Posts by elli

    Hello to all the friends,

    Godfrey thanks a lot for your comments. These images has been made by a graphist in Slovakia through the software Adope Illustrator or CorelDdraw. Frankly I do not know how to use these software programs. Godfrey do you want to send you the files as AI & EPS to examine where it has the "floating" pieces as you mentioned them ?

    Don χαίρειν (greetings),

    I would like to say that for someone to be skeptical and doubtful for a professor inside the Academic field who claimed that he understood Epicurean Philosophy deeply, is not a bad tactic, but the effort to find errors where there are not, it is not creative and beneficial, and for yourself and for the others like yourself.

    The clinging to a deep analysis word by word and even me that I am greek, frankly, I can't understand all the greek texts, but the whole picture is clear, WHEN the concepts of the words as they synthesized and connected are giving you the same whole picture. In a few words, the whole meaning of any text has a dynamic if it can be applied in the reality of life. Because the Hellenes first they lived, and then they wrote whatever they lived.

    Where do you find DeWitt any trace for leading you to the imaginative things and issues? And where DeWitt claims that Logos /abstract logic, as well as the elimination of desires, and pressure of feelings are the issues that Epicurus is speaking for? E.g. please read carefully for making a syncretism, on the basis of the first principles of EP, among Baileys' translation and DeWitts' translation on the letter to Meneoceus. There you'll realize some of the shades on differences that exist between a stoic and an epicurean man. :)

    The original describes Nausiphanes as a πονηρός άνθρωπος (poneros anthropos) which appears to be more "good-for-nothing, worthless, knavish, base, cowardly person." I'm just wondering - PURE conjecture - if DeWitt is reading this as something like πορνηρός* (porneros* not attested but that extra "r" would make it look connected with porne "prostitute" or porneion "brothel") to get at DeWitt's "immoral".

    First of all, and of what I've checked and realized, Norman DeWitt knew excellent the greek language and the complexity of its grammar and syntax. And especially for understanding deeply the Epicurean Philosophy, he was able to read the ancient greek texts from the prototype without wearing the stoic glasses like Bailey's. :P

    So, in this case, and as far as I know, there is not such a noun as "πορνηρός" with that exra "ρ/r" in greek language. The noun that derives from the verb "πορνεύω" is "πορνευτής" or "πορνικός", and not "πορνηρός".

    For the noun "πονηρός", there is the ES XLVI.(46) in which Epicurus uses this word in plural : "Τὰς φαύλας συνηθείας ὥσπερ ἄνδρας πονηροὺς πολὺν χρόνον μέγα βλάψαντες τελείως ἐκδιώκομεν".

    And that means : Let us utterly drive from us our bad habits as if they were evil men who have long done us great harm.

    The word "πονηρός" in greek language has for its synonyms, as the english say : as "sly", "cunning", "deceptive", "dishonest", and the "devious". :)

    Although we are now forced to devote much of our attention to the nature of viruses, and how to prevent or defeat the pain that comes from them, we should also keep in mind the nature of pleasure, the goal for which we endure the possibility viruses and all other kinds of pain.

    Just as we study the details of how viruses operate, and how we can minimize our danger from them, we should remember too that pleasure operates through natural mechanisms, and we should study the details of how pleasure operates to maximize our experience of pleasure. One detail of significance is that some pleasures arise from actions which tend to produce the chemical substance known as dopamine, while other pleasurable actions arise from production of serotonin, endorphin, oxytocine, and similar chemicals. There are important advantages in pursuing those pleasures which are connected mainly with the latter category.

    Epicurus tells us in Principal Doctrine Ten that we have no grounds to complain about actions we consider to be “depraved” to the extent those actions do in result in pleasure. The key question, however, in evaluating results is to examine what in fact they do produce, because pleasures based on dopamine usually produce addiction, and addition usually produces larger long-term painful consequences for both the individual and society. It was not by sheer coincidence that Dr. Freud and others have observed that religion is the narcotic of the masses.

    But rather than focus on generalities, let me tell you about a real person in my own experience who illustrates the point. And this is the same point that Epicurus and Lucretius made when they showed how often false religions, false philosophies, and false educational systems align and unite themselves with false political systems to produce unnecessary and unjustifiable pain.

