Posts by Elayne

    I am working/traveling for a few days, but just want to say that for _me_, not speaking for Epicurus, neither quantum indeterminacy nor innate pattern recognitions/anticipations are truly abstract. We can certainly have abstract ideas about them, but there are observable phenomena available for testing through research. Vs abstract ideas which are not testable, not "falsifiable" as is generally said by scientists --abstract ideas can only be talked about ever. Some hypotheses require extreme measures like supercolliders to test-- but any potentially testable hypothesis is not abstract.


    I know more about the biology end of physics, of course. And for that I can say I am not talking about anything abstract-- these are observed ways that humans and animals function, such that untaught pattern recognition occurs.


    Without this innate brain "programming", it's unclear to me how a complex animal would ever develop the ability to interpret sensory input later.


    But the main point is that we are talking about real phenomena. I think but can't prove that Epicurus observed the prolepses rather than just throwing out an abstract idea about them.

    Because I do independent contracting, my schedule is variable week to week. I always have conflicts on Thursday and Friday nights, and often on Tuesday nights. I work some weekends. From now through the end of February I'm working every weekend, to cover a temporary gap for an urgent care.


    Monday and Wednesday evenings are least likely to have a conflict. I do have a conflict Wednesday Feb 5, for a Shakespeare theater that only comes here once a year.

    Right now, I am reading "The Biology of Wonder" by Andreas Weber-- only midway through, but I was thrilled to learn that there are biologists who now recognize that subjectivity is not just a side effect of organic matter (living organisms) but integral to it. No study of organisms which attempts to segregate behavior from subjective experience and feeling is complete. He talks about not just mechanical evolutionary selection for fitness but the organism's own internal drive for existence -- and about behavior being driven by pleasure. Matter which can subjectively choose has to be recognized as different from matter which cannot- and it has to be researched with that recognition. I'm going to email the author when I'm done and ask if he is interested in how the science agrees with Epicurean Philosophy!


    IMO, biology is part of physics and has been artificially divided.


    I don't think Epicurus' literal description of the swerve has turned out accurate, but the general understanding that the future is not pre-determined is still the prevailing view-- and that is what I personally would take away from his thoughts about the swerve. The current prevailing view in physics is that future events are probabilistic. Exactly how that works, we don't know. Exactly how matter which can experience itself participates in those probabilities, we don't know. We do know it is not in the form of a ghost in a machine, because there's no interface for that-- which rules out the kind of free will almost all modern people are talking about, where they imagine choices of a self which has become completely unhinged from prior events. It is more like what we call agency. But nobody yet has any idea how that is accomplished.


    If the future were predetermined, however, even agency would be an illusion.

    Not quite, and that is why it's different from a faculty. The evidence suggests that there is a pre-populated _specific_ pattern expectation. That is, not just the ability to recognize patterns in general but the expectation and then recognition of particular patterns. This is not a concept-- no words or abstract thought is happening. Non-human animals do it.

    Cassius, the newborn behavior is best described as innate pattern recognition, which is different from both a faculty and a concept. Newborn recognition of the mother and the breast is similar to a sea turtle recognizing the ocean as the desired direction unless lights from humans disrupt the visual appearance.


    A concept would require the infant to have an abstract thought about what they are seeing, smelling, feeling.


    These pattern recognitions in other animals have been called instinct, and the prevailing belief was that humans didn't have instincts, lol.


    It is more than a faculty-- it is an expectation of a particular pattern appearing and a recognition when it does. So there is definitely a sort of innate knowledge of those patterns, but non conceptual.


    That is why the first time I read about the prolepses, I was flabbergasted that Epicurus figured this issue out. And then it was forgotten, and the "blank slate" took hold.


    I will go even further and say that our innate pattern knowledge is connected to pleasure and pain. We have innate recognition of the sensory data indicating where to go for the pleasure of food. This was retained through evolution, as a memory of our species' common sources of pleasure and pain. Of course with individual variation, because we are not clones.


