Commentary and Translation of PD 24

  • Principal Doctrine 24 (PD 24) is one of the more convoluted doctrines with multiple phrases and conjunctions. I would like to provide some commentary and break the doctrine down into manageable words and phrases for everyone to get a more coherent understanding of what Epicurus was communicating. You may also want to take a look at this doctrine’s page on the Epicurus Wiki:


    First the original text:

    Quote

    Εἰ τιν’ ἐκβαλεῖς ἁπλῶς αἴσθησιν καὶ μὴ διαιρήσεις τὸ δοξαζόμενον καὶ τὸ προσμένον καὶ τὸ παρὸν ἤδη κατὰ τὴν αἴσθησιν καὶ τὰ πάθη καὶ πᾶσαν φανταστικὴν ἐπιβολὴν τῆς διανοίας, συνταράξεις καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς αἰσθήσεις τῇ ματαίῳ δόξῃ, ὥστε τὸ κριτήριον ἅπαν ἐκβαλεῖς. εἰ δὲ βεβαιώσεις καὶ τὸ προσμένον ἅπαν ἐν ταῖς δοξαστικαῖς ἐννοίαις καὶ τὸ μὴ τὴν ἐπιμαρτύρησιν, οὐκ ἐκλείψει τὸ διεψευσμένον· ὥστ’ ἀνῃρηκὼς ἔσῃ πᾶσαν ἀμφισβήτησιν καὶ πᾶσαν κρίσιν τοῦ ὀρθῶς ἢ μὴ ὀρθῶς.

    Now, let’s break it down before we put it all back together. I’ll provide a (mostly) literal translation then provide commentary. “Phrases or words in quotes” will be followed by [their corresponding original text in brackets to allow you to follow along.]

    Quote

    Εἰ τιν’ ἐκβαλεῖς ἁπλῶς αἴσθησιν...

    Literal: “If” [Εἰ] you throw away “a single perception of the senses” [ἁπλῶς αἴσθησιν]…

    Note that ἐκβαλεῖς is also the same word used later in the doctrine (...ὥστε τὸ κριτήριον ἅπαν ἐκβαλεῖς.) So, we should be sure to use the same word in our final translation in each location! The word ἐκβαλεῖς literally means “to cast, hurl, or throw away from yourself.” So, think about this as one literally “throwing away” or “discarding” the information you are getting from one of your sensations here. Note also that αἴσθησιν aisthēsin is the same word used when explaining the components of The Canon, the criteria of truth. More on this below.


    Quote

    ...καὶ μὴ διαιρήσεις τὸ δοξαζόμενον κατὰ τὸ προσμένον καὶ τὸ παρὸν ἤδη...

    Literal: ...and “you do not distinguish” [μὴ διαιρήσεις] between “the holding of an opinion or belief” [τὸ δοξαζόμενον] which is awaiting (confirmation) and what is present “now” [ἤδη]...

    τὸ προσμένον gives the sense of waiting on something. It also can be used in the sense of “to wait for one in battle, i.e., to stand one’s ground against.”


    Quote

    ...κατὰ τὴν αἴσθησιν καὶ τὰ πάθη καὶ πᾶσαν φανταστικὴν ἐπιβολὴν τῆς διανοίας,...

    Literal: ...in accordance with perception of the senses, feeling, and true perceptions of the mind…

    There’s a LOT to unpack here! First, I want to call your attention to that list of items:

    - τὴν αἴσθησιν tēn aisthēsin “perception of the senses”

    - καὶ τὰ πάθη kai ta pathē “and feeling (i.e., pleasure or pain)”

    - καὶ πᾶσαν φανταστικὴν ἐπιβολὴν τῆς διανοίας kai pasan phantastikē epibolēn tēs dianoias “and every true perception of the mind”

    The description of the Canon, the criteria of truth, as outlined in Diogenes Laertius’s biography of Epicurus, contains the same list of items:

    DL X.31: "Now in The Canon, Epicurus affirms that our “perceptions of the senses” [τὰς αἰσθήσεις] and preconceptions [προλήψεις] and our “feelings” [τὰ πάθη] are the standards of truth; the Epicureans generally make “perceptions of mental presentations” [τὰς φανταστικὰς ἐπιβολὰς τῆς διανοίας] to be also standards."

