Episode One Hundred Six - The Epicurean Attitude Toward Fate / Fortune and the Role of Reason

  • Welcome to Episode One Hundred Six of Lucretius Today.


    This is a podcast dedicated to the poet Lucretius, who wrote "On The Nature of Things," the only complete presentation of Epicurean philosophy left to us from the ancient world.


    I am your host Cassius, and together with our panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and we'll 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.


    If you find the Epicurean worldview attractive, we invite you to join us in the study of Epicurus at EpicureanFriends.com, where you will find a discussion thread for each of our podcast episodes and many other topics.


    At this point in our podcast we have completed our first line-by-line review of the poem, and we have turned to the presentation of Epicurean ethics found in Cicero's On Ends. Last week we spent most of the episode discussing several listener questions. Today we return to the Torquatus text and look more closely at this list of core Epicurean doctrines.


    Now let's join Joshua (or Charles) reading today's text:



    [63] It was indeed excellently said by Epicurus that fortune only in a small degree crosses the wise man’s path, and that his greatest and most important undertakings are executed in accordance with his own design and his own principles, and that no greater pleasure can be reaped from a life which is without end in time, than is reaped from this which we know to have its allotted end. He judged that the logic of your school possesses no efficacy either for the amelioration of life or for the facilitation of debate. He laid the greatest stress on natural science. That branch of knowledge enables us to realize clearly the force of words and the natural conditions of speech and the theory of consistent and contradictory expressions; and when we have learned the constitution of the universe we are relieved of superstition, are emancipated from the dread of death, are not agitated through ignorance of phenomena, from which ignorance, more than any thing else, terrible panics often arise; finally, our characters will also be improved when we have learned what it is that nature craves. Then again if we grasp a firm knowledge of phenomena, and uphold that canon, which almost fell from heaven into human ken, that test to which we are to bring all our judgments concerning things, we shall never succumb to any man’s eloquence and abandon our opinions.


    [64] Moreover, unless the constitution of the world is thoroughly understood, we shall by no means be able to justify the verdicts of our senses. Further, our mental perceptions all arise from our sensations; and if these are all to be true, as the system of Epicurus proves to us, then only will cognition and perception become possible. Now those who invalidate sensations and say that perception is altogether impossible, cannot even clear the way for this very argument of theirs when they have thrust the senses aside. Moreover, when cognition and knowledge have been invalidated, every principle concerning the conduct of life and the performance of its business becomes invalidated. So from natural science we borrow courage to withstand the fear of death, and rmness to face superstitious dread, and tranquillity of mind, through the removal of ignorance concerning the mysteries of the world, and self-control, arising from the elucidation of the nature of the passions and their different classes, and as I shewed just now, our leader again has established the canon and criterion of knowledge and thus has imparted to us a method for marking off falsehood

    from truth.








  • Key References for the Epicurean Canonics (Epistemology - The Basis of Knowledge):


    1. This document in updated and easier to read form at the Epicurus College Course Materials
    2. The EpicureanFriends forum on Canonics (Epistemology)
    3. Epicurus' Letter to Herodotus (Much of Herodotus is devoted to images, and thus the way the sensations work. Impotant to this also is the issue of Qualities (Events, Accidents) and Properties


      1. [37] Wherefore since the method I have described is valuable to all those who are accustomed to the investigation of nature, I who urge upon others the constant occupation in the investigation of nature, and find my own peace chiefly in a life so occupied, have composed for you another epitome on these lines, summing up the first principles of the whole doctrine. First of all, Herodotus, we must grasp the ideas attached to words, in order that we may be able to refer to them and so to judge the inferences of opinion or problems of investigation or reflection, so that we may not either leave everything uncertain and go on explaining to infinity or use words devoid of meaning.
      2. [38] For this purpose it is essential that the first mental image associated with each word should be regarded, and that there should be no need of explanation, if we are really to have a standard to which to refer a problem of investigation or reflection or a mental inference. And besides we must keep all our investigations in accord with our sensations, and in particular with the immediate apprehensions whether of the mind or of any one of the instruments of judgment, and likewise in accord with the feelings existing in us, in order that we may have indications whereby we may judge both the problem of sense perception and the unseen.
      3. Images


