Nate's "Allegory of the Oasis" Graphic

  • Ok only very minor edits at this point.

    Panel 2 - "We may come doubt" should be "We may come to doubt..." [[[ Sorry - now I see you commented on that already]]]

    Panel 3 - this is not a correction but a thought -- might "groundless conceptions" be better as "groundless abstractions"?

    Ok, now back to panels one and two for conceptual questions:

    - If I were explaining this diagram to someone, I would emphasize that when we say "we begin" we are referring to "at birth" / "as children" etc. I might still look for more in the diagram to emphasize this connection to explain why this is our starting point.

    - OK, and this might be more important, the next panel introduces the fact that we are leaving / have left the initial garden of pleasure in our childhood. But what is it that causes us to do that? Is it because we are frustrated that "our perceptions do not always comport with the atomic reality with which we interact"? Someone might argue that an Epicurean might say the opposite, that indeed our PERCEPTIONS will NEVER contradict the reality with which we interact. Isn't it not so much that our perceptions contradict reality but that our IDEAS of what life "should be" conflict with the reality. Is it in fact not often true that the reason our ideas / ideals conflict with reality is that they are perverted/corrupted by the outside influences in the next several panels.

    Might it be better to indicate that the winds of skepticism are what blow us as children out of the garden? Probably, but we are also blown out of our original peacefulness by the storms of dialectic, the mirages of religion, and the false heights of virtue.

    In other words, I am addressing here - Should we make more clear what it is that causes us to leave the garden in the first place?

  • I'll correct Panel 2 and 3 on grammar and verbiage. I think you're right that the first panel should include a line "at birth" to emphasize the grounding in biology.

    I wasn't sure how to communicate the opposing philosophies in a linear narrative ('Winds...', and 'Valley...' and the 'Mountain...') other than how they visually fit together. Topically, like you mention, any one of them can come first, and follow, or precede each other in no particular order. The linear nature makes it seems like 'If You Give An Epicurean Skepticism, He'll Turn Into a Platonist, and Then Become a Virtue Ethicist.' I'm not sure if it was the best way to go, but it at least fits in the narrative of the story.

    Maybe I can textually reinforce this idea that the 'Winds' come from, or lead to the 'Storm' which precipitates from the 'Mountain', all features that distract from the 'Garden', in no particular order?

  • i think you are correct nate that any order will work, but it did occur to me to say that Skepticism might logically be the LAST one, because I think it is a common problem that people bounce to skepticism AFTER they see how the various schools totally disagree with each other - and they give up thinking that any one could be correct.

    But i didn't suggest that earlier because I was thinking that the 'winds of skepticism" made a good link to why one would lead the garden in the first place. But if you came up with something else to explain leaving the birth garden, then yes skepticism might actually fit best right before the hero "comes back to his senses"

  • Following that last thought, it is possible that when we are young and strong that we particularly fall prey to climbing mountains for the challenge, then we fall back to religion as we fall off the heights.

    i guess part of the answer is whether you prefer to go with the analogy that we leave the garden voluntarily (to climb the mountain) or whether we are deceived to leave it.

  • Here's the first panel with some minor edits.

    1. I finally hit the 'to' preposition!
    2. 'Abstractions' is better than 'Conceptions'
    3. I added 'at birth' in the first description. (Note: all of the cartoons of animals are actually baby animals that seem much older now that they have the heads of male philosophers. We could consider removing the heads and using the cartoon baby animals).
    4. On the second description, I changed 'Winds of Skepticism' to 'Desert of Superstition', with the intention of making the 'Winds', 'Storm', 'Illumination', and 'Valley' all part of the same wasteland.

    Allegory Panel I.png

  • " I do think the baby animals without adult heads might reinforce the point" ... without heads being the logical precursor to eventually developing heads like Jefferson, Hitchens, Lucretius etc ;-)

  • Nate I really think that the transition from the baby animals to animals with adult Epicurean heads adds a lot! In the analogy we gain all the benefits of our adult mental powers while never leaving behind the part of us that remains strictly physical / animal. It's really an illusion to think that birth to death is the same as growing from physical to pure mind.

    It is as if the allegory of the oasis in animal terms has a reverse negative allegory - -- the allegory of the illusions that we can or should turn into pure mental beings devoid of physics / action.

    To some extent that is what Plato's cave stands for -- Plato wants to persuade us that we can leave our senses behind and become purely mental beings in touch with some illusional mental world.

    Also: I probably shouldn't say this because I don't want to be negative about him, but I like the placement of Hitchens as the first of the mature correct heads -- as Hitchens did make some Epicurean statements but probably wasn't nearly as far along as Jefferson or certainly Lucretius or Metrodorus or Hermarchus. In that way he serves as a sort of transitional figure.

  • Actually I realize that I don't recognize the faces on either side of Jefferson? If you need verified busts of Hermarchus or Metrodorus or a couple of other definite Epicureans those are readily available

  • Definitely the much more mature garden at the end adds to the allegory that this is a sort of "stages of life" illustration.

    I am very pleased with the way it is going.

    We probably need to prepare a list of the people who are portrayed, so at the moment it is (by panel)


    2 - Zeno the Stoic

    3 - Plato (?)

    4 - Unclear to me - (the face in the mirage)

    5 - Marcus Aurelius

    6 - Christoper Hitchens

    7 - Diogenes Laertius and Thomas Jefferson

    8 - Lucretius

    9 - Epicurus


    Maybe time for a new FB thread to highlight the project as is now?

  • Nate thanks again for all your work on this. I am sure over time we'll find ways to improve it, but this version is very usable as is. I am trying to set up my office to get ready to make a series of audio-visual presentations and I am definitely planning on using this for one of them. I hope to get to that soon.