I didn't read the thread, but I have to mention that there was a German author on Epicurus and Hellenistic philosophy named Hossenfelder. Sabine could be his daughter or some kind of relative.
By luck I've found another new book - and it's available in my local library! I've checked the table of contents and it seems to be quite valueable, especially for the sake of expanding one's knowledge on how the ancient Epicureans practised their philosophy.
I hope the links work:
Please let me know if you are interested in the content of several chapters, I can look them up for you.
By luck I have found a reference to a book on Epicureanism and early Christianity (it's quite interesting to myself because I am currently reading DeWitt's "St. Paul and Epicurus". It's titeled "You will not taste death: Jesus and Epicureanism" by Jack W. Hannah. Does anyone know more about the book or the author or already know something on the connection between the Gospel of Thomas and Epicureanism?
It seems we need a thread on interior decoration. Can you tell me something about the papyrus reproductions on the wall?
It's quite amazing how accurate and detailed the engravings are. High technology of the 18th century.
In the Spanish version of the article on the wikipedia page is a link to a digital version in highest definition: https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg…glit/ercolano1757bd1/0005
Don't forget to check first: Volume 5 1767 Bronzes from Herculaneum and region, engraved and described - Part I: Busts . (I already did the mistake to start search in book I)
It could also be interpreted as an eye (as one of the senses) and therefore be related to the formulation Sic Fac Omnia Tamquam Spectet Epicurus.
Let me say, I translated the document last night and it was quite funny to do so, but it seems not to be very fruitful. The method was exchanging every given specific reference e.g. "drinker", "alcohol" etc. through an equivalent, e.g. "stoic", "supernaturalist", "ideas" etc. and it ended up quite amusing. In contrast, the orginal topic was written to an real obstacle for some people, so it had some aftertaste for myself. Additionally, I think their approach (and they also relate to people with other problems, there are also Anonymous groups corresponding to mental, drugs etc. issues) belongs to people with really hard problems. Nevertheless, at least a varierty of page one from chapter two sounds inspiring (the other pages sound quite repetetive):
THERE IS A SOLUTION
We, of Eternal Epicureans, know thousands of men and women who were once just as hopeless as Memmius. Nearly all have recovered. They have solved the problem of false opinions. We are average Humans. All sections of this world and many of its occupations are represented, as well as many political, economic, social, and religious backgrounds. We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from shipwreck when camaraderie, joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain’s table. Unlike the feelings of the ship’s passengers, however, our joy in escape from disaster does not subside as we go our individual ways. The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined. The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from false philosophies.
It would be quite interesting hearing a lecture from Elli on the contents discussed within the Gardens in Hellas and the behaving beween the participants there.
With this final comment I end spamming in this thread.
(b) Isn't here a member from Hellas (Elli)? I've always thought she is participating to some extend in one of the local groups there. My research this evening reveals, that there is a virtual meeting every week which is launched by the Garden of Athens. The Garden of Thessaloniki seems to be currently inactive but on their website is a wide range of materials (ironically, the website looks technically much more modern than the Athens equivalent). Unfortunately it's hard to come to any conclusion on their concrete understanding of Epicurean philosophy.
(c) I will try to make some change in the text I have linked and look forward to present first results during the next days.
(a) I agree, we probably have to do refine the tetrapharmcos and cannot only copy concepts from the past. On the other hand, I believe the tetrapharmacos still to be a good fundament, but it needs additional explanations. For modern readers it might sound too inconcrete and it has a strong "healing" attitude (which I personally like while others may not). This might be also the advantage and disadvantage in comparison to the four principal statements formulated by you. They emphasize on presenting facts but include no further solutions.
(b) Have you ever contacted the Hellenic Gardens or the Sydney Group for further materials or interviewed on their experiences?
(c) I'm generally interested in philosophies/religions/movements, for this reason I read the "Big Book" of the Alcoholics Anonymous some years ago. The introductory words sound quite inspirative. By exchanging some words it could use as an inspiration for our own writing - though with an immense emphasis on healing.