        1. [46] Moreover, there are images like in shape to the solid bodies, far surpassing perceptible things in their subtlety of texture. For it is not impossible that such emanations should be formed in that which surrounds the objects, nor that there should be opportunities for the formation of such hollow and thin frames, nor that there should be effluences which preserve the respective position and order which they had before in the solid bodies: these images we call idols.
        2. [47] Next, nothing among perceptible things contradicts the belief that the images have unsurpassable fineness of texture. And for this reason they have also unsurpassable speed of motion, since the movement of all their atoms is uniform, and besides nothing or very few things hinder their emission by collisions, whereas a body composed of many or infinite atoms is at once hindered by collisions. [48] Besides this, nothing contradicts the belief that the creation of the idols takes place as quick as thought. For the flow of atoms from the surface of bodies is continuous, yet it cannot be detected by any lessening in the size of the object because of the constant filling up of what is lost. The flow of images preserves for a long time the position and order of the atoms in the solid body, though it is occasionally confused. Moreover, compound idols are quickly formed in the air around, because it is not necessary for their substance to be filled in deep inside: and besides there are certain other methods in which existences of this sort are produced. For not one of these beliefs is contradicted by our sensations, if one looks to see in what way sensation will bring us the clear visions from external objects, and in what way again the corresponding sequences of qualities and movements.
        3. [49] Now we must suppose too that it is when something enters us from external objects that we not only see but think of their shapes. For external objects could not make on us an impression of the nature of their own colour and shape by means of the air which lies between us and them, nor again by means of the rays or effluences of any sort which pass from us to them — nearly so well as if models, similar in color and shape, leave the objects and enter according to their respective size either into our sight or into our mind; moving along swiftly, and so by this means reproducing the image of a single continuous thing and preserving the corresponding sequence of qualities and movements from the original object as the result of their uniform contact with us, kept up by the vibration of the atoms deep in the interior of the concrete body.
        4. [50] And every image which we obtain by an act of apprehension on the part of the mind or of the sense-organs, whether of shape or of properties, this image is the shape or the properties of the concrete object, and is produced by the constant repetition of the image or the impression it has left. Now falsehood and error always lie in the addition of opinion with regard to what is waiting to be confirmed or not contradicted, and then is not confirmed or is contradicted.
        5. [51] For the similarity between the things which exist, which we call real and the images received as a likeness of things and produced either in sleep or through some other acts of apprehension on the part of the mind or the other instruments of judgment, could never be, unless there were some effluences of this nature actually brought into contact with our senses. And error would not exist unless another kind of movement too were produced inside ourselves, closely linked to the apprehension of images, but differing from it; and it is owing to this, supposing it is not confirmed, or is contradicted, that falsehood arises; but if it is confirmed or not contradicted, it is true.
        6. [52] Therefore we must do our best to keep this doctrine in mind, in order that on the one hand the standards of judgment dependent on the clear visions may not be undermined, and on the other error may not be as firmly established as truth and so throw all into confusion. Moreover, hearing, too, results when a current is carried off from the object speaking or sounding or making a noise, or causing in any other way a sensation of hearing. Now this current is split up into particles, each like the whole, which at the same time preserve a correspondence of qualities with one another and a unity of character which stretches right back to the object which emitted the sound: this unity it is which in most cases produces comprehension in the recipient, or, if not, merely makes manifest the presence of the external object.
        7. [53] For without the transference from the object of some correspondence of qualities, comprehension of this nature could not result. We must not then suppose that the actual air is molded into shape by the voice which is emitted or by other similar sounds — for it will be very far from being so acted upon by it — but that the blow which takes place inside us, when we emit our voice, causes at once a squeezing out of certain particles, which produce a stream of breath, of such a character as to afford us the sensation of hearing. Furthermore, we must suppose that smell too, just like hearing, could never bring about any sensation, unless there were certain particles carried off from the object of suitable size to stir this sense-organ, some of them in a manner disorderly and alien to it, others in a regular manner and akin in nature.
        8. [54] Moreover, we must suppose that the atoms do not possess any of the qualities belonging to perceptible things, except shape, weight, and size, and all that necessarily goes with shape. For every quality changes; but the atoms do not change at all, since there must needs be something which remains solid and indissoluble at the dissolution of compounds, which can cause changes; not changes into the nonexistent or from the non-existent, but changes effected by the shifting of position of some particles, and by the addition or departure of others. For this reason it is essential that the bodies which shift their position should be imperishable and should not possess the nature of what changes, but parts and configuration of their own. For thus much must needs remain constant.
        9. [55] For even in things perceptible to us which change their shape by the withdrawal of matter it is seen that shape remains to them, whereas the qualities do not remain in the changing object, in the way in which shape is left behind, but are lost from the entire body. Now these particles which are left behind are sufficient to cause the differences in compound bodies, since it is essential that some things should be left behind and not be destroyed into the non-existent. Moreover, we must not either suppose that every size exists among the atoms, in order that the evidence of phenomena may not contradict us, but we must suppose that there are some variations of size. For if this be the case, we can give a better account of what occurs in our feelings and sensations.
        10. [56] But the existence of atoms of every size is not required to explain the differences of qualities in things, and at the same time some atoms would be bound to come within our ken and be visible; but this is never seen to be the case, nor is it possible to imagine how an atom could become visible.
    4. Lucretius' Discussion of Qualities (Events. Accidents) and Properties - The reference to the Trojan War In Book One:


