangelism has been used more often in secular contexts (it's even used in the to talk about the promotion of consumer products), it does have a religious load within it that may deter some people who would otherwise get interested and benefit from these "teachings towards living a good life".


    Having said that, we do not need to go around using it in every propagandistic (talk about loaded terms) effort. It could be used as a word that "within the circle" is clearly defined as not relgious, and used only in its secular connotation of bringing the good news; a connotation that, apparently is recognized (from the Wiktionary):

    Etymology[edit]

    From Old French évangéliser, from Latin evangelizare, from Ancient Greek εὐαγγελίζω (euangelízō)

    Verb[edit]

    evangelize (third-person singular simple present evangelizes, present participle evangelizing, simple past and past participle evangelized)

    1. To tell people about (a particular branch of) Christianity, especially in order to convert them; to preach the gospel to. quotations ▼
    2. To preach any ideology to those who have not yet been converted to it. quotations ▼
    3. To be enthusiastic about something, and to attempt to share that enthusiasm with others; to promote.

    None of the ones I put in bold talk about having the goal of converting anyone, bu rather more about where the effort is focused and that it implies some joy on the part of the promoter, which I guess are rather descriptive of what we're talking about in this thread.


    So perhaps, if it were clearly stated, somewhere around the site, that the meaning of the word as used here absolutely does not imply the religious connotation, it could be used to clearly convey what we're talking about; and if we (as DeWitt does in his book about having a need to constantly remind of the falsehoods attributed to Epicurus) take the time to make the necessary clarification in the posts or communications more directed towards newer audiences, we would be diminishing the risk of confusion.


    Apparently the word was coopted by religion later, but at the beginning it didn't have that religious connotation. I kept reading and I found this about its etimology:

    Latin[edit]

    Etymology[edit]

    Late Latin borrowing from rare Ancient Greek εὐαγγελίζω (euangelízō), active voice variant of deponent εὐαγγελίζομαι (euangelízomai, “I bring good news; I preach the Gospel”), from εὐ- (eu-, “good”) +ἄγγελος (ángelos, “messenger, envoy”), of uncertain origin.

    Ancient Greek[edit]

    Etymology[edit]

    Cognate with Mycenaean Greek 𐀀𐀐𐀫 (a-ke-ro), but origin uncertain. Probably a loanword, and probably related to ἄγγαρος (ángaros, “Persian mounted courier”) (whence Latin angarius), which is probably from an East Asian language...

    Noun[edit]

    ἄγγελος (ángelos) m (genitive ᾰ̓γγέλου); second declension (Epic, Attic, Ionic, Doric, Koine)

    1. a messenger
    2. one that announces
    3. (later) angel, heavenly spirit
  • It is definitely taking longer to make progress then I had hoped, but I do think the participants here already have helped build a resource the likes of which have not been available for a very long time. And we have taken steps to identify a core of people who are not content to define their goal in life as a pseudonym for nothingness.


    I think most of us here already can articulate that vision in core terms that are sufficient for our day to day use, even while we enjoy pursuing further details.

    As I see it, this is the "base camp" for the "strain" of Epicurean Philosophy you're promoting. I use "strain", because, [apparently to me] like it or not, this is an alternate path from the popular consensus, and from the academy; this comes from my yet-very-poor knowledge about this "strain". But if I were wrong (and I've already found the thread about Epicurean documents - from Charles - that makes me think that perhaps I am), this could be the "base camp of Classical Epicurean Philosophy", and an effort would be worth it to promote it as such, and also to keep the quality and level of posting around here "high" (as it seems to me you're doing already).


    so the issue is how to find and connect with those, who aren't necessarily going to be found on Facebook or Reddit or Twitter, or hanging out in philosophy interest groups (the last of which is possibly the most toxic of all, as it appeals to eclecticism and skepticism).

    From the basis of what I said lines above, I would suggest exploring the possibility to create a "wiki-style" section of the platform, where users with the right privileges would write and edit the resources put there, and that could be accesible from the outside as the go-to place of everything Classical Epicureanism. This wiki would allow to keep the forum focused on conversations, and have a separate side for definitions and reference to resources. Easier said than done, I would guess. But I've seen it applied to many different groups of interest throughout the internet, so perhaps it is feasible. One of the advantages of it is that you could keep this forum closed from the search engines to allow for the privacy need for quality discussion and conversations, and have the wiki with all the accepted definitions open to anyone with access to a search engine; and when somebody looks for something they've heard about, they would come up with the wiki, instead of another source of the academic consensus that could get them confused.