Due to my Lucretius Today podcast listening marathon (next episode is the opening session of book two) I' ve come to recognize, that for some reasons there is not necessarily a need for physical interaction. The conversations I've listened to sounded very natural and I suggest they had been very satisfiying for the participants. The only thing probably missing might be the atmosphere of sitting together in a restaurant, also enjoying some good drinks and food together. So there's the question, for what reasons there is a need of meeting locally. In my experience, this is exactly the point many people are questioning themselves. Do I just want to expand my knowledge about philosophy? Or do I want to find new friends/contacts? Do I want do deepen my connection between philosophical ideas and the real life? I agree that we need a concrete outline of how to approach to this issue and how to define a possible common destiny a group could agree to work for.
I want to get back to developing a completely free and open set of core texts that will always be easily findable and downloadable.
Reminds me of the mentioning of "maps" by DeWitt, progressing from the little epitome to the big epitome. Is it this that comes to your mind or rather a general digital library project without organized suggestions for reading?
So my specific goal here is to at least make a start at an organizational document that can provide a structure for local teamwork, probably also basing it totally openly and public domain as with the github link above.
Do you rather think of the approach how to start any kind of group generally or do you also refer to which could be the content and focus of such an group?
I have been interested in the classification of desires by Epicurus from my very beginning in reading on Epicureanism. Mainly perhaps his distinction is presented very prominently in the Letter to Menoeceos and it also catches attraction due to Epicurus' various sayings concerning needs and desires. I think the question how to handle one's life is of great importance. It has meaning that Epicurus addresses this questions. Even Norman DeWitt mentions Epicurus' classification (St. Paul and Epicurus) as of being important and widely know in the ancient world (perhaps of the quotation in Cicero?).
Personally, I refer to the classification of desires rather as a "focus on" distinction than an enumeration of "do's and don'ts". There is no simple list which leads to a simple living of happiness (I already know the critique on understanding Epicurus as a yogi master, sitting in the garden meditating on why there are holes in his piece of cheese ). We just can approach more and more closer as we ask and train ourselves on this field practically.
I would like to summarize my personal understanding:
Necessary and natural are all those desires rooted in our natural condition. Epicurus further distinguishes between simply "being", "health" and "happiness". This means we have to secure the very conditions of our "being" and to take care for our "health". I would suggest, searching for "happiness" could mean being active in philosphing, because this frees from fear and is a precondition of recognizing that everything you have to focus on is closely to your hands and easy to achieve.
Just natural but not necessary are those things, which are related to natural stimuli but do only increase the quality of an natural impulse. I do not agree with Hegel who also commented on this, saying in one sentence that Epicurus means sexual desire. In its beginning, I would suggest sexuality is rather a stimulus you also have to face necessarily. What Epicurus could really mean is how to decide and to apply in respect of the proportionality of a topic. It is like in law, you cannot say this is right and this is wrong. It always depends on.
Not natural is anything else. I think this topic addresses us to invest some thinking about, because what should not be necessary or derived from a necessity in our lives? This could be everything that is not rooted in nature and sensual feeling, but in abstract ideas. Sometimes these may be corruptions of natural stimuli, e.g. searching for fame, power and superiority. Usually, you don't need them if you have everything else achieved in the natural and necessary category rightfully.
Epicurus presents a theory grounded in our sensation and perception in respect of the physical nature of things. Nevertheless, this theory is also open to some kind of reasoned variative appliability, as I would understood the category of natural but not necessary desires. It is capable of opposing other ideas alike, e.g. the Stoic idea of abstract controlling, which lacks a real grounding.
While writing on another commentary, I tried to check for online boards focused on Stoicism. 10 years before they seemded to be much more elaborated as a community than the lone standing Epicureans. I think the degree of organisation and connecting has improved a lot since then and the content production has risen dramatically in Epicureanism. The website "NeoStoa" respectively "the stoic registry" is declining (though offering online courses with tuition). Nevertheless, people on facebook are still more adorned to Stoicism than to Epicurean philosophy. At first glance, they enjoy intensive discussions there.
Do you have any idea, why the Stoics are still more popular than the Epicurean system of thought? My personal thesis is, that one point may be an easier applicability of Stoicism in the way of being a more abstract philosophy. You don't need to learn about the world as a whole and make your conclusions like in Epicureanism. There are lone standing "techniques", mutually intelligible with other popularized systems of thought like Zen Buddhism etc.
