Episode Fifty-Five - Reason Is Dependent On The Senses (Part 2)

  • Welcome to Episode Fifty-Five of Lucretius Today. Last week we started this passage from Book 4, and today we will finish it, focusing on the last two passages underlined below.


    I am your host Cassius, and together with my panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book, "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt.


    For anyone who is not familiar with our podcast, please check back to Episode One for a discussion of our goals and our ground rules. If you have any question about that, please be sure to contact us at Epicureanfriends.com for more information.


    In today's podcast we will discuss how reason is dependent upon the senses.



    Latin Lines 469 -521


    Munro Notes


    469-521 if a man teaches that nothing can be known, how does be know that? how distinguish between knowing and not knowing? on the truth of the senses all reasoning depends, which must be false if they are false: nor is one sense more certain than another; all being equally true; nor is the same sense at one time more certain than at another: all reasoning, nay life itself would at once come to an end, if the senses are not to be trusted; as in any building, if the rule and square are wry, every part will be crooked and unstable, so all reasoning must be false, if the senses on which it is grounded are false.


    Brown 1743


    Lastly, if anyone thinks that he knows nothing, he cannot be sure that he knows this, when he confesses that he knows nothing at all. I shall avoid disputing with such a trifler, who perverts all things, and like a tumbler with his head prone to the earth, can go no otherwise than backwards. And yet allow that he knows this, I would ask (since he had nothing before to lead him into such a knowledge) whence he had the notion what it was to know, or not to know; what it was that gave him an idea of Truth or Falsehood, and what taught him to distinguish between doubt and certainty?


    But you will find that knowledge of truth is originally derived from the senses, nor can the senses be contradicted, for whatever is able by the evidence of an opposite truth to convince the senses of falsehood, must be something of greater certainty than they. But what can deserve greater credit than the senses require from us? Will reason, derived from erring sense, claim the privilege to contradict it? Reason - that depends wholly upon the senses,which unless you allow to be true, all reason must be false. Can the ears correct the eyes? Or the touch the ears? Or will taste confute the touch? Or shall the nose or eyes convince the rest? This, I think, cannot be, for every sense has a separate faculty of its own, each has its distinct powers; and therefore an object, soft or hard, hot or cold, must necessarily be distinguished as soft or hard, hot or cold, by one sense separately, that is, the touch. It is the sole province of another, the sight, to perceive the colors of things, and the several properties that belong to them. The taste has a distinct office. Odors particularly affect the smell, and sound the ears. And therefore it cannot be that one sense should correct another, nor can the same sense correct itself, since an equal credit ought to be given to each; and therefore whatever the senses at any time discover to us must be certain.


    And though reason is not able to assign a cause why an object that is really four-square when near, should appear round when seen at a distance; yet, if we cannot explain this difficulty, it is better to give any solution, even a false one, than to deliver up all Certainty out of our power, to break in upon our first principle of belief, and tear up all foundations upon which our life and security depend. For not only all reason must be overthrown, but life itself must be immediately extinguished, unless you give credit to your senses. These direct you to fly from a precipice and other evils of this sort which are to be avoided, and to pursue what tends to your security. All therefore is nothing more than an empty parade of words that can be offered against the certainty of sense.


    Lastly, as in a building, if the principle rule of the artificer be not true, if his line be not exact, or his level bear in to the least to either side, every thing must needs be wrong and crooked, the whole fabric must be ill-shaped, declining, hanging over, leaning and irregular, so that some parts will seem ready to fall and tumble down, because the whole was at first disordered by false principles. So the reason of things must of necessity be wrong and false which is founded upon a false representation of the senses.


    Munro 1886


    Again if a man believe that nothing is known, he knows not whether this even can be known, since he admits he knows nothing. I will therefore decline to argue the case against him who places himself with head where his feet should be. And yet granting that he knows this, I would still put this question, since he has never yet seen any truth in things, whence he knows what knowing and not knowing severally are, and what it is that has produced the knowledge of the true and the false and what has proved the doubtful to differ from the certain.


