Posts by Hiram

    Here is how they look from the side and from the bottom where they can be adjusted for the size of the fingers.


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    So the sources say that ancient Epicureans had votive busts and specifically mentions that they also wore RINGS with the likeness of Epicurus. Here is a sample I got of what an Epicurus ring would look like, as a possible product for my business It's a small ring, but it expands, and the face of Epicurus does not fit entirely into it but it still looks like Epicurus. Do others think there is a market for this?


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    .... Additionally, as Matt, rightly, pointed out that Liantinis killed himself in order to protest and emphasize his disdain through a symbolic and final personal act of murdering himself...I interpret that as hatred and disdain against his individual humanity and our collective humanity. Epicurus would certainly not have approved of Liantinis and would've rightly labeled Liantinis a fool.

    Matthaeus the ethnic nationalism and anti-semitism in here is stomach sickening...

    Cassius, I wish you luck with Epicurean Friends, I'm an Epicurean but ethnic-nationalists and anti-semites are not friends of mine - and witnessing here the thoughtless copy/paste approach by a moderator and dramatic use of fonts and regurgitation of seemingly prepared counter-responses drown out dialogue. Such immature and mindless behaviour has unfortunately, greatly, undermined your project of Epicurean Friends.

    I wrote a piece for the Humanist on euthanasia, and the research I did for this proved that only one Epicurean in antiquity ever committed suicide and this was a frowned upon practice among the Epicureans except in cases of terminal disease or when a person is already lying on the battlefield near death. Committing suicide to prove a point politically is about as far from ataraxia / a life of pleasure as one gets.

    Also, the problem of nationalism and anti-Semitism is something we have seen before in some Epicurean groups and circles, it's a source of embarrassment and keeps us from being able to effectively carry our message. Here in Chicago I met a guy who I guess considered himself Epicurean (he came to my Epicurean meetup twice) who was a Serbian white supremacy enthusiast (and very homophobic), had strong fascist tendencies, and spent the first 15 minutes of our very first conversation ever spewing arguments in defense of the Bosnian genocide.

    I wrote the atheism 2.1 essay hoping to address political militancy among atheists and where it goes wrong, but it could also be applied to the Epicureans.

    Previous commentary


    This reminds me of Nietzsche's treatment of words as both authority or power upon creation / the world, as well as with the insistence among Epicureans in a careful choice of words, something on which we today and in the English language have not focused enough. We have instead been careful to _avoid_ certain words (like faith, God or gods, hedonism) because of their conventionally understood meanings, instead.

    Further up from this passage it suggests the need for "adapting certain conventional usages"--which reminds me of the practice (which is mentioned in the recent "against empty words" video) of re-defining words according to nature, and Polyaenus insistence on this in his scroll "on definitions".

    In p. 47 Epicurus here mentions that he has recently learned about the "difficulties of using the correct names for individual things". This resonates with my observation that the ancient Epicureans preferred to move away from speaking in the abstract (man) and trying to align their speech as clearly as possible with the concrete examples of categories (humans, men in the plural) to accentuate the individual specimens.

    There seems to have been a more complete, comprehensive Epicurean theory of speech, rhetorics, and linguistics than most of us today are aware of (which would make sense in light of the insistence on clear speech).

    P. 48 again confirms what we know, that the Epicureans used conventional words and did not disregard conventional meaning ("our own usage does not flout linguistic convention") but yet assigned new and particular meaning to them, keeping in mind their distinct, clear meaning.

    p. 49 mentions a work titled "On Ambiguity" as a source that explained why it's an error to transfer words that design the knowable to things that belong in the category of the unknowable. Here, Metodorus and Epicurus are also discussing who is and who is not a worthy intellectual opponent enough to dedicate time to them in light of the goal of benefiting sincere, committed students who want to be happy. Maybe we should discuss these matters more in detail in order to try to imagine what was discussed in that work.

