Online
Cassius Administrator
  • Male
  • 63
  • from Athens, GA
  • Member since Apr 29th 2015

Posts by Cassius

    But I'll control myself until Kalosyni has a chance to consider our back and forth and respond.

    Yes I was not intending to take us back to the "desire" vs "pleasure" or "feeling" question. When I wrote desirable there I was just looking for another synonym of pleasurable - I could just as well have said "feels good" rather than "desirable."


    The issue of desire and will and issues like that I consider to be matters of psychology or even some other aspect, and not really the same issue we are talking about here at all.


    What I think we are talking about here is a big-picture philosophical question of "What is the ultimate goal / guide of life?"


    And the warring contenders for the crown, each of which have a war-party of its own - the warring camps aligned which contain a mixture of troops within themselves, but which are broadly aligned against each other, are:


    (1) religion/holiness/divinity/divine revelation, etc (the Religion Camp)


    (2) "logic"/"rationality"/"wisdom"/"transcendence/virtue, etc. (the Academic Camp)


    (3) feeling/pleasure-pain/Nature's faculties, etc (the Epicurean camp)

    Before Don and I go too far in debating what "others" may be doing, we really need to hear back from Kalosyni to hear more explanation from her on what she means in saying:


    Multiple components comprise the Epicurean life. There is more to laud in the "sweetest life" than just pleasure.

    I think we are seeing another exhibition of the slightly different approaches that Don and I are taking.


    I agree with what Don has written, BUT:


    We first have to have an understanding of the precise wording of what we are quoting from Kaolosyni, and in my view why she is struggling with it.


    "Multiple components comprise the Epicurean life. There is more to laud in the "sweetest life" than just pleasure."


    As I read the sentence, she is implicitly questioning the decision to define the goal of life (or the things in life to laud) as "pleasure."


    We can take Don's answer that her question is easily resolvable by pointing out the myriad numerous experiences which compose the sweetest life, that's definitely fine to do, because it explains that pleasure is composed of many different individual experiences.


    But I think what Kaolsyni, and a lot of people, struggle with is that they don't like Epicurus' definition of "pleasure" as including every desirable experience in life. And I do think that is what he is doing - he has by definition postulated that everything that affects us do so either as pleasure or pain. I can't stress that enough - he's doing that BY DEFINITION. He knows just as well as you and I do that there are multiple different kinds of pleasures, but for purposes of philosophical debate - for understanding the issue - he is defining every desirable experience in life as pleasure - because we feel it to be desirable.


    Until we come to an agreement on that point with people everyone who fails to accept that this is what he is doing, those people who fail to accept that are going to squirm and struggle and kick back and they are going to insist that "there is more to life than just pleasure."


    And the key to understanding why he defining the word pleasure in this way is not that he is perverse or unrealistic or that he is "academic" himself. He's defining the word in this way specifically for the purpose of pointing out the flaws in the dialectical argument that his opponents are using against the idea that pleasure is the ultimate guide.

    I suspect the SPA philosophers would agree with Don that life is to be lived. They would beg to differ on the issue of what it means to live - what it is that we should "to keep our eye on ... to guide us in the right direction."


    Rather than "pleasure as the north star" as Don suggests, they assert either "divine revelation" (if they are Socrates talking about his demon telling him things) or "logic" (or whatever word you want to use to describe the art of word-gaming that implies that the ultimate truth of the universe is in "ideas").


    So agree fully with Don and I think most of us who are attracted to Epicurus grasp that intuitively - that is largely why we are here.


    What's more of a challenge is to understand the depth of the error or the lie that SPA were asserting. That's because the SPA way has been completely victorious in world history. Essentially all of us have been taught their way all our lives, and we don't want to believe that everything important we have been taught about the nature of the universe (by philosophers other than those in the Epicurean line) is essentially a lie.

    Multiple components comprise the Epicurean life. There is more to laud in the "sweetest life" than just pleasure. To say that there is only one highest good, is like saying you can only have one favorite food.

