Posts by Martin

    Cassius, I guess that in your statement above

    "Part of what we always dance around in coming up with formulas is the issue of whether the goal of avoiding pain is somehow entirely separate or more important than that of avoiding pleasure"

    you do not mean "avoiding pleasure" but rather finding pleasure.

    There is a size problem with adding this to our profiles. My profile is already at the maximum limit. I had to compress some formulations when I updated it with one more completed reading.

    "7. ... Use discipline to say no to unnecessary desires. Consciously reduce one's thoughts about unnecessary desires.":

    From the context of the surrounding text, I guess you mean unnecessary desires which are not worth the prior or subsequent pain when fulfilled.

    With the necessary desires being easy to fulfill for me, I spend most of my effort on unnecessary desires which I expect to bring me the most pleasure (including permanent pleasure from memories of great experiences) for the least pain.

    An alternative approach which is often taken by Epicureans is to define necessary or natural desires so widely that those which are left out are only those we should not pursue.

    I prefer a much more narrow definition because it helps me in prioritizing in difficult times by focusing on the necessary. When the crisis is resolved, I can expand my effort again on the unnecessary ones which bring great pleasure.


    I do not have a simple reference but maybe my approach helps: The analogy between chaos and entropy was an obstacle to my understanding of entropy during my study. When ignoring that analogy and instead concentrating on the definition, which means that entropy is a measure of the probabilty to observe a particular combination of the states of many particles in a system , we should expect that the development with time goes toward combinations with higher probability, that is higher entropy.

    In a system consisting of 2 sub-systems, it should be possible to get a decrease in entropy of one sub-system if the entropy in the other sub-system increases at least as much as the entropy in the first one has decreased.

    To make sense out of empirical data, scientists build a model because observations without a model hardly lead to any understanding and there is no justification to extrapolate the data or to trust their reproducibility without a model.

    The model gets tested with more empirical data, preferably from systematic experiments designed to refute the model.

    If a model passes the tests and there is no better model at hand, this model eventually becomes part of scientific knowledge but might later on be refuted (or more often just abandoned) when contradicting data or a better model are found.

    Speculation comes in if models have no strong empirical base and are not tested or are possibly not even testable, e.g. string theory or the multiverse as of now.

    Here is my slightly adapted comment from the thread on FB:

    Essentially, I agree with Cassius' comments.

    1. It does not matter for the philosophy whether Epicurus' postulate of an eternal universe is false if taken literally.

    From ancient times until about 1920, models postulating an eternal universe were compatible with the evidence, although the universe would eventually become void of life because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    Epicurus' eternal universe avoided a lot of questions to which only speculative answers could have been given.

    Einstein himself constructed a model for a stable, on large scales homogeneous universe, which could be eternal. But soon after, new evidence ruled out his stable universe.

    Using those of the current models which are best supported by evidence (which excludes multiverse(s) for now), the universe started from something close to the big bang and before that, time did not exist either. The universe will expand into eternity but it seems there is no way around the extinction of all lifeforms.

    2. There are some possibilities to interpret Epicurus' eternal universe in a way that it still holds if not taken literally. E.g. the universe has already been in existence far longer than mankind and is likely to still exist for much longer than us who are currently alife. So, postulating an eternal universe is a fairly accurate approximation as far as our pleasure is concerned.

    3. Cosmology seems to stand out from other branches of physics in a unique way: Acceptable physical models in the other branches usually have no contradictions in themselves and do not contradict basic physical principles within their range of applicability. But so far, there is no cosmological model without fundamental contradictions in the physics.

    4. Even the most rudimentary type of philosophy with the least assumptions, scientism, still does make assumptions to become in any way useful.

    EP goes way beyond scientism and therefore makes more assumptions. Although EP is based on physics, it does not follow conclusively from empirically tested physics.

    We here support EP because we perceive it as the most convincing philosophy, in particular because it does not resort to the supernatural and because it is useful for planning and living our lifes.

    "his father had Frederick's "best friend" executed for trying to help him escape" actually happened. They both deserted together, and the friend got sentenced in compliance with the penal code to death by a court (not the King) and executed but Frederick was not because the judges declared themselves unfit to judge over the crown prince. So, his father forced him to watch the execution of his friend as a penalty. The father was such a dick that one historian who started to write his biography gave up in disgust.