brett Level 03
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  • Member since Dec 30th 2017
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Posts by brett

    Love reading these today!


    I’d add this as a summons to be thankful for what we have:


    VS 35. One should not spoil what is present by desiring what is absent, but rather reason out that these things too [i.e., what we have] were among those we might have prayed for.



    Hi folks,


    I've been reading some of the divinity posts and it got me to thinking. The below is PURELY personal and isn't a dogmatic stance on my part.


    End of the day, I personally am far more interested in the ethical (read: way of living) aspects of EP, especially how it applies to everyday human pressures.


    While I just returned to the forum, I've been coming to the realization for the last year that EP is far superior to stoicism and any other philosophy of life in the practicality and psychological acumen.


    I'm a person who likes ideas and beliefs and practices to be as simple as possible and as complex as necessary. Even when i was in grad school studying philosophy for a PHD (I never finished) I was drawn to the simpler more existentially focused philosophers and philosophies.


    So with that said, for me at least and with respect to the divinity issue specifically, I have no need to go beyond the "Don't fear the gods" assertion. Probably because I've not feared the gods for 20 years, but much beyond that is just speculation.


    That said, I enjoy the focus on what Epicurus said about the subject as I of course find that interesting.


    Those are my 2 cents.

    Excellent!!!!!


    For my personal use I was considering organizing them by PD or VS number. It seemed a logical way to keep track.


    but I’m open to other ideas.


    to get started I’ll continue the route I was planning and will post as I have them started. I’ll be posting rough drafts and will absolutely welcome critique etc.


    brett

    Hi all


    so I’ve been pondering this whole idea of slogans and techniques.


    I was reading through the VS and PD last night before bed and it hit me: there are soooo many techniques hidden in these pithy statements.


    a small example:


    VS 68 “Nothing is sufficient for the man to whom the sufficient is too little”


    a technique from this could be to take 5 minutes and list all the ways your life, as it is right now, is sufficient for your pleasure and happiness. Not for the sake of never desiring more pleasures but for the sake of recognizing and appreciating what you have now as sufficient. (If what you have or present state isn’t sufficient then that’s a whole different matter. We aren’t into the stoic acceptance of whatever is...and all that entails. If what you have isn’t sufficient Then you should be seeking out the things or experiences that result in sufficiency)

    Your list might be:

    - the blanket Covering me is warm and soft and the feel is lovely.

    - my best friends are amazing and I love our zoom Calls

    - this coffee I’m sipping is delicious and energizing


    I’m short, it’s a simple exercise to bring to life and implement the principle.


    as I read through the PD and VS there are literally dozens and dozens of these that pop

    Out.


    we could have a section on these and everyone could contribute.


    thanks for listening. Regardless, I’m going to get started with a list of these for my own use.


    brett

    These are great!! Some resonate with me more than others but that’s the point!!


    I’ve started to give some thought to both slogans and techniques (a short method for dealing with a situation or such with EP).


    when I have some more content I’ll post.


    thanks for stepping out and posting these.


    brett

    hi Cassius and Susan,


    I'm very much like Susan. My interaction was through reading.


    Many years ago I was heavily involved in newstoa.com but the leader there was not pleasant to deal with and I left. I've kept in touch over the last 10 years or so with a few stoic friends but my communication with them is very infrequent and surface level.


    I do think that the key for EP is to have a lively and POSITIVE social presence that allows for friendships to form and practices and 'slogans' to help folks simply and effectively implement EP in their lives on a daily basis.


    Thanks,


    Brett

    I completely agree that they don't need to tie to Epicurus. I like some of the ones you mentioned.


    A couple thoughts:


    1. One approach could be to personalize the tricks and tips and have each person write up a 140 synopsis of their technique and create a compendium of these.

    2. Some of the most popular stoic techniques are EASILY framed as epicurean. for example, the dichotomy of control is a very helpful mental technique to minimize pain and clear space for some one to then pivot to a pleasurable experience. For example: If I recognize that I can't control the fact that my boss is mad at me, I can relax myself and pivot to finding a pleasurable activity to maximize my pleasure and hence happiness.


    I really think this topic could help in outreach and general 'effectiveness' of EP for the daily lives of normal people. End of the day, all the 'smart' people in the world can believe something but unless it's effective for others and seen as relevant, it won't be adopted.

    This topic of practices and slogans seems to come up fairly regularly.... For some time now I've been compiling a list of "Epicurean pleasure slogans" to delineate the philosophy and have 50+ at this point. I haven't posted them as they'd need a LOT of work to really be legit, but maybe I'll clean up what I've got and post them sometime soon if that would be of some value.

    I would love to see this! I’ve been pondering this intensely since I posted it.

    Yes, I like that angle much better. And it has helped me, too. I still have a soft spot for Seneca, (as he did for Epicureanism), because I love his style of writing, but I always thought Epictetus was such an old sourpuss. ;)

    TOO FUNNY! I was just thinking this AM how I still love Seneca. I also still appreciate some of Marcus's meditations for the human aspect it reveals.

    hi Cassius,


    1. Correct. i was never really attracted to the 'virtue' thing nor their belief in fate. As a long-time atheist, I have no interest in the supernatural. What attracted me was the analgesic aspect. You won't remember but I actually asked you when I first joined if there were any practices, etc. like the stoic mental practices.


    2. The more I've thought about my departure from EP two years ago the more I'm convinced it was because of this point I'm making.


    For better or for worse, I'm a person who by my disposition is easily stressed out by anxiety about the future. Not clinically so....but it's easy for me to worry about things. The Stoic practices are SO effective at fortifying one against those worries. What I've discovered, unfortunately, is that while they are effective, they are only truly effective if you buy into the metaphysics. And I just don't and I can't pretend any longer that I do.