    My story is a true one, and it was told to me by an acquaintance – a doctor - who related to me his life story. I met this man several years ago in the home of a friend, and he told me that he had been born and grown up in Libya, in the era of 70s-80s. At that time there was a law in Libya that granted him a government allowance (and this was under Muammar Gaddafi, for whom it seems PD7 was almost written for directly) for the purpose of studying medicine at any university in Greece. In most cases, this education was part of an undertaking that requires five years for a diploma and then five more years working inside hospitals to acquire the specialty.

    Even while this man was telling me his story, he was also praising his country's policy for benefiting both him and Libyan society in helping him to become a doctor of medicine for his people. Yes, he told me, but ... it had taken him almost ten years to get the diploma from the University, instead of five, because he liked playing cards and drinking alcohol – and drinking alcohol was forbidden by the religious laws of his country. Nevertheless, as he told me about his “hobbies” he also praised how nice and free had been his years as a student.

    Then, one day after he was almost set to finish his specialty, and to become an ophthalmologist, everything turned upside down in his life when he met a beautiful (but in my view unwise) Greek lady who turned out to be a religious Christian. Thereafter, on the basis of "love and marriage," the two, as a couple, decided to unite their gods to become as one, since, as he also said, the gods of both religions are one and the same, because both have the same patriarch: Abraham.

    And here we must say: GOOD GRIEF !

    The only prerequisite for marriage that was set by the parents of the Greek lady was that my doctor friend, (who was Islamic) must be baptized as Christian, and take Greek nationality for living permanently in Greece. This they did, and over the years they had a family together and produced three very nice children. Everything to this point looked promising, but remember that he was narrating his story from the beginning, and that there was something that his poor and unwise Greek wife had not noticed when she met him.

    My friend went on and told me further than during the time that he was a student of medicine, he had the hobby of playing cards and drinking alcohol --- and this was when he was a student of what? A Student of Medicine. This man’s god was the god of a patriarch, by the name Abraham, who allegedly had the power to unite believers and their interests. But was this Abraham and his god strong enough to limit the fear of death, the fear of life, the fear of pain, the fear of slavery, and the like? Did this patriarch or his god teach him properly, or leave him in total ignorance as to how to calculate pleasure and pain wisely, and to know the limits among pleasure and pain, and how to measure the goal of pleasure against the cost in pain, and how to judge wisely both the quality and quantity of both.

    At any rate, after this couple's children were born, and during a period of five years when my doctor friend kept up his “hobbies,” he was falling deeply into debt with bank credit cards. He had run up, as he said, ten debit cards, each full to their 10,000 euro limit, just for visiting casinos and drinking alcohol. This continued until it grew into a complete disaster. Despite this, with great effort, his Greek wife, who worked in a court as secretary, and through the help of her parents, tried to change her husband’s hobbies, keep her family united, and raise her children. As time passed, however, when the children became teenagers, they remembered how from childhood that they did not have a father to support the necessities of family life. The children started to blame their father, and demanded that their mother expel him from home and divorce him. This went on to its logical conclusion - to the point when, as the doctor was telling me his life story, he related that he now lived alone, and he had closed his medical office due to debt, all of which he blamed on his wife and children.

    When my doctor friend finished his story, I could not hold back my Epicurean judgment, and I said to him:

    Doctor, would it not be better to blame yourself, since you were the one incapable of curing your troubles of soul and mind?

    Would it not be better to blame your stupid patriarch, and his stupid “god,” who made you, your wife, and your children fear death, fear life, and fear everything, as a result of which all you now feel is pain of both body and soul?

    Would it not be better for you to look to Nature more carefully, which is after all what you say that you study, and look for the real causes, and see that the consequences you complain of in reality are the pain that came from your indulging your addiction to visiting casinos and drinking alcohol and leading your family into debt?

    You yourself are a doctor, and you cannot even cure yourself from fear? To me, and for all honest scientists and philosophers, religion is like a narcotic, like the opium that produces dopamine. To give in to this narcotic is like those who drink water without eliminating their thirst.

    But the pleasures that you experience as coming from serotonin, endorphin, and oxytocine etc are those which you derive from treating your patients, from the study of the science of medicine, from raising your children, from your wife who is the mother of your children, and from the many other activities that lead to love, respect, honor, and admiration from your family members, which is all healthy things grow, whether they are part of a healthy body or a healthy society.

