Multiple Components Comprise the Epicurean Life

  • My paraphrases based on quotes from Philebus!

    I left out the "purity" argument which is also in Philebus.

    I got started on my attempt to chart all the arguments in the dialog but it is a bigger job than I expected. I need to basically paste the full dialog into an outlining program so I can slice and dice it by section - just like the cooks that Plato so fancied!

    And one of these days I am going to finally get a grip on " the one and the many" argument -. Although I expect I am going to have to have your help to ever emerge on the other side of that one.

    As I sit here in late October 2021 after years of reading it I still don't grasp all the implications of it.there are presumptions buried in it that may in the end be no deeper than the "cook" analogy, but I am convinced it is ultimately a word game intended to provide produce exactly the kind of perplexity I feel every time I read it.

  • At this moment all I can think about is that meme from one of the early Star Wars movies where the rebel general exclaims "It's a trick!"

  • But it is clear to me that the "trick" involves the allegation that it is necessary to slice and dice any subject up into components, which then implies that the various components must be ranked, which then leads inevitably to the conclusion that the "art of ranking" is more important than any instance of the thing you are examining. So once you admit the necessity to slice and dice ( I.e. in this case that some pleasures are better than others) you inevitably have lost the argument that pleasure is the highest good.

    But it's a word game where you predetermine the result according to your definitions!

    The challenge for us is to be able to explain the issue - in terms even more clear than we need to bring to bear on the related issue of "formal logic" we discussed with Martin

    The issues at state are very similar and many indeed by close to identical, and it has something to do with what happens when you forget the limitations that you originally knew existed when you started the word game in th first place.

    (Which is why K., If you are reading this, one of the most enjoyable and satisfying stories of Lucian is "Hermotimus")

  • Cassius if I may be so bold, it seems to me that Kalosyni has again intuitively followed the thinking of Epicurus by skipping the SPA word games and ended up at PD5. I understand the value of examining the word games, at least in some situations, but in this case it feels like it's muddying the water. But please correct me if I'm wrong!

  • A. The ultimate goal that I would like to choose for myself is to live joyously and sweetly.

    B. The guide to my living joyously and sweetly is to use pleasure which is governed by wisdom and reason.

    So for me it is to pursue pleasure when governed by reason and wisdom. And to be kind to myself when I make errors in judgement (which invariably will happen). Or, if at times I act out of impulse (without considering the consequences of my actions) then I shouldn't be surprised by the chance of experiencing unexpected consequences which may lead to less joy and less sweetness.

    I think you know more than you think you do.

    A. Yes! Agreed! :)

    B. Yes, although I'd suggest a slight edit...

    Using wisdom and reason, I make choices to pursue my goal of living joyously and sweetly (i.e., pleasurably).

    Wisdom and reason in this case are instrumental goods used to work toward the highest good of living joyously and sweetly.

    As to your last part, Epicurus had this to say:

    "some things happen of necessity, others by chance, others through our own agency."

  • I am pretty sure I understand your position, Godfrey and Don, and I think there is a possibility that you are right in this case. K. Has to be the ultimate judge of that.

    But this I also believe to be true:

    That every aspect of our current American society is so thoroughly anti-epicurean in nature that we must expect that anyone who has not already thoroughly examined these issues has been "programmed" with very damaging assertions about the biggest issues of life.

    The issue of the role of pleasure may be simple enough for any kitten or puppy or baby to understand it, but no human of average social exposure in 2021 has escaped the preventing influence of modern culture, and simply identifying happiness or even pleasure as the goal of life is akin to the biblical assertion to the effect that "not all who call out the name of Jesus will be saved."

    Certainly if K or anyone else were to choose not to pursue certain aspects of the philosophy that would be their choice and something to be respected,.

    However the underlying issue that Epicurus was facing is in my view the same that we face to day - that of identifying a consistent system of thought that we can embrace confidently as that which is most consistent with our ultimate natures and which is the "best" use of our short lives.

    Unless we understand the system we cannot apply it consistently in our own circumstances. We can't understand the system unless we understand the steps by which Epicurus got from "nothing comes from or goes to nothing" to his "canon of truth". And without that understanding we can't ultimately be confident in processing the "word games" that confront every one of us who were not born on and are not living on a desert island.

    But in this and every case K it any other person involved has to proceed at her own speed and as she is so inclined.

  • I completely agree it's up to Kalosyni to say if she is in agreement with what Godfrey and I have added.

    But, it at least seems to me, by entertaining the idea that pleasure can be the guiding principle of one's life, to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi (to stick with Star Wars references), "You've taken your first step into a larger world."

    I sympathize with Cassius 's perspective and concerns, but...

    • We did briefly discuss the "stealth" Epicurean concepts in modern culture recently. Bringing those to light may be helpful to make them more apparent to people.
    • Epicurus himself was the one who said it was sufficient to point to babies and animals to "prove" his point that pleasure was the highest good.
    • Wisdom and reason, correctly applied, arise from an understanding of the whole system. But I would assert that recognizing that pleasure - living joyously and sweetly - can be a beautiful, honorable (kalos) goal in life is a pretty good first step in exploring the path of the Garden.
  • There are definitely different paths into Epicurus, and the more one digs into the philosophy the more one finds, both regarding things Epicurus was responding to and the ways his thinking permeates our world today.

    The pre-Socratics were a further and important influence on Epicurus, as well as on SPA, and there's much to be gained from understanding them as well.

    SPA do have a grossly distorted impact on today's society, but dissatisfaction with that is exactly what has led many of us on the winding road to Epicurus. So to some extent I think the points that you are making, Cassius, are baked in to Kalosyni's thinking. I'm just getting the sense, which may or may not be correct, that in this particular thread they're digressing from where the thread was initially headed.