    You will find that from the senses first has proceeded the knowledge of the true and the false and that the senses cannot be refuted. For that which is of itself to be able to refute things false by true things must from the nature of the case be proved to have the higher certainty. Well then, what must fairly be accounted of higher certainty than sense? Shall reason founded on false sense be able to contradict them, wholly founded as it is on the senses? And if they are not true, then all reason as well is rendered false. Or shall the ears be able to take the eyes to task, or the touch the ears? Again shall the taste call in question this touch, or the nostrils refute or the eyes controvert it? Not so, I guess; for each apart has its own distinct office, each its own power; and therefore we must perceive what is soft and cold or hot by one distinct faculty, by another perceive the different colors of things and thus see all objects which are conjoined with color. Taste too has its faculty apart; smells spring from one source, sounds from another. It must follow therefore that any one sense cannot confute any other. No nor can any sense take itself to task, since equal credit must be assigned to it at all times. What therefore has at any time appeared true to each sense, is true.


    And if reason shall be unable to explain away the cause why things which close at hand were square, at a distance looked round, it yet is better, if you are at a loss for the reason, to state erroneously the causes of each shape than to let slip from your grasp on any side things manifest and ruin the groundwork of belief and wrench up all the foundations on which rest life and existence. For not only would all reason give way, life itself would at once fall to the ground, unless you choose to trust the senses and shun precipices and all things else of this sort that are to be avoided, and to pursue the opposite things. All that host of words then be sure is quite unmeaning which has been drawn out in array against the senses.


    Once more, as in a building, if the rule first applied is wry, and the square is untrue and swerves from its straight lines, and if there is the slightest hitch in any part of the level, all the construction must be faulty, all must be wry, crooked, sloping, leaning forwards, leaning backwards, without symmetry, so that some parts seem ready to fall, others do fall, ruined all by the first erroneous measurements; so too all reason of things must needs prove to you distorted and false, which is founded on false senses.


    Bailey 1921


    Again, if any one thinks that nothing is known, he knows not whether that can be known either, since he admits that he knows nothing. Against him then I will refrain from joining issue, who plants himself with his head in the place of his feet. And yet were I to grant that he knows this too, yet I would ask this one question; since he has never before seen any truth in things, whence does he know what is knowing, and not knowing each in turn, what thing has begotten the concept of the true and the false, what thing has proved that the doubtful differs from the certain?


    You will find that the concept of the true is begotten first from the senses, and that the senses cannot be gainsaid. For something must be found with a greater surety, which can of its own authority refute the false by the true. Next then, what must be held to be of greater surety than sense? Will reason, sprung from false sensation, avail to speak against the senses, when it is wholly sprung from the senses? For unless they are true, all reason too becomes false. Or will the ears be able to pass judgement on the eyes, or touch on the ears? or again will the taste in the mouth refute this touch; will the nostrils disprove it, or the eyes show it false? It is not so, I trow. For each sense has its faculty set apart, each its own power, and so it must needs be that we perceive in one way what is soft or cold or hot, and in another the diverse colours of things, and see all that goes along with colour. Likewise, the taste of the mouth has its power apart; in one way smells arise, in another sounds. And so it must needs be that one sense cannot prove another false. Nor again will they be able to pass judgement on themselves, since equal trust must at all times be placed in them. Therefore, whatever they have perceived on each occasion, is true.


    And if reason is unable to unravel the cause, why those things which close at hand were square, are seen round from a distance, still it is better through lack of reasoning to be at fault in accounting for the causes of either shape, rather than to let things clear seen slip abroad from your grasp, and to assail the grounds of belief, and to pluck up the whole foundations on which life and existence rest. For not only would all reasoning fall away; life itself too would collapse straightway, unless you chose to trust the senses, and avoid headlong spots and all other things of this kind which must be shunned, and to make for what is opposite to these. Know, then, that all this is but an empty store of words, which has been drawn up and arrayed against the senses.


    Again, just as in a building, if the first ruler is awry, and if the square is wrong and out of the straight lines, if the level sags a whit in any place, it must needs be that the whole structure will be made faulty and crooked, all awry, bulging, leaning forwards or backwards, and out of harmony, so that some parts seem already to long to fall, or do fall, all betrayed by the first wrong measurements; even so then your reasoning of things must be awry and false, which all springs from false senses.

  • Last week I brought up an instance of 10 religious devotees “witnessing” a miracle and using that as a source of certainty for their faith, according to their perception, however, miracles by their very nature are miraculous and defy standards of nature, and are by definition exceptional, therefore in keeping with the materialist position, miracles cannot be considered as definitive proof or stand on legitimate grounds for defending faith, as they do not hold up to materialist scrutiny, by being unable to be repeated and observed with sensory experience.