I don't think there is necessarily a need for more audience - sometimes it may feel even more exclusive
What are your hypothesises and ideas? Did they start earlier spreading the internet or fit better in already existing structures? What are your observations?
It would be quite interesting how Stoics who describe themselves as not neo-stoic but stoic reply to your collection
I read a book on Stoic philosophy 10 years ago. Your list sounds predominantly unpleasurable, but the author who really advocated for Stoicism mentioned all points of your list except for number 4. Additionally, he also gave detailed instructions how to apply them by introducing daily routines and practices.
I think personally, that such a list, refering to Epicurean philosophy, could be helpful. There's already the tetrapharmacos, but it lacks somekind of practical centration when it comes to ask for techniques. This might also be because Stoicism is more the like an abstract and theoretical approach to the world. On the contrary, Epicurean thought as based on the tripod is of holistic intrinication. Every action is derived from this system. On the other hand, the "ideas" of Stoic philosophy could also fit in a trainee program for zen buddhists. They are easier to apply in the way you don't need to introduce a completely new view of the world necessarily (figuratively, the Stoicism App works still when your storage on the phone is running out ).
the only reason that one might choose not to pursue certain pleasures is that in the context of that person the pursuit would bring more pain than pleasure. This is the opposite of the "minimalism for the sake of minimalism" approach or any approach that embraces asceticism as the true end, rather than pleasure.
I fully agree with your statement. I personally consider the necessary/unnecessary/natural/unnatural model as an approach of Epicurus to elaborate how such an differentiation could work and in my experience it works out very well. I also recognize that there might be a difference in how important some pieces of the Epicurean puzzle are for some persons - or not. The corner pieces are definitely sensations, feeling, anticipations and nothing else.
Basically the main reason this forum was founded and has sustained itself to date is in opposition to that view and to provide a place for those who think differently to compare notes and arguments against that viewpoint.
Hence you wil be happy to hear that this is a main reason for myself for participating (mostly reading) on this forum. The consistant approach of Prof. DeWitt seems to catch und unite the central points of Epicurean philosophy, although I've missed so far reading him in his original words. Additionally, in the last years my interests have tended rather to an understanding of the universe as a whole as presented e.g. by Lucretius.
I've never really met anyone who actually follows that path to its logical extreme if taken literally
I am rather surprised to read that commentary, because in my understanding this is a key part of Epicurean philosophy. Interesting how foci tend to be different.
I really understand your critique on focussing on desires and needs, because there are similarities to within many or most religions/philosophies. Usually, they try to minimalize their needs and dim them. Consequently, their own point of interesting seems to be more enlightened. Interestingly, many of those participants (e.g. monks) in those strategies will tell you, that they feel no lack of anykind or even better than before changing their lives. Ironically, some will report they feel more delightfull, more pleasurable.
How can this function when, as we think, these philosophies seem to be false?
I believe, every religion/philosophy that really produces pleasure to some degree, follwows to an uncertain degree unconciously the path of nature, as taught by Epicurus.
I think there is an error in holding Epicurus' (key) techniques for the same as the techniques/aims of the competitors in the philosophy market. They look very similar, but they may play a totally different role.
'Painlessness' (a term I first read in this forum and adapted ) is by my own words rather focussing on the important things in life and being open for the bright impressions of life without being disturbed about unimportant things. This is what Epicurus' differenciation between natural/unnatural/necessary might be about.
Thanks al lot for your answer Cassius. Good points to go more deeper in detail.
Consequently, satisfying all natural and necessery desires is the highest level of being.
This is a phrasing that I find very troublesome whenever I run into it, but it is definitely a conclusion a lot of people reach.
I think I was to short in my writing or too imprecise. I would rather understand centering on natural and necessary desires as the fundament of the pleasurable life, but not necessarily the house build on it. This fundament enables a man to stand very close to the standards set by nature.Quote
But Epicurus admits both kinds both in the soul and in the body, as he says in the work on Choice and Avoidance and in the book on The Ends of Life and in the first book On Lives and in the letter to his friends in Mytilene.
Taking this quote for granted, I emphasize on the importance of examing someones needs as an important point of how to achieve pleasure 'in the soul'. Personally, what I once called once 'flavour' before, I would identificate with pleasure 'in the body'.