    So, what is being communicated in this phrase is literally Epicurus’s criteria of truth known as The Canon. I personally find it interesting that this list, either written by Epicurus as an epitome or sanctioned by the Garden as a study tool does not include the prolepses but instead includes the phantastikē epibolē. Could the two, in fact, be synonymous? Are the preconceptions identical to the perceptions of the mind? I personally find it better to translate aisthesin as “perception of the senses” to contrast it with the phantasike epibole “perceptions of the mind.” Both are perceptions with one being tangible (e.g., touch, taste, smell, etc.) and one is intangible (the mind). Norman DeWitt wrote a provocative paper entitled "Epicurus, Περί Φαντασιας" where he delved in detail into the phantastikē epibolē tēs dianoias. He didn't make the synonymous claim, that's me. DeWitt translated the “phantastikē epibolē tēs dianoias” "(the incidence of a) true presentation of a single, existent object, though reduced to scale, as it registers itself upon the vision and mind of a sane, sober, and waking person." In any case, I find it intriguing in how the elements of The Canon are presented here in PD 24.


    Quote

    ...συνταράξεις καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς αἰσθήσεις τῇ ματαίῳ δόξῃ,...

    Literal: ...and “you will throw into confusion” [συνταράξεις] the remaining perceptions of the senses for a “groundless and empty belief” [ματαίῳ δόξῃ]...

    This first word here, our verb - “syntaraxeis” [you will throw into confusion] - begins with συν- syn- which has the sense of “together, with…” and gives this verb the idea of throwing everything all together into confusion as well as to disturb or trouble. Consider this has a similar root to ataraxia “not disturbed or troubled.”


    The λοιπὰς αἰσθήσεις are the “remaining sensations, the rest of the senses” which are the others which you didn’t throw away: Remember our first line. Compare δόξῃ doxe “belief” also occurs in the word encountered earlier: δοξαζόμενον doxazomenon “to hold an opinion or belief.” A ματαίῳ δόξῃ is one that is groundless, vain, futile, empty, one with nothing to support it, more of an opinion than a true belief.


    Quote

    ...ὥστε τὸ κριτήριον ἅπαν ἐκβαλεῖς.

    Literal: ...thereby you throw away [ἐκβαλεῖς] the “entire” [ἅπαν] “the standard of truth” (κριτήριον “criterion”).

    And so we come to end of our first sentence! Here we encounter ἐκβαλεῖς from our first line. We’ll use “throw away” here as well. The criterion here, literally the Greek word simply transliterated, is The Canon, the standard of truth, which refers back to our list of the components of The Canon earlier.


    So, let’s see what we have so far:


    If you throw away a single perception of the senses AND you do not distinguish between a holding an opinion that awaits confirmation and what is present now in accordance with The Canon of truth (perception of the senses, feeling, and perception of the mind), you will throw all your other perceptions into confusion for a groundless opinion, thereby throwing away the entire Canon of truth.


    If we break this up a little more, I think we can paraphrase it as:


    Let’s say you don’t believe one of your senses, you cast it away from yourself. If you do this, you are throwing away the three legs of The Canon (namely, perceptions of the senses, of the mind, and the feelings of pleasure and pain) that must work together. If you don’t use them all, you won’t be able to tell the difference between an opinion that awaits confirmation (by the other senses) and what you can sense now in the present moment through The Canon. This is a groundless belief that is going to cause you trouble in correctly perceiving your remaining perceptions.


    Well, that’s not simpler, but it tries to bring together similar concepts.