    “If the joys found in nature are crimes, then man’s pleasure and happiness is to be criminal.”

  • In addition to what Charles said, I think everyone will be happy to hear that our recording of Episode 55 is now complete and is probably one of our most helpful and friendliest conversations that will be very helpful in moving forward toward further precision on some of our recent conversations. I'll get it edited and uploaded asap!

  • Ha, as soon as we finished, I realized that I should have pointed out that whenever Lucretius appears to be using logic to fight against logic, what he is really doing is to show logicians that their logic leads to conclusions which they have never observed happening. He is using observations to point out that logic isn't as accurate, more than using logical arguments against logical arguments. Without the observations, this method would have no teeth-- it is an observations vs logic, and observations win, instead of a logic vs logic structure.

  • Episode Fifty-Five of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. In today's podcast we will continue to discuss how Reason is Dependent on the Senses, and Elayne will take Cicero's Torquatus to task for his position on how best to explain that pleasure is the ultimate good. As always, let us know your questions and comments in the thread below.

    External Content www.spreaker.com
    Content embedded from external sources will not be displayed without your consent.
    Through the activation of external content, you agree that personal data may be transferred to third party platforms. We have provided more information on this in our privacy policy.

  • I hope some of the people who have been following the recent conversations on logic and reason will be able to listen and comment on this discussion. I think we have the foundation here for broad agreement on the role of the senses, but there is still much more to discuss in terms of fleshing out and --to use the term of the day - "describing" - the Epicurean method of thinking and decision-making.


    We also need to deal in much greater detail with Charles's observation about Epicurus' views on "dogmatism." We have discussed that knowledge must be based on the senses (more accurately, the three legs of the Canon) but we have not really discussed what "knowledge" is.


    This is probably a good time to review principal doctrine 24:



    "24. If you reject any single sensation, and fail to distinguish between the conclusion of opinion, as to the appearance awaiting confirmation, and that which is actually given by the sensation or feeling, or each intuitive apprehension of the mind, you will confound all other sensations, as well, with the same groundless opinion, so that you will reject every standard of judgment. And if among the mental images created by your opinion you affirm both that which awaits confirmation, and that which does not, you will not escape error, since you will have preserved the whole cause of doubt in every judgment between what is right and what is wrong."


    Also, from Diogenes Last time:



    "Again, the fact of apperception confirms the truth of the sensations. And seeing and hearing are as much facts as feeling pain. From this it follows that as regards the imperceptible we must draw inferences from phenomena. For all thoughts have their origin in sensations by means of coincidence and analogy and similarity and combination, reasoning too contributing something.

    ....


    Opinion they also call supposition, and say that it may be true or false: if it is confirmed or not contradicted, it is true ; if it is not confirmed or is contradicted, it is false. For this reason was introduced the notion of the problem awaiting confirmation: for example, waiting to come near the tower and see how it looks to the near view."



    How does an Epicurean decide whether he "knows" something has been confirmed, or whether he should wait for more information? (Much the same question Martin raised in the podcast.)



    Much more to come!


  • Great Stuff! Certainly we distinguish between (1) what is technically visible but too distant for us to observe, (2) what we can observe and (3) what is unobservable. Here is KD 24 from a somewhat different angle.


    Εἴ τιν᾽ ἐκβαλεῖς ἁπλῶς αἴσθησιν καὶ μὴ διαιρήσεις τὸ δοξαζόμενον κατὰ 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 ἐκλείψεις τὸ διεψευσμένον: ὡς τετηρηκὼς ἔσῃ πᾶσαν ἀμφισβήτησιν κατὰ πᾶσαν κρίσιν τοῦ ὀρθῶς ἢ μὴ ὀρθῶς.


    "if You reject even one sensation and will not separate

    (1) a theory about what is still pending

    versus (2) what is actually present according sensation,

    feelings, or the whole visual focus of the mind:

    then you will disturb the remaining senses with empty thought

    as you will reject the whole basis of judgment.

    also if You affirm

    (1) all that which is still pending in theoretical concepts

    along with (2) that which is not pending confirmation:

    …you will not avoid error

    since you will have retained all doubt

    regarding all judgment of what is true or not true."