      1. [449] For all things that have a name, you will find either properties linked to these two things or you will see them to be their accidents. That is a property which in no case can be sundered or separated without the fatal disunion of the thing, as is weight to rocks, heat to fire, moisture to water, touch to all bodies, intangibility to the void. On the other hand, slavery, poverty, riches, liberty, war, concord, and other things by whose coming and going the nature of things abides untouched, these we are used, as is natural, to call accidents. Even so time exists not by itself, but from actual things comes a feeling, what was brought to a close in time past, then what is present now, and further what is going to be hereafter. And it must be avowed that no man feels time by itself apart from the motion or quiet rest of things. [464] Then again, when men say that ‘the rape of Tyndarus’s daughter’, or ‘the vanquishing of the Trojan tribes in war’ are things, beware that they do not perchance constrain us to avow that these things exist in themselves, just because the past ages have carried off beyond recall those races of men, of whom, in truth, these were the accidents. For firstly, we might well say that whatsoever has happened is an accident in one case of the countries, in another even of the regions of space. Or again, if there had been no substance of things nor place and space, in which all things are carried on, never would the flame of love have been fired by the beauty of Tyndaris, nor swelling deep in the Phrygian heart of Alexander have kindled the burning battles of savage war, nor unknown of the Trojans would the timber horse have set Pergama aflame at dead of night, when the sons of the Greeks issued from its womb. So that you may see clearly that all events from first to last do not exist, and are not by themselves like body, nor can they be spoken of in the same way as the being of the void, but rather so that you might justly call them the accidents of body and place, in which they are carried on, one and all.
    5. Lucretius' Discussion of Images, Illusions, and Confidence in the Senses (Links to Bailey Edition)
      1. Opening of Book IV
      2. Discussion of Images
      3. The Illusions  of Mirrors
      4. Brightness and Shadows
      5. The Illusion of Square Towers Appearing Round
      6. The Illusions of Ships
      7. Other Illusions
      8. The Fallacy of Thinking that Nothing Is Knowable
      9. Reason Is Dependent On The Senses
        1. [462] Wondrously many other things of this sort we see, all of which would fain spoil our trust in the senses; all in vain, since the greatest part of these things deceives us on account of the opinions of the mind, which we add ourselves, so that things not seen by the senses are counted as seen. For nothing is harder than to distinguish things manifest from things uncertain, which the mind straightway adds of itself.
        2. [469] 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?
        3. [478] 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.
        4. [500] 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.
        5. [513] 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.
    6. Diogenes Laertius Section on Canonics (Bailey - Warning - Note that he uses 'concept' instead of 'preconception')


