Interpretations of PD 10 Discussion

  • Yes Elayne that's exactly why I said the emphatic no! The prevailing evidence is to the contrary, and I don't read anyone seriously proposing that people immersed in social media are experiencing a blissful experience. I suppose the cite Don gave may be suggesting that, but if so I did not read it that way.


    Also yes I think the riddle would be an example that supports your usage.

  • Don do you have evidence social media is making people have bliss? I thought the prevailing evidence was to the contrary. I assume that's why Cassius said no.

    It's not a perfect analogy (and it's not a total bliss pill), but here's my perspective:

    • People choose to plug themselves into social media
    • Socal media algorithms learn what brings pleasure to reader
    • Reader feels pleasure at having their preconceptions and prejudices strengthened and confirmed
    • Content fed to reader may or may not reflect reality; it could be misinformation or based on conspiracy theory
    • I'm making an analogy between the pleasure felt at having untrue prejudices confirmed and having pleasure from the "bliss pill/machine" filtering/mitigating the senses and reaction of pleasure.
  • Don my understanding of the engineered goal of social media sites is that it isn't intended to cause pleasure but to create addiction. Which has been called wanting without liking. They are pretty good at creating that response. There are very brief rewards from getting likes to one's posts and comments, but the main experience seems to be unfulfilled desire generation. Our nervous systems are vulnerable to being exploited that way.


    Sometimes people can feel pleasure at having biases confirmed, but much of the politically biased content is angry/paranoid in tone. It's possible for people to get hooked on the excitement of anger with really getting much pleasure from it.


    If people were really getting reliable pleasure from social media use, the fact that some or all of the information was false would be relevant if it set the person up for unexpected pain or shortened pleasure/life. If social media were engineered to avoid those pitfalls of painful consequences somehow, then it might work out to be a wise choice. But just as with a pharmaceutical, that would depend on the trustworthiness of the product/designer and whether it was as advertised. I haven't seen a false belief system yet which has lived up to its promises, so I would need overwhelming proof of effectiveness before signing up.


    I do make use of small mind tricks-- there is some evidence that seeing beautiful natural scenery is mood enhancing. A hospital window with trees in view, for instance, can improve recovery. Whenever possible I prefer to get the whole experience-- inhale the terpenes from the trees, etc. But even just a photo can trick the brain into some of the same benefits. So if I'm working in a windowless room, I use photos of mountains or beaches to make use of an illusion of being somewhere I am not. Yes, I consciously know I'm not there-- but part of my brain is responding to a ruse.


    Apparently placebos might even help when people are told they are getting placebos. I've seen one study on this.


    However, when we use ruses, it's wise to watch for unexpected consequences. I read a book on artificial flavoring, the Dorito Effect, summarizing research on how a flavor may signal our brains we are taking in certain nutrients, but if the flavor comes without the nutrients, it throws off our appestat. That's the kind of thing I would investigate for in any technology proposing to deliver pleasure along with some sort of ruse.

  • Don my understanding of the engineered goal of social media sites is that it isn't intended to cause pleasure but to create addiction. Which has been called wanting without liking. They are pretty good at creating that response.

    But doesn't Epicurus tell us that there can be only two reactions: pleasure or pain?

    Sometimes people can feel pleasure at having biases confirmed, but much of the politically biased content is angry/paranoid in tone. It's possible for people to get hooked on the excitement of anger with really getting much pleasure from it.

    But can't people take pleasure in their anger? Self-righteous anger elicits pleasure not pain ("The feelings are two.").

    And the addict experiences pleasure from the hit but pain when it's not present.

    . I read a book on artificial flavoring, the Dorito Effect

    That was a fascinating book. Read it a couple years ago.

  • Addiction is desire, not pleasure or pain. Thinking of or satisfying a desire results in pleasure or pain.


    Don that's interesting that you mention anger in this context; I've been starting to think about it in light of current events and I'm curious what Epicurean writings have to say about it, particularly righteous anger. I can't think of any offhand except maybe Philodemus, who I haven't read.

  • Addiction is desire, not pleasure or pain. Thinking of or satisfying a desire results in pleasure or pain.


    Don that's interesting that you mention anger in this context; I've been starting to think about it in light of current events and I'm curious what Epicurean writings have to say about it, particularly righteous anger. I can't think of any offhand except maybe Philodemus, who I haven't read.

    Hmmm. Okay, but the addiction is caused by pleasure initially then causes pain followed by pleasure in a vicious circle. Right?


    Voula Tsouna's The Ethics of Philodemus has a good chapter on anger.