    As we develop, other innate pattern knowledge emerges on a consistent schedule. Fear of the dark, for instance, is universal in early childhood. If a pattern knowledge were learned or required specific triggers, we wouldn't see it universally.


    The innate pattern recognitions are added to by individual experiences over time.


    Epicurus didn't say enough about the prolepses for me to be 100% certain he was referring to this issue. Part of my thought that he did might be because the word anticipations fit -- not just the ability to recognize a pattern but a prior anticipation of that pattern, followed by instinctive matching.


    However, even though we can't be sure he understood this, which to me is as phenomenal as understanding indivisible particles, what he said is compatible with modern understanding of human development.

    Oscar, our feelings are a response to the entire situation we are in. You said you were enjoying being at the game because of your friends-- that's pleasure.


    Have you ever felt 100% neutral, absent pain or pleasure? I have not. Anhedonia, absence of pleasure, is uniformly a very miserable, painful experience, a symptom of several different mental illnesses. This idea of having neither pain nor pleasure is a myth, an abstraction, that doesn't happen in our biological reality. Feelings can be of low intensity, yes, but they are never completely gone.

    Hiram, it's clear that at least some people who really understand Epicurus can mature away from Rand. It seems to be harder for humanists who think in terms of black and white ethics and social determinism, generally without even being able to see what they are doing, to mature away from their thinking patterns. At least that is my observation. Rand's massive confusion over feeling always left me cold. But her fans don't have all that humanist baggage weighing them down.


    It would be interesting to study which ideologies are easiest to move to EP from.

    Oscar, I am going to request a favor. It is very hard to converse if you introduce unconventional definitions into a discussion. The rest of us were having a conversation about something specific, Epicurus' description of gods, and our takes on that. You commented that you were not an atheist and got pleasure from thinking about the creators of the universe, plural, which does not imply nature. Lucretius personifies nature, but it's a poetic device-- nature is not conscious or a being. Epicurus' gods were actual beings, conscious.


    And now you say you are using nature interchangeably with creators and gods, which the rest of us were discussing as possible conscious beings or not ("not" being the atheist position even towards material blissful beings).


    If nature, not a being, not conscious, is interchangeable for you with creators and gods as material blissful beings, then how is this not using a metaphor to say you are atheist towards material blissful beings? If non being equals being, how can any of us understand you or respond?


    Please try harder to communicate clearly, so the rest of us can understand you. Thank you!

    Oscar, I am confused about your creator gods. The universe means "everything that exists"--- all the matter and energy. I'm glad you are not saying they are supernatural, but how can you say they are creators if they didn't bring any matter into existence that wasn't there before? When someone says gods created the universe, I don't think I'm being strange to understand that as it is usually meant.


    Is is more like you see them as re-arrangers of matter that was already here-- creative like artists?


    As far as the Big Bang, I am not a physicist but I thought there was still something preceding it-- some point of energy that expanded. Not a god sized hole though.

    Mike, I am glad you are here and want you to stay. I have enjoyed your posts.

    I call myself an Epicurean and am atheist in the same sense Epicurus was, in that neither of us believed in supernatural gods.

    I am open to the possibility of the gods he talked about. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me, but I lack the confirmation of intuition and "images" that he experienced. I call myself an Epicurean in general, because I don't think that was the kind of atheism he was opposed to. I am not atheist in respect to his gods.

    Oscar, the idea of creators is not c/w "nothing comes from nothing", because then the creators would have come from nothing.


    If the creators were themselves material, then they did not create the particles they came from. They could not create themselves, because they'd have to have existed before material reality-- and that's supernatural. You would then have to explain how those particles came about.


    You could imagine that they created other things and beings, but where did they get the raw material? They could not create it from nothing. Humans can move dirt around and even clone animals or do genetic engineering-- we create in many senses, but we do not create anything from nothing.