      1. [29] I will also give you the Principal Doctrines, and a selection from his sayings which seem most worthy of mention. You will thus be able to understand Epicurus from every point of view and could form a judgment on him. The first letter he writes to Herodotus (and it deals with Physics; the second is to Pythocles), and it deals with Celestial Phenomena; the third is to Menoeceus, and contains the moral teaching. We must begin with the first letter, but I will first speak briefly about the divisions of his philosophy.
      2. [30] It is divided into three parts, the Canonicon (or Procedure), the Physics and the Ethics. The Canonicon gives the method of approach to the system, and is contained in the work called The Canon. The Physics contains all the investigation into nature, and is contained in the thirty-seven books On Nature and in an abridged form in the letters. The Ethics deals with choice and avoidance, and is contained in the books On Lives and the letters and the book on The End. The Epicureans usually group the Canonicon with the Physics and state that it deals with the criterion of truth and the fundamental principles and contains the elements of the system. The Physics deals with creation and dissolution and with nature; the Ethics with things to be chosen or avoided, with the conduct of life and its purpose.
      3. [31] Logic they reject as misleading. For they say it is sufficient for physicists to be guided by what things say of themselves. Thus in The Canon Epicurus says that the tests of truth are the sensations and concepts and the feelings; the Epicureans add to these the intuitive apprehensions of the mind. And this he says himself too in the summary addressed to Herodotus and in the Principal Doctrines. For, he says, all sensation is irrational and does not admit of memory; for it is not set in motion by itself, nor when it is set in motion by something else, can it add to it or take from it. [32] Nor is there anything which can refute the sensations. For a similar sensation cannot refute a similar because it is equivalent in validity, nor a dissimilar a dissimilar, for the objects of which they are the criteria are not the same; nor again can reason, for all reason is dependent upon sensations; nor can one sensation refute another, for we attend to them all alike. 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. And the visions of the insane and those in dreams are true, for they cause movement, and that which does not exist cannot cause movement.
      4. [33] The concept [preconception] they speak of as an apprehension or right opinion or thought or general idea stored within the mind, that is to say a recollection of what has often been presented from without, as for instance ‘Such and such a thing is a man,’ for the moment the word ‘man’ is spoken, immediately by means of the concept his form too is thought of, as the senses give us the information. Therefore the first signification of every name is immediate and clear evidence. And we could not look for the object of our search, unless we have first known it. For instance, we ask, ‘Is that standing yonder a horse or a cow?’ To do this we must know by means of a concept the shape of horse and of cow. Otherwise we could not have named them, unless we previously knew their appearance by means of a concept. So the concepts are clear and immediate evidence. Further, the decision of opinion depends on some previous clear and immediate evidence, to which we refer when we express it: for instance, ‘How do we know whether this is a man?’
      5. [34] 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. The internal sensations they say are two, pleasure and pain, which occur to every living creature, and the one is akin to nature and the other alien: by means of these two choice and avoidance are determined. Of investigations some concern actual things, others mere words. This is a brief summary of the division of their philosophy and their views on the criterion of truth.
    7. Diogenes of Oinoanda On The Flux
      1. Fr. 5: [Others do not] explicitly [stigmatise] natural science as unnecessary, being ashamed to acknowledge [this], but use another means of discarding it. For, when they assert that things are inapprehensible, what else are they saying than that there is no need for us to pursue natural science? After all, who will choose to seek what he can never find?

