Martin Moderator
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  • from Bangkok (Ayutthaya and Cologne, too)
  • Member since Jan 8th 2018
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Posts by Martin

    Welcome AdamSandvoid!

    Your page indicates that you interpret Epicurus' philosophy like we do here. That in itself is great because other quite different interpretations abound. Thank you for opening a complementary path for people to find the "right" version of the "right" philosophy!


    During first pass reading, I found only one detail to which I have an objection, that is the paragraph with "... Epic Swerve, the moment in our lives when we make a small change that makes all the difference between being bound by fate and exercising our free will" and "Swerve today!" and related statements.

    Although other friends here, too, have used the swerve in analogy to small, decisive steps we take within the scope of our free will/agency, this can be misleading. The swerve is entirely random, not directed by any will and no sign of a will.

    There is a strong analogy between the swerve and the uncertainty principle. That principle may very well be what enables agency/free will (the alternative is to derive agency from emergent properties, which is less convincing for me). However, the path from the uncertainty principle to agency is not obvious and not yet fully explained, and objections to that path have not yet been refuted.

    I take our agency as an empirical fact and the reference of agency to the uncertainty principle only as a tentative idea how to possibly explain agency in an entirely material and mostly deterministic world.

    The video nicely illustrates what we know today. (Note that turning the balance upside down is just a joke and still just shows the force on us as the counterforce from hard enough material to prevent us from breaking or sinking through the balance and not directly the force with which we pull up Earth. We know from theory which is confirmed by other experiments that we pull up Earth with the same force.)


    Knowing this helps to get clear how wrong or misleading Epicurus' reference to down is. Some people have even used this wrong usage to claim that Epicurus was a flat-Earther. Epicurus use of down is so much against his own physics that he probably meant "down" in a different way but I have not yet seen and could not figure out a meaningful way. Maybe the ancient Greek word had a broader or different meaning than our "down".

    The practices do not need to be necessarily traceable to Epicurus or be logically derived from EP. If they work and are compatible, that is good enough. Not each of them will work for every Epicurean.

    Here are some suggestions:

    For me, occasional meditation for up to one hour guided by a Buddhist monk works fine, whether on radio, from CD or live. For some Epicureans, it might be counterproductive.

    Occasional daydreaming as the simplest form of meditation is fine, too.

    Running several kilometers at least twice a week boosts motivation to take action toward pleasure.

    Doing something together with friends increases pleasure compared to only doing my own things.

    I am very late commenting in this thread because the topic does not interest me that much and religion can be very divisive. Here is my addition to some aspects of the discussion:


    Epicurus saw no sensory evidence of gods, attributed the knowledge humans claimed to have of them to inner perceptions and stated that the gods were not supernatural. 2300 years ago, this did not constitute a contradiction.

    Meanwhile, we have dramatically extended our senses with corroborated detailed scientific models and reliable instruments. As material beings, gods are not excluded from scientific examination.

    Todays science refutes Epicurus' internal imagery of gods because no such special image particles are detectable.

    Moreover, the spread of information through particles, waves or fields is essentially diluted by a law following the inverse of the square of the distance.

    With the huge distances to the neighboring galaxies, solar systems and even planets in our own solar system, large telescopes are needed to produce images as demonstrated by our astronomers.

    Our fairly detailed knowledge of anatomy leaves no space for such inner telescopes for internal perception.


    The religions which have arisen in different cultures may have some overlap but they are mutually exclusive.

    Taking the inner sensations of something god-like as relating to some actually existing being has produced thousands of cults contradicting about every other belief over the course of history and more cults keep springing up.

    This indicates that there are no actually existing gods to which the religions/cults refer, no matter whether the gods are considered to be natural or supernatural.

    Even within the same culture/religion, reasoning of different "priests" has typically lead to a further splitting into more and more mutually exclusive sects.

    The strength of the inner sensation of a god by people who have been or have themselves conditioned for this has probably been the driving factor of the waves of atrocities committed by religionists who misinterpret these inner sensations as factual evidence.

