something I have been thinking about lately is emotional states, specifically negative ones. It seems to me feeling anxious or feeling down (not clinically but simply for a period of time) are very painful, however I completely disagree with the Stoics who give techniques to manage or even repress these emotions as that leads to an unhappy life and eventually a distrust of emotions.
An Epicurean will feel his or hers emotions more deeply, but our goal overall is pleasure and everything should be oriented to feeling real pleasure (as opposed the potential pleasure or virtue, as we say in Ireland “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Should we therefore try not to feel our negative emotions deeply?
Also as a side note, the tranquility epicurean view seems to silly and also unacceptable. Who can stop themselves from feeling pain? Anxiety or sadness can occur for any reason or no reason at all.
My thoughts are simply now to examine the feeling and see what purpose it is serving me, am I having thoughts causing it or is it the result of an action? Is it warning me of something painful?
Taking its usefulness into regard, it seems preferable to feel anxiety and sadness sometimes (again not clinical such as anxiety disorder or depression, get help if you suffer from these) but only if it can help identify a threat of further pain or it can help identify an action we took which lead to this anxiety so we can avoid it in the future.
In this regard we Epicureans have a “friendly” relationship with our healthy emotional (non clinical) even if they are painful. It’s very different than other philosophies such as stoicism and Christianity which threat negative emotions as enemies no matter what (even if they aid in obtaining pleasure) or in the latter case proof of your guilt.
My thoughts are still fresh in thinking about this so forgive my unrefined writings, what are your thoughts on this?
For me what it means to be an Epicurean is to live under the idea that our senses are actually useful. To live in a way that allows the fullness of all our faculties. That puts reason in its rightful place and to be grounded in the world and not in abstractions.
To be an Epicurean is to live pleasurably, unashamedly and to be free from the guilt of Catholicism. To view our bodies as who and what we are, Not something which we merely use as a “vessel” for our true selves or a corrupt wretched thing.
To be free from foolish ideas that bring only pain, to free reason from the bonds of superstition and to be at ease with what we are and our position in this universe.
I hope everyone is having a pleasant day. I have created a YouTube video speaking about Epicurean philosophy. It is very much ad hoc and meant to peak peoples interest to research our philosophy.
I hope it may help even one person look deeper into Epicureanism.
No certainly not throughout most of Ireland, although many in our capital would rather emulate the British. Ireland certainly wouldn't allow her free speech to be taken that's for sure. We are called the "fighting" Irish for a reason!
I have many friends who are Muslim, they are nice people. I also have family who are Muslim as they live in South Africa. I used to a Muslim when I was a teenager but it's an extremely dangerous religion. I don't agree with Tommy Robinson on a lot, I think at some times he is bigoted for no reason but his points about Islam hit the mark a lot.
It's saddens me that people would rather be a good citizen, even to a state like England which blocks sites and filter information than a good person. My personal view when I first read that quote of Epicurus from Seneca is probably the same as yours: "Avoid politics is probably best for a life of pleasure, however if the circumstance arrives such as suppression of free speech, get involved."
Amazing, simply amazing. Wow this is really the first modern presentation on Epicurus this long? That's shocking to me. Ah if only I could understand Greek.
Another one about the misconception of Epicurean philosophy - opinions welcome!! Thank you Cassius hopefully the blog helps me develop as an Epicurean
Hey guys I decided to make an Epicurean blog, I always wanted to do a blog and I may as well do it on something I am really interested in. If you guys could read it and critique I would really appreciate it. Thank you very much!
Hi Cassius thanks for the reply I meant to say "Epicureans AREN'T ascetics". I will change that now!
Also I will use this message as a platform to respond to you later!
"It turns out that embracing Hedonism and Epicureanism may be the best, and the kindest thing we can do for ourselves". I am beginning to agree with this, she did a very good presentation and Cassius your questions are exactly the ones which would be asked my audience, I am going to try answer some of them as a "neophyte" Epicurean:
All this sounds fine, but why should I accept Epicurus' opinion that a simple life is all I should want out of life? Aren't there more important things than pleasure and pain? Shouldn't I live so that I will go to heaven, and not go to hell? Those things are more important than pleasure and pain aren't they?
1. To an Epicurean there is no life after death. Living is the presence of sensation, everything you do is based on a sensation of some sort (thinking, eating, sleeping) To an Epicurean there is no separation of body and mind they are one in the same when the body shuts down so does the brain.
Haven't we always been taught that nothing good comes easily? Why should the best part of life be easy to obtain? I see people around me suffering and dying in misery and pain all the time. They didn't find a happy life easy to obtain. Doesn't that show that Epicurus was wrong?
2. Things which people pursue in modern society such as excess wealth, power and others opinion have no limit, they can never be sated even for a short time on the contrast things provided by Nature can be gained easily and sated easily such as food, warmth and relaxation. Modern people have a wrong view on what makes them happy.
