Posts by Godfrey

    For me, Elayne's comparison of pleasure/pain to atoms/void is very helpful in clarifying the discussion of pleasure and pain.

    Pleasure is the absence of pain, likewise pain is the absence of pleasure.

    Regarding the cup:

    - Length of life wouldn't affect the size of the cup, there are just more frames in the movie of the cup.

    - Everyone gets the same size of cup. If the size of the cup varies between people, it will also vary from moment to moment for a given person. There is no absolute from which to look down and measure the cup.

    - IMO the simplest model is the most useful.

    Great article Elayne and a really insightful discussion!

    Wouldn't it just be net pleasure minus net pain? I use natural and necessary or unnecessary as a first step to evaluate a given desire, then I think about whether the various costs involved (pain) will add up to more or less than the resultant pleasure.

    Pains to weigh include for example money (working overtime to earn extra money, spending savings, etc); prudent use of my time; prudent use of my energy; the effects on people and things that are important to me, and how that would affect my net pleasure.

    The quote that I keep in mind is:

    Ask this question of every desire: what will happen to me if the object of desire is achieved, and what if not? VS71

    There was a recent thread that had a really good example. I'll try to find it....

    One thing that I've noticed when I listen to podcasts is that having multiple people speaking is, to my ear, more engaging than just listening to one person for the entire podcast. This is true for podcasts of 30 minutes or more, which may be more than what you're thinking of Joshua. But an interviewer/interviewee format may be an effective way to present the material, especially on subjects where there is a divergence of opinion. Also, sometimes it works well to have two regular hosts, who could have differently nuanced positions. Of course these ideas add another layer of complexity to the task of getting things off the ground, so they may over the top at this point....

    A brief review of the exhibit is at:…-sex-atoms-and-death.html

    It's a brief but interesting review, but I'm noting it primarily due to the last photo, shown just after a photo of the piglet. The object is described as an "iPhone-size sundial in the shape of a prosciutto ham. A missing tail served as the gnomon. The gallery label says: "Its unique shape may be a playful link to Epicurean philosophy, with the pig as symbol of tranquility and freedom from fear of death: piglet today, pork tomorrow—carpe diem."

    I have "Unread Posts" bookmarked. I also use the red dots at the upper left and right sides of the page, and if I'm looking for something recent that I've already read I look under "Threads of the Last 24 Hours".

    From the article: "You will have a growing appreciation for life’s basic experiences. You will learn to measure yourself through a new, healthier means: the pleasures of simple friendship, creating something, helping a person in need, reading a good book, laughing with someone you care about."

    On the positive side, embracing being average is embracing your humanity. Could embracing your humanity possibly be considered a natural pleasure in that it is working with what is natural? This subject sounds like Montaigne, from what very little I know of him.

    Reminds me of a happy-go-lucky guy I once worked with who always said he was sleeping his way to the middle. But that's not on point!

    I'm still figuring out how to start a thread so I've been using the general discussion section. I see there's a "create thread" button in the section you referenced; I've been having trouble finding those buttons but will look more carefully for them for future posts. :thumbup:

    Everything is worthy of the attention of an Epicurean.

    The art of fashion is an excellent example. As in all things, it depends on your personal hedonic calculus: does the pleasure it brings to you outweigh the potential pain?

    To what degree is it natural and necessary? This would be quite different for Tarzan, a corporate attorney and, presumably, you.

    To what degree is it natural and unnecessary? What pleasures can you afford without undue sacrifice? Are comfortable, stylish, well fitting, well made clothes a pleasure to you? This could be anything from t-shirts and shorts to tailored suits, depending on your circumstances and desires. Or are these things meaningless to you?

    To what degree is it unnatural; to what degree does it bring you more pain than pleasure? If you need tailored suits for work, but can't stand wearing them and can't afford them, then maybe a different job could be considered. If you "have" to have every latest fashion craze then maybe you need to examine at what point this desire will end, or if you need to control your desire.

    Regarding the "art of fashion:" fashion entails art, design and craft and can be appreciated on all of these levels and more. But appreciation doesn't have to mean consumption. In my trips to art museums I've stumbled across a variety of fashion exhibits: historic clothing of various periods, Japanese armor, Hollywood costume design, and what may have been the post Met Gala exhibit. The aesthetic conception, richness of materials, intricate craftsmanship, sense of place and how the articles fit into their culture... this and more are worthy of consideration, if it brings you an excess of pleasure over pain.

    Due to the shortage of verifiably authentic writing from Epicurus dealing with the Prolepseis/ Anticipations/ Preconceptions, and the conflicting interpretations of same (DeWitt/Cassius/common sense v everybody else/academics), I’ve been on the lookout for present day information which may apply, and I’m just beginning to read up on it. In my field of design, there currently is critical interest in “embodied cognition”. Here are some quotes from the book Welcome To Your World, by Sarah Williams Goldhagen, a proponent of this idea. In terms of the science involved, these quotations are quite generalized. As far as I know she has no interest in Epicurus. Words in [] are my comments.

