Twentieth Skype Call (10-20-2020)

  • Isonomia is a concept that I can't quite wrap my head around. Saying that the causes of destruction and conservation are both infinite makes sense to me as relating to modern science. I can't make sense of applying the idea to mortals and immortals. The idea that everything has it's exact match and counterpart seems to be a logical speculation based on infinity, but I'm not sure I'd call it a "principle."

    It seems pretty self-evident to me that the gods, if they do not live on an Earth- like planet, would not have bodies like our own, evolved in every way for an environment with air, gravity, heat, ground, sounds, atmospheric pressure, food... etc. Our bodies don’t fare so well in outer space. Lol.

    I can’t make any sense of isonomia either. Because there are humans there must be an equal number of gods? Does everything that exists exist in infinite numbers, and then also in infinite numbers in a divine form? That’s pretty wacky.

  • As to isonomia like on most difficult issues I think of what DeWitt said and think he was probably on the right track when he said "the mistake of rendering it as 'equilibrium' must be avoided." I think that addresses Susan's "equal number" concern. I personally think we just have too few texts to know whether the comments in Velleius about the way the gods look and talk etc are really representative of Epicurus, or just idle speculation. We today have our views of what the factors Susan lists would to to life out there, and presumably we're closer to being correct than they were, but it's very hard to say:

    Also as to this:

    Does everything that exists exist in infinite numbers, and then also in infinite numbers in a divine form

    there are several references in Lucretius to what "can and CANNOT exist' so "limitations" on what is possible seem to go hand in hand at the same time even with the view that the universe is infinite and eternal. So it would be important not to come to the conclusion that infinity and eternality mean that "all things are possible" because Lucretius/Epicurus specifically say otherwise.

    Edit: No doubt DeWitt is engaging in speculation of his own, so we always have to keep that in mind. Nobody's speculation is likely to be 100% reliable. I tend to think that DeWitt was more "in tune" with Epicurus than most any other commentator, but that definitely doesn't mean DeWitt was always right.