  • Addiction is mostly pain and then all pain, from reports of my patients. Initially the "hits" cause pleasure but eventually they don't anymore. But the addicted person keeps going for the hits in hopes they will work again, and to avoid withdrawal symptoms, which are even more painful.


    The desire in addiction is not pleasurable, although in other non-addiction settings, desire can be pleasurable.


    Anger can occasionally be pleasurable in my personal experience, but the kind of anger I see drummed up on social media appears to be unpleasant for the experiencers. It seems mixed with a lot of unpleasant fear, unpleasant resentment, unpleasant bitterness. I am mostly not observing people who report enjoying it. Lots of folks saying they feel very stressed out.


    The goal of the designers is just to keep people hooked so they can be marketed to. Not to make them feel ongoing pleasure.

  • Okay, I have no strong feelings in pushing that analogy. I do contend that anger can be pleasurable (as Elayne said above), but again I haven't no strong urge to flog the social media analogy.

    I have to go back and re-read Tsouna's chapter on anger and pick out any excerpts from Philodemus's On Anger or start another thread if Godfrey is interested in exploring that.

    This bliss pill/PD 10 thread has unfortunately taken on the odor of a Platonic dialogue to me, and I freely admit I've contributed to the stench. I feel it's turned into a lot of wordplay, Socrates-esque gadflying, and argument for arguments sake. Y'all may have a different take, but the pleasure is decreasing. Plus, I think the practical benefit is decreasing the longer it goes on. I don't necessarily think Epicurus would be pleased. I think I'm going to tap out, but feel free to continue in my absence on this particular topic.

  • Don I got interested in anger in a roundabout way. There's an unexplored aspect of Wilson's article, which is her apparent urge to define an Epicurean political philosophy (an urge shared by utilitarians and others it would seem). I've been giving a little bit of thought (not enough yet to start a thread) to a response to that urge. Since EP is based on individual interactions with the world through the pursuit of pleasure and the Canon, I think that the consensus here is that there is no specific Epicurean political philosophy: instead it's totally individual. It seems, though, that there is a way that an individual Epicurean approaches life that would inform or influence how an Epicurean might engage in political thought and discussion and that this would not lead to any particular positions on specific issues. It might be instructive to examine the PDs on justice, the lives of the Torquati, Atticus, Caesar and, importantly, righteous anger in this regard. But it could also be a can of worms and something that isn't appropriate to discuss on this forum.... However looking at the Epicurean approach to anger, including righteous anger, might be of some interest in this regard.

  • It seems, though, that there is a way that an individual Epicurean approaches life that would inform or influence how an Epicurean might engage in political thought and discussion and that this would not lead to any particular positions on specific issues.

    I agree with most of what you wrote Godfrey, in the sense that different people in different circumstances are going to find that Epicurean viewpoints lead in different directions according to their circumstances. But I do that that application of Epicurean viewpoints to a specific individual does lead that individual to make conclusions about social behavior. And though it may sound like another word-splitting exercise, I don't think there's a bright line between political action and social action. PD39 and PD40 seem to me to have direct social implications that would be pretty much indistinguishable from political implications -- but the point remains that different people will choose to order their affairs toward these goals in different ways.


    The rules against political discussion in the forum don't exist because each of us don't have political/social interests, but because we can know going into the discussion that our interests are not the same, and may even be very divergent or even hostile. We're voluntarily putting those aspects of life aside for the sake of the longer-term and greater goal of the benefit we get from pursuing the philosophy with like-minded people. I would say that "like-minded in philosophy" will frequently, but not always, lead to "political" and "social" agreement. For better or worse the more we spread out geographically and culturally and economically and in many different ways the more that our specifically political decisions would likely differ.


    I underlined that this would not lead to any particular positions on specific issues. because I would qualify that by saying that this would not lead to any particular positions on specific issues that would apply to everyone.

  • Good clarification Cassius!


    Thinking about "like-minded in philosophy," it occurs to me that what we often see in public discourse are single issues excised from an overall philosophy. They do come from overall philosophies or world views which may or may not be evident, and often several single issues seem to align in a predictable way. Until something happens to elucidate an unexpected world view that drives the single issues.


    EP obviously has a clear overall approach and world view. Since there seems to be a fairly persistent urge to apply EP on a societal level (which could actually have some "utility," if you'll pardon my word choice ;)) I'm suggesting that we could be well served in describing how the overall approach of EP is beneficial to society rather than attempting to align it with specific issues as Wilson does, or in trying to update and expand it per the utilitarians.