    Let’s tackle the rest:


    Quote

    εἰ δὲ βεβαιώσεις καὶ τὸ προσμένον ἅπαν ἐν ταῖς δοξαστικαῖς ἐννοίαις…

    Literal: Additionally, if you will “affirm as true” [βεβαιώσεις] everything that is waiting confirmation “in the matters of opinion about thinking” [ἐν ταῖς δοξαστικαῖς ἐννοίαις]...

    Note that Epicurus talked about beliefs that were awaiting confirmation in the first part of this doctrine. So, here he’s saying that “Let’s say you affirm as true everything that should be awaiting confirmation by your other legs of The Canon.” It sounds like you’re putting the cart before the horse. How can you affirm something before you have confirmation?


    Quote

    ...καὶ τὸ μὴ τὴν ἐπιμαρτύρησιν,...

    Literal: ...and that which does not need a witness…

    Here, the contrast is made with those opinions/beliefs that are awaiting confirmation and those which do not need any witness. So, you’re affirming as true BOTH everything that is awaiting confirmation and that which doesn’t (i.e., that which is present to you now in accordance with The Canon).

    Quote

    ...οὐκ ἐκλείψει τὸ διεψευσμένον·

    Literal: “You will not abandon” [οὐκ ἐκλείψει] "that which is altogether false" [τὸ διεψευσμένον];...

    If you do all those things we just mentioned, you will not abandon “that which is altogether false.” It’s interesting that the verb here - ἐκλείψει ekleipsei - is the same word as English “eclipse” and had similar connotations in the Greek. Consider if you did abandon falsehood, you would blot out the light of falsehood for the light of truth. But, you’re still in darkness if you don’t come to your senses.


    Quote

    ὥστ’ τετηρηκὼς ἔσῃ πᾶσαν ἀμφισβήτησιν καὶ πᾶσαν κρίσιν τοῦ ὀρθῶς ἢ μὴ ὀρθῶς.

    Literal: ...therefore, you will “retain” [τετηρηκὼς] all “doubt” [ἀμφισβήτησιν] and all judgement [κρίσιν] of what is correct and what is not correct.


    I’ve seen one online Greek text that has ἀνῃρηκὼς anerekos “abolish” instead of τετηρηκὼς teterekos “preserve, retain”. This is a CRUCIAL difference, and τετηρηκως is in the Oxford Arundel MS 531 manuscript so I’m accepting that as correct. And teterekos makes more sense when taken in context of the rest of PD 24. We preserve all doubt and judgement, we are not going to make any judgement either way and we're going to preserve our doubt.


    I also think it’s interesting and important to note that the same word is used in two places at the end: ὀρθῶς orthos. This is the “orthos” in orthodox, orthogonal, orthodontist, etc. I feel it is significant because it also has the sense of “straight” and The Canon we’ve been referring to is a literal straight-edge, ruler, measuring rod. So, it would be nice to play this up in a translation, but it’s not that easy in English. You could say something like “what is and is not on the straight and narrow” but that’s pushing it.


    So, the last section can be paraphrased:


    If you affirm everything as true - both those opinions that await confirmation and those here and now evident to your senses - you will not abandon falsehood and retain all doubt and refrain from any judgement as to what is correct and what is not correct.


    So, that “groundless belief” appears to be the unwillingness to take a stand and just accept that everything is true. You can’t make a decision! Epicurus seems to be calling us to trust in The Canon as our criteria of truth, to distinguish between what we don’t know right now - what’s awaiting confirmation - and what is evident to our senses right now in the present moment.


    I hope this provides food for thought even if it doesn’t clear up the concepts put forward here in PD 24.

  • Thanks Don ! Lots to think about. I'm particularly intrigued by the "true perceptions of the mind." Hmmm....

  • What are our takeaways from this?