    p 50 contains a great quote in defense of empirical thinking, and the idea that false opinions can find themselves into the words of a language "through a non-empirical process, not following one of our current divisions, but simply arising from an internal movement". This is below called a "trace of suspicion" and a call is made to "turn to the entire faculty of empirical reasoning". This is passage is beautiful and of great value!

    p. 51: "for the opinion which he holds is, I know, by no means empirically based on current evidence … every opinion to which we had not yet at the time applied an empirical assessment should be referred to the following rule: it is not possible, in my view, to subject every opinion immediately to an empirical assessment, but it is sufficient that a man will be ready merely to display a capacity for reasoning empirically when the opportunity allows. For someone who examines it with this lack of empirical reasoning and in an utterly inadequate fashion, will nevertheless be able to assess it empiritucally, (if it is an opinion that concerns actions, when he has the opportunity to observe someone who proceeds to action on the basis of it; he will see with what results the person performs this action and under its guidance he will arrive at the truth just as much in the category of avoidance as in that of choice".

    The above passage re: how to think empirically about action is mentioned in the video on empty words. Concerning theoretical and unempirical opinions, they can be considered false if an empirical opinion based on them is untrue, or if when acted upon they lead to disadvantageous action (meaning that, here, the definite existence of "moral truths" is posited based on disadvantage).

    p 55 Epicurus mentions the importance of the canon ("keeping at his side a yardstick with the help of which … he will not proceed in the direction of falsehood"), and of being careful to await for confirmation (that is, empirical evidence) before we declare something to be true.

    p 56 closes by citing how important this discourse is: "... try 10,000 times over to commit to memory what I and Metrodorus here have just said".

    epilogismos = empirical reasoning

    suffix epi “upon,” “on,” “over,” “near,” “at,” “before,” “after”; in case of epidermis it's the pre-skin, what comes before the skin (dermis), so it seems that epi-logismos may imply pre-rational? (logos), or what comes prior to reason (experience), but this has to be confirmed by someone who knows Greek

    epilogismoi are also appeals to experience, as moral questions are also solved empirically (judged from experience)

    We also have to interpret these discussions as strongly recommending a careful study of the terms used in Epicurean philosophy and their translations into our language to ensure that we are accurately representing the way in which we must study nature.

    Continuing previous conversation in the file section (please provide feedback). Here are some additional notes:

    "first meaning". "a pre-conception, based on sense evidence, with the help of which a perceived object can be recognized by name", ergo a word used in a secondary non-perceptual sense can have no prolepsis of its own … and E insists that such words be traced back to the preconceptions associated with them in their primary, perceptual senses; that is: refer to nature

    It seems like this first (proto) meaning was an extremely important aspect of the Epicurean theory of language. And it was tied to the faculty of anticipations / prolepsis.

    To cite the example used in the other discussion: AUTARKEIA.

    Let's dissect it referring to its original sense and use.

    I am not a native Greek speaker, but even in Spanish and English AUT- deals with self (auto-didactic means self-taught, automatic means "doing things by itself"), auto-estima in Spanish means "self esteem". and -ARCHY means government, rule. Monarchy means government of one, oligarchy is the regime of a few, etc. And so we conclude using the Epicurean method that autarchy is self-rule, governing oneself, setting rules for oneself and obeying oneself (which is actually an idea we also find in Nietzsche, a pre-requisite for self-overcoming).

    So here is an instance where a very useful word in philosophy is traced to its roots and we also find a similar concept being used by another philosopher of great esteem.