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    Curious to see what anyone's take is on this TED-Ed video on Nozick's "experience machine" and the (professed) short-comings of hedonism.

  • For me, the TED talk reinforces the perspective that PD10 is an in-your-face "make a choice as to which master you are going to follow" proposition, designed as a stress test of whether one really understands that pleasure is the ultimate motivator in life.


    I would say that the same desire to clarify the issue that spurred the wording of PD10 spurred the sentiment recorded in u512:



    U512

    Aetius, Doxography, XII p. 547A: And in his work On the End-Goal, he says again: “{=U70}” And in other passages, he says “I spit upon the honorable and those who vainly admire it, whenever it produces no pleasure.”

    Plutarch, Against Colotes, 30, p. 1124E: ... and when men take for sages those who “spit on excellence, unless pleasure attends it.” [c.f. 1124E @ U368]

    Plutarch, Is “Live Unknown” a Wise Precept?, 4, p. 1129B: ... to live together with Leontium and “spit on noble action,” and place the good in the “flesh” and in “titillations.”

    Plutarch, Against Colotes, 2, p. 1108C: ... those who keep shouting that the good is to be found in the belly and that they would not give a copper coin with a hole in it for all the virtues in bulk apart from pleasure.

    Plutarch, That Epicurus actually makes a pleasant life impossible, 13, p. 1095F: Do they not confess that they are waging war without truce or negotiation on all that is beautiful, so long as it is not pleasurable as well? What holy and pure thing do they welcome and cherish?

  • Here is KD 10 from a somewhat different angle:


    εἰ τὰ Ποιητικὰ τῶν περὶ τοὺς ἀσώτους ἡδονῶν

    ἔλυε τοὺς φόβους τῆς διανοίας

    τούς τε περὶ μετεώρων καὶ θανάτου καὶ ἀλγηδόνων

    ἔτι τε τὸ πέρας τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν ἐδίδασκεν καὶ τῶν ἀλγηδόνων :

    οὐκ ἄν ποτε Εἴχομεν ὅ τι μεμψάμεθα αὐτοῖς

    πανταχόθεν ἐκπληρουμένοις τῶν ἡδονῶν -

    οὔτε τὸ λυπούμενον Ἔχουσιν -

    Ὅπερ ἐστὶ τὸ κακόν·



    If the things that produce the pleasures of degenerates

    released the fears of the mind

    about the heavens and death and pains

    and if those things taught the the Limit of desires and of pains:

    then we would never have had anything to hold against them

    who would be filling themselves from all places with pleasures-

    and they would not have pain or sadness from any place-

    which is exactly what 'evil' is.



    TOYC ΑCΩΤΟΥC “profligates” οἱ ἄσωτοι–τῶν ἀσώτων: libertines, spendthrifts; a lost case; from ἄσωτος–ἀσώτη–ἄσωτον: having no hope of safety, in desperate case, abandoned, past any hope of recovery. ἄσωτος


    ΜΕΜΨΑΙΜΕΘΑ “(then we would not) blame” μέμφομαι–μέμφεσθαι: hold (acc.) against (dat.); here, “we would (not) have held (ὅ τι) against (αὐτοῖς).”


    Mελετᾶν οὖν χρὴ τὰ ποιοῦντα τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν.

    It is necessary to study what produces wellbeing.

  • TOYC ΑCΩΤΟΥC “profligates” οἱ ἄσωτοι–τῶν ἀσώτων: libertines, spendthrifts; a lost case; from ἄσωτος–ἀσώτη–ἄσωτον: having no hope of safety, in desperate case, abandoned, past any hope of recovery. ἄσωτος

    I think that source definition is so important in this. When "profligate" is being used in translation, it sounds like a moral or ethical chastisement only. And that may be part of it BUT saying these decisions to live that lifestyle put them as "having no hope of safety, in desperate case, abandoned, past any hope of recovery" puts a more "these are obviously negative choices to make" spin on it.

  • ΜΕΜΨΑΙΜΕΘΑ “(then we would not) blame” μέμφομαι–μέμφεσθαι: hold (acc.) against (dat.); here, “we would (not) have held (ὅ τι) against (αὐτοῖς).”

    I just came across a helpful fact:

    μεμψαιμεθα is in the first person middle plural optative. The optative mood "expresses something that would happen in a hypothetical situation in the future." It is conditional: If (εἰ) X were the case, then we would not blame (μεμψαιμεθα). The Ingenious Language, a recent book by Andrea Marcolongo on Ancient Greek, has one chapter dedicated almost exclusively to the optative mood and its shades of meaning. My understanding (and I'm still processing it and rereading) is that the optative is used in many cases to express desire, usually desire that cannot be fulfilled: "I wish for this but know it is not going to happen." It is a mood reflecting the unreality of a situation.

