Reverence and Awe In Epicurean Philosophy

  • Meditating on reverence and awe...


    Very recently I was laying in bed with the virus, with fever and pneumonia, With certain senses completely robbed from me. I could not bring myself to meditate on any “divine” principles or on any virtues. I felt too sick for that, too concerned my senses would never return. I was concerned not about any idealistic things or concepts, just whether I would return to my normal self and experience pleasure again.


    I thought of:


    “Continuous bodily pain does not last long; instead, pain, if extreme, is present a very short time, and even that degree of pain which slightly exceeds bodily pleasure does not last for many days at once. Diseases of long duration allow an excess of bodily pleasure over pain” PD: IV


    Nature was reminding me of a lesson I know well. She taught me that she can be cruel and random.


    My point is this: in that state of illness, my concern was for my continued pleasure in life. The primary philosophy of Epicurus became evident to me. I was not building up some stoic “resolve” toward sagehood, contemplating on platonic forms, or meditating on religious ideas. I was concerned with: Pleasure, bodily health and mental health.


    I was not concerned about whether the Stoic Pantheistic logos is within all things, not concerned which Abrahamic religion is correct, which Indian transcendentalists words have the most profound meaning in life. Not of that mattered. Just pleasure and a restored heathy body and mind.


    So when it comes to this topic I do take a very agnostic and apophatic approach straight from Menoeceus. That’s where I leave it now.

  • So when it comes to this topic I do take a very agnostic and apophatic approach straight from Menoeceus. That’s where I leave it now.

    I definitely agree with that! We see over and over how overemphasis on the details of the divinity issue can be MUCH more trouble than it is worth. I think that's one of the best arguments I have seen people make about why there is no final book in Lucretius going into those details!


    I feel like that if we had more of Epicurus he would probably have put all this into the perspective that just like I told Pythocles about speculations about the stars, you have to be careful not to take the position that something that is in fact unclear is really clear, and you have to avoid considering that there can only be one answer to a question when there is not enough evidence to rule out multiple possibilities!

  • I don't think I can agree with Elli that Gaia is a better Greek analogue than Aphrodite. Partially because Aphrodite is the consort of Ares (Mars), partially because Aphrodite has the clearer association with pleasure, and partially because Lucretius was drawing on Empedocles and his duality between Love and Strife.


    Certainly in Venus' capacity as 'nurturing' and 'mother', she has a resemblance to Gaia. It would be better to say, as the Loeb edition does say, that she "is a figure of extraordinary complexity".

  • I would agree with JJElbert . Lucretius knew what he was doing. Venus aka Aphrodite is the goddess of eros, sexual desire/lust, from which all life is born. You can't have babies and successive generations without the - let's say - pleasurable procreative act. This is *the* act of the creation of life.

    I also wanted to weigh in on Elli's note about VS 78 if anyone is confused by her "noble/brave" comment:

    Quote

    78. The noble/brave soul is devoted most of all to wisdom and to friendship — one a mortal good, the other immortal. ὁ γενναῖος περὶ σοφίαν καὶ φιλίαν μάλιστα γίγνεται, ὧν τὸ μέν ἐστι θνητὸν ἀγαθόν, τὸ δὲ ἀθάνατον.

    Epicurus's word in question is ὁ γενναῖος. Elli is absolutely correct that in modern Greek ὁ γενναῖος means "brave" https://en.wiktionary.org/w/in…E%BF%CF%82&oldid=54707874

    However, in Ancient Greek the meaning was connected with "being true to one's birth or descent" http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/h…9.04.0057:entry=gennai=os It's easy to see how this came down to modern times with the meaning "brave" (i.e., noble, high-born people were supposed to be brave). Words change meaning over time, sometimes in much more surprising ways like English "sad" which used to mean "satisfied, sated, full" https://www.etymonline.com/word/sad#etymonline_v_22587