Alt-tech outreach

  • Cassius but here is the critical difference, the thing Epicurus definitely would not be doing, and I don't think I explained it sufficiently or you wouldn't disagree lol. Epicurus would _not_:


    1) Have to get people interested in a prior historical figure no longer present and argue with them over what that person meant;


    2) Have to get people to figure out what people hundreds of years ago thought about physics, compared to current research.


    Those are the two major barriers, as I see it, to folks getting specifically interested in Epicurus-- and if they do get interested, these are barriers to understanding his philosophy.


    Epicurus in his time had the benefit of being able to explain the philosophy directly, using current observations. I have no reason to think he wouldn't do the same today-- using all the current science at hand. That is the way I think people today could learn it... but the historical and physics issues are a substantial barrier to practicing and teaching it the way Epicurus did.

  • Well what you're saying there Elayne is basically the development of a new philosophy, which kind of goes along with your thoughts for a new blog. As for me personally that's more than I think I could possibly tackle -- I have a hard enough time working within a shared existing framework. And especially as to some of the physics issues, I am really not comfortable taking a position on specific theories and theorists since being a scientist isn't really my focus.


    You're certainly correct that the existing framework requires a "history" component that would not be required were one starting a new philosophy. Maybe it's just my personal orientation or disposition, but I doubt I personally can separate out the "history" from my interest in the subject and motivation to pursue it. For example on the issue of religion, for me personally it isn't really the whole story to say "there is no supernatural god." I personally am much more into what I see as the Lucretian framework of illustrating the problems of religion by references to the history of how we got here and the specific outrages that have happened in the name of religion. And it really isn't possible from my point of view to understand where we are without understanding those questions of how we got here.


    So no doubt you are correct that for some people "the historical and physics issues are a substantial barrier to practicing and teaching it the way Epicurus did. But on the other hand I am convinced that there are others for whom it's exactly those historical and physics issues that spur the interest and motivate the study. I agree with you that it would be good to work to show how the philosophy can appeal to everyone, but I guess that means that there's a division of labor involved in different people pursuing their different interests in it.

  • At least in my personal experience, using Reddit & Discord, the Epicurean communities I started there largely ended up as failed experiments with the latter having limited success. I've raised the question for months now about whether or not I should re-do it, and I've spent those months figuring out exactly what went wrong aside from my own quietness time to time within in.


    I still consider it an option, but more restrictions and a better system or organizing role perms would have to be instituted, especially with partnerships and self-plugs on other servers.


    As for Gab and Minds: I agree with Elayne.

    Don't consider them failed, but just an experiment. I still believe Discord has one of the highest potentials as an online community.


    I don't say this as empty encouragement either, but because I'm also a part of a really large Stoic server as well, and they're still flourishing. It may do well to study their server for ideas if you want to try to change up your current Epicurean.


    Your server was a great start, and I take responsibility for the lack of activity since you made me a mod there, however that was a glaring issue in of itself.


    These servers can be a true commitment and need people to actively not only promote but to engage others as well, and a lot of discussion I tend to notice happening was either "dry" academia or people asking questions but responses took too long to happen (as both you and I have been incredibly busy).


    The sense of community and fellowship can feel lacking at times in my opinion, and there's something to be learned from the "Broics" in regards to engagement and community there.


    The catch 22 of this however, is that as a community grows, especially online, voices become drowned out and new hierarchies and "roles" have to be established in order to still keep older members feeling as engaged as newer and/or more active members.

  • I still believe Discord has one of the highest potentials as an online community.

    You said several things I wanted to comment on A_Gardner and this is one.


    Why do you say this about Discord? Are you referring to the abilities of the platform technologically, or are you referring to the type of person that is a member of the general Discord community. My impression in the past has been that Discord is largely devoted to "gamers." Are you suggesting that that type of community is a good target for an Epicurean community, or is there another reason?