      2. Now Aristotle and those who hold the same Peripatetic views as Aristotle say that nothing is scientifically knowable, because things are continually in flux and, on account of the rapidity of the flux, evade our apprehension. We on the other hand acknowledge their flux, but not its being so rapid that the nature of each thing [is] at no time apprehensible by sense-perception. And indeed [in no way would the upholders of] the view under discussion have been able to say (and this is just what they do [maintain] that [at one time] this is [white] and this black, while [at another time] neither this is [white nor] that black, [if] they had not had [previous] knowledge of the nature of both white and black.
  • I have tried to pull together in that last post some of the key references to Epicurean canonics. I know that there are significant additional references in Sextus Empiricus and no doubt other places, so If someone has others to suggest please add them to the thread.



    Depending on what size screen you are using, you may find that this link provides a more clear view of that outline of the major references: Epicurus College Course Material On Canonics

  • Cassius

    Changed the title of the thread from “Episode One Hundred Six - The Epicurean Basis of Knowledge” to “Episode One Hundred Six - The Epicurean Attitude Toward Fate / Fortune and the Role of Reason”.
  • Well we made it through a grand total of two - arguably three - sentences today. Note that is "sentences" not sections!


    Our purpose is to use Torquatus to provide an introduction to the big issues of Epicurean philosophy, so even a moderate but still superficial treatment takes a lot of time.


    But the material is deep so I think you will like the finished product.


    We started on the issue of Epicurus' rejection of Stoic logic, but we reserved til next week most of the detail of Epicurus' own positions, so we will treat that next week.


    One omission I now recall from today is that when we referred to "your school" we talked mostly about Stoicism. We need to remember that Cicero was only partly Stoic, however, and he was probably more a Platonist or even Aristotelian on issues of "logic".

  • Sigh!

    Again, in a nutshell:

    With his syllogisms, Epicurus himself made ample use of logic.

    "He judged that the logic of your school ..." is an abbreviation which does not refer to logic in itself but the wrong way it is used, e.g. by starting with ideas which have no justification in reality as premises and then claiming the conclusiveness of logic for conclusions on reality or by constructing apparent paradoxes which confuse people who are not skilled in the proper use of logic.

    The excluded middle is probably the only theorem where Epicurus disagrees with Aristotelian / binary logic with respect to propositions on the future. Even Aristoteles himself was aware that the excluded middle might not be rock solid concerning propositions on the future (but Cicero apparently did not know that).


    Let us stay clear of futile attacks on logic because those would just undermine our credibility. Instead we should point out which premises are wrong or what other aspect of the application of logic is wrong in specific cases.

    It is mostly Plato himself with his dialectics and ideal forms who uses logic wrongly. The Stoics are relatively innocent and typically use logic properly for their reasoning as they have learned from Aristoteles except that some basic premises of the ancient Stoics are most likely false. There is no "Stoic logic" to refute.

  • I agree with most of that Martin but this is not my understanding of the situation with Stoicism, so I will have to gather more material on this:


    The Stoics are relatively innocent and typically use logic properly for their reasoning as they have learned from Aristoteles except that some basic premises of the ancient Stoics are most likely false. There is no "Stoic logic" to refute.

    For now, I would generally refer to a couple of the standard texts that simply refer to "logic." I agree, and I think we discussed in the episode, that it is necessary to establish just what is being criticized, so we can deal with these uses of the word "logic" that appear in the standard translations:


    Diogenes Laertius:


    "...the Logicians [he called] ‘The destroyers,’"


    [24] Metrodorus’ writings were as follows:


    Three books _Against the Physicians. About Sensations. To Timocrates. Concerning Magnanimity. About Epicurus’ Ill Health. Against the Logicians._ Nine books _Against the Sophists. Concerning the Path To Wisdom. Concerning Change. Concerning Wealth. Against Democritus. Concerning Nobility of Birth._


    [31] Logic they reject as misleading. For they say it is sufficient for physicists to be guided by what things say of themselves. Thus in _The Canon_ Epicurus says that the tests of truth are the sensations and concepts and the feelings; the Epicureans add to these the intuitive apprehensions of the mind. And this he says himself too in the summary addressed to Herodotus and in the Principal Doctrines. For, he says, all sensation is irrational and does not admit of memory; for it is not set in motion by itself, nor when it is set in motion by something else, can it add to it or take from it.