    "The new paradigm of human cognition begins by reframing the relationship of our thoughts to our bodies. Cognitions do not emerge in tension with a corporeal self, as was thought for centuries, nor from a disembodied mind— a paradigm encapsulated in the dualistic “mind- body problem.” Instead, cognition is the product of a three- way collaboration of mind, body, and environment. Inherent in the very fact of human embodiment— life lived in a body— rests the notion that the physical environments that a body inhabits greatly influence human cognitions. The body is not merely some passive receptacle for sensations from the environment, which the mind then interprets in a somewhat orderly fashion. Instead, our minds and bodies - actively, constantly and at many levels - engage in active and interactive, conscious and nonconscious processing of our internal and external environments."

    "The common western understanding of human thought and experience relies on the idea, first formulated by René Descartes in the seventeenth century [really?], that our conscious mind operates at least on some level independent of its corporeal home. The basic structure of this Cartesian dualism is as follows. First, through our senses— sight, touch, taste and so on— we receive information from the environment. After we sense a stimulus, we perceive it. After perceiving, we begin to process, forming a preliminary judgment about that information by running it through our internal data bank of familiar, recognizable patterns and by reacting to it emotionally. Thus we conjure a preliminary interpretation of the initial stimulus. Only then comes the highest step of cognitive processing, whereby we consciously use logic, reason, and abstraction to evaluate the importance of the given stimulus to our life and make decisions about whether and how to act."

    "The emerging mind- body- environment paradigm starts differently: with the somewhat obvious fact that the human brain inhabits a body, and that this brain- mind- body lives on the earth, in space, and in the social world. The brain and the body together facilitate the operations of the human mind, which depends on their architecture for its very existence and for its modes of functioning. Human cognition takes place in a corporeal body that lives on the earth and in space. Not only that: our cognitions are shaped by the fact of our embodiment, sometimes in surprising ways— such as thinking more creatively when we sit outside (instead of inside) a box [this is from a study mentioned in the book, it’s not referring to “thinking outside the box”]. In this new paradigm, a cognition can be linguistic or it can be prelinguistic; it can occur anywhere on the spectrum from the non- conscious to the conscious. Learning to understand cognition’s complex, multilayered, often subterranean quality involves attending to our own fleeting thoughts and perceptions— precisely the ones that we are more or less predisposed to ignore."

    "Those cognitions that are more audible, more distinct, usually come in the form of the words we hear inside our heads. Language is the enabler and medium we use to express our internal thoughts to ourselves as well as the enabler of social communication. Because words have such a hold on us, many philosophers of language and thought have for generations mistaken our interior monologues or the spoken language that forms them for the entirety of cognition."

    "That people experience emotions first as physical states— as feelings, in other words, as things that we feel in our bodies— and only then as cognitions has been hypothesized ever since one of the founders of modern psychology, William James, proposed it. We now know, for example, that the cerebellum, which coordinates sensory input with muscular responses, is also involved in processing emotions. Fear manifests itself as a jolt of energy, and muscles tense…. Today, psychological research confirms that what we call “feelings” are cognitive responses to what our bodies literally feel, and not just in the case of the familiar fight- or- flight response activated by the feeling of fear. Our emotions are enmeshed in and intermeshed with our bodies; in other words, they are “in the body,” or embodied."

    "People acquire a vast body of knowledge simply by living embodied in the world, as an object among objects, and as matter in space."

    A couple of more specific practical examples:

    "Recognizing and identifying patterns produces in us the sensation of pleasure. Whether it’s when we listen to a piece of music or look at a painting or walk through a building or landscape that slowly reveals the nature of its order, recognizing patterned organization rewards us with a little jolt of the opioids in the area of our brain associated with our “liking” system. Presumably, the functional origin of this reward system lies in our evolutionary need to rapidly situate ourselves and the members of our group within an environment and a social group."

    "The appeal of bilateral symmetry does appear to be innate: even very young infants gaze at such objects longer than they do at asymmetrical ones, and this is true across cultures. “Good symmetry,” neuroscientist Eric Kandel writes, “indicates good genes”— and, he might have added, robust health. Even without our conscious awareness, our evolutionary heritage has taught us that almost every healthy animate being exhibits symmetry either globally, in its overall composition (the form of a butterfly) or locally (the pattern on its wings) or both. Symmetry in a perceptual object, then, heralds (in the words of V. S. Ramachandran) a “biological object: prey, predator, member of the same species, or mate.” Although the objects in the built environment, including its buildings, are inanimate, symmetry may also appeal to us because it intimates a human presence."

    My observations:

    1) To me, this indicates that biological sciences are validating and updating Epicurus’s thinking, in a similar fashion to the previous validation/updating of the physical sciences, at least as far as I am familiar with them. This seems to be a description of the prolepseis and their integration into the Canon.

    2) This seems to me to confirm and elaborate on the DeWitt/Cassius/common sense interpretation. If I understand it correctly: correct understanding is the whole point of this exercise.;)


    II. Physics (in which I will include relevant biological research, which is ultimately physics)

    This is a point that I've been thinking and reading about lately. I'm beginning to understand current biological research as part of the Canon (how we know things), and Physics as dealing perhaps more with non-biological (or non-cognitive?) processes.

    I'm coming at this from a design background and with very limited scientific background. To this point I've primarily been reading work by Sarah Williams Goldhagen, an architectural critic interested in neuroscience and embodied cognition. As I approach these fields from an Epicurean viewpoint, it seems that modern biological science is addressing sensations, prolepseis and feelings as an integrated whole and validating and clarifying the Canon similarly to how modern physical science has been validating and clarifying the Physics.