  • Cassius , the point I'm trying to make is that ancient history and ancient physics wasn't part of Epicurus' philosophy in his day... nor was an absent historical figure. He didn't have to deal with that because he was right there, making current observations. He wasn't asking his students to study ancient history, ancient philosophers, or a different language. If he were here today forming groups, including online forums, I can't imagine any of those aspects would be the focus of his philosophy! He would definitely not be spending time arguing over what he said centuries ago, because if he were here now, he wouldn't have been alive centuries ago 😂.


    So those aspects we are dealing with are actually _novel_ to his way of teaching and forming groups.


    I think it is fine for people to be interested in history-- it can be a pleasure for many people. But history, translations, etc-- none of that was a focus for Epicurus himself. In that way, modern Epicureans are adding these aspects to his strategy of organizing students. And this increases the difficulty of attracting the widest public interest, if it is the primary structure.

  • My impression in the past has been that Discord is largely devoted to "gamers." Are you suggesting that that type of community is a good target for an Epicurean community, or is there another reason?

    While that was most certainly true around its launch and also remains true to this day, Discord has become mainstream enough to the point where there are tens of thousands (possibly hundreds) of servers dedicated to any topic. I would say it's become much closer to Reddit, and I agree with A_Gardner about the potential.

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

  • Cassius , the point I'm trying to make is that ancient history and ancient physics wasn't part of Epicurus' philosophy in his day... nor was an absent historical figure. He didn't have to deal with that because he was right there, making current observations. He wasn't asking his students to study ancient history, ancient philosophers, or a different language. If he were here today forming groups, including online forums, I can't imagine any of those aspects would be the focus of his philosophy! He would definitely not be spending time arguing over what he said centuries ago, because if he were here now, he wouldn't have been alive centuries ago

    :) I definitely see where Elayne is coming from! If Epicurus Neoclou was developing his philosophy in 21st-century Athens and building his school, he'd be addressing life issues using modern tools and contemporary language and contemporary knowledge. No question there. I wonder if he would seem that much different than other authors in the self-help aisle of the bookstore today (or the Self-help section of the online bookstore website) given our modern sensibilities.


    On another topic: Did Epicurus have a name for his philosophy or his school other than The Garden? Other than just physiology "the study of what is natural"? I believe later Epicureans thought of themselves as Epicureans, but Epicurus didn't refer to his school that way. Would it be better to go back to his - if he had it - non-self-referential designation? Concentrate on the "what" not the "who"?


    Topic 3: I will admit one thing that attracted me to Epicurus (and Stoicism - briefly - before that) was the idea of a lineage. I like my philosophies road-tested, stress-tested. That's what first drew me to Buddhism and prior to that some forms of Christianity. You see people who are kind, altruistic, calm, and they follow a particular tradition... I thought "Well, there must be something there there." And for a certain personality type, there seems to be something helpful in those traditions. I still think some forms of meditation have a place in Epicurus's Garden practice. I'm thinking Elayne may find my idea of lineage or tradition irrelevant to the value of a/the philosophy, but I'll let her speak for herself. I find the idea of a connection across time and space .... comforting? interesting? I don't know the exact words. I also found a practical outlet for my interest in language and history in studying Epicurean philosophy (just as I did with Buddhism and Christianity), but as Elayne pointed out, this isn't a "selling point" for everyone.


    What makes Epicurus's philosophy relevant is not the historical context. It's the universal human experience. What makes me choose one path over another? What does a philosophy have to offer to live *my* life "better" than I am right now? And how do I define "better"? Why do we still read Homer and Shakespeare? It's the universal human experience.


    Epicurus also took part enthusiastically in the religious rituals and practices of his day. What possibilities does that open up for us in a predominantly Judeo-Christan environment? Could we commandeer some of their rituals for Epicurus (just like they did by building churches in temples)? As I remember reading somewhere, Epicurus took periodic fasts to experiment what would provide pleasure and true satiety. Sounds like Lent? I do NOT believe he lived on bread and water all the time, but I could see him gathering empirical evidence in this way periodically.


    Okay, now I'm just musing out loud and getting far afield of the thread...

  • I still believe Discord has one of the highest potentials as an online community.

    You said several things I wanted to comment on A_Gardner and this is one.