    DeWitt:


    ...He declared dialectic a superfluity but was able to criticize Plato with great acumen and he wrote against the Megarians, the contemporary experts in logic.


    ...

    The rejection of Plato's teachings is almost total. If the Authorized Doctrines be read item by item it may be observed that almost all are contradictions of Plato, and thus it becomes plainly manifest that the writings of Plato occupied the chief place in the youthful studies of Epicurus. The Platonic dialogues were the textbooks of dialectic and in modern parlance would be "required reading."


    This almost total rejection does not, on the contrary, preclude extensive borrowing and adaptation on the part of Epicurus. Dialectic by virtue of its dramatic form is committed to a very casual employment of a great variety of analytical tricks and logical devices. If incidentally it furnishes instruction in logic, this is by a method analogous to the case system in the teaching of law. This casual use of logic is precisely what we find in the writings of Epicurus, and it was this practice that gave superficial justification to Cicero in accusing him of "abolishing definitions and offering no instruction in classifications and in partitions of subject matter." B2 Epicurus was not so foolish as to think of abolishing logic; he was merely determined to keep it in a subordinate place. This deliberate choice is additional evidence of extreme familiarity with dialectical writings.

  • The Stoics are relatively innocent and typically use logic properly for their reasoning as they have learned from Aristoteles except that some basic premises of the ancient Stoics are most likely false. There is no "Stoic logic" to refute.

    I will have to come back to this too, but as to whether there is a "Stoic Logic":


    Stoic logic - Wikipedia



    Quote

    Stoic logic is the system of propositional logic developed by the Stoic philosophers in ancient Greece. It was one of the two great systems of logic in the classical world. It was largely built and shaped by Chrysippus, the third head of the Stoic school in the 3rd-century BCE. Chrysippus's logic differed from Aristotle's term logic because it was based on the analysis of propositions rather than terms. The smallest unit in Stoic logic is an assertible (the Stoic equivalent of a proposition) which is the content of a statement such as "it is day". Assertibles have a truth-value such that they are only true or false depending on when it was expressed (e.g. the assertible "it is night" will only be true if it is true that it is night). [1] In contrast, Aristollean propositions strongly affirm or deny a predicate of a subject and seek to have its truth validated or falsified. Compound assertibles can be built up from simple ones through the use of logical connectives. The resulting syllogistic was grounded on five basic indemonstrable arguments to which all other syllogisms were claimed to be reducible.

  • I am not sure yet what this page is, but it looks interesting:


    THE LOGIC OF THE EPICUREANS


    by Allan Marquand


    When we think of the Epicureans we picture a friendly brotherhood in a garden, soothing each other's fears, and seeking to realize a life of undisturbed peace and happiness. It was easy, and to their opponents it became natural, to suppose that the Epicureans did not concern themselves with logic; and if we expect to find in their writings a highly developed formal logic, as that of the Stoics, our search will be in vain. But if we examine the letters of Epicurus, the poem of Lucretius, and the treatise of Philodemus* with a view to discovering the Epicurean mode of thought, we find a logic which outweighs in value that of their Stoic rivals. This logic is interesting to us, not only because it is the key to that school of Greek Philosophy which outlasted every other, but because a similar logic controls a powerful school of English thought.


    * Gomperz: Herkulanische Studien I, Leipzig, 1865. Bahnsch: Des Epicureers Philodemus Schrift Peri sêmeiôn kai sêmeiôseôn. Eine Darlegung ihres Gedankengehalts. Lyck, 1879.





