Concerning religiosity

  • Firstly, I wish to extend my gratitude for the creation and hosting of this platform to whoever is responsible. Nothing comes from nothing, so my heartfelt thank you for this.

    Now, I also wish to extend my greetings to all members. I'm Oscar and I look forward to meeting you, sharing and learning from you over the course of using and contributing to this wonderful discussion forum.

    To start, as an icebreaker, I was going over a few definitions of religion (from google) when I encountered a version that seems seldom used.

    Religion (noun):

    • the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
    • a particular system of faith and worship (e.g., the world's great religions; Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, etc)

    and then this

    • a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance

    Someone asked me if I'm religious. Normally, I can't say I'm a subscriber to a religion with the first two definitions. However, the third is tricky and I see no issue with saying that, as an Epicurean, I'm deeply religious, in the Epicurean sense of the third definition of religion.

    Do you feel such an inclination? What are your thoughts?



    Joy to the World!

    Edited once, last by Oscar ().

  • Great post, Oscar, and I personally absolutely feel the same way. That kind of feeling oozes out of every section of Lucretius - how can we not ascribe supreme importance to our connection to the work of a man who had the courage and wisdom to stand against so much of the world in the way that he did - and showed us how to do the same!

  • Hi Hiram,

    Thank you for that piece. I enjoyed reading it and it got me thinking; where's the annual symposium?? lol

    I'll briefly add below a few thoughts I had whilst reading your article.

    • From the second dimension (narrative and mythic): I can't say I believe that nature is good, but certainly find that the natural narrative is preferred. I think the naturalistic fallacy comes to mind; that what's natural is good. Additionally, I think Epicurus, whose name means comrade in Ancient Greek, is definitely a hero of humanity, insofar as he dispelled our fears and, in my opinion, soundly defeated superstition, thought it, naturally, continues to persist perhaps because of the human condition such as it is. I'll add one of my favourite quotes by a one-time Torontonian Emma Goldman: "There are, however, some potentates I would kill by any and all means necessary. They are ignorance, superstition and bigotry -- They most sinister and tyrannical rulers on Earth." - from her reply to an audience in Detroit, as recounted in Living My Life (1931) quoted by A.L. Gaylor Women Without Superstition.
    • From the fifth dimension (ethical and legal): Epicurus taught us if we're just then we're not disturbed but if we're unjust, we're filled with disturbance. I also remember learning about Jainism, in a world religions class in high school, which teaches non-violence. I vividly remember a picture of how the monks would use a broom to gently sweep the ground as they walked to remove any insects so as to not kill them as they walked places. Like all other heterotrophs who aren't currently engaged in a hunger strike, rely on eating other organisms for my own subsistence. But I can say I find no joy in the death or harm of another. For example, I have no problem with spiders in my residence and I try to enjoy and coexist. I find their existence enhances my own, not just because we're all interdependent ecologically speaking but because they aren't so different from me and I'm not greater nor lower than they are. If I'm to get food, I wish I could hunt and respectfully take my subsistence like some of the indigenous peoples of the new world, instead of the mass scale farming, which if anyone has seen an industrial scale pork farm, really does disturb me, I'm looking for ways to not be a part of that problem, although admittedly I currently am and it does cause my Epicurean soul great distress.

    All in all, a fine article Hiram. Thank you for that.

    While writing this reply I listened to Mattheus suggestion of electronic music: Epicuros Interstellar.



    Joy to the World!

  • where's the annual symposium?? lol

    That is definitely a question that we need to answer! If they can have an symposium in Athens, and if Thessaloniki can have regular meetings too, then our goal certainly ought to to match that. We can make some headway through on-line discussion, but in the end there's no substitute for in-person meetings.

  • Sounds like something to aim for next February. Let's see how things unfold over the next little while. If there's enough interest, I'm amiable to help organize a symposium in North America. Of course, preferring that it would be somewhere warm. I know there's the Getty Villa Wiki and the institutional website Getty Villa

    Joy to the World!

  • I would love to see the Getty Villa! Seems like a really underappreciated resource for people with a connection to something that is sort of Roman-revivalist - like Epicurean philosophy.

    Oscar we've had some degree of success in having online discussions, and we'll probably schedule another one soon. We've been going through the Norman Dewitt book, as that is a highly organized presentation of the whole philosophy.

    Do you happen to have read DeWitt's book?

  • Unfortunately, I'm yet to read that book. However, fortunately I have access to it through my university library for free and even as an e-book. I'll make good use of reading it over the final few days left of my reading week.

    Joy to the World!

  • Very good Oscar. As you know I push that book pretty hard because I think it gives an excellent overview without getting bogged down in too much comparative criticism.

    But even as I push it as important, I like nothing better than to hear commentary from others as they read it and compare it to what they have read elsewhere. No doubt DeWitt's take is not in line with the conventional outlook in many ways, and I like to hear the reaction of people whether they agree or disagree, so I hope you'll post comments as you read it.

  • Thank you Cassius, I look forward to reading it. Where should I post my reaction or commentary? Is there a dedicated thread for it or will you be, as you mentioned above that you intend on opening a new discussion shortly?

    Joy to the World!

  • Thank you Oscar! You have just made your first major contribution to organization of the forum. I already had a forum and threads set up for discussion of each chapter as part of our online discussion meetings, but your question caused me to realize that I needed to reorganize that into a category and subforums for each chapter.

    In my view there is not likely to be in many years a book so important as this one, and if we are going to use it as an organization method for discussing the philosophy (and I think it is the best one extant) then we want people to start new threads and not just respond to existing ones. So I am setting that up now and you will find it here: Norman DeWitt's "Epicurus And His Philosophy"

    I will have it fully set up, with existing threads moved to the new location, before the day is over.

    Thank you!