Godfrey Level 03
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Posts by Godfrey

    PD03. The limit of quantity in pleasures is the removal of all that is painful. Wherever pleasure is present, as long as it is there, there is neither pain of body, nor of mind, nor of both at once.


    As we've discussed here and elsewhere, there's a philosophical context to this PD that many people today seem to be unaware of. With that in mind, I've been thinking of the following scholion:


    PD03. (Some say that pleasures are unlimited, and therefore pleasure cannot be the goal. In fact,) the limit of quantity in pleasures is the removal of all that is painful. Wherever pleasure is present, as long as it is there, there is neither pain of body, nor of mind, nor of both at once.


    I don't remember offhand if such a scholion already exists, but it seems like it should!

    Quote from Kalosyni

    It would not be safe to spend too much time "seeking happiness" in an unsafe environment.

    Have we ever pinned down concrete definitions of happiness, joy and pleasure? I ask this because my reaction to this specific quote is that it’s even more necessary to seek pleasure and avoid pain in an unsafe environment. It's just that the desires involved would focus intently on the natural and necessary: safety, shelter, food, etc.

    So now why are there those who are living in peace and safety unhappy?

    This, too, comes down to desires: have these people seen to their financial, job and family stability? Have they embraced an effective personal philosophy? Are they pursuing unnatural and/or unnecessary desires?

    This can be analyzed per the ethics of choices and avoidances based on pleasure and pain. In some cases we choose pain, with the intention of greater pleasure to follow. Exercise is a common example. What is notable is that the painful experience is instrumental to achieving pleasure.


    While it's natural to feel pain when others are suffering, ceasing to seek pleasure will only diminish one's own efficacy. So I would say that it's actually necessary to continue to seek pleasure. That's the basis of our ethics: if we throw that out, we have nothing to guide us.


    If we're in a position to help others who are suffering, then we can choose certain pains with the expectation achieving the pleasures of successfully helping them. If we're not in a position to help them, seeking out pain is basically pointless.

    Thanks for this, Don ! The Eames's are legends in the Los Angeles design community. I had the pleasure of growing up in a house full of Eames furniture. While enjoying a museum exhibit on the Case Study houses a couple of decades ago, I was surprised to discover that an old family friend was the architect who stamped the drawings for their iconic house in the Pacific Palisades. Their old studio in Venice was something of a landmark, although I'm not aware of its current state.

    That's a great question reneliza !


    In the quote that you referenced I was attempting to articulate some of my thinking regarding pleasure and pain as guides. Part of the difficult work in following this ethical theory is to really listen to and feel our pain. Sometimes that pain is in the foreground as Epicurus described on his deathbed, but sometimes it's more of a chronic ache that we've become used to living with. It's the latter situation that I was trying to address.


    We always seek to have a balance of pleasure over pain; sometimes we just need to take a penetrating look at our pain and examine a variety of solutions to what's ailing us. *Ideally*, we've been able to structure our lives so that each of our various "roles" brings us a balance of pleasure. If there's a particular role that brings a balance of pain, maybe there's a way to treat that. Or you could look at it as different "levels" of pleasures... or "reaches" of pleasure. What comes immediately to mind for me as a deep level or far reaching pleasure is an understanding of one's guiding philosophy, as this has a positive effect on all aspects of my life. Others are what Epicurus refers to as natural and necessary desires, which can give a person a grounding of pleasure in their life.


    As for Epicurus on his deathbed, he knew it was the end for him and he was enjoying looking back on a life well lived, despite his extreme pain. That wasn't papering over pain, but an experience that anybody would want (sans the extreme pain!). And you don't have to die to do it, you can look back on a day well lived, or any experience well lived, and bask in a certain joy.

    Thinking about it, Mackintosh's architecture and furniture was more Arts and Crafts style, with some Nouveau touches. His early influences included Art Nouveau, and he and his wife, Margaret, did watercolors and textiles that were Art Nouveau.

    There's some very sensual architecture and furniture design of the period as well. Hector Guimard comes to mind, as does Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who also did watercolors. Antoni Gaudi's work was more radical but could be considered part of the movement. As could the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

    I would only add the importance of being aware of your feelings of pleasure and pain, and make choices and avoidances accordingly.