    Self-sufficiency (the usual translation of autarchy) can also be subjected to this investigation of the roots of the word, having to do with oneself (single individual, alone) and suffice / sufficient (not needing anything else or any more than what is there already).


    more notes:

    a particular problem of language, from the Epicurean perspective, is that at some point men of culture began to use empty words. They began to assign false or unnatural (supernatural?) meanings to words for non-existent things, and even to use

    p. 21 Epicurus "wants concepts to be clarified by reference to the data of perceptions and feelings, not through mere verbal predication", and "shows strong doubts about the usefulness of definitions"

    If we understand this, we can begin to appreciate why Epicureans greatly valued plain speech and distrusted the rhetorical arts, demoting them to a very secondary role in philosophy.


    p 22 says that Metrodorus had been "building up a private terminology" using ordinary language, but also innovation ("without adapting certain linguistic conventions"). Metrodorus had been, in effect, constructing a language

    "a private terminology" sounds like a naming language (a lexicon that can be adapted to any grammar or conventional language), but the act of ignoring linguistic conventions sounds like an act of full-blown conlanging. Metrodorus was attempting, in effect, to construct a language, to fully reform language for the sake of clarity, and to reconcile language with nature.

    This accentuates a profound concern and doubt about the accuracy and usefulness of conventional language in philosophy, and a conviction that language obscures thought and needs to be optimized and reformed for the study of nature. Furthermore, (as the work cited says) men frequently mismatch the their perceptions with names in conventional language, which is at the root of many errors.

    The least we can say is that the founders called for a healthy distrust and choice of words in all of our investigations and communications.

    Yes, this is where the "cosmopolitan" values of the Epicureans were indifferent to the values of the polis (state), and where natural community differs from Platonic / imagined community. "Cosmopolitan" meant, in a way, non-polis.


    The issue today is that international law does not permit stateless individuals (which is why there was so much controversy around the supposed civil rights of the "ISIS brides"), so we will always have to live with people's political identities and their implications (even if they are Platonic or imposed or whatever), and I would argue that life is much more pleasant when, rather than fighting our political identities we embrace and are able to take pride in them like Onfray does with La République, or like we like to sometimes over-romanticize Thomas Jefferson and others for their Epicurean and/or Enlightenment ideals.

    Nietzsche also shares our fears of what will replace Christianity, and Michel Onfray I think is doing a great job proposing an Epicurean and/or neo-Epicurean alternative. Alain de Botton's "Atheism 2.0" lecture and the "Sunday Assembly" give ideas about what a post-Christian world should look like. I think it's in our self-interest to support Enlightenment and humanist alternatives for creating community and meaning in the West.

    Again I can't speak for him but my guess is that in his social contract, the "others" are the citizens of the French Republic.

    The French take their Republican values VERY seriously. They struggled too much for them to take them for granted. They see their Republic as the fruit of the Enlightenment and Paris is La Cité des Lumières (the City of Lights). Liberté, Egalité, Solidarité are part of their national covenant, sort of like our "pursuit of happiness" and other statements in our foundational documents in America--and this is why the French are much more comfortable with social democracy and labor activism than we are (because of the solidarity portion).

    I'm sorry if this sounds awful but Vatican City is teeming with sexual predators and their protectors (like "reverend" Bernard Law of Boston, who has his own cathedral and an assistant) who went there desperately trying to evade the law in their home countries. It should not have the privilege of sovereignty (which makes it nearly impossible to extradite criminals, a process which by which politicians risk the anger of the Catholic mobs and the loss of diplomatic ties with "the Catholic World")

    If Vatican City burns down, that'll be a day of salvation for abused children all over the world.

    Please contact me if, while reading the French sources, things don't make sense. I know it's a Romance language and the book is written in a style that intellectuals in France are fond of, but which makes use of long-winded metaphors and bizarre expressions that require some familiarity with the language. I'm fluent, and yet I needed to consult an online French dictionary frequently while reading.

    Elayne the best English language source for Onfray, and a great introduction to his intellectual legacy is Hedonist Manifesto. Here is my review:…frays-hedonist-manifesto/

    I can't speak for him, but On happiness and worth, I'll refer you to the study by Dr. Christakis that I mentioned in my book, that showed that happiness is contagious, and the comparison between this study and another study on the correlation between money and happiness that showed that a happy friend adds aprox. $20,000 worth of happiness to our lives. So that is the "worth" of a happy friend.