    Since that page appears to be some kind of unpublished material that may disappear, here is the full page:


  • My post here doesn't deal with logic but with preconceptions. I find the wording in the following quote excerpt from post #7 disturbing:

    Quote

    [31] Logic they reject as misleading....Thus in _The Canon_ Epicurus says that the tests of truth are the sensations and concepts and the feelings; the Epicureans add to these the intuitive apprehensions of the mind....

    Is this from Bailey? If anything, I would think that "concepts" and "intuitive apprehensions of the mind" should be reversed.

  • Diogenes Laertius:


    "...the Logicians [he called] ‘The destroyers,’"


    [24] Metrodorus’ writings were as follows:


    Three books _Against the Physicians. About Sensations. To Timocrates. Concerning Magnanimity. About Epicurus’ Ill Health. Against the Logicians._ Nine books _Against the Sophists. Concerning the Path To Wisdom. Concerning Change. Concerning Wealth. Against Democritus. Concerning Nobility of Birth._


    [31] Logic they reject as misleading. For they say it is sufficient for physicists to be guided by what things say of themselves. Thus in _The Canon_ Epicurus says that the tests of truth are the sensations and concepts and the feelings; the Epicureans add to these the intuitive apprehensions of the mind. And this he says himself too in the summary addressed to Herodotus and in the Principal Doctrines. For, he says, all sensation is irrational and does not admit of memory; for it is not set in motion by itself, nor when it is set in motion by something else, can it add to it or take from it

    All the "logic" references in Diogenes Laertius are "dialectic" (διαλεκτικός etc) in the original which I take refers to the conversational/dialogue method of getting at the truth, not Aristotelian formal logic.

    Plus, induction is a kind of logic which appears to have been endorsed by the Epicureans.

    If the Authorized Doctrines be read item by item it may be observed that almost all are contradictions of Plato

    I'm still not convinced of this.

    Still reading, more later.

  • Right. I agree with Martin's basic point that Epicurus was not against all forms of logic.


    However, there is definitely something that has come to be known as distinctively "Stoic Logic" that appears based more on the manipulation of abstractions than Epicurus approved of, and so this is a very important subject to explore..

  • Also, as for whether the word "logic" is the correct word to use there, it sounds like Don you are questioning Bailey and other similar commentators. Which is all for the good, because I like Bailey, but the word seems to be deeply entrenched.


    Dialectical logic - Wikipedia


    Quote

    Dialectical logic is the system of laws of thought, developed within the Hegelian and Marxist traditions, which seeks to supplement or replace the laws of formal logic. The precise nature of the relation between dialectical and formal logic was hotly debated within the Soviet Union and China. Contrasting with the abstract formalism of traditional logic, dialectical logic in the Marxist sense was developed as the logic of motion and change and used to examine concrete forms. Its proponents claim it is a materialist approach to logic, drawing on the objective, material world.[1]



    And I don't think that Bailey was confusing this with Marxism either -- there are lots of commentaries by Bailey we can explore on that if only we had time ... time ... time ....!



  • I didn't notice this earlier when I was reading your post Don. For purposes of other people reading along, that 's a quote from DeWitt, so you're saying you're not convinced by DeWitt on the point. Ultimately people evaluating this need to read DeWitt's argument on this in his book. In the meantime, I think a lot of it can be reduced to (especially on the 12 Fundamentals of Nature) that they make it impossible to maintain the importance of "idealism" / universal forms, so at that basic level as a starting point they can be used to generate the refutation of Plato (and yes, generate through a process of logical extension).

  • Also on this point of there being an Epicurean logic, and its controversies with the Stoic variety, I highly recommend the appendix to DeLacey's book, which treats this in detail:





  • Logic they reject as misleading....Thus in _The Canon_ Epicurus says that the tests of truth are the sensations and concepts and the feelings; the Epicureans add to these the intuitive apprehensions of the mind...Is this from Bailey? If anything, I would think that "concepts" and "intuitive apprehensions of the mind" should be reversed.