    Kalosyni - I think you are having an issue with something that I recall you also brought up on the 20th, though I am not sure I can recall exactly how. I think it was in reference to your questioning how Epicurus was dividing up all feelings into pleasure and pain.


    Don may have some comment on what I am about to say here, but the following is my interpretation of the issue you are questioning. The root of the issue, as I see it, gets back to the fact that Epicurus fighting against earlier philosophers (Socrates Plato Aristotle et al - let's call them SPA in this post) on issues of "dialectical logic."


    We know from a variety of sources that Epicurus rejected the idea that "dialectical logic" is the key to truth. But we also know that Epicurus did not reject "reason," and we know he in fact embraced "reason."


    Epicurus did not simply say: "I reject, and I advise you to reject, dialectical logic and the analysis of SPA and the rest as to the great issues of life." He provided a full explanation for his position and how to reason your way out of the SPA word-game trap. IMHO the best way to interpret the meaning of the 40 doctrines, and the 12 fundamentals of physics, is by examining them in relation to what the SPAs had taught, and considering them the key premises which, when understood, make the position of SPA impossible to accept.


    And the SPAs had taught everyone up to that point to analyze the big issues of life in terms of looking for a single "greatest good" - looking for a single thing which we can define as the ultimate goal for which reason we do everything else in life.

    Now IMHO what you are doing, Kalosyni, is rejecting that framework of analysis in which only one thing can be the "ultimate goal." And I think you are correct to do that, and I think Epicurus agreed with you in rejecting that. The most clear statement of this issue in the texts is this from Cicero's On Ends:


    Quote

    [29] IX. ‘First, then,’ said he, ‘I shall plead my case on the lines laid down by the founder of our school himself: I shall define the essence and features of the problem before us, not because I imagine you to be unacquainted with them, but with a view to the methodical progress of my speech. The problem before us then is, what is the climax and standard of things good, and this in the opinion of all philosophers must needs be such that we are bound to test all things by it, but the standard itself by nothing. Epicurus places this standard in pleasure, which he lays down to be the supreme good, while pain is the supreme evil; and he founds his proof of this on the following considerations.

    [30] Every creature, as soon as it is born, seeks after pleasure and delights therein as in its supreme good, while it recoils from pain as its supreme evil, and banishes that, so far as it can, from its own presence, and this it does while still uncorrupted, and while nature herself prompts unbiased and unaffected decisions. So he says we need no reasoning or debate to shew why pleasure is matter for desire, pain for aversion. These facts he thinks are simply perceived, just as the fact that re is hot, snow is white, and honey sweet, no one of which facts are we bound to support by elaborate arguments; it is enough merely to draw attention to the fact; and there is a difference between proof and formal argument on the one hand and a slight hint and direction of the attention on the other; the one process reveals to us mysteries and things under a veil, so to speak; the other enables us to pronounce upon patent and evident facts. Moreover, seeing that if iyou deprive a man of his senses there is nothing left to him, it is inevitable that nature herself should be the arbiter of what is in accord with or opposed to nature. Now what facts does she grasp or with what facts is her decision to seek or avoid any particular thing concerned, unless the facts of pleasure and pain?


    So what Torquatus was saying is that "in the opinion of all philosophers" you must go looking for a definition of the single ultimate good before you can organize the rest of your thoughts.


    It appears that Epicurus may not have really endorsed that approach himself, but what is clear is that he *certainly* did not endorse the approach of approaching the question as a long logic puzzle. Epicurus said it is sufficient to prove the point through feeling, and to look at how all other animals rely on feeling to justify their pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain.


    But the point for now is that Epicurus was faced with the analysis that everyone else in his time had been taught, and he answered the question of "What is the greatest good?" by looking to nature and feeling to give the answer.


