Posts by Godfrey

    It also looks like some of the outlines are quite thin when it comes to holding the piece together structurally. That's probably another adjustment the artist will have to make. It's quite a complicated project and, as you say Cassius, it would help to have some fairly simple but accurate graphics to work from. There are actually two design problems to solve: 1) the design of the portraits, and 2) designing the outlines, creases and shadows in a way that they will hold the cut material firmly together in one piece (or as few pieces as possible).

    Asklepios_view_capture.jpg

    Epicurus_view_capture.jpg

    elli here's the fruit of my efforts....


    It might be that the things most useful to your graphist are these two jpgs showing the "floaters" in red. The images on the left are the meshes that were in the stl files that you attached; the images on the right are of curves that I created from the meshes. These images are in the attached zipped folders, along with conversions to ai and dwg. Each ai file has the meshes and the curves as shown in the jpgs. Each dwg file has the curves, scaled up to 35" (889 mm) in height.


    Asklepios.zip

    EPICURUS.zip


    I don't use Illustrator or Draw either, so hopefully this helps. I included the dwg files as that's a format that I'm more familiar with for this use.


    I hope this helps!

    Hi elli Elli, I'll see what I can do. I won't be at my computer for a few hours but at the very least I can indicate the floaters in the stl files and also show them on a jpg. Not sure if I can convert to AI or EPS so I'll look into that at that time.

    I've prepped files for laser cutting, but never been involved with pricing or arranging for the work.


    Looking at the Epicurus file (I'm using Rhino 6) I have a couple of comments:

    - From my experience it's normal to provide a 2D file consisting of closed curves (linework). The material thickness is specified in the written order and so there is no need to model the thickness of the finished product. You can include notes as to thickness and material in the file if that's helpful.

    - The thickness as shown in the model is much thicker than seems practical, if it was intended to be the actual thickness. But since I think that the file for cutting would be just curves, this doesn't matter; it's just a comment regarding the finished product.

    - There are a few "floating" pieces in the model that aren't attached to any other part of the model. It seems that for a wall hanging that it would be best to extend these pieces to a nearby part of the overall piece, so that the final product is just one piece. Otherwise during installation one would have to figure out where these loose pieces go aqnd how to mount them.

    As to Cassius' earlier objection to calling it "objective" reality, maybe "material" reality is more accurate.


    According to EP as I understand it, this also allows for eidola (dreams, visions of the gods; also thoughts? Not sure about thoughts...) to be received by the senses. It seems like evaluative thinking would follow this sequence as well, with thoughts replacing sensations. I'm not sure what contemporary neuroscience has to say about that, though.

    I typed παθη Latin translation into Google and got "passio." Passions distinguishes from sensations but has its own set of problems.


    "Embodied cognition" is for me a very descriptive phrase for the prolepseis and perhaps for the entire Canon. But this apparently has woo woo connotations in some circles. Also if it can be used for both prolepseis and for the Canon then that isn't very helpful.

    Christian theology is also, I think, extremely challenging for many of us as it provokes an almost visceral reaction based on our prior interaction with it and its involvement with contemporary politics.


    @Joshua, your division into practical and theoretical is useful for considering Christian teachings as well. While the theory is for the most part fantastical, from time to time I find myself thinking about how religion in general is ubiquitous throughout history and how it must have practical benefits to its "practitioners" in order to be so sticky.

    We could just use pathe (although auto-correct turned that into pathetic, which could be a problem). We frequently use ataraxia, which at times involves discussion as to what exactly that means. Pathe emphasizes the original idea, and might promote discussion in a useful way as to what exactly that means. This might be more useful than trying to find an English word that doesn't quite fit.


    Having said that, another word that comes to mind is "guide." (There are two guides, pleasure and pain.) This emphasizes the functional aspect of the pathe and is a good example of an English word that doesn't quite fit.


    Similarly with prolepsis: anticipations and preconceptions don't quite fit and we all have a favorite one of these that we use. Once a person understands the basic ideas, that interchangeability is fine.

    This is a continuation of notes on Gosling and Taylor's The Greeks on Pleasure, begun here: Gosling & Taylor, The Greeks on Pleasure (Notes up to but not including Epicurus) and continued here: Gosling & Taylor, The Greeks on Pleasure (Notes on Epicurus)


    For the most part these are quotes and/or paraphrases from the book; my comments are italicized and in parentheses. Text in bold is my emphasis. The authors of the book are not Epicureans, theirs is an academic take on Epicurean pleasure, worthy of discussion. There is much more to their discussion of Epicurus than I’ve been able to include here, but I think I’ve covered their main points.