    The global occurrence of religions is indicative of a genetic disposition to look for awe-inspiring beings. This science-based explanation refutes the claim that the perceived gods actually exist.


    Modern science is a branched out further development of some parts of Epicurus' philosophy. Applying these principles of Epicurus' philosophy has lead to the refutation of Epicurus' imagery of gods into a supersensory brain as of today's science (with no claim on what future science may reveal in an unexpected twist).

    Pleasure is central to Epicurus' philosophy, not the divine. Therefore, abandoning the conclusion from inner perceptions to existence of gods is preferred over keeping a revealed major inconsistency in the philosophy. This is similar to the much less controversial abandoning of other refuted parts of Epicurus' physics.


    Other than postulating the existence of alien species (for which we might find tentative evidence at best but which would most likely be too far away to communicate with or travel to) and interpreting gods conceived by humans as symbolism, there is nothing credible left in Epicurus' gods.

    In conclusion, there is nothing important left in Epicurus' gods other than the historic aspect for complete understanding of ancient Epicurean philosophy.

    This does not need to prevent us from joyful participation in religious ceremonies and deriving pleasure from inner perceptions of imaginary gods.

    Yes, when comparing theories themselves, that would be a dividing line but my last remark referring to theories was a diversion from the main topic interpretations of quantum theory.

    The interpretations do not affect the calculation of the results. Wigner and I would get the same results when solving a quantum mechanical problem (unless I make a mistake) or when conducting an experiment with electrons but he thinks that his mind influences the electrons and I do not think so.

    Answer to Susan and Cassius:

    The Schroedinger equation is - within its range of validity - well supported by evidence. Quantum entanglement is well supported, too, and is already used for secure communication in the sense that any attempt to spy on the stream of information between transmitter and receiver would be detected. Billions of dollars are spent to develop quantum computers, which independent of the specific design are all based on entanglement.

    Schroedinger equation and quantum entanglement really point to something VERY weird going on that does not fit with classical physics.

    In general, quantum mechanics itself is rock solid with lots of experimental evidence. Future discoveries or an ingenious new theory might lead to a major overhaul but that is not likely to happen any time soon.

    For many physicists, using "Shut up and calculate!" as the motto, the quantum woo starts already with any attempt of an interpretation.

    I do see some value in interpretation but have no criteria at hand to tell in general how sensical interpretations are different from nonsensical ones.

    When an interpretation is used to derive conclusions which are not backed by plain quantum mechanics, that interpretation is most likely nonsensical. Other than that crude indicator, the assessment is case by case.

    The most common nonsensical interpretation is to attribute quantum uncertainty or other features of quantum mechanics to the influence of the consciousness of the observer.

    (When playing golf with a demolition crane, the uncertainty of the trajectory of the ball is not due to the consciousness of the player but due to the clumsiness of the tool.)


    Another kind of woo is when theories which so far have been untestable (i.e. they are not even hypotheses as of now) are misrepresented as factual descriptions of reality (e.g. string theory, multiverse theories). A far-reaching interpretation of such a theory is most likely nonsense to the power of 2 (e.g. an interpretation with teleportation between "parallel universes").

    Quantum theory is not the problem but quantum woo is, i.e. nonsensical interpretations of quantum theory create problems by misleading people into wrong beliefs.

    I never felt that the study of science was harmful beyond maybe to have wasted some time on studying in detail something which I will never use but that is unavoidable because as a student at university, I did not know in advance whether it will become eventually relevant.

    I would like to sue the Catholic Church to give me back many hours of eager study of the Bible and other Christian texts and attending mass when I was a child and adolescent.

    The harmful effect of being a Christian child was to distrust and refrain from pleasure and to socially isolate myself from peers who I considered to be mostly "sinners" by whom I did not want to get "tempted".

    Luckily, I overcame this before the end of senior high school but I still feel the effect of insufficient socialization in my youth because I still need to make conscious efforts where others behave naturally without conscious effort.

    By trusting our emotions I mean that we do not negate the precognitive reaction. In case of doubt what I mean, Don's more precise wording shall override what I wrote.