    Yes Godfrey that is direct from Bailey, and it is one of the reasons I instinctively find him untrustworthy. He could have used prolepsis or anticipations or preconceptions but instead he chose to muddy the water hopelessly be presuming to substitute a word that hides the issue. It's a major problem with using the Bailey material so I try to note this problem whenever possible:



    Studying Epicurus is not for the faint-hearted who value tranquility above all else, because there are plenty of controversies about how to interpret Epicurus which we can resolve in our own mind, but never escape having to deal with when people read read various things on the internet.


    That source is here: https://archive.org/details/Ep…161/mode/2up?view=theater

  • Following up on Godrey's comment on concepts and Don's on Logic v Dialectic, this is where the older translations are superior to bailey:



    This is Yonge:





    And here is Hicks, who follows Yonge:







    I would say:


    1 - This is an example of scholarship going backward over time (if I have the time sequence correct) because Bailey is the most voluminous commentator on Epicurus in recent years to have published a translation, and in my reading he is cited to far more often than is Hicks or Yonge. And he has the most extensive public domain version with commentary (The "Extant Remains" book).


    2 - While it looks more appropriate to use "dialectic" rather than "logic," that really doesn't answer the question because as cited above the term is generally now being referred to as "dialectical logic" to reference a particular form or type of logic.


    As Martin is saying we are not warring with ALL logic, but on the other hand it is a huge point that the Epicureans were indeed warring with certain types of logic, and not just something that can be adequately referred to as a misuse of what everyone agrees is "logic." Most of the discussion is taking place in terms of "types of logic" so we need to be able to understand what the commentators are talking about.

  • 2 - While it looks more appropriate to use "dialectic" rather than "logic," that really doesn't answer the question because as cited above the term is generally now being referred to as "dialectical logic" to reference a particular form or type of logic

    That's one of my arguments for always going back (a) to the original text (What word is used before translation?) and (b) What is the context and connotations of the word during the time period of the writing? While Diogenes Laertius is writing hundreds of years after Epicurus, it was Metrodorus and Epicurus who were writing "against the dialecticians." It seems to be that during their time, dialectic seems to refer to what we call the "Socratic method." I get the impression Epicurus did not agree with this round and round "What do you mean by _____?" He strikes me as "say what you mean." Even Torquatus prefers the lecture/presentation approach over continual back and forth dialogue/dialectic with Cicero.

    See also

    Dialectic - Wikipedia

    Quote

    Dialectic or dialectics (Greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ; related to dialogue; German: Dialektik), also known as the dialectical method, is a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned argumentation. Dialectic resembles debate, but the concept excludes subjective elements such as emotional appeal and the modern pejorative sense of rhetoric. Dialectic may thus be contrasted with both the eristic, which refers to argument that aims to successfully dispute another's argument (rather than searching for truth), and the didactic method, wherein one side of the conversation teaches the other.

    If using this as a jumping of point, it seems that Epicurus may be more of didactic than dialectic.

  • Yes I definitely think that the Q/A approach is a part of the issue. Unfortunately I think we are stumbling because there also appear to be very detailed and complex questions about logical methods which are not something most of us have any experience in discussing, or any real enjoyment in discussing. It is like that Seneca quote on mouse and cheese and very off putting.


    But the thread that we are only beginning to grasp is that apparently Epicurus was already staking out a position that he thought would stop the abuses to which logic was being put, and I think it would be highly desirable for us to at least be able to describe that in generalities that are still accurate enough to keep Martin from getting too exasperated with me! :)


    Wait til you finally read through the On Methods of Inference (if you have not yet) and you will see how hard it is to even understand what the general issues are.


    It does however appear to be possible to summarize the issues, according to the commentators, but as for myself I am just not there yet.

  • Episode 106 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. This week we continue with Torquatus' summary of some of the Key Doctrines of Epicurus.



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