    I would say first and most easily obvious he is saying that we should pay attention to all our faculties and the information that they provide to us (presumably because they are reported honestly and in this sense are "true"). That's probably pretty noncontroversial, except maybe if someone pursues the non-Epicurean reasoning that the senses are never to be trusted and should simply be ignored in favor of pure dialectical reasoning.


    The deeper parts include:


    (1) That the data from the "mental presentations' / anticipations" and also the feelings of pleasure and pain are entitled to equal consideration with the data from the five senses.


    (2) That we should "wait" and hold open as at least potentially "true" all theories which have support from some date from some combination of the three faculties, and

    (3) That we should be careful not to select from among the unrefuted possibilities any favorite or pet theory to hold as the only "true" possibility so long as other possibilities remain viable.


    All of this is also presumably the foundation of affirming that "truth" comes to us through these three faculties and not from any other way which is NOT based on these three faculties (i.e. divine revelation, totally abstract logic / rationalism)


    I would say one of the most continuously difficult parts is that of separating (1) instances of data provided by the "mental presentations/anticipations" from (2) conceptual reasoning, in which concepts are formed after a lot of thought and deliberation and reasoning. I continue to think that if we were to equate "mental presentations/anticipations" with "concepts" we would be confusing two distinct things (the process vs the result) into a single thing (the concept which the result of thinking) and we'd have a feedback loop which would introduce rationalism into the canon and would be why that Epicurus himself only had THREE legs, but the "other Epicureans (in my view mistakenly) came up with four.

  • I would say one of the most continuously difficult parts is that of separating (1) instances of data provided by the "mental presentations/anticipations" from (2) conceptual reasoning, in which concepts are formed after a lot of thought and deliberation and reasoning. I continue to think that if we were to equate "mental presentations/anticipations" with "concepts" we would be confusing two distinct things (the process vs the result) into a single thing (the concept which the result of thinking) and we'd have a feedback loop which would introduce rationalism into the canon and would be why that Epicurus himself only had THREE legs, but the "other Epicureans (in my view mistakenly) came up with four.

    This is why I was so surprised when I realized I saw the three components of the Canon listed and the epibolē were included but not the prolepses. I am convinced the doctrine is talking about the Canon. DL seems to imply that the *Epicureans" added a fourth leg to the Canon but PD 24 seems to imply that aisthēsin, pathē, and epibolē were legitimately a three legged Canon too.

    Are the epibolē and prolepses two facets of the same faculty? I believe we've discussed elsewhere on the forum the innate nature of the prolepses. The phrase phantastikē epibolē occurs in DL X.50 and 51

    Quote
    Falsehood and error always depend upon the intrusion of opinion (when a fact awaits) confirmation or the absence of contradiction, which fact is afterwards frequently not confirmed (or even contradicted) [following a certain movement in ourselves connected with, but distinct from, the mental picture presented--which is the cause of error.] [51] "For the presentations which, e.g., are received in a picture or arise in dreams, or from any other form of apprehension by the mind or by the other criteria of truth, would never have resembled what we call the real and true things, had it not been for certain actual things of the kind with which we come in contact. Error would not have occurred, if we had not experienced some other movement in ourselves, conjoined with, but distinct from, the perception of what is presented. And from this movement, if it be not confirmed or be contradicted, falsehood results ; while, if it be confirmed or not contradicted, truth results.

    "Mental picture" is the translation here in 50, and "perception of what is presented" in 51 of phantastikē epibolē. That's the trouble with translations! They can hide the same phrases in the original. And 50 and 51 are from the Letter to Herodotus, so this is Epicurus talking. Plus the fact that he's talking about opinion, falsehood, "when a fact awaits", etc., he's addressing the same concerns that arise in PD 24.