    At this point our discussion ended, but not before I told him where he could find information about Epicurus and my Epicurean friends. It has been years since I saw him, but I learned recently that he was back and united with his family again. I do not know whether he took my advice about the doctrines of Epicurus and his philosophy to heart, or if they helped him become united again with his family, but I still hope so!

    Elli Pensa

    March 5th 2020

    The impotence of politicians: their obvious collaboration with irresponsible and immature religions and their clergy ... the endless stream of words from the majority of intellectuals and academics from their schools and universities... all these showing off before the crowds in display of their great thirst for power... the stoicism and miserable acceptance of fate that one sees everywhere in the majority of members of so many organizations... the dedication to idealism and imagination rather than to facts of reality, displayed by all those who follow them ... all this lead to the decadence we see whichever way we look!

    When in this state civilization is confronted with the real pain of a devastating pandemic, everything collapses like a tree that has no roots, no trunk, and no leaves. That is to say, the existing rot explains everything: the cause, the result, and the consequence that leads to the breakdown of our modern societies.

    All these phenomena Epicurus saw in his own time, and called out as boasting or arrogance -- some others call it "hubris" against Nature, which they view as their Nemesis - their enemy. To have an enemy or a Nemesis is not a teleological fact or a necessity - it is not a thing of idealism. Our real Nemesis is our inability to have prudence, that is, to realize and to predict that in life things are not going always going to be "milk and honey."

    Thus, we can no longer measure rightly those who are our friends and those who are not. Prudence is what makes us capable and ready to act to remove that which is painful. It is for that reason that all virtue flows from prudence, which teaches us that no one can live life pleasantly without prudence, honesty, beauty, health, and justice...and of course also without real friends.

    No, thrice no! Politicians and Religionists are not our friends when we are faced with great need. Politicians and Religionists harm us because we are only means to their end - their thirst for power, fame, and money. Politicians and Religionists are concerned only about pleasure for themselves, and for themselves only.

    It is well known then, that the Politicians and Religionists take for themselves the best doctors, the best beds in the best hospitals, the accurate and rapid tests for Covid-19, and the most effective remedies. The Politicians and Religionists weather the storm in high fashion, while we the people die like flies in the streets. Politicians and Religionists are clinging to their ideological chimeras, and as a result they are totally unable to predict the nature of the virus we face and to provide rapid solutions.

    This we see now, at the time of our greatest need, and even when the virus subsides, we must not forget what we have seen. The Politicians and Religionists would do well to remember Epicurean Doctrine 35:

    "It is not possible for one who acts in secret contravention of the terms of the compact not to harm or be harmed to be confident that he will escape detection, even if, at present, he escapes a thousand times. For up to the time of death it cannot be certain that he will indeed escape."

    I agree with Cassius who wrote : <<Epicurus held, according to Diogenes Laertius, that "the feelings are two, pleasure and pain..." and that all feelings fit within one designation of the other. And we know from the letter to Menoeceus explicitly that all good and evil come to us through sensations, which are things that are felt. Put it all together and you have the framework by which to analyze the experience machine or any other challenge to pleasure>>.

    Nature creates us, with our faculties which are senses and feelings for living a pleasant life. We have been evolved and we still being evolve in accordance with the environment of Nature. Machines are just means that are created by us. However, we are not wiser than Nature, and there never were or will be perfect machines, perfect ideas and perfect worlds somewhere.

    For the creation, Epicurus said that all things and the phenomena are proceeding in combination and in sequence on the basis of : and the need (laws of Nature), and the chance, and the swerve (freedom of our choices).

    But really, what is higher we that we make the machines OR Nature? Nature of course. No one could replace Nature in the creation of things. She is the boss and the boss says to all beings, you have a limited time for living, thus DO such actions to feel pleasure and avoid pain, or sometimes chose pain for feeling a greater pleasure.

    These are the machines as described poetically by D. Liantinis

    Please let me add in your discussion/comments, a clarification with a simplification: We have NOT to forget what is the dopamine and what are the serotonin, the endorphins, the oxytocine etc. Our epicurean pure pleasure is connected mainly with the latter.