Perhaps we are just battleing with words. My position is, that our choice and avoidance should be closely related to the natural and necessary desires as a tree is always related to the soil he grows on. All flavour is related to this soil. For example, drinking, eating, friendship, see the sun shining and feeling the sunbeams on your skin is active persception or something in motion or how you would call it. They are all part of an Epicurean conception of life. But it is very important, that we do not loose our connection with the soil and do not begin to relate to abstract ideas. Seeking for pleasures in abstract ideas as feeling powerful related to others or being abundant in money can destroy your the pleasurable life.
Talking about my personal experience, applying Epicurean philosophy, especially the subsystem of choice and avoidance of needs, gives me great security which feels very pleasurful for myself. In addition with a bright, sunny day, interacting with friends, having a good meal, having great impressions... yeah, it's something different than 'painlessness'. We should actually avoid this term
I would like to add my personal view, which I see somehow between the two oppositions. I suggest a very important cause of the dispute is a different way of access to Epicurean philosophy.
The very common approach of reading the letter to Menoeceus is very clear in its essence. The letter argues, that we should prefer a life focusing on a peaceful state of lifing. It is argued, through making us independent from goods we do not need, wrong beliefs, fears etc. we achieve the best life imaginable and become generally independent from the difficulties of the world. The main problem is, that this approach doesn't refer to Epicureanism as a wider system of knowledge. Many thinkers only refer to the ethics as presented in letter to Menoeceus (additionally Principal Doctrines, Vatican Sayings) but do not apply Canonics and Physics, which they consider as a different point of interest.
For a person who studies all three main branches of Epicurean philosophy and even tries to combine and interconnect, it's something different. Understanding Epicureanism as a holistic system reveals that pleasure occurs in the beginning. It's a central part of Epicurus' epistemology. It is so important, because it occurs naturally. Searching for pleasure is not an abstract idea, it's an aim that is intrinsic to every lifing being.
In my opinion, Epicurus understood rightful, that pleasure is natural and central for every lifing being. We are not able to choose, we have to handle with our attraction to moments, which we perceive as more delightful than others.
In the Epicurean world, nature sets the standards. Epicurus reflects pleasure and comes to the conclusion, that it has to do with the conditions of our being. This is why he distinguishes between natural and not natural, necessary and not necessary. In other words: There is this basic impulse called pleasure and Epicurus examines this term in relation to the fundamentals of being alive.
In conclusion, we get an approach to the term pleasure which stretches from the Canonics to the Ethics by corresponding to the Physics.
In my personal opinion, Epicurus is neither looking for painlessness nor for pleasure as pleasure on its own. He tries to find out what a human is in itself. This is why he focuses on senses, feelings and anticipations. In relationship to a theory about the functioning of the world (physics) Epicurus derives his conclutions about how to conduct.
Consequently, satisfying all natural and necessery desires is the highest level of being. But being a sensitive being also means, that there are differencies in how this natural desires can be fulfilled and perceived. This is the flavour, which can tend to be not necessary (as Diogenes Laertios explains). This is why Epicurus advices only to fullfill natural but not necessery desires if they do not harm.
Finally, my personal view puts 'painlessness' in the centre, but it never occurs as that abstract idea as the word tends to appear. Ataraxia and aponia are related to the world made of atoms, which means that they will never exist perfect or erase the relationship with the world itself. We perceive painlessness only as a pleasureful state because it means, that we acquire everything what our natural fundamentals are looking for. This position is an important part of Epicurus' way to absolute freedom, but it remains only, if we remain near to the given fundaments, as set by nature.
As Lucretius tells to us at the beginning of book two of De Rerum Natura:
'Tis sweet, when, down the mighty main, the winds
Roll up its waste of waters, from the land
To watch another's labouring anguish far,
Not that we joyously delight that man
Should thus be smitten, but because 'tis sweet
To mark what evils we ourselves be spared;
'Tis sweet, again, to view the mighty strife
Of armies embattled yonder o'er the plains,
Ourselves no sharers in the peril; but naught
There is more goodly than to hold the high
Serene plateaus, well fortressed by the wise,
Whence thou may'st look below on other men
And see them ev'rywhere wand'ring, all dispersed
In their lone seeking for the road of life;
Rivals in genius, or emulous in rank,
Pressing through days and nights with hugest toil
For summits of power and mastery of the world.