    I think the way to interpret this is that he was saying "in the big picture, nature gives us pleasure and pain alone as the general categories of feelings as to what to pursue and what to avoid." Now did Epicurus know that there are many different types of feelings of pleasure (and of pain)? Certainly he did. But for purposes of dealing with the logical arguments of SPA he simply categorized them all as either pleasant feelings or unpleasant (painful) feelings.


    So going back to your question here is the heart of your problem:


    To say that there is only one highest good, is like saying you can only have one favorite food.

    Logically speaking, you *can* in fact, depending on how you define "favorite" have only *one* favorite food!


    If you define *favorite* as "best" or "highest" then if you apply rigorous logic you can have only one of those.


    You may not choose to define "favorite" that way, and you may definite "favorite" as "one of many things that you life a lot" but that is a definitional choice within the human mind, and nature itself does not require us to use one definition or the other.


    For the same reason, Epicurus was not compelled by nature to talk about "the highest good" - but he was surrounded by students who had been taught by SPA that they had to do that, so he had to show them a way out of the dilemma.


    I will stop there, but it is important to know that it *is* a dilemma. Once you accept the logic game that there is only a single *highest good* that can be captured in words/definitions, you have a real problem. This is the problem set forth in Philebus and it is the way Plato sought to destroy the idea of Pleasure being the guide of life. The core issue is that once you accept the necessity of playing word games, the "art of playing word games" - which is dialectical logic (what SPA defines as wisdom) necessarily becomes "the greatest good."


    Anyone who accepts that premise will - like Philebus - lose the game of defining the highest good. That is why Epicurus rejected dialectical logic and why he placed the senses (including "feeling") at the center of the "canon of truth."

    Very good comments from Joshua and Godfrey. I think I agree with all of them so I won't repeat that part in what I write:


    1. I'm most of the way through DeWitt's book, and in Chapter 14 he writes of Epicurus, "He favored a minimum of government and chose to look upon men as free individuals in a society transcending local political boundaries." Is this an eccentric opinion of DeWitt's, or would most experts on Epicurus describe him as a kind of libertarian or classical liberal? It is interesting to me that my current intense interest in Epicureanism was spurred by Bryan Caplan's recommendation that everyone read the "Letter to Menoeceus." (Caplan is a libertarian blogger, college professor and author. Many of his views are decidedly Epicurean, i.e. he stresses the importance of friendship.)


    Response One: Again I agree with Godfrey and Joshua and think that (1) it is hard to apply the systems Epicurus was involved in to modern systems. And (2) I think ultimately we have to look to Epicurus' position on Justice to see that he was very flexible and I think he would say that the system of government that is most appropriate depends on the facts. But I also do think that it is fair to infer that as for Epicurus himself and his friends, they who were often simple in their tastes, self-sufficient, etc. would naturally be attracted to themselves live under a system that reflected those simple and "live and let live tastes." So I think it's understandable how "libertarians" today can see commonalities in their views with those of Epicurus, but they shouldn't take it too far. Epicurus was above all practical, and interested in the results in action, and he would not likely say "Everyone in the world ought to live as me and my friends in Athens in 300 BC preferred to live." So in thinking that Epicurus endorsed their political viewpoints, I think they would be in error, just as would be almost everyone who tries to enlist Epicurus for their applied political viewpoints.



    2. Now that I know more about Epicureanism, thanks to DeWitt's book, I have to say that the Epicurean position that puzzles me the most is the denunciation of mathematics. Is there a ancient Greek cultural context here that I'm not getting?


    Response 2: Be sure to see the material in our recent thread on Epicurus and Propositional Logic: Propositional Logic, Truth Tables, and Epicurus' Objection to "Dialectic" And also these threads: Explaining Epicurus' Position On The "Size of the Sun" And Related Issues of Speculative Math / Geometry The basic point is that "science" is very similar to "wisdom" in virtue- no "system" is fully accurate to the facts of reality, and those limitations must always be remembered. The same goes especially for mathematics, which allows us to create "models" but not duplicate reality. People who forget those limitations lose themselves in pursuit of ideal forms which do not exist in reality.