I seem to hear you saying that avoidance of pain is the highest goal. Are you really saying that? If so, why shouldn't I avoid all pain by killing myself?
3. The highest goal is pleasure. To an Epicurean the best way to avoid pain is to be "full" of pleasure (and I would explain the full cup here)
Ok, we won't go to extremes like killing ourselves, After all, moderation in all things, right? But I hear you saying that the simplest life is the best. If I really want the best life, shouldn't I go ONLY for bread, water, and a cave to get out of the weather? That would be the purest application of Epicurus, wouldn't it?
4. Epicureans aren't ascetics, bread and water can easily be attained and are an easy pleasure to get (of course in modern times there are a lot more easily got foods) but this doesn't mean that we can't partake in other pleasures, in fact we definitely should but just remember that bread and water are always there, if other pleasures can't be got.
did I hear you say that we should never want power? I live in a pretty bad neighborhood, and the people in the country next door are talking about invading our country. Right about now I would really like the power to put the criminals in jail and the power to stop the invaders before they burn my house. How can that be wrong - but you said I should NEVER seek power?
5. Then I would say it is acceptable, if a rival nation threatens your ability to pursue the true goal of life and wishes to enforce pain on you and your loved ones, then yes get power. The power which Epicurus refers to is power over people, power over the universe or in other words a power which has no true end and can never be sated. This view of power is false as you will never reach pleasure from it because it can never be sated, even for short amount of time.
OK now I hear you saying that "static" pleasure is the best kind of pleasure, and that comes from absence of pain and not from the senses. But then you've also said that static pleasure "feels good." Are you trying to have it both ways? If the best kind of pleasure feels good, then I understand what you mean? But what kind of pleasure is worth having that I can't feel?
6. ( I am not sure about this one but I will make an attempt) - To an Epicurean all pleasures must be felt, a static pleasure is where you simply don't have to do anything for it to occur. (perhaps this has something to do with the full cup analogy? I am not sure how to answer this sorry)
- One has the ability to remove resentment and self-pity from there thinking; removing resentment and self-pity greatly improves happiness
Interesting, what advice do the Epicureans give on this?
Well my story is probably a common one around Epicureans, I was 22 and used to drink a lot and sleep around a lot. Anyway I grew disillusioned with the unhinged hedonism lifestyle (because it led to dissatisfaction and pain overall and the pleasure while nice wasn't worth it). I eventually found my way to "Stoic Joy" by William Irvine and thought it was great! He pushed the idea that if you practice Virtue you will have a tranquil life, in fact he stated that "you can't live virtuously without living tranquilly and vice versa".
So I bought more Stoic books and they really praeached the idea of Virtue for it's own sake, which I bought into. I didn't question WHY or how can value something abstract like that for it's own sake but I digress. Anyway after 2 years of Stoic practice I became very happy but then it hit me "I am not practicing Virtue for it's own sake, it just makes me feel really good" Which led me to Epicureanism and here I am today.
Epicureanism just makes sense, there is no god telling us what to do, everything is valued in a way that can be measured (pleasure and pain) and the goal is one which is noble to the truth of human nature (pleasurable living) rather than some church or gods idea of what we should be (virtue/afterlife/whatever other woo woo) EDIT:b Also the idea that the hedonistic calculus is individual for the most part.
Thanks for welcoming me!
Hello all, just came here from the FB group, was going to write this over there but we seem to moving to this forum so I'll write it here.
I wanted to discuss why Epicureans (and most Hedonists such as John Stuart Mill) regard Virtue so highly in their hedonistic philosophy. A virtue, is a character trait that is seem as positive, how do we know it's positive? Well we Epicureans know that it's a positive character trait because they lead to pleasure, when you are generous it feels good, when you are prudent with your choices you avoid a pain or gain a please. How do Stoics know why Virtue is good? I dunno, Zeus I guess.
Pleasure is our highest goal, specifically a pleasurable life. Epicureans aren't too worried about having one massive pleasure once a month then living 29 days of pain, they are concerned with pleasurable living, a life style. So because of this goal, pleasure and pain are tools on what to avoid and what to accept e.g. eating feels good when hungry and it removes a pain but eating too much can cause problems, so eat in moderation for a pleasurable life (virtue of Prudence, again we know this is good because it leads to a pleasurable life).
What other virtues are good for an Epicurean and why, well Justice. Not because of some divine law which is handed down to us from God or Zeus but rather because it allows everyone to pursue a pleasurable life without harming one another. We abide by the laws of the country because people who harm others get punished and therefore are deterred from interfering with others happiness. Endurance is also a good because sometimes we must accept a pain for a later pleasure.
Are some pleasures higher or lower than others in Epicureanism? Well, friendship is seen as the highest way to live pleasurably so it seems that there is some ranking system for pleasures.
Overall that is where my Epicurean philosophy is at right now, and my understanding of Virtue. Looking forward to chatting with you all on this forum.