    (1) τὸ προσμένον ἅπαν ἐν ταῖς δοξαστικαῖς ἐννοίαις “all that which is still pending [confirmation] regarding theoretical concepts” is equivalent to τὸ δοξαζόμενον κατὰ τὸ προσμένον ‘a theory about what is still pending’ (both of which are explaining τὸ δοξαζόμενον), as in the common observation of the distant square tower.


    Mελετᾶν οὖν χρὴ τὰ ποιοῦντα τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν.

    It is necessary to study what produces wellbeing.

  • Bryan (and others) if you had a chance to listen to the full episode, you heard Elayne ask the question of whether we would be comfortable substituting "adequate description" or "adequately described" as largely equivalent to "reasonable" or "logical." [Edit: I have a typo - Elayne said "accurately described" not "adequately described."]


    What do others think about that?


    I don't mean to assert that Elayne's position and Frances Wright's position are exactly the same, but I do think we have a challenging question here that can be best analyzed by looking at the paragraph inFrances' Wright's Chapter 15 at the paragraph beginning "“I apprehend the difficulties,” observed Leontium, “which embarrass the mind of our young friend."


    I would focus particularly on these two sentences: "You have heard of, and studied various systems of philosophy; but real philosophy is opposed to all systems.Her whole business is observation; and the results of that observation constitute all her knowledge"


    Also: as "that is, in knowledge — inquiry is everything; theory and hypothesis are worse than nothing.


    Also: "To this simple exposition of the phenomena of nature (which, you will observe, is not explaining their wonders, for that is impossible, but only observing them,) we are led by the exercise of our senses. In studying the existences which surround us, it is clearly our business to use our eyes, and not our imaginations. "


    Also: "Until we occupy ourselves in examining, observing, and ascertaining, and not in explaining, we are idly and childishly employed."



    Does Frances Wright go too far in her position, or is this a reasonable restatement or extension of Epicurus' position?

  • Cassius maybe my accent isn't clear-- I said "accurately described", not "adequately." And I definitely don't agree with FW. Hypotheses and reason do have a use, and so does imagination, but they are not the same as direct observations of senses and feelings and should play second fiddle. I think it's important not to conflate the observations we get from the Canon with the interpretations and predictions we make about those observations.


    I think we should not find ourselves saying "these observations don't fit my model so I'm going to disregard them because I like my model", but instead say "my model no longer fits my observations as well, so I'll either make a new model or wait for more observations-- and in the meantime I'll continue to have confidence that I can make observations of reality."

  • And the same for "common sense "-- we will be in error, possibly to the detriment of our pleasure, if we put more weight on common sense than on evidence. You might be amazed at how many research studies have been totally screwed up because scientists did just exactly that. They couldn't believe a finding could be right bc it didn't make sense to them, so they ignored data in favor of common sense. The delay in physicians adopting handwashing is a classic example but it happens still to this day!


  • Elayne, hello! It has been a great to hear you on the podcasts, and I am happy to be speaking with you now.

    I think we should not find ourselves saying "these observations don't fit my model so I'm going to disregard them because I like my model", but instead say "my model no longer fits my observations as well, so I'll either make a new model or wait for more observations-- and in the meantime I'll continue to have confidence that I can make observations of reality."

    This is a thoroughly scientific and most reasonable position to take. This is our position for the first class of things mentioned in KD 24, but Epicurus would differentiate between those inferences which we consider subject to correction and those inferences which we consider to be fully confirmed and certain conclusions.


    MODELS FOR THE UNINSPECTED

    (1) "that which is believed regarding what is still pending confirmation (τὸ δοξαζόμενον κατὰ τὸ προσμένον)" -- These are observable things which we have not yet fully observed. For all the things in this class we are totally open to the possibility for future correction if (when we have the opportunity for closer and repeated examination) we receive observations that contradict any theories we may have previously considered regarding them. This view in line with most modern scientific approaches.


    FOUNDATION (THE INSPECTED AND EXPERIENCED)

    The second class are all the things we are able to directly observe (2) "that which is actually present to sensation, feelings, or the whole visual focus of the mind (τὸ παρὸν ἤδη κατὰ τὴν αἴσθησιν καὶ τὰ πάθη καὶ πᾶσαν φανταστικὴν ἐπιβολὴν τῆς διανοίας) -- These are things which can be sensed and inspected and form the basis of all our clear thinking.