    So, that leaves me with what I truly believe is the aim of life: maximizing pleasure and thus achieving happiness. It's so clear and simple to me now that I've seen through the Stoic fascade.


    Thanks for the conversation. I'd welcome more discussion about coming up with or articulating these practices and methods specific to EP.


    Thanks,


    Brett

    Wow, yes.. And then on top of the suffering, you get to feel like a failed philosopher for grieving... I think there is a reason why there were next to no “sages” in Stoicism.

    OH, well put and insightful.


    What I do appreciate in stoicism, and this is part of what drew me back here after I realized it recently, is that there is wisdom in knowing what you can control. But not for the stated stoic reason. For a stoic you don’t focus on what you can’t control because it’s your fate and you shouldn’t struggle against it. For an epicurean, you don’t struggle against what you truly can’t change because it brings you pain and takes your focus off the things that can bring you pleasure.

    Hi Brett. I fell in with the Stoic crowd myself for some time. For me, ultimately, I found that any philosophy that focused on combating pain ended up leaving no room for pleasure. It is like if you are in a dark room, and you want to see, you get nowhere by pushing at the darkness - you just have to turn on the light. I am so used to trying to “figure out” suffering, that it is a big change being led by nature/pleasure instead, but good things are happening due to that change of orientation.

    that’s a great way to put it. Ultimately I decided that I couldn’t embrace any philosophy that focused on deadening my senses and urging me to treat the death of my lovely wife the same as a broken cup (my wife did not pass thankfully. It’s a reference to a passage in Epictetus)


    thanks for your response.


    brett

    Cassius


    that’s a very interesting question you pose:


    What was it that attracted you back to Stoicism -- was it pretty much the call to meaningfulness, or "virtue," or what do you think. I continue to think one of our biggest challenges is communicating that "pleasure" is a lot more profound a choice than just the sex/drugs/rocknroll viewpoint, but it's a real challenge to come up with new and better ideas for explaining it so if you have any ideas....


    I have given a lot of thought to this and I think a big part is this: Stoics have cornered the market on short, simple, effective slogans and practices that serve as a short term analgesic to pain.


    for example: my boss gets upset at me and tells me he thinks I should find another job. A stoic would use the notion of the dichotomy of control to conclude: I have no control over my boss so I can’t worry about it.


    or another person might use the premeditatio malorum to fortify themselves against bad news.


    the examples could be multipled many times over. stoicism has myriad techniques and practices that are effective in this manner. Read massimo or holiday or Robertson and they lay them out simply and convincingly.


    nevermind that the aim of these techniques is to reduce pain and maximize pleasure by their use, the stoics have convinced others that living by their principles is a holistic and ‘correct’ approach to the vicissitudes of life by striving for ‘virtue’ and living in accord with our fate.


    in my opinion, if we could develop/articulate simple practices that folks could use in similar fashion when faced with challenges, EP would be seen as a competitor in the search for a life philosophy.

    In short, Stoics have convinced folks that it’s a practical philosophy for everyday life. EP needs a similar reputation.


    hope this makes some sense.


    brett

    hi folks,


    I hope this finds everyone happy and healthy.


    I was quite active on this forum 2 years ago and then went dormant with no notice.


    Essentially, I got sucked back into the Stoic mindset. I struggled with how to apply EP to my life (surely it can't be as simple as maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain) and fell back into the very readily available and easy to apply Stoic mental exercises.


    I won't bore you with the details of my life, but Jules Evan's wrote a short biography of me in his book about Stoicism (and other life philosophies) and how it has helped people. So, falling back into Stoicism was easy to do.


    What brought me back? Well, two things:


    1. I got tired of working my ass off to minimize my desires and live as unemotional life as I could muster. I know this is a gross oversimplification of Stoicism, but it goes without saying that the Stoic's response to challenges in life is to retreat into the 'inner citadel' and fortify oneself from the external dangers. I can only deny my own emotions and desires for so long. Especially in this pandemic, it's easy to retreat into oneself and close off from the challenges around us.


    2. I started a journey of physical fitness about a year an a half ago. Since then I've changed my eating, begun an exercise program, and have lost 60 lbs and fell the best I have in life. I've struggled with how a Stoic would justify physical fitness. All I could reasonably come up with is that one takes care of one's body out of a sense of duty. What I have been experiencing over the last year is an amazing boost in pleasure at the changes in my body. I've come to revel in the feeling of accomplishment and pleasure when I finish a workout and when I step on the scale and I'm a lb lighter.


    I know none of this is a repudiation of Stoicism per se, but as I've been really thinking about this over the last few months I've realized that the perfect philosophy to explain how I want to live my life is Epicureanism. I hopped over a few days ago and read Elayne's essay and Garden Dweller's piece and it reminded me how much I really enjoyed EP. I think the separation and time to contemplate has allowed my mind to open to the truth that eP is not about living in a 'neutral state' between pain and pleasure: the goal truly is to maximize pleasure. That's a life worth living.


    Anyway, I felt the urge to write about this. Not sure it all makes sense but here you go....:-)


    Brett

    hi all,


    I permanently deleted my facebook account 3 weeks ago (NO deactivating does NOT delete your account. You have to search for the actual delete process...you won't find it advertised) and it's the best thing I've done.


    I've been tempted to do it for a long time as I see zero value to it. I finally did it, although I decided to do it prior to the cambridge analytica stuff. That validated my decision. As did revelations of fb harvesting calls and texts. No thanks.


    Brett