Best Recent Version of Diogenes Laertius?

  • Have you searched Ebay or places like Abebooks?

    On AbeBooks I couldn't find Baiely's, but their search function is not very good, I'll give it another try there and ebay. Thanks.

    The Epicurus reader is well respected

    How come it hadn't come up as one of the top recommendations?

  • Yes it is not really focused on Laertius and contains other material as well.

    It's good to have too, bit I think you want a translation if the entire set of books. They are actually fun to read

  • Well the Epicurus Reader has just arrived. The back cover reads as follows:

    "A total philosophy of life, death, religion, science, ethics, and culture promising liberation from the obstacles that stand in the way of our happiness, the teachings of Epicurus claimed many thousand committed followers all over the Mediterranean world and deeply influenced later European thought. From the first years of its development, however, Epicureanism faced hostile opposition, and, as a result, much of our evidence for the content of its teaching is unhelpful and even misleading.

    The Epicurus Reader fills the need for a reliable selection and translation of the main surviving evidence, some of it never previously translated into English. Included here, with exception of Lucretius' DRN, are the most important surviving texts of a system of thought that even today remains a powerful living philosophy. "

    So I'm hopeful that the translation will be pro Epicurus.

    From what I glimpsed, and as the cover says, the biography of DL is not complete but rather just selections of the text.

  • So I'm hopeful that the translation will be pro Epicurus.

    Well the trick there is "What is the meaning of 'pro-Epicurus?'" It's pretty safe to say that most or all of the writers who have devoted the time to write a book about him in the last 100 years would call themselves "pro-Epicurus" -- but the issue is what do they think Epicurus taught, especially in terms of engagement with the world, asceticism, relationship to Stoicism, relationship to standard Platonic doctrine, etc.


    Every one of the writers on my "unfriendly" list, starting perhaps with Cyril Bailey himself, I rate as unfriendly not because they don't think they are personally well disposed toward Epicurus, but that their version of Epicurean philosophy is, in my humble opinion, antithetical to what Epicurus himself was teaching and wanted the world to understand.

    That's why here on the page we've tried to summarize some of those important points, especially in the "Not Neo-Epicurean, but Epicurean" list, as well as even in the shorter golden graphic of four key elements of what Epicurus taught. Most people don't argue about the "no supernatural gods," "no life after death" part, although even there I find many writers want to gloss over that as if that's not as important as the "pleasure" issue.

    But by the time you get to "all good and evil consists in sensation" (a bright line that there is no absolute virtue) and "pleasure is the beginning and end of the blessed life" (which ought to be clear enough) it takes significant explanation to lay out where the battle lines are, and unless people get directed to a source that wants to dive into those issues (like this website, or to some extent DeWitt) then they don't even see that the issues exist.

    From what I glimpsed, and as the cover says, the biography of DL is not complete but rather just selections of the text.

    Yes, that is what I recall. It's a "selection" from Book ten, if i recall. So that makes it a good supplement but not a full replacement to DL himself. I would still advocate you find one of the used (or new I guess) Loeb Editions (green sleeve). There are significant references to Epicurus in other sections as well as Book Ten, so ultimately you'll want to read the full thing.

  • Well, the names in the cover are predominantly published in:

    Brad Inwood: Stoicism

    LP Gerson: Platonism

    DS Hutchinson: Plato and Aristotle

    So there's that. But perhaps this is common in all professional philosophers?

  • I guess the best advice is:

    Proceed with caution.

    Please do let us all know what you think of the book!!

  • No, Camotero, I think you are going to find that those writers are true to their areas of expertise.

    They are not going to be partisans of Epicurus against their own specialities and interests.

    They are going to provide valuable perspective, but you are going to have to be wary of their predispositions.

    There is only one reputable academic writer I know of who is not a Stoic, not a Platonist, not an Aristotelian, and who devoted his career to the study of Epicurus because he was so sympathetic to Epicurus' perspective and his importance to the world.

    You probably don't need me to repeat his name but of course I will: Norman DeWitt.

    Note: As a possible second example we might want to consider Hugh Munro. In reading Munro's commentaries on Lucretius I have found Munro to be a defender of Epicurus/Lucretius' ethical positions against his detractors. I don't have a good list of cites to give you to that, but if I were looking for someone else who apparently devoted his academic career to Epicurus/Lucretius I think Hugh Munro is a good bet.

  • Darn. I collected some of Bailey's negative comments about Epicurus here, but I thought I had some positive ones by Munro as well. I will keep an eye out for what I remember but I remembers some distinct kind words for Epicurus' ethics and negative words about the Stoics in one of Munro's introductory commentaries on Lucretius;

    The “Yea-Sayers” and the “Nay-Sayers” – NewEpicurean

  • Quote from Herodotus on

    For we have frequent need of the general view, but not so often of the detailed exposition. Indeed it is necessary to go back on the main principles, and constantly to fix in one’s memory enough to give one the most essential comprehension of the truth.

    Quote from Herodotus from Epicurus Reader

    For we frequently need the overall application [of the intellect], but not so often the detailed application.

    36. We must, then, approach those [general points] continually, and get into our memory an amount [of doctrine] sufficient to permit the most vital application [of the intellect] to the facts;

    The word application is what's confusing for me here. If he hadn't put "[of the intellect]", I would've read it as application of the principles. I guess "application of the intelect" could be analogous to "view"?

  • On first thought Camotero I think the issue is that there are a couple(?) Of text references to Epicurus talking about "casting the mind" such as in his figurative journey through space, and so that tends to get picked up by commentators when they see something about "applying the mind.". Pretty clearly Epicurus stressed that thinking requires action of the mind applied to observations, and I don't think there is much more to it than that. The bottom line for me would be that we don't often need the full details but we do need the overall outline in order to apply our minds in an organized way to figuring out problems consistent with the overall view. You could reverse that and say you are applying the principles to the problem but I doubt that makes much difference.

    Maybe you are asking something else?