    Edited once, last by camotero ().

  • Good thoughts. What word would you suggest as more appropriate than "activism"?

    Looking back at what we wrote lines above... I don't think we did a good job at addressing your question. I think a better word would, in this case, would be "collaboration". "Opportunities for collaboration". All of the said things about evangelism still stand, but the opportunities are not for "evangelization", but rather for collaboration towards that "evangelical" effort.

  • Evangelism is the word that popped into my mind, too, but it really makes me cringe given the state of contemporary religion!


    Educating? Teaching? Community building? Making friends? Anything but evangelism =O

  • Or we take the word back from the Christians! :) In looking at the Liddell & Scott at Perseus, the word evangelize and its variants was used by Lucian, Pausanias, Aristophanes, and other ancient authors before being co-opted by the Christians. Although I know exactly where Godfrey is coming from - emoji and all :)

    It's not like Christians have cornered the market on "good news."

    But I get what camotero and Godfrey are saying about the goal here on the forum: opportunities for collaboration, education, etc. (for evangelizing classical Epicurean philosophy).

  • 1 - My how times have changed. There was a time when I was convinced that Don would never cite anything that DeWitt said about the christian analogy approvingly! ;-)


    2 - Yes "Evangelism" and synonyms for it are the obvious word choices, although the "collaboration" aspect is also clearly what we are offering.


    3 - Yes I started a wiki earlier but have not had time to expand it; I use it mainly for the Lucretius texts: http://www.epicrueanfriends.com/wiki


    4 - Yes I do want to comment that after a lot of thought and debate in the past I think "Classical Epicurean" is probably the best tag line. I would never want to give in and admit that what we are talking about is not purely Epicurean, because I see the other versions as adulterations, not this version.


    5 - Wait - so WHAT is the root of evangelize? It is greek and not latin? And the greek does not have a religious connotation?

  • Also:


    In the past we always ran into the reefs when we tried to come up with a statement of principles or other list of priorities that we could use as a point of agreement on what we are promoting. I think over the last year (almost two now) we've done a lot of work on that with the "Not NeoEpicurean" list and assorted articles elaborating on its points.


    So I think while there will certainly be lots of adjustment, we're further along now than we've ever been in the past. We don't have a huge number of people yet, but we've been more clear from the beginning that this isn't just another eclectic / neo-Stoic site.


    I'm personally another year closer to full retirement and more time to devote to this, plus with the "turmoil" going on in the world there is more opening for new thinking, even though there might also be developing more issues of censorship that could eventually be a problem.


    One thing I really think is helpful is for us to have skype conversations, and camotero (and others who are reading this and might be interested) I hope you can consider joining us on one of those.


    I think that's the area where we need more creative thought. How do we build closer bonds and get and keep motivated around a common goal, while at the same time making sure that our efforts to build numbers don't turn into a 'big tent' strategy that waters down the objective?

  • Cassius

    Changed the title of the thread from “Opportunities for Activism Here At EpicureanFriends.com” to “Opportunities for Activism And Collaboration Here At EpicureanFriends.com”.
  • Note: "Collaboration" is such and obvious and innocent word that I re-titled the thread to include it. "Evangelization" or synonyms probably need emphasis too, but probably more discussion first. Maybe it seems to me that "evangelization" is a term that is most frequently combined with something that clearly sets out the principles being evangelized, and I am not sure the thread title is ready for that.

  • 1 - My how times have changed. There was a time when I was convinced that Don would never cite anything that DeWitt said about the christian analogy approvingly! ;-)

    LOL! :) Well, if the DeWitticism fits...

    3 - Yes I started a wiki earlier but have not had time to expand it; I use it mainly for the Lucretius texts: http://www.epicureanfriends.com/wiki

    Didn't realize that was out there. Have to dig around a little.

    5 - Wait - so WHAT is the root of evangelize? It is greek and not latin? And the greek does not have a religious connotation?

    You bet! It's Greek: ευ- "eu-" good as in euthanasia (good death), eulogy (good words), etc. + άγγελος "angelos" messenger as in "angel" (again, co-opted by the Christians). It literally just meant the bearer of good news (like victory in a battle) or to bring good news as a verb. The ευ/eu- got the "ev" pronunciation instead of "you" pronunciation in the c. 1st-4th c. CE when the Christians would have been appropriating and coining terms.