  • Are the epibolē and prolepses two facets of the same faculty? I believe we've discussed elsewhere on the forum the innate nature of the prolepses. The phrase phantastikē epibolē occurs in DL X.50 and 51

    I would say almost certainly yes, they are two facets or descriptions of the same faculty. I agree with your comment that this listing of three almost certainly is intended to be a listing of the three legs of the canon. That is why I think there's so much work to do in understanding exactly what "an anticipation" really is. I think an anticipation/prolepsis/mental presentation/mental picture canNOT be a "concept" as we understand the term in logical reasoning, for example as with the concept of "capitalism" or the concept of "socialism" or whatever. Something that is "defined" in terms of "words" necessarily entails opinions about what to include, and therefore cannot be "canonical" or constitute a "mental picture" which is canonical.


    But on the other hand a certain number of mental images probably constitutes at least part of the input that is eventually used to form a "concept." So what I am thinking is that these are parallel: the faculty of anticipations must be something like "sight." Sight is a faculty whereby the eyes assemble and process light. The anticipations would be parallel in that the "faculty of anticipations" assembles and processes mental pictures without thinking about them. But no single mental picture is a "concept" any more than a single photon or processing of light is a "sight." Cameras produce images but don't "think" about them. Our brains/minds presumably assemble all these things (input from eyes, ears, feelings, anticipations, etc) through pre-rational processes, and that "pre-rationality" is the essence of what I would think Epicurus would insist is required for a faculty to be described as canonical. If opinion is involved in producing something, then the result cannot be "trusted" or given the same level of authority as any of the three canonical faculties. If we do elevate a concept formed by reasoning to canonical status, then we have a feedback loop, and we have erased the distinction between the canonical faculties and opinions.

    Error comes in opinion and the assembling and uses of opinions (the rational process). Whatever anticipations are, I firmly think that Epicurus saw them as "pre-rational," and that would fit a faculty that "automatically" assembles individual mental pictures just like the eyes and the ears assemble light and sounds without "thinking" about them.

  • Oh! I **really** like where you're going with that, Cassius. I especially liked this section:

    Quote from Cassius
    But no single mental picture is a "concept" any more than a single photon or processing of light is a "sight." Cameras produce images but don't "think" about them. Our brains/minds presumably assemble all these things through pre-rational processes, and that "pre-rationality" is the essence of what I would think Epicurus would insist is required for a faculty to be described as canonical. Error comes in opinion and the assembling and uses of opinions (the rational process). Whatever anticipations are, I firmly think that Epicurus saw them as "pre-rational," and that would fit a faculty that "automatically" assembles individual mental pictures just like the eyes and the ears assemble light and sounds without "thinking" about them.

    (Pours a glass of wine, seats himself in a comfy chair) Please, go on! :)

  • Well I am not sure I can go much further! ;-) I think we're seeing that Epicurus's response to issues of "skepticism" and "knowledge"" was to focus on what those words meant and define as clearly as possible what it means to be "true" and "real" -- with the result that the rigorous conclusion is that "truth" for is what is or could be revealed to us through the canonical faculties. Asking for more than that --- asking for "certainty" -- implies a standard of proof that is impossible for a human being and is not even relevant to a human being in any way.


    Within that kind of framework, what is "true" is what can be ascertained through the canonical faculties, and nothing else is or can be "true" or "real" to us.


    As DeWitt says, Epicurus needed a standard of truth in the realm of relationships or abstractions - we need to go back and get his exact words - but I think that the problem arises when we say that the anticipations are standards of truth in the realm of "ideas." IDEAS are fully-formed concepts, and fully-formed concepts necessarily involved opinion and serve themselves as canonical "truth." Fully-formed ideas / concepts are highly useful and much to be appreciated, but they can never in themselves be considered "universal truths" that rise to the level of them always being true and real to individual humans.


    Don in my mind this is where I always fall back to a passage from the 1770's book that I quote from by Jackson Barwis, his book against John Locke's argument against "innate ideas." Barwise defended not innate "ideas" but innate "principles of thinking." The book was entitled "Dialogue on Innate Principles." In that book (primarily chapter one of that book) Barwis argues that there is a huge distinction between innate IDEAS vs innate PRINCIPLES. Barwis argues that Locke and others are wrong to assert that there are innate *ideas*, but that there certainly are innate *principles of functioning* that go into ideas.