    As Don mentioned, even a dream job has negative aspects and days where you're just not into being there. But from time to time it can be useful to take stock of your situation. Beyond financial necessity, are you getting any sort of gratification from your work or are you trying to paper over misery with a coating of pleasure?


    I sometimes think of Epicurean ethics as applying on different "levels". This isn't a matter of ranking pleasures, but is an understanding that some aspects of life have a greater overall effect on a person than others. For example, for me, fully embracing the Epicurean worldview has an extremely wide ranging effect. How we spend the majority of our time (job, living situation &c) also has great importance. I try to persue desires or pleasures which resonate throughout my experience.


    One model that I've come across that I've applied to choices and avoidances is to take into consideration autonomy (am I in a situation where I'm able to do things which are important to me?), competence (am I able to feel a sense of growth or accomplishment in what I'm doing?) and relatedness (friendship, being in nature, feeling awe, connectedness). I consider these aspects to be varieties of pleasure, and when I can combine all three I tend to find a particular richness in the particular activity.

    I took a look at the Getty Aphrodite website. From reading the tags, I get the feeling that writing on the tags and posting them actually could be quite cathartic. It's not as if one's prayers would be answered, but I can see how doing that could help a person to release some pent up emotion. It might have something in common with Catholic confession or Tibetan prayer flags although I don't know much about either of those.

    Statistically women over the age of 50 are much less likely to partner up again (I have researched this. Often any men who are single in older age are either not in the mindset for wanting a relationship, or they have "attachment-avoidance" behaviours and are therefore unfit for long-term relationships.)

    Kalosyni I don't say this to be harsh, and please forgive me if it comes across in that way. But I don't live my life with statistics in mind: that seems too much like accepting fate.


    It's highly unlikely to be struck by lightning, but do the odds matter in the least to the rare individual who does get stricken? One can take prudent safety measures and go about their business.


    It used to be thought that genetics determined particular things about a person's future. Now the field of epigenetics has arisen to study the ways in which behaviors can influence whether particular genes are expressed or not. I use this to illustrate that statistics are also, at least to me, "macro" data but underlying that data is "micro" data, the influence of which of which we are often unaware.


    Really the best we can do is to take prudent actions to maximize our pleasure and minimize our pain in pursuit of a pleasant life, which it seems like you're doing. So, damn the statistics! Full speed ahead!

    One approach to dealing with a negative thought loop is to work at feeling gratitude for tiny things in your life. The more you do this, the more "blessed" (maybe like a blessed and incorruptible being?) you feel, the more you can enjoy fulfilling the natural and necessary desires. As the joy in your life increases, so does the openness to further blessings.


    VS19: He who forgets the good things he had yesterday becomes an old man today.


    VS35: Don't ruin the things you have by wanting what you don't have, but realize that they too are things you once did wish for.


    VS55: Misfortune must be cured through gratitude for what has been lost and the knowledge that it is impossible to change what has happened.

    reneliza regarding your post #20 above: in EP the feelings of pleasure and pain are our guides to living a pleasant life. In order to use them properly, we need to be aware of these feelings. If you’re eating ice cream while doomscrolling, then not only are you not aware of the pleasure that comes from eating the ice cream but you are also unaware of the pain that comes when you’ve over indulged. So you’re definitely on the right path in trying to be more conscious of your pleasures. For me, trying to be aware of my various feelings of pleasure and pain is a key Epicurean "exercise".

    I'll chime in briefly with PD10 (Peter Saint-Andre translation):


    "If the things that produce the delights of those who are decadent washed away the mind's fears about astronomical phenomena and death and suffering, and furthermore if they taught us the limits of our pains and desires, then we would have no complaints against them, since they would be filled with every joy and would contain not a single pain or distress (and that's what is bad)."


    This is a pretty succinct statement of the "goal" of Epicurean philosophy, although you might have to read it a couple of times and let it percolate.

    Don , I see it as a matter of context. All language is social convention. In post #30 I was attempting to clarify a point in Nate 's post and I believe we were using the same social convention to communicate. In your example, as I understand it, you're illustrating 6 different social conventions. The underlying wavelengths are the same and would fall somewhere between what are "blue" and "red" in our convention.

    The Epicurean B&B is a great idea and would probably attract people who never heard of Epicurus or think he was a foodie. This would provide a "teachable moment" by creating an environment to introduce them to the real Epicurus through the library, garden &c.


    This would also work with a cafe and similar establishments.