    MODELS FOR THE UNINSPECTABLE

    The third class are all the things we cannot directly observe (3) "that which is unobservable (τὰ ἄδηλα)" -- These invisible things must be tested by their observable interactions with class (2) things actually present (τὸ παρὸν ἤδη). Because our conclusions about things in this class are based upon their visible interactions with (2) what is directly observable and not based upon (1) that which is pending confirmation, we are certain about the conclusions we have reached regarding them. Clearly, this final view is antagonistic to most modern scientific approaches.




    Mελετᾶν οὖν χρὴ τὰ ποιοῦντα τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν.

    It is necessary to study what produces wellbeing.

  • It seems to me that the distinction that Bryan is raising with his third category is being illustrated in this section from the

    letter to Pythocles:



    It seems to me that this text is at variance from Frances Wright's position - agree or disagree?


    And Elayne, what would you say about this passage, especially the underlined portions?

  • Yes, he is saying not to desert the observations. Whereas sticking to one conclusion out of many is "myth", sticking to observations is correct. I do not see any sign of him recommending firm conclusions on the unseen, just being secure that observations are the way to go.

  • I'm not sure I'm onboard with the idea of the pleasurable "feeling when you 'know' something" paradigm y'all have been discussing. Are you saying that's a criteria of what's real or true? That seems to be cutting out 2/3 of the Canon. Or are you saying that that pleasurable reaction is just part of confirmation of being true. This all seems to go back to my "facts don't care about feelings" thread.


    I may be misunderstanding the episode, so here's my take on what I've heard. Please correct me if I misunderstood.


    When a Flat-earther says, "I 'know' the Earth is flat" they no doubt feel pleasure at "knowing" they're "right" because their belief is echoed by their friends, it's "corroborated" by all the "sources" shared within that community, it makes them feel like they're in on a big truth that other people don't realize, etc.


    But they're not truly applying observation through the senses, and so are missing that component of the Canon.


    So, their feeling of "pleasure at knowing" is not the same as - or of the same use in the Canon - as someone who knows something that actually aligns with reality?


    This specific Flat-earther knowledge pleasure may be one that shouldn't be chosen until it is weighed against the sensations. Maybe? The pleasure of "knowing the Earth is flat" can lead to pain if there is derision from outside the group -- although that could also be a pleasure in "knowing" you're in the In group and know the "truth" about the Earth. It could also lead to pain if you finally accept the Earth is not flat and feel you've been duped.


    I'm just having a hard time understanding the importance of "that pleasure of knowing" being canonical. Or wasn't it meant to be?

  • Don thank you for raising this - I have been concerned about it too and it would be good to see if Elayne can find time to elaborate on her thoughts here. I understood her to be saying that there is a feeling of certainty or confidence that comes from grasping something, and I agree that there is such a feeling. But I think you picked up something more than that, as if we might be associating it with a source of knowledge in itself, and I think it would be good to clarify this.

  • Don and Cassius


    I'm confused as to why my words were taken that way. I was being descriptive.


    In EP, we observe reality through our senses, part of the Canon. We feel our feelings, also part of reality. We have the prolepses. These are the 3 direct ways we know what is real. These 3 ways of knowing reality are non-conceptual-- they are direct. Not abstract.


    However, when it comes to certainty in conclusions _about_ our sense perceptions, feelings, and prolepses, this is added on to actual contact with reality. Concepts and so on are not primary information.


    I thought we were discussing how people decide when certainty is sufficient for them-- which is an entirely different issue from saying what the primary contacts with reality _are_.


    There are two aspects to "certainty "-- the abstract concept, which can also be described mathematically, and an inner sensation of knowing something. There is _no_ absolute "thing" we can find through our senses, feelings, or prolepses which is "objective certainty", even though relative certainty can be described by math. This knowing sensation is a subjective experience that has been studied. It can be produced directly with brain stimulation, minus any content. The sensation of knowing is neurological but doesn't necessarily correlate with accuracy. It's one of those features selected for by evolution because it was close enough and humans who had it out-reproduced those who didn't.