O wretched minds of men! O blinded hearts!
In how great perils, in what darks of life
Are spent the human years, however brief!-
O not to see that nature for herself
Barks after nothing, save that pain keep off,
Disjoined from the body, and that mind enjoy
Delightsome feeling, far from care and fear!
Therefore we see that our corporeal life
Needs little, altogether, and only such
As takes the pain away, and can besides
Strew underneath some number of delights.
More grateful 'tis at times (for nature craves
No artifice nor luxury), if forsooth
There be no golden images of boys
Along the halls, with right hands holding out
The lamps ablaze, the lights for evening feasts,
And if the house doth glitter not with gold
Nor gleam with silver, and to the lyre resound
No fretted and gilded ceilings overhead,
Yet still to lounge with friends in the soft grass
Beside a river of water, underneath
A big tree's boughs, and merrily to refresh
Our frames, with no vast outlay- most of all
If the weather is laughing and the times of the year
Besprinkle the green of the grass around with flowers.
Nor yet the quicker will hot fevers go,
If on a pictured tapestry thou toss,
Or purple robe, than if 'tis thine to lie
Upon the poor man's bedding. Wherefore, since
Treasure, nor rank, nor glory of a reign
Avail us naught for this our body, thus
Reckon them likewise nothing for the mind:
Save then perchance, when thou beholdest forth
Thy legions swarming round the Field of Mars,
Rousing a mimic warfare- either side
Strengthened with large auxiliaries and horse,
Alike equipped with arms, alike inspired;
Or save when also thou beholdest forth
Thy fleets to swarm, deploying down the sea:
For then, by such bright circumstance abashed,
Religion pales and flees thy mind; O then
The fears of death leave heart so free of care.
But if we note how all this pomp at last
Is but a drollery and a mocking sport,
And of a truth man's dread, with cares at heels,
Dreads not these sounds of arms, these savage swords
But among kings and lords of all the world
Mingles undaunted, nor is overawed
By gleam of gold nor by the splendour bright
Of purple robe, canst thou then doubt that this
Is aught, but power of thinking?- when, besides
The whole of life but labours in the dark.
For just as children tremble and fear all
In the viewless dark, so even we at times
Dread in the light so many things that be
No whit more fearsome than what children feign,
Shuddering, will be upon them in the dark.
This terror then, this darkness of the mind,
Not sunrise with its flaring spokes of light,
Nor glittering arrows of morning can disperse,
But only nature's aspect and her law.
Lucretius. De Rerum Natura. William Ellery Leonard. E. P. Dutton. 1916.
Hello to everybody,
I am Titus, 33 years old and I have been still in contact with Epicurean philosophy since summer 2011 I think so. Probably I had come in contact through the wikipedia article, then I decided to buy a book with phrases and sayings by Epicurus and I got wondered because everything written there sounded very well and constructively. I think I discovered Cassius' blog one year later and I am proud to say that I own the two writings on Catius' Cat as a printed version
There was a time I spent more than one hour a day with thinking about Epicurean philosophy and there is still no day I don't remind about the blessings of philosophy.
First, I focused on ethics. I am still impressed by Epicurus' teachings on desires and needs, especially because they turn Maslow's pyramid around. I am not a friend of asceticism, but I am of the understanding that a body and mind freed from pain and desires build the proper basis for a happy life full of pleasure. In my opinion, living on this fundament enables one to be open for the essential sensations, feelings and anticipations.
Later on, I discovered the great Lucretius and the even greater hyms adoring Epicurus and his philosophy. Lucretius shows the universe as an ever changing one, disillusioning any idea of stable ideas distant from the essentials of life. His explanations, e.g. on aging are amazing. There are passages with such a deep understanding of the world and its processes, far beyond tcurrently teachings . For sure, some of his explanations do not fit as we know today, but his methods are still remindable.
There is so much more to say. Sometimes I struggle with the English language and this may be the cause why I participate just little in the forums. Additionally, I do not read as much about Epicurean philosophy today as I did before. It's already a part of my life. Sometimes I come to recognize that a person emphazises on this or that and I wonder why. I do not search for richness or trophys. I am focused on happiness, resilience through right understanding and a network of friends. This is, what a good life is made upon!