    Here is the important section. Underlining is my emphasis Barwis is talking about innate "moral" principles here, but I think the point applies more widely to the issue of how "principles" are different from "ideas." I think the faculty of anticipations is dealing with the "principles' as discussed below, not with "ideas." We are not born with innate ideas, but we are born with a faculty that processes information in certain ways (according to certain principles):


    ---------------------


    When I take a general view of the arguments adduced by Mr. Locke against innate moral principles; and when I see what he produces, as the most indisputable innate principles, “if any be so," I am inclined to think there must have been some very great mistake as to the true nature of the things in question: for he lays down certain propositions, (no matter whether moral or scientific, so they be but true) and then proves that such propositions, considered merely as propositions, formed by our rational faculty, after due consideration of things, as all true propositions must be, are not innate. Nothing more obvious! But surely those whom he opposes, must, or ought to have meant, (though I cannot say I have read their arguments, nor do I mean to answer for anyone but myself) not that the propositions themselves were innate, but, that the conscious internal sentiments, on which such moral propositions are founded, were innate.


    He looked on me, interrogatively. I said it might be so, and that I saw a great difference in those things.


    Or perhaps, continued he, the mistake may have arisen from following too closely the mode, in which it is necessary to proceed, in order to acquire a knowledge of certain sciences, as in geometry: that is, by laying down some clear and self-evident axioms, or rational propositions. But even here it should be remembered that, in the natures of things, there were principles which had existence anterior to the formation of these axioms or propositions, and on which they are founded, and on which they depend for their existence: as, extension and solidity.


    -- I gave an assenting inclination of the head.


    I cannot, therefore, conceive, added he, that what we ought to understand by innate moral principles, can by any means, when fairly explained, be imagined to bear any similitude to such propositions as Mr. Locke advances as bidding fairest to be innate, nor to any other propositions. That is, I cannot conceive that our innate moral principles, our natural sentiments, or internal conscious feelings, (name them how you please) which we derive, and which result, from our very nature as creatures morally relative, are at all like unto any propositions whatever.


    Who can discover any similitude to any conscious sentiment of the soul in these strangely irrelative propositions: "Whatever is, is."
    "It is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be?"


    – Nobody. –


    The innate principles of the soul, continued he, cannot, any more than those of the body, be propositions. They must be in us antecedently to all our reasonings about them, or they could never be in us at all: for we cannot, by reasoning, create any thing, the principles of which did not exist antecedently. We can, indeed, describe our innate sentiments and perceptions to each other; we can reason, and we can make propositions about them; but our reasonings neither are, nor can create in us, moral principles. They exist prior to, and independently of, all reasoning, and all propositions about them.


    When we are told that benevolence is pleasing; that malevolence is painful; we are not convinced of these truths by reasoning, nor by forming them into propositions: but by an appeal to the innate internal affections of our souls: and if on such an appeal, we could not feel within the sentiment of benevolence, and the peculiar pleasure attending it; and that of malevolence and its concomitant pain; not all the reasoning in the world could ever make us sensible of them, or enable us to understand their nature.

    ...

    Even in the abstracted sciences of arithmetic and geometry, reason can create no principles in the natures of the things treated of. It can lay down axioms, and draw up propositions concerning numbers, extension, and solidity; but numbers, extension, and solidity, existed prior to any reasoning about them.


