Best Way to Introduce Teachings?

  • It is an abstract ideal - driven by emotions rather than nature.

    Yes Daniel, that is a reminder of something important -- that ideas/abstractions generate emotions every much as strong (or more) than physical feelings. So it is not enough to say that something "is an abstraction so therefore it isn't real" -- Abstractions may not have physical reality independent from us, but they can certainly generate strong feelings nevertheless.



    There is much they have in common - we have just been discussing what major differences they have. I think there is far more common than not.

    I have long been an admirer of some of the work of John Stuart Mill -- I am less familiar with Bentham. But certainly in general to the extent they are both aimed after "happiness" they have much in common. The old saying "the devil is in the details" applies.



    In my mind, the ideas fit together perfectly. If one places "greats happiness for the greatest number" at the center

    Yes, that IF in that statement is the big hurdle.... and that IF is really at the center of much of the rest of the issue. Who has the "right" to enforce their view of the greatest happiness of the greatest number on everyone else who disagrees?

  • I was going to make the point that you finished with, Cassius. Who determines the greatest happiness?


    If I take the approach that I as an individual will act to maximize happiness for the most people, how can I do that? "The road to hell is paved with good intentions", and as you mentioned above, Daniel, (I'm quoting from memory so correct me if I'm wrong) an action can be immoral even if the intention was moral.


    I believe the Epicurean answer to the greatest happiness for the greatest number is to get more people to follow Epicureanism;)

  • I've said elsewhere and this discussion of and England-based philosophy is a good place to repeat it that the British "stiff upper lip" approach seems to continually get in the way of their good sense and lead them to stoic-like views.


    To be charitable, maybe they were under more pressure than other places to conform to Christianity or Christian/Humanist idealism, but for whatever the reason they do not seem to have been able to keep Epicurean views unpolluted from Stoicisms. (I do need to exempt Frances Wright from that generalization!)

    Here is a comment about scholarship in England made by DeWitt in the intro to his book - I wish I could read Italian - maybe michelepinto could tell me if he has read Bignone and likes him!

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  • Cassius, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas is a short story. You can buy it for $1.99 online or download a free PDF that pops up in a Google search. I read it in a collection of LeGuin's short fiction titled The Unreal and the Real. She was a Taoist, which sometimes comes out in her fiction.

  • Yes, that IF in that statement is the big hurdle.... and that IF is really at the center of much of the rest of the issue. Who has the "right" to enforce their view of the greatest happiness of the greatest number on everyone else who disagrees?

    As I have mentioned before, that IF rests on education, opinion, and various, loose supporting evidence (such as people are social creatures, people tend to be happier when they work together, etc.). It comes down to an abstract ideal which can be accepted, rejected, or anywhere in-between by an individual.


    One could ask, who has "right" to enforce any philosophy and what does that mean? Utilitarianism states laws are meant to promote total happiness; what gives police/government the "right" to enforce laws? I think this is a discussion which applies to far more than just utilitarianism.

    If you mean silencing others, know that Utilitarianism is very strong about maintaining freedom of speech. John Stuart Mill's On Liberty focuses greatly on that.


    "Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think. Not that it is solely, or chiefly, to form great thinkers, that freedom of thinking is required." - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Chapter 2


    "First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any object is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied." - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Chapter 2


    I believe the Epicurean answer to the greatest happiness for the greatest number is to get more people to follow Epicureanism;)

    Doesn't every philosophy, religion, and belief systems more or less hold that everyone would be "better off" if more people followed their beliefs? ;)


    Convincing, not compelling, people is crucial to truly making their lives better. If they honestly believe in something, they will more likely and more greatly follow, support, and benefit from it.

  • I suppose to a certain extent it's all just a question of what you think is important enough to focus on persuading people about.


    I personally think it is much more satisfying/pleasureable to me to focus on showing people the truth about how nature operates, and that based on those truths we property (according to nature) focus on the happiness of ourselves and our friends rather than trying to "save the world" which is not a goal that is likely to be attained at any rate.


  • Here is a comment about scholarship in England made by DeWitt in the intro to his book - I wish I could read Italian - maybe michelepinto could tell me if he has read Bignone and likes him!

    Bignone.jpg


    I did not read this, still.. is very big.
    I read the translation of Epicurus's writing in Italian by Ettore Bignone. They are good but too old. It is difficult to understend them now if you do not know already Epicurus.

  • Michele:


    Hiram wrote:


    I found a synopsis in Italian, put it through google translate, and got this: "First published in 1936, this essay soon became a classic of Aristotelian exegesis. The basic thesis of Bignone, still persuasive, is that the philosophical formation of Epicurus unfolded through a very close comparison only with the dialogic works (now lost) of the young Aristotle, who at the time was still a Platonic all-round student. In essence, Epicurus could not know the most important Aristotelian treatises (such as the "Metaphysics", the "Physics", the "Ethics"), which would have constituted for him a far more solid and articulated dialectical shore." https://www.ibs.it/aristotele-perduto.../e/9788845259944.

    L' Aristotele perduto e la formazione filosofica di Epicuro - Ettore Bignone - Libro - Bompiani - Il pensiero occidentale | IBS

    ibs.it

    L' Aristotele perduto e la formazione filosofica di Epicuro - Ettore Bignone -…
    L' Aristotele perduto e la formazione filosofica di Epicuro - Ettore Bignone - Libro - Bompiani - Il pensiero occidentale | IBS


    This seems hard to believe: "In essence, Epicurus could NOT know the most important Aristotelian treatises........?" He is suggesting that Epicurus was not aware of THE MOST IMPORTANT works of Aristotle? That seems hard to understand.... Perhaps a Google translate issue?

  • Thanks Michele. I guess we don't even really know the points that Bignone was making in his book, so it probably doesn't make sense to try to speculate about what his real intent in the book was without reading it. Presumably he didn't write his book just to show that Epicurus had only some of Aristotle's work -- that would be a pretty narrow topic! Presumably he was making all sorts of points about what Epicurus taught, and what Aristotle taught, for purposes of better understanding both, so I would think we'll just have to dig into the book to find out.