  • OK yes it was the "angelos" that made me think of a religious connotation. That is all good to know.


    Also in this thread on collaboration / evangelization, it's of course a major issue that every step forward we have to be constantly on the lookout for a particular land mine: modern/partisan politics. It's natural that in wanting to take action with our friends that we're going to find discussions bleeding over into "politics" in which those of us from different backgrounds/locations/etc have different interests. We all want to think that our way of seeing the world is the "right" one, and that everyone who is an Epicurean will agree with us, but it seems to me that that just isn't so, and it is very disappointing to people when they realize that. We all tend to identify with respective groupings that have never been much influenced by Epicurean philosophy, and even if that we different, I think we have to confront that a shared collaboration based solely on "ideas" has serious Platonic problems in theory. We aren't disembodied sets of ideas, we are real people with real backgrounds and real personal interests.


    So as we talk about collaboration and evangelization I have come to the view that it's absolutely essential to find a way with that source of conflict. And ironically I don't think the answer lies in "live unknown" because I think that's one of the worst misinterpretations of the doctrines. Again that's what we've tried to prepare people for with the rules that we post here at Epicureanfriends.com, and I think that has to carry over into most any collaboration.


    If we didn't already have enough evidence of the stress this can cause in the community, the events of the world in the last couple of months should be sufficient for us never to doubt that again! It's no doubt going to be very tricky to navigate these waters when feelings run so hot, as they should.


    But in the end I do think there is enough commonality in the core viewpoints to sustain a "fraternity" of people collaborating on the core ideas. (It always seems right to try to list them when a discussion like this comes up; surely the list is something like (1) no supernatural realm or order, (2) no reward or punishment or life of any kind after death, (3) identification of the goal and guide of life with feeling, primarily pleasure, rather than virtue or piety; (4) the view that it is correct to be confident that we can attain knowledge that is based on"reasoning" tied tightly to the senses, the anticipations, and feelings, rather than to dialectical logic; (5) a common sense view of the universe being totally natural and effectively infinite in size, eternal in time, and in which humans on earth are neither the only life in the universe nor the highest. I was about to stop there but perhaps it must be included that humans possess a degree of agency that assures us that neither fate nor theories of hard determinism make it useless for us to exert ourselves to improve our lives.

    Anyway the basic point of this post that I think it's always essential to identify the unifying factors and also inoculate ourselves against the forces that will attempt to divide us.

  • I think over the last year (almost two now) we've done a lot of work on that with the "Not NeoEpicurean" list and assorted articles elaborating on its points.

    In terms of marketing, or promotion, I heard a guru a while back say that it's always a great idea to promote by referencing to the popular thing (brand, product, whatever). People have an easier way getting to you when you connect the path to your thing to a place they already know about.

  • One thing I really think is helpful is for us to have skype conversations, and camotero (and others who are reading this and might be interested) I hope you can consider joining us on one of those.

    Yes, please count me in; I'd love to join one of those.

  • I think that's the area where we need more creative thought. How do we build closer bonds and get and keep motivated around a common goal, while at the same time making sure that our efforts to build numbers don't turn into a 'big tent' strategy that waters down the objective?

    I'd say the wiki, if it's collaborative, could be a great resource to start gaining terrain against the popular confusions. If it's active, I'd bet it would start to pop up more often in the first page of the search engine results. Also, it could help to tackle the most common confusions with pages that tackle them specifically/directly.

  • You bet! It's Greek: ευ- "eu-" good as in euthanasia (good death), eulogy (good words), etc. + άγγελος "angelos" messenger as in "angel" (again, co-opted by the Christians). It literally just meant the bearer of good news (like victory in a battle) or to bring good news as a verb. The ευ/eu- got the "ev" pronunciation instead of "you" pronunciation in the c. 1st-4th c. CE when the Christians would have been appropriating and coining terms.

    Oh my... I just spiraled down the wiktionary rabbit hole again. If you search for the etimology of messenger you don't get to "angelos", but to th latin "missaticum" which comes from the verb "mitto" (to send) and "atticum" (the later as I understood it is just a suffix to indicate pertinence to the verb. Perhaps we could create our own word "eumittization"? :D:D;)