    3. About sex, same question. Is Epicurus negative toward sex because he opposed older men hitting on young boys, or is there something else at work here? I don't see how, for example, married sex would contradict Epicurean principles.


    Response 3: I think it is most accurate to say that Epicurus cautioned that care be used in sex just as he would or did in terms of alcohol or any other high-risk activities that tend toward intoxication. Intoxication makes it difficult for us to be honest in predicting the results of our actions - in answering the question "What will happen to me if I choose this course of action?" Epicurus warned against the pain that comes from intoxicated pursuit of sex / romance but he did not condemn the pleasure itself, and he recognized sex for one of the real hallmark experiences of life by which we know ultimately what pleasure is. "The pleasure of sex" is a feeling that is hard to fail to feel and understand, so I think the best way to appeciate Epicurus on this is that he is always reminding us that all pleasures are desirable, but some bring the danger of more pain than others do, and the fact of life is that this is a pleasure to handle with great care.


    4. I didn't really get an answer to my query about Hiram Crespo's book, but related to that, I was browsing on Kindle the other night and I ran across Cassius' "Elemental Epicureanism" and bought it for 99 cents. At that price, and with its collection of basic texts, it ought to be recommended to every new person joining this website. I'll note that an "H. Crespo" recommended it and gave it five stars.


    Response 4: My "books" are little more than compilations and the only reason there is a charge for any of them is that I couldn't figure out way to get them on Kindle without there being a charge. If you get any benefit from them I will be glad but they all need dramatic revision - which I hope to do someday. As to Hiram's book that is a complicated subject. A significant number of people find that it contains helpful suggests for the pursuit of pleasure, but it was not written as a basic textbook (such as the DeWitt book) and it should not be depended upon for basic theory. The people who like it the most are generally those who read it first, and before they read DeWitt or some other book on theory. Those who read DeWitt or other reliable theory generally I find to be less well disposed toward it. Anyone who is interested in reading about the differences between Hiram's approach and those of most of us at this forum would do well to read this thread: Discussion of the Society of Epicurus' 20 Tenets of 12/21/19



    If I missed something let me know and I will come back to it!

    I haven't had time to look at the article but I immediately recall that there are aspects of Lucretius' poem that talk about the differences in types of people and what they dream about and similar aspects of their personalities (at least one reference related to the type of "air" that they contain, if I recall ;) ) so there are definitely text references that help with discussing personal differences in pleasure.

    Here are four key ideas I'd like to focus on to solicit examples of the same ideas that may not be mainstream or popular, but still have found at least some expression in "modern popular culture. " The four are:


    1. Live like there are no supernatural gods (because there aren't).
    2. Live like you are dying (because you are).
    3. Live like mental and physical pleasure is the only thing worth living for (because it is).
    4. Live like there is no absolute virtue (because there isn't, other than the prudence that comes from knowing that (1), (2), and (3) above are absolutely true).


    In the section below I have listed various references from the ancient texts that support each one, and I have also included at least one "music video" that might apply. The point of this post is to solicit additional videos or pictures or links that support each point. I want to emphasize is that any single work of art is likely to be tightly tied to a particular point in time and space - to a particular generation, or group of people, or language group - that probably doesn't translate well between groups. Lovers of classical music can't be expected to appreciate rap, or vice versa, and boomers, zoomers, millenials, and all the rest have their own cultural reference points and often don't like art that's based in other perspectives.


    In my case, I am pretty much totally unaware of major cultural or artistic works outside my own experience, but that doesn't mean that good cultural iconography doesn't exist across the spectrum for these points from Epicurus, because they are truly universal in application to all human beings. Not everyone is going to like each work of art, but we can't even begin to appreciate what's out there and consider how it can be used to support Epicurean doctrines if we don't know of its existence.