    Why do you say this about Discord? Are you referring to the abilities of the platform technologically, or are you referring to the type of person that is a member of the general Discord community. My impression in the past has been that Discord is largely devoted to "gamers." Are you suggesting that that type of community is a good target for an Epicurean community, or is there another reason?

    Similar to as Charles has already mentioned, Discord has grown beyond its gaming roots, with many diverse servers catering towards other topics popping up all the time.

    Basically, if you can think of a topic, there's bound to be a server either dedicated towards it, or including it in its discussion topics, as I mentioned being part of a rather large Stoic server as well, that includes channels for other philosophies.

    Now granted, size of a server does not equal quality of course, but the way this one is organized from top to bottom is impressive and has led to quality discussions and topics despite having a large membership. If you're interested to take a look for yourself to see what I mean by its organization, please let me know and I'll share a link to it (provided you have a Discord of course, otherwise I don't think it will let you view the server).


    Discord also is incredibly accessible and easy to use once it has been set up, allowing for online gatherings, screen sharing, discussions, and all those social features relatively seamlessly, as long as your connection is stable.

  • "Most people who have adopted Platonist or Stoic ideas are unaware of the source. They've absorbed it unconsciously through the culture. Most people who accept elements of modern physics know very little about the science involved. Non-religious people are statistically likely to be better educated... but there's a pretty high degree of doubt and metaphorical takes on religion even in those who don't know much about physics.


    To get most people to start putting pleasure first would be a lot easier if we aren't expecting them to also be interested in Epicurus or to need to learn the correct understanding of ataraxia in order to combat modern academics, etc."




    I am new to working within this forum, forgive me if I make mistakes. Elayne, to me it seems we are focused on "legacy" religion (still a danger), rather than say, a belief structure centered around collectivism and "selflessness". Many of the "educated" youth are being indoctrinated to almost despise pleasure, to view selflessness as a virtue, and to even hate themselves (white guilt, privilege etc.). I'm assuming the world is going to get on without them, and unfortunately, the beliefs they hold will lead to their own demise (imo), how would you suggest reaching them?


    “We must free ourselves from the prison of public education and politics.”

  • [Matthaios I edited your posts to remove the colors and fonts. We need to make it more clear somewhere to stick to the standard forum fonts/colors/sizes, because with different themes (particularly dark vs light) it gets very difficult to read if we're not careful.]


    As to your post there is one part that could be made more clear: "I'm assuming the world is going to get on without them...." I'm not sure exactly what you mean there unless that is just another way of stating "leading to their own demise."


    Also another reminder: per the forum rules we need to stay away from current politics, so I need to caution against developing some of the specific examples in your post. We need to keep the discussion at the philosophical level (including religion, where the issues you reference appear). As long as we keep the discussion at a level which could apply to anyone anywhere, then integrating "hate themselves..." and "lead to their own demise" into a proper philosophical outlook are valid and important topics for the forum.

  • Matthaios it's a bit difficult to answer you fully, given the no current politics rule (which I understand)... but I think I can say that there is a danger in thinking that EP leads to one political position or even a narrow range, because individuals take pleasure in different things. What looks like painful selflessness to someone else can feel like pleasurable social connections to others. Remember that meaningfulness is often one of the strongest pleasures for humans! I have had in fact opportunity to speak to many young people over the past year, whom I suspect may be in the group you are worried about, and I'm happy to say that they understand and practice EP principles easily! Even though they don't call it that. I've had some great conversations with them. Where I reached them was in person, at community events, and after that I connected online.


    There are a lot of nonpolitical online places a modern Epicurus might show up besides history and philosophy sites, which don't get as much broad interest. I think Epicurus today would definitely be on physics forums, where there are mostly atheists already, reminding them about pleasure, but that's still narrow. I can most easily imagine him going to health-related online groups, physical and mental, talking about how health has no value apart from pleasure (just as nothing else has value without pleasure). Lots of people of all ages are interested in health, and what they really want, even if they don't articulate it, is physical and mental pleasure. Health is the most common modern day framing I know of for happiness-- it has become religion-like for many people.