    Onfray does not revile utilitarianism and cynicism, for example, as much as he reviles Plato. He reserves most of his venom for Plato, and insofar as other philosophies/ers resonate with his counter-history of philosophy, he affirms them. For instance, he calls himself "a Nietzschean, insofar as he takes Nietzsche as a starting point in philosophizing". And he's a huge champion of THE BODY and its instincts and faculties (and ergo of libertarian individualism, versus the societal pressures and conventions that impose inauthenticity).

    So -- whatever else we may say of him-- he has brought many thousands in Europe and the French speaking world to the study of Epicurus with his gospel of pleasure and his call to re-write history from an Epicurean perspective. Everyone that I've met in the Spanish world that knows about Epicurus is pretty familiar with Onfray. By contending with his words, we inject ourselves into thousands of discussions about Epicurus that are happening all over Europe and Latin America.

    Thanks Hiram -- I don't read French but I think I will go ahead and get a copy. The description of contents on this page looks pretty comprehensive, and Google translate generally does a reasonable job with French.


    This was a bit complex to read sometimes (huge tome with little letters and dense content) but also EXTREMELY rewarding in terms of how much I got out of it.

    This is also my main source for Polystratus' argument for moral realism, which is very relevant today with so many books trying to root morality in nature (Sam Harris, "The Atheist and the Bonobo", "The moral animal", etc.) All these intellectuals are trying to reinvent the wheel. The Epicureans drew from the Letter to Herodotus and the classification of inherent and relational properties of bodies to infer a natural morality where pleasure and aversion (and other ethical categories) are relational attributes of bodies. If we could modernize this discourse, we may be able to greatly and credibly influence this modern discourse.

    Yes, my source was the French book, which I went out of my way to get years ago because it contained many works not available in English.

    Les Epicureans has no "writer". It is a translation of ancient works with commentaries from MANY intellectuals and sources, compiled and edited by two men, among which DeLattre seems to have been the central figure because he seems to focus solely on Epicurean / Philodeman sources. Les Epicureans is basically a French-language Encyclopaedia Epicurea. And it feels like a an Epicurean Bible because it has all the ancient sources.

    Daniel DeLattre is here:

    and he's tied to the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique / French National Centre for Scientific Research

    and judging from his papers on academia it looks like he's almost exclusively focused on the Herculanean papyri.

    Also, keep in mind that Michel Onfray is HUGE in France (and that his main narrative is "counter-history of philosophy from the perspective of the friends of Epicurus and enemies of Plato"), and that citizens of the French Republic tend to have a much more robust intellectual life than many other countries, so it's very likely that this author is very intimately familiar with the details and important issues to Epicurean Philosophy and seems like he's committed to preserving EP for future generations.

    The other editor, Jackie Pigeaud, died in 2016. Here is an essay in homage of his memory that you can google translate if you're into the philosophical subject of melancholy:…ge-a-jackie-pigeaud-68951

    and here are his works

    As far as addiction goes, of course I have assisted in the treatment of teens, since that is part of pediatric practice, and for that reason I have done a fair amount of research. I think the evidence is most supportive of a process like the one Stanton Peele outlines. I have had several conversations with Stanton on the subject, and I had the pleasure of reviewing an advance copy of his book on developmental aspects of addiction, which is coming out in May. The general gist is that people do not become addicted when they are enjoying pleasure through their innate pleasure pathways-- they tend to have no interest in the mimics, or if they do use them, they do so without becoming addicted.

    So he's involved in the SMART program!? This is great. I first read of the SMART recovery program in an issue of "The Humanist" that also included an article I wrote for them. I remember that the editor took an interest in my mention of Epicurean cognitive therapy because she felt that it related to other essays that were going to appear in the same issue. I'll share some tweets on this.