    So with that as background please extend the thread with suggestions by listing the one of the four you are addressing and how your suggested work of art fits with it. If you are a suggesting a music video please provide a link with lyrics if you possibly can.



    Live like there are no supernatural gods (because there aren't).

    1. Song possibilities:
      1. "Imagine" (John Lennon)
        1. External Content www.youtube.com
          Content embedded from external sources will not be displayed without your consent.
          Through the activation of external content, you agree that personal data may be transferred to third party platforms. We have provided more information on this in our privacy policy.
    2. Texts:
      1. PD01. "The blessed and immortal nature knows no trouble itself, nor causes trouble to any other, so that it is never constrained by anger or favor. For all such things exist only in the weak."
      2. PD12. "A man cannot dispel his fear about the most important matters if he does not know what is the nature of the universe, but suspects the truth of some mythical story. So that, without natural science, it is not possible to attain our pleasures unalloyed."
      3. Lucretius Book Two [1090] "These things, if you rightly apprehend, Nature will appear free in her operations, wholly from under the power of domineering deities, and to act all things voluntarily, and of herself, without the assistance of gods. For Oh - the undisturbed bosoms of the powers above, blessed with sacred peace! How they live in everlasting ease, a life void of care! Who can rule this infinite Universe? Who has the power to hold the mighty reigns of government in his hands over this whole mass? Who likewise can turn about all these heavens? And cherish all these fruitful globes of Earth with celestial heat? Who can be present at all times, and in all places? To darken the world with clouds, to shake the vast expansion of the serene heavens with noise; to dart the thunder, and often overturn his own temples, to fly into the wilderness, and furiously brandish that fiery bolt, which often passes by the guilty, and strikes dead the innocent and undeserving?" (Brown 1743)
      4. Epicurus' Letter to Herodotus [77] "Furthermore, the motions of the heavenly bodies and their turnings and eclipses and risings and settings, and kindred phenomena to these, must not be thought to be due to any being who controls and ordains or has ordained them and at the same time enjoys perfect bliss together with immortality (for trouble and care and anger and kindness are not consistent with a life of blessedness, but these things come to pass where there is weakness and fear and dependence on neighbors). Nor again must we believe that they, which are but fire agglomerated in a mass, possess blessedness, and voluntarily take upon themselves these movements. But we must preserve their full majestic significance in all expressions which we apply to such conceptions, in order that there may not arise out of them opinions contrary to this notion of majesty. Otherwise this very contradiction will cause the greatest disturbance in men’s souls. Therefore we must believe that it is due to the original inclusion of matter in such agglomerations during the birth-process of the world that this law of regular succession is also brought about."
    • Live like you are dying (because you are).
      1. Song possibilities
        1. "live like you were dying" (Tim McGraw)
          1. External Content www.youtube.com
            Content embedded from external sources will not be displayed without your consent.
            Through the activation of external content, you agree that personal data may be transferred to third party platforms. We have provided more information on this in our privacy policy.
      2. Texts:
        1. PD02. Death is nothing to us, for that which is dissolved is without sensation; and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us.
        2. VS10. Remember that you are mortal, and have a limited time to live, and have devoted yourself to discussions on Nature for all time and eternity, and have seen “things that are now and are to come and have been.”
        3. VS14. We are born once and cannot be born twice, but for all time must be no more. But you, who are not master of tomorrow, postpone your happiness. Life is wasted in procrastination, and each one of us dies while occupied.
        4. VS30. Some men, throughout their lives, spend their time gathering together the means of life, for they do not see that the draught swallowed by all of us at birth is a draught of death.
        5. VS47. "I have anticipated thee, Fortune, and I have closed off every one of your devious entrances. And we will not give ourselves up as captives, to thee or to any other circumstance; but when it is time for us to go, spitting contempt on life and on those who cling to it maundering, we will leave from life singing aloud a glorious triumph-song on how nicely we lived."
        6. VS60. "Every man passes out of life as though he had just been born."
    • Live like mental and physical pleasure is the only thing worth living for (because it is)
      1. Song possibilities:


        1. Il Divo Feelings -
          1. External Content www.youtube.com
            Content embedded from external sources will not be displayed without your consent.
            Through the activation of external content, you agree that personal data may be transferred to third party platforms. We have provided more information on this in our privacy policy.
      2. Texts:
        1. "Torquatus" from Cicero's "On Ends" - The problem before us then is, what is the climax and standard of things good, and this in the opinion of all philosophers must needs be such that we are bound to test all things by it, but the standard itself by nothing. Epicurus places this standard in pleasure, which he lays down to be the supreme good, while pain is the supreme evil...." (Reid)
        2. "Torquatus" from Cicero's "On Ends" - "Surely any one who is conscious of his own condition must needs be either in a state of pleasure or in a state of pain. Epicurus thinks that the highest degree of pleasure is dened by the removal of all pain, so that pleasure may afterwards exhibit diversities and differences but is incapable of increase or extension."
    • Live like there is no absolute virtue (because there isn't, other than the prudence that comes from knowing that (1), (2), and (3) above are absolutely true.
      1. Song Possibilities:
        1. This one is harder and this is only for starters:
          1. Elvis Presley / Frank Sinatra - My Way
          2. External Content www.youtube.com
            Content embedded from external sources will not be displayed without your consent.
            Through the activation of external content, you agree that personal data may be transferred to third party platforms. We have provided more information on this in our privacy policy.
      2. Texts:
        1. VS13. Among the things held to be just by law, whatever is proved to be of advantage in men’s dealings has the stamp of justice, whether or not it be the same for all; but if a man makes a law and it does not prove to be mutually advantageous, then this is no longer just. And if what is mutually advantageous varies, and only for a time corresponds to our concept of justice, nevertheless for that time it is just, for those who do not trouble themselves about empty words, but look simply at the facts.
        2. VS58. "We must free ourselves from the prison of public education and politics."
        3. VS71. "Every desire must be confronted by this question: What will happen to me if the object of my desire is accomplished, and what if it is not?"
        4. "Torquatus" from Cicero's "On Ends" [42] This being so, it is plain that all right and praiseworthy action has the life of pleasure for its aim. Now inasmuch as the climax or goal or limit of things good (which the Greeks term telos) is that object which is not a means to the attainment of any thing else, while all other things are a means to its attainment, we must allow that the climax of things good is to live agreeably. XIII. Those who find this good in virtue and virtue only, and dazzled by the glory of her name, fail to perceive what it is that nature craves, will be emancipated from heresy of the deepest dye, if they will deign to lend ear to Epicurus. For unless your grand and beautiful virtues were productive of pleasure, who would suppose them to be either meritorious or desirable? Yes, just as we regard with favour the physician’s skill not for his art's sake merely but because we prize sound health, and just as the pilot's art is praised on utilitarian and not on artistic grounds, because it supplies the principles of good navigation, so wisdom, which we must hold to be the art of living, would be no object of desire, if it were productive of no advantage; but it is in fact desired, because it is to us as an architect that plans and accomplishes pleasure."
        5. Diogenes of Oinoanda, Inscription, Fragment 32: "If, gentlemen, the point at issue between these people and us involved inquiry into «what is the means of happiness?» and they wanted to say «the virtues» (which would actually be true), it would be unnecessary to take any other step than to agree with them about this, without more ado. But since, as I say, the issue is not «what is the means of happiness?» but «what is happiness and what is the ultimate goal of our nature?», I say both now and always, shouting out loudly to all Greeks and non-Greeks, that pleasure is the end of the best mode of life, while the virtues, which are inopportunely messed about by these people (being transferred from the place of the means to that of the end), are in no way an end, but the means to the end." (Smith)


    Received a comment today on this episode from a listener in Europe (via google translate):