    So there is no possible way for material beings to have created the universe from scratch.


    The other option is supernatural. So then you have non material gods producing matter from nothing, which violates the nothing comes from nothing observation. And how would a nonmaterial being interact with matter? What's the interface, which would have to be present to both non-material and material beings? Woowoo folks say energy, but energy is part of the material universe. It's material. Then you'd have to loop around to the beginning and say where did the energy come from? The gods could not have created energy from nothing either!


    The creator idea is one of the easiest to remove if you agree that matter/energy can't come from nothing.


    Which means if you believe the universe had creators, you do not accept that nothing comes from nothing.


    I am not like Cassius on this point, in that I do think there are beliefs that make a person not Epicurean. If we obtained firm evidence that something can come from nothing, which requires supernatural/non material action, I think that would unravel his philosophy. It would mean there is a whole non material realm which not only exists but which can create and mess with matter. It would mean we can't know there's no absolute perspective or ethics, because supernatural beings, as outside the material universe, could have a view of the whole from the outside that we can never have. I feel confident in saying that is not Epicurean.

    These are the inevitable implications of nothing comes from nothing. I encourage you to become firm on that point, because if you don't, you are faced with supernaturalism.

    That piece by Ilkka, I don't agree with, because he is actually saying the realist version is impossible and that asserting such is Epicurean. Nor do I agree with him that Epicurus' writing can be taken as idealism, especially in light of Epicurus' opposition to idealism. That doesn't make any sense at all.


    That's a different thing from me saying that I do not believe in supernatural gods. Ilkka believes there cannot be any material beings of the type Epicurus describes.


    I am open to the possibility of these beings but need evidence. I have not received any images of them myself, not have I had intuitions of them, so for me it is a viable theory that hasn't been proven. However I have not said that this position of mine was Epicurus, or that an Epicurean would share it. I am using his methods, his Canon, and I have not reached the same conclusion.

    You are trying (obviously) to show that we are as much neo as you are, but in cases where I diverge, I am saying so. But you're just calling it all Epicurean.

    and Hiram, also, I am not opposed to people disagreeing with Epicurus on things that don't bring down the whole structure of the philosophy.

    That is completely different from adopting incompatible ideas and calling them Epicurean. Ideas that do not fit at all with the original teachings. You can have any ideas you want to-- but to call any idea you have Epicurean just because you self-identify as an Epicurean is really stretching things too far. And the same for Philodemus.

    Ideas that are inconsistent with an entirely material universe, lacking any absolute morality or supernatural agents; with the method of knowing what is true, through the Canon (more so than the particular facts asserted, the method itself is the critical part); and that the goal of our lives is the feeling of pleasure, felt purely subjectively and specific to each individual? Not Epicurean.

    I'm not saying there aren't other key elements, but if a person goes outside of those things, they have definitely made a new philosophy that is not Epicurean.

    Hiram, I am not atheist in regards to the type of beings Epicurus referred to. I am atheist in terms of the supernatural, which Epicurus was also. If I have been unclear on that, I am surprised. Just like with the word atoms, the word atheist no longer means exactly the same thing as it did in Epicurus' time.

    Cassius, I believe I've used the term ET/extraterrestrial, but I meant it in s neutral way-- just as beings not on earth but on another planet.


    I think it's quite possible some beings like that are out there. On the other hand, I never think of them unless someone else brings it up. I have never spent any time worrying about the place of humans in the cosmos, so for me, it's just an interesting idea that doesn't change my life. I don't know how they evolved to live as they live, if they are out there, so it's hard to know how to copy them exactly.


    What inspires me more is humans who live pleasurably, including Epicurus, because that means I don't have to be a highly evolved being, a god, to have a pleasurable life! A regular human can do it. It's accessible. Whereas thinking about beings much more advanced than we are makes it seem out of reach to me.


    But if that particular thought pleases you, it will likely please others, so I will keep it in mind!