    I report that for me, the sensation of knowing has a sort of "rightness" that I classify as pleasurable. Similar sensation to a picture being lined up evenly on a wall or the sensation of symmetry in justice. I experience it as satisfying. That doesn't mean I actually am correct. It's just a known human phenomenon which was relevant to our discussion of how an individual decides what amount of certainty is enough to act on. It's a subjective decision influenced by feelings. There is no way to find a fixed rule. What confidence interval do you want before you are going to try a new drug, for instance? There are statistical likelihoods that satisfy most researchers, but none of them are 100%. Whether a person wants to take a 1 in 100 chance of being wrong and will feel certain enough not to worry, 1 in 1000, 1 in 1 million-- there's no absolute rule.


    I would advise being cautious with that sensation of knowing, given that it can cause people to overlook primary data. Cherry-picking, etc, is a risk. Some people appear to feel very anxious without that sensation, more than others. Some people prefer a sense of uncertainty. These are biological reactions, and noticing them is primary canonical data, while drawing further conclusions about their function is abstract.

  • We may be talking past each other again.


    Let's get specific: I'm listening to 27:30 -- 30:27 including when Charles says it "feels like evidence" and Elayne says "that feeling of correctness is usually pleasurable". My point was that the Flat-earther's "pleasurable" feeling of "correctness" is probably just as pleasurable for them as yours is for you. People cherry picking facts when they have that "pleasurable" feeling of "correctness" is exactly my concern. That "pleasure" reaction needs to be tethered to corroboration from the senses to be a valid criteria for truth. Which I think you're saying, but of what value - other than its pleasure - is that feeling of "correctness" then?

    This knowing sensation is a subjective experience that has been studied. It can be produced directly with brain stimulation, minus any content. The sensation of knowing is neurological but doesn't necessarily correlate with accuracy.

    This sounds fascinating. Do you have any citations or names of researchers or studies for us to follow-up on?

    I report that for me, the sensation of knowing has a sort of "rightness" that I classify as pleasurable. Similar sensation to a picture being lined up evenly on a wall or the sensation of symmetry in justice. I experience it as satisfying. That doesn't mean I actually am correct.

    So, I'm still confused then. If you're just saying you have a "sensation of knowing" that's "pleasurable" and that it doesn't mean what you know is correct, then it's not evidence of anything if someone is trying to change your mind. It's just a pleasurable feeling. It seems to me that holding a warm, fuzzy blanket and feeling pleasure at that while someone explains something would - for purposes of accepting an argument - would be the same.

    It's just a known human phenomenon which was relevant to our discussion of how an individual decides what amount of certainty is enough to act on. It's a subjective decision influenced by feelings. There is no way to find a fixed rule. What confidence interval do you want before you are going to try a new drug, for instance?

    The key term here is "decide" - that's choice and avoidance - which involves using reason to assess the evidence from your sensory input, initial reaction of pleasure or pain, and mental anticipations. I'm still cautious of phrases like "influenced by feelings." Are you talking emotions? From my perspective, emotions are not what Epicurus talks about. The emotions - fear, anger, sadness, love, contentment - are how we mentally process the reaction of pleasure or pain. Decision making while subjective is a cognitive process.

  • Quote

    The sensation of knowing is neurological but doesn't necessarily correlate with accuracy

    This is what I came away with as the point which is why I did not pursue it further in the episode. But I sensed at the time that Dons question or something like it would come up. We need to be clear about the general question of truth, knowledge, certainty etc which we probably have not emphasized enough. Due to modern presumptions we probably need to hit over and over how we are defining these words in an Epicurean non-absolute-perspective universe.


    Whether our definitions are related or not to a "correspondence theory of truth" or some other formulation needs to be made clear. Or to get back to a recurring issue it isn't sufficient to describe the physiological process in detail - we need to reduce the picture to an understandable theory and show how it fits the rest of the philosophy. In this context the picture has to do with the feeling of confidence having nothing much to do with an accurate grasp of the physical details under consideration. Plus, the picture involves the bliss pill issues - in the end we are concerned about living happily, not necessarily having the ability to give the most "accurate" recitation of the details. That point is uncomfortable for many people to accept - even me - but I think it is the clear implication of the philosophy and in the end does "make sense.". To use another cliche it is an " elephant in the room" that we can't forget is there even as we dive into the details of what Lucretius / Epicurus are saying.


    As we go through these episodes we need to constantly flip back and forth from the general to the particular and back again. I am afraid we probably didn't succeed in that in upcoming episode 56 so I will try to work on that for the next episode.