    He might use a range of platforms but I suspect given his writings that he didn't personally enjoy politics so would probably not show up on the platforms that are heavily political. However, those of us who enjoy politics can engage wherever we get pleasure engaging. I certainly do!

  • Matthaios I am low on time as I write this so I know my response will seem clipped. Both Elayne and I have written lengthy comments on the issue of politics and I will try to come back and link them here.


    The point I want to emphasize is that I do not believe that in general terms Epicurean philosophy and politics are incompatible at all. Elayne is very politically active, as was Frances Wright, and certainly Thomas Jefferson, and Cassius Longicus, and Atticus, and I would even dare say that Epicurus himself was not averse to it. But the example of Epicurus is what I think we need to commit ourselves to following in this group, because the mixture of modern politics into this forum would be detrimental to the main goal of providing a foundational place for everyone who is interested in Epicurus to explore and sharpen their understanding.


    it is my view that it is totally appropriate for people to pursue their interest in applying Epicurus to politics. On the left there is R Hanrott with his Epicurus.today blog, and many of the other Epicurean pages on the internet treat politics implicitly or explicitly. I think there are certainly logical limits on which political movements would embrace Epicurus (I can't see any religion-based movement doing so) but on the other hand I do not think there are many other bright lines we could draw if we are rigorously clear about the non-absolute nature of Epicurean justice and the rest of the philosophy.


    I think in my role here it is best to take the position that everyone should pursue their study and application of Epicurus as best they see fit, while also understanding that the messy political issues of today fade into the background when you consider the two thousand year history of Epicurean philosophy and all the opposition it has faced from so many quarters in the past. I want to first see the growth of a foundational base of people who are really keyed in to the basic issues, and I think that this forum and my personal efforts best fit if we limit ourselves HERE to that goal. But at the same time it is very true that all of us have our own personal lives to live, and there will be many times in which the issues of today, including contemporary politics, MUST take precedence if we are to survive.

  • Matthaios I am back and have time to add this: If you or anyone else have specific suggestions for sub-groups on other platforms, I hope you (and everyone) will let us know here so that any who are interested and able can help out. That's pretty much what I have tried to do with initiatives like on Reddit and Discourse, but I don't think I/we have done it systematically enough.


    We have this list of Epicurean Websites: https://www.epicureanfriends.com/wcf/index.php?links/


    But we don't feature that list prominently, and it's more just a list of static websites than it is a list of discussion platforms. We need to assemble links to the available forums at Reddit, Discourse, etc, and make that list more easily accessible, and anyone who starts a new subgroup somewhere else we can add that to the list as well.

  • We have a list of Epicurean websites elsewhere, but we don't have a list of Epicurean "discussion forums." I've made this list but I bet there are others. Anyone aware of other "discussion-oriented" sites that have a subforum devoted to Epicurus? Here is my current list. I know that there are other Facebook groups but my criteria would be "public." I was thinking there might be subforums devoted to Epicurus on some of the Atheist forums, but so far I can't locate any:


    OTHER PUBLIC DISCUSSION FORUMS/GROUPS DEVOTED SPECIFICALLY TO EPICUREAN DISCUSSION (Not just websites)


    Discord:


    Older EpicureanFriends forum: https://discord.com/channels/3…531266/397238208812810241


    Newer Epicurean Philosophy Forum: https://discord.com/channels/3…531266/397238208812810241


    Reddit:


    Epicurean Philosophy

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Epicurean_Philosophy/


    Epicureanism

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Epicureanism/


    Epicurus

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Epicurus/


    Facebook:


    https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy

  • I don't want to get this thread off the track of its focus on expansion of Epicurean activity on other internet platforms. However I want to insert this pointer to another thread that will discuss something I think is important to any such effort, which is, that in establishing a foothold on any platform I would recommend not trying to duplicate the depth of Epicureanfriends.com, but rather focusing on a few key aspects of Epicurean philosophy and keeping the discussion focused on practical application of those core issues.


    I make that argument and discuss what those core issues might be here: RE: Planning And Execution of A Local Group