    Τhe pleasures of the profligates usually are based on dopamine that produce addiction, having the results/consequences to produce pain and in the individual and in a society to the fact of breaking its coherence leading it to the decadence. It is not by chance that Dr. Freud said that religions are the narcotic opium of the herds.

    At this point, please my friends, let me narrate a story of real experience to understand where is the whole point that Epicurus and Lucretius are pointing out. It is the false religions, false philosophies, false educational system that always are united with Politics.

    My experience is based on real facts, when I heard a narration of a man of his life story. It was a man that I met him with other friends in the home of one of my friends. That man is originated from Libya. In the era of 70s-80s, as he said, it was a law in his country, that permitted him of taking monthly a very good amount of allowance from the government that was run by the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi (for whom, we epicureans have the very well stated PD 7). But anyway, this allowance that this man took, it was for the purpose to study medicine at any University in Greece. Usually, to finish university studies on medicine it takes 5 years for acquiring the diploma, and then it takes almost 5 years to work inside hospitals to acquire the specialty.

    Meanwhile, when he was narrating his story, he also praising his country's government's policy on how beneficial was and for him and for his society to become a doctor of medicine for helping his people. Yes, but... he took to him to take his diploma, from the University, for almost ten years, because as he said, he liked playing cards, drinking alcohol drinks that alcohol was something forbidden by his country religious rules. And while he was narrating his hobbies, he was also praised how nice and free were the years that he was a student.

    Thus, one day and after he was almost to finish the specialty to become an ophthalmologist, as he said, everything went upside down in his life when he met a beautiful (but for me non-wise) Greek lady that was a religious christian. So, on the basis of "love and marriage" those two, as a couple, they had had to unite their gods to become as one since, as he also said, both these gods are one and the same, because both have the same patriarch that is called Abraham… and here we say : GOOD GRIEF !

    So, the only prerequisite that was set by the parents of that greek lady for that man (who was islamist) and marrying her was to be baptized as Christian, and taking the greek nationality for living permanently in Greece. So, then they had a family with three nice children. Everything to this point it looks good and nice, but please do NOT forget something that he was narrating in his story from the beginning and that poor and non-wise greek lady did not notice when he met him.

    During the time that he was a student of medicine, he said that he has a hobby of playing cards and drinking alcoholic drinks, as well as, during the time that was a student of what? The Science of Medicine... his god was the god of a patriarch with the name Abraham that has the power to unite believers and their interests. But this Abraham with his god and as it has been proved already, are not strong enough to limit what ? The fear of death, the fear of life, the fear of pain, the fear of slavery etc to the fact leading every naive person to have also a total ignorance on how to make hedonic calculus and measuring where are the limits among pleasure and pain for the achievement of the goal of pleasure, and when we say pleasures we mean pure pleasures. Since we prefer the quality and not the quantity.

    Anyway, after this couple's children were born and during a period of five years, that doctor was keeping his hobby, so that he was subscribing to the Banks for taking debit cards. He had, as he said, ten (10) debit cards fulling them to the limits of 10000 euros each, just for visiting casinos, drinking alcohol etc and this family, as the time is continued, it became a disaster and real mess. With the many efforts of that greek lady who was working in a court as secretary, and with the help of her parents, she was trying to change her husband’s hobbies, for keeping united her family, and raising her children...but when the children became teenagers remembering from childhood that they did not have a father to bring in their family the natural and necessary, these children started to blame their father, and demanding of their mother to expel him from home and to divorce the point that that doctor when he was narrating his life story, he lived alone in a home, he closed his medical office due to debts, and blaming his wife and children for all these.

    And when he finished his narration, then my epicurean words to him were without mercy saying to him:

    Hey, dear doctor it would be better to start blaming of yourself, since you were the incapable one to cure your soul/ mind's troubles. Won't it be better now to start blaming your stupid patriarch and his stupid god that makes you, your wife and your children to fear death, to fear life, to fear everything for the result all of you to feel pain in the ass?

    Won't it better for you to study/observe Nature carefully which is also connected with the science that you have studied, for examining what was the real causes, the consequences and the results of your personal and painful experiences based on your desires to visit casinos and drinking alcoholic drinks leading your family to debts ?