    These are the kinds of fine detail that consistently keep pulling me back into deeper study of the ancient Greek texts! I barely have my toes wet in the sand and SO want to go scuba diving!!

    (Full disclosure: I've found Wiktionary (especially the smart phone app) to be a wonderful tool in parsing some of the Greek syntax. The app along with a Greek keyboard has been indispensable. I just (1) didn't want to give the impression I had more knowledge then I do, and (2) provide tips to anyone else who wants to dig into the texts. Sapere aude :) )

  • In light of this optative verb in KD 10, I think it's important to contrast this with the If... Then.... statements in KD 7. As a refresher:

    Quote

    Some people want to be well esteemed and widely admired, believing that in this way they will be safe from others; if the life of such people is secure then they have gained its natural benefit, but if not then they have not gained what they sought from the beginning in accordance with what is naturally appropriate. (Emphasis added)


    Ἔνδοξοι καὶ περίβλεπτοί τινες ἐβουλήθησαν γενέσθαι, τὴν ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀσφάλειαν οὕτω νομίζοντες περιποιήσεσθαι. ὥστε εἰ μὲν ἀσφαλὴς ὁ τῶν τοιούτων βίος, ἀπέλαβον τὸ τῆς φύσεως ἀγαθόν· εἰ δὲ μὴ ἀσφαλής, οὐκ ἔχουσιν οὗ ἕνεκα ἐξ ἀρχῆς κατὰ τὸ τῆς φύσεως οἰκεῖον ὠρέχθησαν.

    In KD 7, the are no funky moods/tenses/aspects. The if's are followed by an aorist indicative verb and active indicative, respectively. Straightforward statements of fact. So, the idea that a person could indeed find security in being well esteemed or widely admired is not seen as an impossibility. This dovetails nicely with Cassius 's fervent conviction that Epicureans *could* find security in a public political life. It may be more difficult, and Epicurus seemed to warn people to be careful of entering that arena, but it wasn't out of the question. There was no sense of impossibility or unreality to the idea.

    However, I'm contending that that optative verb in KD 10 supports my contention that we can *desire* to not hold the lifestyle of "those who are past any hope of recovery" against them but we really *know* that that's not going to happen. In this life, as reality is lived, the "profligate" lifestyle will NOT alleviate the fears of death, the gods, etc.

  • Τhis :thumbup: goes to Don by me, as a small winning price on his studies in hellenic language.

    I do not find proper words to declare and describing my feelings of pleasure when Don found the huge mistake by Lucretius that was with this phrase: <<ουδέν εξ' ουδενός>> that means "nothing comes from nothing" that was said, by Parmenides.

    Instead of the phrase: <<.πρῶτον μὲν ὅτι οὐδὲν γίνεται ἐκ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος>> that said by Epicurus in his LTH that means: "First of all, that nothing is created out of that which does not exist".


    Epicurus starts his clear thoughts from the observable and all these that exist since, he does not fall into the trap of the "zero"

    and the "nothing" that was done by Parmenides. Epicurus accepts the motion of atoms and bodies, but he does not accept the changing of the Laws of Universe that are called by Phycisists, as fundamental forces. Epicurus does not fall into the trap of an endless cyclical states of how the Universe is created. And this Universe, as the Physicists say, when in 15 billion years it will stop expanding and will be crushed, for Epicurus, if there are the observable to us as first elements/atoms/as particles and the void/ as quantum field, are capable enough with the space (as he was said it as "απειρία" [apiria] that means this that has no boundaries i.e. as we set the North, South, East, West) to re-create another Universe same as this we're living. Thus, for him, and according to his manifold way of thinking there is another possibility among many possibilities in any future some intelligent beings will start their researches on how the material Universe with unumerable Cosmi were created.


    Thus, Epicurus with the Canon has set all the credibility in our senses and feelings, and of course the "pre-receivals (greek "προλήψεις") [prolepses] that are accumulated knowledges in the brain that are connecting with the images of the materialistic things of the reality and creating the synapses of neurons.The purpose of new knowledges or the retrieval i.e. the capability of the brain with the memory of all these that are stored in our brain from infancy, as they continue to evolve according to new knowledges of the materialistic reality/the whole Nature are intended and connecting with the goal to not to disturb us mentally and bodily, for being like sheep below the orders of a master/ruler/leader/god with his representatives as clergy and politicians.