    And here I must observe that the assent or dissent that we give to propositions in these sciences, which are but little interesting to our nature, is drawn from a source widely different from that which we give to moral propositions. Thus, when we are told that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles, and see the demonstration; we say simply, true. That they are equal to three right angles; false. These things being irrelative to morals, they move no conscious sentiment, and do therefore only receive our bare assent or dissent as a mere object of sense; in the same manner as when we say a thing is, or is not, black or white, or round or square; we use our eyes, and are satisfied. But the truth or falsehood of moral propositions must be judged of by another measure; through a more interesting medium: we must apply to our internal sense; our divine monitor and guide within; through which the just and unjust, the right and wrong, the moral beauty and deformity of human minds, and of human actions, can only be perceived. And this internal sense must most undoubtedly be innate, as we have already shown; it could not otherwise have existence in us; we not being able, by reasoning, or by any other means, to give ourselves any new sense, or to create, in our nature, any principle at all. I therefore think Mr. Locke, in speaking of innate moral principles, ought, at least, to have made a difference between propositions relative to morals, and those which have no such relation.


    -------------------


    If you get interested in the entire argument, it is here:.


    So the argument that I would make is that there must be some kind of innate mechanism that assembles mental pictures, and that did this mechanism not exist, we would never experience mental pictures in the first place. This mental picture mechanism functions "innately" - pre-rationally, and it can function in ways that we conclude are not "true to all the facts."


    An example of that would be in Epicurus's letter to Menoeceus: "But they are not such as the many believe them to be: for indeed they do not consistently represent them as they believe them to be. And the impious man is not he who popularly denies the gods of the many, but he who attaches to the gods the beliefs of the many. For the statements of the many about the gods are not [pre]conceptions derived from sensation, but false suppositions, according to which the greatest misfortunes befall the wicked and the greatest blessings (the good) by the gift of the gods." (This is the Bailey version, and he insists on using "concepts." I inserted the [pre] because everyone else uses anticipations or prolepsis here rather than "concepts." This is why I am so unhappy with Bailey much of the time.)


  • For not being sure if you could go much further, I think you've done very well! :)

    I do think you're onto something, and the Barwis excerpt appears to me too to be directly relevant to the discussion. Thanks for that!

    I plan to delve back into the texts at some point armed with your information here.

  • I went back to the Letter to Herodotus directly prior to that excerpt from DL X.50 above:

    Quote

    And whatever presentation we derive by direct contact, whether it be with the mind or with the sense-organs, be it shape that is presented or other properties, this shape as presented is the shape of the solid thing, and it is due either to a close coherence of the image as a whole or to a mere remnant of its parts.

    Here the term phantastikē epibolē is not used, and I'm working through the Greek. But the it does say we perceive with the mind and the sense organs.

  • I'm always suspicious of super- words. Dangerously close to supernatural. However, "supersensory" seems to imply a sense "above" the other senses in DeWitt's case. And by "subsensory" idols, he seems to mean "images not able to be perceived by the traditional 5 physical senses."

    I wish he'd have spelled it "eidols" or used "images." Idols is such a loaded word.

    Here's an interesting article that talks about our other "senses" in addition to taste, smell, etc. I wonder what Epicurus would make of synaesthesia?

  • Excellent thread! In a less scholarly vein regarding perceptions of the mind...


    So I was just eating tortilla chips with my lunch. I picked up a chip and looked at it. I noticed a spontaneous memory of eating chips in the past, and also noticed a spontaneous anticipation of the pleasure I was about to experience. Eating the chip confirmed the truth of that pleasure.


    In other words my sensations (vision, touch, smell) stimulated mental perceptions, in this case a spontaneous memory and anticipation of pleasure which served as a guide to action.


    In reference to the fact that we may have multiple senses (up to 20?) senses and two feelings, it seems probable that we have several types of prolepses, of which this description is just one.


    Just some food for thought. ;) (ouch)

  • Just some food for thought. ;) (ouch)

    LOL! Well played, Godfrey !

    But seriously, I think you're onto something there. It helps to bring things down to everyday experiences. Epicurus was all about writing clearly and making things understandable and not hiding behind fancy, convoluted arguments. You're following in the footsteps of Epicurus here! Pass the chips! :)