    What the heck, you became a doctor and you can’t cure not even yourself from fears ? For me, and for many honest scientists and philosophers all religions are a narcotic like the opium that is based on dopamine. It is like someone to be thirsty drinking water without eliminating his thirst. The pleasures that come from serotonin, endorphins, oxytocine etc are really connected and by your offerings to your patients, through the science of medicine, and by the raising of your children, and by your happy and pleased wife that is the mother of your children, and by many other activities that lead to the love, respect, honor and admiration to all of your family members, which all are the cells that lead to healthy societies in this world.

    The conversation finished when I point out to him some links with the articles by some of my epicurean friends. It is a long time that I have to meet him, but I've learned recently that he was united with his family again. I did not examine if the doctrines of Epicurus and his philosophy, have helped him for being united again with his family, but I still hope so !

    Of course survival and reproduction it is not an absolute good that is ordered by any god or any leader, but it is a relative good according to the relative circumstances of the relative experiences as measured (in time and space) with senses and among pleasure and pain whilst we might see clearly evidential that survival and reproduction it was not an absolute good but a kind of a necessity for the survival of a society.

    An example based on experiences: There is, as we call it in western societies :"the social security system". This system is not an ideal and absolute invention, it has been evolved as we human beings have been evolved and still evolving on the basis to help each other when there is a great need and as it is called also as solidarity of a society which keeps its coherence, because at the same time we have seen clearly that in time and space there are not only situations as “milk and honey” in a society. And this happens according to the experiences that have been measured that to maintain whatever you have acquired and to provide for the future is something that is pleasant and not painful. Isn't it ?

    So it becomes clear that the social security system is that financial deposit account that pays in some percent: Our lovely Doctors and nurses and all the medical staff for providing to our health in hospitals when we got ill e.g. from coronavirus, medicines in pharmacies, and mainly this : for paying the pensioners' pensions. However, there is also a crucial question that has to be answered: When this social security system would fall down and be collapsed? It is when we insist that when there are almost 5 old pensioners who take their pensions monthly, without being worried and enjoying their leisure, for maintaining hospitals with medical staff, providing medicines, doing researches in the laboratories and the like, (to not mention the schools, universities and education issues) and when we see clearly that: Oh, geee there are only one and half young man that is able to work for those five old pensioners, as well as these ones and half young men are working for themselves too when they would confront a situation of a great need.

    And what is doing a society when its social security system falls down and being collapsed due to the above ? Do not worry, dear ladies and gentlemen, there are others that are intruding for holding the situation firmly bonded to the "demands" of Nature on what it can be done and not can't be done by us, since those that are intruding, have already born 6/7 children in one family. So, then, here I want to see this society/societies that include both old and young men, if they have those GUTS for making social contracts with others (that may have NOT the same idea what is just and what is unjust) and on the basis to not harm and not be harmed each other.

    What on earth does Epicurus say here? Does he maybe describe societies of jungles ? Doctrine 32. For all living things which have not been able to make compacts not to harm one another or be harmed, nothing ever is either just or unjust; and likewise too for all tribes of men which have been unable or unwilling to make compacts not to harm or be harmed.

    Did you were unable or unwilling to born new babies according to a relative/and prudently measured good that is the safety and the coherence of your society? Do not worry about what is just and what is unjust ! Nature that does not care at all, will point out to you clearly -in time and space - what is just/ pleasant and what is unjust/painful.

    Because there is also - the fifth in line - Principal Doctrine which says: It is not possible to live pleasantly without living prudently and honorably and justly, [nor again to live a life of prudence, honor, and Justice] without living pleasantly. And the man who does not possess the pleasant life, is not living prudently and honorably and justly, [and the man who does not possess the virtuous life], cannot possibly live pleasantly.

    For this Epicurus maybe he had said: Prudence is higher than philosophy. Prudence is that kind of capacity of those societies for making clear that there is and the need to keep safe of whatever you have been acquired and to provide for the future. Because if this society will act otherwise, it would fall to the stoic apathetic “suggestion” which does say : Has your estate was taken from you ? It was given back. He who took it from you is wicked. What does it matter to you through whom the Giver asked it back? As long as the giver gives you, take care of it, but not as your own; treat is as the passers-by treat an inn ! Thus, according to the stoics’ "suggestions: treat our societies like an inn, or better as the Americans ask: What is this, Grand Central Station???" that means a) there are too many people around here, or b) people seem to think that they can come and go as they please. OR as we Greeks say with another idiom : "edo einai bate skyloi aleste & alestika min dinete", which means : " Here is the place where everyone does whatever one wants, open to all, free to all, anything goes, come one come all".