    <<Mακαρίζω σε, ᾧ Ἀπελλῆ, ὅτι καθαρὸς πάσης παιδείας ἐπὶ φιλοσοφίαν ὥρμησας>>.

    <<I congratulate or I consider you blissful, oh Apelles, because you have rushed into (epicurean) philosophy clear (i.e. with clear brain) from all culture>>. - Epicurus

    culture means: such patterns-false ideas that our brains have been washed from infancy, with the manipulation of a repeat and repeat, and repeat of false religions, false philosophies and false political ideas.


    Synaptic plasticity of the brain


    When engaged in new experiences and learning, the brain establishes a series of neural pathways. These neural pathways, or circuits, are routes made of inter-connecting neurons. These routes are created in the brain through daily use and practice; much like a mountain path is made by daily use of a shepherd (e.g. Epicurus as a teacher) and his herd (e.g. friends and students of his school).

    The neurons in a neural pathway communicate with each other through connections called synapses, and these communication pathways can regenerate throughout your whole life. Each time that we gain new knowledge (through repeated practice), the synaptic communication between neurons is strengthened. A better connection between the neurons means that the electric signals travel more efficiently when creating or using a new pathway.


    For example, when trying to recognize a new bird, new connections are made among specific neurons. Neurons in the visual cortex determine its color, the auditory cortex identifies its song, and other, the name of the bird. In order to know what bird it is, its attributes, its color, song, and name are repeated many times. Revisiting the neural circuit and re-establishing neuronal transmission between the implicated neurons at each new attempt enhances the efficiency of synaptic transmission. Communication between the relevant neurons is facilitated, cognition made faster and faster. Synaptic plasticity is perhaps the pillar on which the brain's amazing malleability rests.

    source: https://www.cognifit.com/brain-plasticity-and-cognition


    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • TOYC ΑCΩΤΟΥC “profligates” οἱ ἄσωτοι–τῶν ἀσώτων: libertines, spendthrifts; a lost case; from ἄσωτος–ἀσώτη–ἄσωτον: having no hope of safety, in desperate case, abandoned, past any hope of recovery. ἄσωτος

    I can't find the proper words to narrate my story what means the word "prodigals". This is the word that my lost brother used to say with the greek phrase:"Είμαι ο άσωτος υιός του πατέρα μου" that means "I'm the prodigal son of my father". My brother repeated to say that when his father died (his father was my step-father), and when my brother was 20 years old, while his father left only to him a heritage with (a motel with 7 appartments near the sea, for renting them in the tourist season, many lands, money, cars etc. that was aprox. of the amount of 400.000$). But my brother did not listen to the admonitions of our mother and me as the oldest sister, and had chose the high living with girls, to rent expensive rooms in hotels and appartments, smoking and offering to many friends marichouana and cannabys, offering to them for having together drinks and dinners in expensive bars and restaurants, buying expensive cloths, shoes etc.


    In the end, and in just 9 years, he sold all of the heritage with the real estate and run out of money, and with many of my efforts I managed to persuade him to buy only a small appartement next to my home, with a small new car, while my brother in law found to him a job as guard in the security company that my brother in law still works there.


    During that time, and as my brother was waiting some legal papers for that job, he found a temporary job that was for sharing ad-leaflets in a near town of where we both were living; and with four other persons, aged 18, 20, 23 my brother aged 29 , along with a driver of a small car that was 45 years old, they started this job.


    In the first day, my brother had complained (due to the testimonies of his girlfriend) to the driver to drive more slowly as the driver that was 45 years old, was happy to drive with that small car in dangerous roads with bends and with the speed of 160 km/h!!! The second day, the driver did not listen the complaints of other young guys, and he was still driving with the same speed. In a dangerous bend and while it was raining the driver lost the control of the car and felt on a big truck that was coming from the opposite side of the street, and the car along with all these young men, became all as one mass. ;(


    After a week from his death I saw a dream that he was inside a huge library with many books and speaking to me, he was saying loudly: SIS, FIND THE TRUE KNOWLEDGES. I write this now to you, and I'm crying. ;(


    In a month I met Epicurus philosophy inside a book store with the book by Irving Yalom entitled in greek "In the Garden of Epicurus-leaving behind the terror of death" . Till now, I did not stop to blame my grand parents, my parents, my teachers and professors inside schools that they did not teach us anything about Epicurus and his philosophy. X(


    And we are talking about the prodigals after that! :(

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!