Posts by Cassius

    This is a deep discussion. My interjection for the moment is that it may be interesting to consider:

    1. The implications of the terminology difference between "harm" vs "pain."

    2. In terms of pain, are we talking painful to the participant, to the observer, or both?

    3. And in terms of symmetry, is all assymetry painful?

    Sounds like the same glitch as before just much shorter-lived. Definitely not user error on our part. Hopefully the host is getting on top of this as i hate the thought of changing providers.

    The ending of the Torquatus narrative in On Ends has always rung bell after bell with me since the first time I read it:

    XXI. If then the doctrine I have set forth is clearer and more luminous than daylight itself; if it is derived entirely from Nature's source; if my whole discourse relies throughout for confirmation on the unbiased and unimpeachable evidence of the senses; if lisping infants, nay even dumb animals, prompted by Nature's teaching, almost find voice to proclaim that there is no welfare but pleasure, no hardship but pain—and their judgment in these matters is neither sophisticated nor biased—ought we not to feel the greatest gratitude to him who caught this utterance of Nature's voice, and grasped its import so firmly and so fully that he has guided all sane-minded men into the paths of peace and happiness, calmness and repose?

    You are pleased to think him uneducated. The reason is that he refused to consider any education worth the name that did not help to school us in happiness. Was he to spend his time, as you encourage Triarius and me to do, in perusing poets, who give us nothing solid and useful, but merely childish amusement? Was he to occupy himself like Plato with music and geometry, arithmetic and astronomy, which starting from false premises cannot be true, and which moreover if they were true would contribute nothing to make our lives pleasanter and therefore better? Was he, I say, to study arts like these, and neglect the master art, so difficult and correspondingly so fruitful, the art of living?

    No! Epicurus was not uneducated: the real philistines are those who ask us to go on studying till old age the subjects that we ought to be ashamed not to have learnt in boyhood.

    More: This is definitely a thread of reasoning that does not need to go in the wrong direction, but it is still HUGE: the divergence between "reason" and "feeling/sensations" is at the heart of the opposition between Epicurus and the other Greeks. And it fits well within the scope of the recent discussion we have been having about "the gods" --- the recurring question is how we deal with issues about which we don't have all the direct evidence we would like to have.

    We can invest our trust in "logic" and "words" and "concepts" or we can draw the line at their limit -- which is that they can't take us further than ultimately can be tied back to our sensations and feelings. But that is exactly what the lure of "reason" calls us toward -- to think that we can go further than nature and totally create our own reality, rather than working to reshape the reality around us to the extent we are able -- not forcing nature, but persuading her, in the words of the text.

    Academia can be great, or it can turn into "priests of reason" which is just as oppressive as priest of the purely religious kind.

    Yes I agree that the texts are so fragmentary that we're constantly in a position of trying to make the best possible sense of them, and that means that what they appear to mean in one context may not at all be the case.

    And add to that that they seem to have had a very good sense of humor, so it's hard to say what could be joking and what could be deadly serious.

    Ah I know I am pushing buttons and can be perceived to be on the wrong side -- even "anti-intellectual" !!

    But I perceive that there has been an unholy alliance among Academia and Religion for far too long, and it is time to smash those chains that hold the tight-barred gate that separate us from Nature! ;-)

    And if that means that we have to challenge EVERYTHING that we were ever taught, then we need to be prepared to do it -- and right now other than those things which we learn by Nature - which seems to be the direction that Epicurus was pointing - I don't think we can trust *anything* that we can't verify for ourselves, and then deduce to be true through our reasoning -- starting with reasoning like "nothing comes from nothing" or "goes to nothing"

    Also, before we take the analogies too far, this post is not to suggest that I think that no one at Cambridge understands Epicurus. I particularly like to recommend the work of David Sedley, for just one example. The point is a more general one, that the more specialized the person becomes as a professional philosopher, the more it seems they tend to find Epicurus mystifying or objectionable. When in fact "regular people" who are not academically trained (not "eggheads" in other words ;-) ) often embrace Epicurus and find that he makes perfectly good sense. That seems to have been Cicero's observation in ancient Rome, and I don't think times have changed much.

    There is always Google Translate to Italian too ;-)

    I guess I am also interested in your own reactions to the book, because I presume you've already read it through for your personal satisfaction.

    Are you pretty much in agreement with Frances Wright's "take" on Epicurus?

    To add to Hiram's point, we know that Epicurus also had slaves, so that would obviously not be a lifestyle that we can or should duplicate. That's a pretty dramatic example of the dangers of thinking that Epicurus himself lived a particularly ascetic / minimal existence, which I don't think the facts would support. In addition, I am not aware that any of the other examples of specific Epicureans we know about from history were noted for gardening or raising their own sustenance or really were in any way associated with an ascetic or minimalist lifestyle.

    I think Hiram's leads on the Property Management material are probably more practical examples, with the goal being more "intelligent" and/or "sustainable" lifestyle choices, suitable to the level of means we are confident we can support and sustain, rather than geared toward minimalist or ascetic, but other than the links Hiram provides I don't have good online links to the direct reference material. That would be particularly interesting to look back at, because I don't recall every reading that Philodemus' material advises anything that is particularly ascetic, nor did he himself live that way if in fact he lived or taught in the area of what Julius Caesar's father-in-law's library at Herculaneum.


    This nature therefore of the soul is contained by the whole body; it is the keeper of the body, and the cause of its safety: for they are both united closely together by mutual bonds, nor can they be torn asunder but by the destruction of both. As it is impossible to separate the odor from a lump of Frankincense, but the nature of both must perish, so it is equally difficult to part the mind and soul from the whole body, but they must all be dissolved. Of such interwoven principles are they formed, from their very beginning, that they enjoy a common life, nor have either of them, either the mind or the body in a separate state, the power of sense without the assistance of each other, but sense is incited in us by the nerves, from the common motions of both, and by their joint operations.

    Besides, the body is never born alone, nor does it grow or continue after the soul is fled, for the water throws off of vapor when it is made hot, yet it is not by that means destroyed, but remains entire. The limbs I say, cannot with the same safety bear the separation of the soul when it retires from them, but thus divided, they must all perish and rot together. For the mutual conjunction of the soul and body from the very beginning, even as they lie in the womb of the mother, does so jointly promote the vital motions, that no separation can be made without death and dissolution; from hence you learn that, since their preservation so much depends upon each other, their Natures also are inseparably joined and united together.

    But further, if anyone denies that the body has sense, and believes that the soul diffused through the whole body is only capable of that motion we call sense, he opposes the plainest evidence, and the truth of all experience; for who would ever pretend to say that the body has sense if the thing itself did not fully prove, and convince us of it? But it is plain, you'll say, that the body is void of all sense when the soul is gone: True, for this faculty is not peculiar to the body alone, but to the soul and body united; and we know the sense becomes weaker, and decays, as the body and soul grow old together.

    All of that is Good! I do not think I realized that you had read A few Days In Athens, or that you were translating it.

    I would be very interested in your comments on the Francis Wright book.... Maybe your review of it, or something you plan for the intro to the Italian edition? :-)

    Lately I have been trying to discipline myself to transcribe at least a couple of paragraphs of Lucretius every morning before work, and that has been a help to make sure I get it done and prevent it from being pushed aside. These are pretty ordinary observations and there's nothing magic in them, but routine and habit can be very helpful.