Epicureans and the Ancient Greek Gods (Imagery of "Gods" / "Gods Among Men")

  • I may be wrong about any of this. As I have said elsewhere, I'm not an expert. I am not aware of the point of view that says 'Aristotelian biological thought was an impediment to the advancement of biology', but it may be so. Aristotle wasn't really a scientist. Science, as we now know it, only started much later, probably in the 'Enlightenment'. But certainly not before Francis Bacon. The existence of atoms, as understood in the modern physical/chemical sense, as opposed to Epicurean 'atoms', was only scientifically confirmed in the early 20th century (after Max Planck started the train of thought and enquiry that led to quantum theory). I consider that modern biological understanding only really started with Darwin, in the 19th century. Empirical discoveries have always been made. But I don't know of any systematic biological thought before Aristotle.

  • Hi Clive,


    I wanted to swing by and welcome you. I’ve been taking a short hiatus but I would enjoy discussing your thoughts further when I return.


    If you read further up the thread you’ll see that there are three positions modern Epicureans take on the gods issue. Two of which posit that the gods do not actually exist and one (the Traditional view) that they fundamentally do exist.


    This discussion is primarily concerned with the Epicurean conception of deity and whether the gods, as specifically described by Epicurus, are capable of existing or not. Some Epicureans hold that there are real beings, as real as you and I are existing in the universe or the intermundia. Others are claiming pure atheism and still others claim they are not real but just allegorical and artistic interpretations of the human psyche and nature.

  • I have been interested in Epicurean Theology for the last few years. I’ve argued that it can be a linchpin aspect of the philosophy if it is examined very, very closely and carefully.


    But I’m an oddball of the group.;)


    Once again, welcome!

  • I have been interested in Epicurean Theology for the last few years. I’ve argued that it can be a linchpin aspect of the philosophy if it is examined very, very closely and carefully.

    Fair points Matt. I'm interested to hear more.

    Clive, I'll get back to you soon (around May...I'm entering exam period now)

    Joy to the World!

  • Matthaeus,


    Re;- "If you read further up the thread you’ll see that there are three positions modern Epicureans take on the gods issue. Two of which posit that the gods do not actually exist and one (the Traditional view) that they fundamentally do exist".


    Yes, I see that now. As I am new to the site I'm still trying to find my way around it.


    I don't know exactly how Epicurus thought of the gods,or how modern Epicureans think of them. I suppose I haven't read enough about it. I know that I prefer the 'allegorical and artistic interpretations of the human psyche and nature' version. But I don't know whether Epicurus would have agreed.


    Is it possible that Epicurus didn't really know either, but had to say "the gods exist" to avoid accusations of atheism? Then he would have had to fit the gods in with his axiomatic "everything consists of atoms and void", so proposed material gods who existed somewhere else?


    I think also Lucretius started De rerum natura with a hymn to Venus as a personification of fertility. My Latin isn't good enough to read it other than in translation.


    It's only a suggestion - probably completely wrong. My interest in Epicurus has more to with his advice on how to live a pleasant life than how he thought of the gods, but I have wondered about this, myself, without coming to any firm conclusions.