    Yes indeed, the wise man will marry and have children, as Epicurus says in treatises On Problems and On Nature, but only in accord with the circumstances of his life and IF these circumstances point out to him clearly that he has to take care of his property and provide for the future.

    In the attached photo is the lyrics in english, and at youtube video is the music of the song.

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    Unique moment with Athens grannies with black humor. The two cheerful ladies, in house isolation due to the coronavirus, came in their balcony on Sunday evening for a morbid performance. They sang the popular Greek song : O charos vgike pagania (Grim Reaper came out for quick kill), while one of them was also playing the timbrel.

    Neighbors cheered the grannies. The ladies in Kypseli district of Athens told their enthusiastic audience that they accept requests” and “orders” as well.

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    I fully agree with our friend Don that mentions these by Lucretius, and I would like to add the following.

    These were the gods of Epicurus as described by the professor of philosophy Dimitris Liantinis :

    "What defines the difference between Greeks and Christians? A difference from a certain point and beyond is being opposed, and this opposition is like the fight of fire with water.

    And what defines this difference is something else and clear, as the olive leaf. But for this reason exactly is ultimate and extreme.

    The difference between the two is that the Greeks built a world based on observation, knowledge, and understanding, while the Christians built a world based on the assumption and imagination.

    The observation of the Greeks is of such a quality that always is to be ensured in practice of what is happening in Nature, and always to be demonstrated in the tangible reality as an experiment in the laboratory.

    If we count the strong position that the gods and the religions gave birth in primarily level from the fear of human towards life, and in advanced and to the second level of this matter from the fear of human towards death, then we will find that the religion of the Greeks is an exception as it occurs as constitutes a unique mission.

    The religion of the Greeks, i.e did not come from their fear, but it came from their sorrow to overcome the pain caused by the reasonable point of view for Nature and life. In other words, the religion of the Greeks created by their honest and brave attitude to overcome their pessimism and melancholy.

    But between the fear of life and death, and the need of the Greeks to capitulate from that sorrow is what gave birth to their knowledge that the world is heavy, there is a little difference which gives the maximum effect.

    The religion of the Greeks, i.e. is not the case and offspring of the imagination, like all other religions, but it is the aesthetic representation of the phenomena of Nature.

    Thus, the gods of the Greeks are neither secret and invisible presences, nor ghosts of the mind, and wind’s constructions, hypothetical words, and abstractions as beings of awaking sleep.

    Instead, the gods of the Greeks are images made up of the natural phenomena with slender intelligence and dexterity. They made by the fluttering of the rational imagination, the whole, the simple, the non-trembling, and the prosperous.

    And above all this: the gods of Greeks are attested by sensory, touching them with the hands, facing them with the eyes, they are factual and materialistic.

    Apollo suddenly, is the sun and the music regularity of the Nature.

    Artemis is the Moon. Both these two sisters symbolize the light of the day and night and were born on the island of Delos, a word which means the same the clarity and the light.

    Neptune is the sea.

    Hephaestus is the fire and the metals.

    Athena is the intelligence of the human, for this, she is the protector of the ingenious Odysseus.

    Aeolus is the sixteen breaths of air to the seas.

    Demeter is the joy of the fruits, the wheat, the rhubarb, the apple trees, and vines.

    And Zeus is the thunder and the rain, which is falling like sperm to fertilize bravely the thirsty land. That's why the Greeks near other things, they create him as the lover of the more magnificent mortal women. Lida, Europe, Ious, Leto, Alcmene, Semele, Olympiad of Philip.

    Thus, the story goes with the thirty thousand gods of the Greeks. Everyone is also a real, functional, indestructible, beneficial real and a beautiful natural phenomenon.

    In other words, the religion of the Greeks is an aesthetic status of Nature’s elements, and in this way, are variant in their art. The Geometric evidence of this proposal is given by the fact that the religion of the Greeks is all in their art and literature".