Posts by KDF

    I want to start by warning potential readers of this post, that it is highly personal, and that I will be happy to remove it if it is not appropriate for this site.

    I have spent much of my adult life working on a code or set of goals that are consistent with my philosophical principals, and could provide a platform from which to enjoy my life. I have summarized these into 5 goals, and while they have evolved over time, they have worked for me for the last few years. Here they are:

    1. Do what I want, when I want, with no guilt - After some introspection I realized that I spent much of my time worried about the impression that I made or the impact of my actions on others. I realized that most of this worry was pointless, and that when there was something to worry about it was not nearly as significant as I made it seem. Internalizing this goal has helped me to lift the sense of dread that had followed me for years.

    2. Family - Make them happy, and don't push them away - I realized that I have a tendency to push people away. While I am superficially social, I find most relationships inconvenient. I generally don't want things from people socially, and never have much trouble putting relationships in that past. I found that by reminding myself that I don't want to push my family away (by family I mean my wife and kids), that I felt much better. These are the people that I want in my life, and I want to do everything that I can to make their lives better.

    3. Super Slam (Hunting) - This might seem a little out of left field, and I am certainly not trying to offend anyone's sensibilities. Hunting is a central part of my life, and I have been pursuing a goal of harvesting all 29 of North America's big. This is a significant goal that has only been achieved by 153 people. I am currently 44 and plan to complete this by the time I am 55.

    4. No Work - I never liked working, and it has been torture for me for the last 25 years. I am fortunate enough to be in a position that I could retire comfortably my most standards, but found that the idea of not working carried with it a ton baggage. What would people think if I didn't work? How much did my career define my identity? What if I want more stuff in a few years? I own a company, and just made the decision to let my employees do my job. It is an experiment that could result in the company failing. If the company survives it will be great for me and the employees. If the company fails, I will do my best to help the employees land somewhere. Either way I am not going to work another day.

    5. Don't Waste Time - From the day we are born, we are all dying. Life flies by. I don't want to waste a minute of it doing something I don't want to do.

    There it is. My life laid bare. Again, don't hesitate to tell me that this is not the place for my BS.

    I think that Epicurus might have invented the concept of F*** You Money (FUM). The popular definition of FUM is the amount of money that you need so that you are not beholden to anyone for your financial well being (not a boss, not a client, not a parent...). It seem that PDs 6, 7, 10, 13, 39, and 40 refer directly or indirectly to the FUM concept. I view the concept of "protection from other men," as perhaps an ancient equivalent of FUM. Interestingly, in PD 15, Epicurus says, "The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity." In other words, the less you need to be satisfied the lower your FU number.

    On a personal note, achieving FUM has been a guiding principal throughout my adult life. I had arrived at a core belief that aligns very closely to PD 39: "The man who best knows how to meet external threats makes into one family all the creatures he can; and those he can not, he at any rate does not treat as aliens; and where he finds even this impossible, he avoids all dealings, and, so far as is advantageous, excludes them from his life."

    I would be very interested to hear anyone's thoughts on this concept.

    This post served as a final impetus for me. I deleted my facebook account this morning (my wife did as well). I did not really visit my account very often, but on the occasions that I did I would get annoyed at old friends about their political views. I feel a little more free.


    Thanks again for the interesting analysis and discussion. I am trying to tread lightly on this topic, because judging from the responses (as well as from the thousands of pages that have been written on it) it is a topic that individuals feel is central and essential to their philosophical world view. I am coming at this from a perspective of having wrestled with it and then having dismissed it as not relevant to my philosophical views. I dismissed it because I feel that our lack of free will or volition has no impact on one's ethics. We have a perfect illusion of free will, so if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, as far as I am concerned it is a duck.

    You make a few points in support of "free will" or volition. I thought that it might be productive to outline my view in response to your points:

    1. "You now have the choice about responding to me or not." - The fact that I am responding does not prove that I am doing so out of free will. We make what appear to be thousands of choices every day. The fact that these appear to us to be conscious choices does not prove that these choices are not predetermined.
    2. "Everything you said is based on the ability to assess evidence and decide on conclusions. " - If we had the perfect illusion of free will (which I hold that we do) how would the experience of assessing evidence and deciding on conclusions be any different?

    Our experience is that we have free will and volition, or as Einstein put it, "We can choose what we do, we just can't choose what we choose." That is enough for me.