    Cassius, I listened to Lucretius podcast 9. There is a debate about how to convince people who don't want to trust their senses. The Flemish philosopher Maarten Boudry has an interesting view on this. He says that there are people who do not want to know something. There are lovers who promise each other loyalty and also say, if you were unfaithful, I don't want to know. There are people who carry cancer genetically, but say to their doctor, I don't want research, I don't want to know. When developing new tests for detecting cancer, they ask people in advance: if we develop that test, would you use it? 70% say yes, but if the test is really there, and people are invited, there are only 35% who actually do it. So a lot of people don't even know they don't want to know something. I find that an enlightening insight.

    Yes "fluffy" is a very good term for it. I've watched some of Wilson's videos and I do tend to think that she gives a good "vibe" as being a nice person and "gets it" better than do some of the others. But I don't think she's primarily into Epicurus as much as she is into general philosophy, and so she comes across as more cautious than she would otherwise.

    As we close out the 2021 year on the Lucretius Today Podcast we're going to do a special series on Epicurean Ethics, using Cicero's narrative given by "Torquatus" in "On Ends" as the text.


    The primary thread where this is already being discussed is here: Torquatus' Statement of the Epicurean View Of The Ultimate Good In "On Ends"


    Rather than use the Rackham text which is found in most places on the internet, we are planning to use the text by Reid, which appears somewhat more literal. That text is here: Cicero's "Torquatus" Presentation of Epicurean Ethics - from "On Ends"


    We will do this over several episodes, with each episode having a reading of a short portion, but a full-length version by Joshua being made as well.

    Don offers this suggestion (already now added to the list above)



    Pierre Hadot. Philosophy as a Way of Life.


    This covers a number of Hellenistic philosophies, but includes a lot of consideration of Epicurean "spiritual exercises" as Hadot calls them. For example:


    Quote

    Meditation, however, be it simple or erudite, is not the only Epicurean spiritual exercise. To cure the soul, it is not necessary, as the Stoics would have it, to train it to stretch itself tight, but rather to train it to relax. Instead of picturing misfortunes in advance, so as to be prepared to bear them, we must rather, say the Epicureans, detach our thought from the vision of painful things, and fix our eyes on pleasurable ones. We arc to relive memories of past pleasures, and enjoy the pleasures of the present, recognizing how intense and agreeable these present pleasures are.70 We have here a quite distinctive spiritual exercise, different from the constant vigilance of the Stoic, with his constant readiness to safeguard his moral liberty at each instant. Instead, Epicureanism preaches the deliberate, continually renewed choice of relaxation and serenity, combined with a profound gratitude71 toward nature and life,72 which constantly offer us joy and pleasure, if only we know how to find them. By the same token, the spiritual exercise of trying to live in the present moment is very different for Stoics and Epicureans. For the former, it means mental tension and constant wakefulness of the moral conscience; for the latter, it is, as we have seen, an invitation to relaxation and serenity. Worry, which tears us in the direction of the future, hides from us the incomparable value of the simple fact of existing: "We are born once, and cannot be born twice, but for all time must be no more. But you, who are not master of tomorrow, postpone your happiness: life is wasted in procrastination and each one of us dies overwhelmed with cares." This is the doctrine contained in Horace's famous saying: carpe diem.

    Let's see if we can prepare a list of "modern" books to mention in a list of those for people to consider on the "practical side." We can edit and update this list as more are added. Links are to the book's location at Amazon.com:


    Please included in the thread below any you would like to add to this list, plus give your comment on it. Thanks!


    1. Haris Dimitriadis (Epicurus and the Pleasant Life - A Philosophy of Nature" and "Death is Nothing To Fear")
    2. Catherine Wilson (How To Be An Epicurean / Pleasure Principle note: these two are the same with different titles for different markets)
    3. Hiram Crespo (Tending the Epicurean Garden)
    4. Pierre Hadot (Philosophy As A Way of Life)