    Cassius, it seems that we are perhaps choosing different paths to the same destination. I am a hard determinist, because I have trouble arriving at another view. However, I don't feel that my view robs me of the ability to work to make my life more happy - I view hard determinism as peripheral to the importance of consciously pursuing happiness. If I became convinced of free will, no other aspect of my philosophy would change.

    Again, please note that I hold my view on free will to be consistent with an epicurean philosophical outlook.


    I think you have outlined many of the central questions around the free will debate. My view is that the conscious experience of having free will is the same as the conscious experience of lacking free will. In other words, one wouldn't know the difference empirically (or with your senses).

    The very act of reading these words may (or may not) change your mind about free will. Either way it won't be your "free" choice, but it will impact your thinking in some way. The non-conscious lack of free will does not alter the fact that new information or new relationships change the course of our lives and thinking.

    Thank you for your reply, and I a very much appreciate the interest on this topic.


    In my Epicurean Outline I noted my view on free will:

    1. We live in a deterministic universe. There is no free will, but as conscious beings that can never be aware of our own lack of free will, this lack is not relevant to how we find meaning in our lives. (I think that Christopher Hithchens put it best when he said that he believes in free will, because he "has no choice.")1

    I arrived at the conclusion that the lack of free will is not contradictory to living a purpose and meaning driven life after several years of reading and contemplation. The conclusion follows from several points that I believe to be true:

    1. The evidence for determinism is compelling (I am not sure that it is worth rehashing this in the context of how it relates to epicureanism in this thread, but I would be happy to discuss)
    2. "The Swerve", and its analogs in more recent scientific discoveries (e.g. quantum physics and the uncertainty principle) if proven do not form the basis for a belief in free will. In other words, if there is indeterminacy it does it follow that some type of agency can control one's thoughts and actions.
    3. If our conscious experience is that of having free will, why does it matter if we do or do not. We will always act and feel as if we have free will.
    4. If our end is to increase happiness by avoiding pain and maximizing pleasure (in an orthodox epicurean sense), why would lack of free will have relevance.

    I know that some of what I write above may challenge a core principal of epircureanism. It is not my intent to overturn or diminish any aspect of the ethical principals - I hold these principals to be cohesive and consistent with my personal philosophy. I am hoping to reconcile my epcicurean principals with a lack of belief in free will. I believe that it is possible, but am certainly open to be convinced otherwise.

    1 It might be worth noting that Christopher Hitchens called himself an Epicurean.


    Thank you for the reply. It is a thrill to be able to discuss these points with those who have given thought to how to live and think consistently with epicureanism. Your points are productive and I value them.

    I have invested much time exploring the question of free will, and have unfortunately spent a couple of years lost in the wilderness of this topic. However, I have developed a view that I believe is consistent with my overall philosophical principals: since it is not possible to be conscious of lacking free will, the absence of free will does not have direct relevance on how we live.

    The fact that that the question of free will has been discussed for millennia, does make me feel like my perhaps over-simplified view may have a huge blind spot. To the extent that the question of free will is interesting to you I welcome any further thoughts.

    Thank you for allowing me to post on this forum. I would very much appreciate your feedback on my outline. It might be relevant to mention that I am fairly new to epicureanism. I happened upon (or more accurately re-happened upon after a 20+ year interval) Epicurus with a rush of satisfaction. I found epicurienism to be very consistent with my world view and principals.

    A.) The Nature of the Universe

    1. The universe is indifferent to the cares and wants of conscious beings
    2. We live in a deterministic universe. There is no free will, but as conscious beings that can never be aware of our own lack of free will, this lack is not relevant to how we find meaning in our lives. (I think that Christopher Hithchens put it best when he said that he believes in free will, because he "has no choice.")

    B.) Knowledge / Truth

    1. We know what we can observe with our senses or has been passed on to us at a genetic level
    2. There are biological limits to what we can know and observe (this does not imply a non-material universe)

    C.) Ethics / How to Live

    1. There is no absolute morality
    2. Happiness is the ultimate goal to life
    3. Financial independence greatly improves, but is not essential to, an individuals ability to attain happiness (I think that if Epicurus lived today that PDs 6, 7, 21, 39, & 40 would have referenced having F-U Money)
    4. By reducing wants and needs one can greatly improve one's ability to achieve financial independence
    5. All that we should ask from society is to ensure that no one be compelled by force to do anything against one's will
    6. One has the ability to remove resentment and self-pity from one's thinking; removing resentment and self-pity greatly improves happiness
    7. One should not suffer a contradiction in their principals; self-deception is the root of much unhappiness