    Chapter 19: Katastematic and Kinetic Pleasures

    (Note: this entire chapter is posted at Gosling & Taylor, On Katastematic and Kinetic Pleasure. What follows here is my personal notes; if you’re interested in their complete argument I’d advise reading the full chapter. I’ve kept my notes pretty brief)


    19.2.2 What perception reveals to us directly is the goodness of pleasure and the badness of pain and thereby that the only unqualified good is pleasure without pain. Since any painless perception is pleasant, perception reveals the goodness, though not the achievability, of aponia. The value of ataraxia is parasitic upon that of aponia, since the only ataraxia worth having is that which comes from pleasant memories and confident expectations of sensory pleasures of a painless kind. Thus the body's pleasures have pride of place. (Does this bolded statement conflict with, or elaborate on, their statement in 18.3.15: “Once one is convinced of the truth of Epicurus' doctrines and has incorporated his teachings into one's life, one ceases to worry and lives a life as near to ataraxia and aponia as is possible for one.”)

    19.2.3 Epicurus is inclined to use ataraxia and aponia as conditions of life, not particular pleasures.

    19.2.4 Since aponia is just a condition of painless perception it does not mean that Epicurus thought of a non-perceiving state as pleasurable.

    19.3.2 Katastematic pleasures refer to "the well-established katastema (condition) of the flesh. Not to replenishment, movement, or katastasis eis phusin (restoration to the natural state). The latter was an argument against pleasure, on the basis that what was being returned to was the good, not pleasure. When the organism is operating properly it will be in a state of pleasure, and pain is a matter of unnatural operation.

    19.3.3 Therefore kinetic pleasures are not a different kind than katastematic ones: they too are sensory and a matter of some part of the organism operating properly. Due to this most of Cicero can be discounted in this regard.

    19.4.27 Ataraxia is achieved by the removal of superstitious fear and false beliefs, the constant memory of the truth, and attention to present experience and perception. Now the mind is free of disturbance and so memory and expectation operate without anxiety. Similarly when physical pain is removed the body operates without pain and that will mean that always some pleasurable and painless perception is occurring, a condition of good cheer.

    19.4.30 When the organism is functioning harmoniously it is always having some form of perception; since the operation is harmonious the perception is pleasant and without pain; that is just what aponia is. Ataraxia is the condition when, because of correct views, our expectations are undisturbed by fear, our desires do not pursue empty objectives and our memories are pleasant: this leaves us to enjoy our pleasures unanxiously.


    Chapter 20: Pleasure as a Criterion of Truth in Epicurus

    20.3.1 The doctrine that the highest pleasure is freedom from pain and distress = the highest pleasure is freedom from consciousness of improper functioning.

    20.3.3 The perception of an oar in the water being bent is true, but determining if it represents reality requires comparison with other perceptions. Similarly with pleasure: the feeling of pleasure regarding a given stimulus is true in that it reveals the proper functioning of the relevant part of the organism. The belief that it is choiceworthy, however, requires confirmation by other appearances.

    20.3.4 Pleasure is an unimpeded actualization of the natural state. The psycho-physical organism has a built-in urge toward its proper functioning, and consequently sees the pursuit of pleasure, understood as consciousness of proper functioning, as the way of life dictated by man's nature and hence as the appropriate way of life for a man.

    20.3.4 In order to avoid error one must not affirm that things are precisely as they appear, but one must distinguish those judgments which are confirmed by further appearances and those which are not, taking the former as true and the latter as false. One's judgement must be determined, not by the immediate appearance (as of pleasure or pain), but by the goal which nature sets: the life of unhindered, that is painless, physical and mental functioning.

    20.4.1 As thus interpreted, the theory is open to a basic objection. We have argued that the physical reality which is truly represented by the feeling of pleasure is the proper functioning of that part of the organism where the pleasure is felt. But if that pleasure leads, not to the unhindered functioning of the whole organism, but to subsequent pains, i.e. malfunctions, then surely the original function which was felt as pleasure could not have been proper functioning, since the proper functioning of any part must be what contributes to the smooth functioning of the whole. This is a difficulty for the theory, not the interpretation, and it applies for any theory (not only Epicurean) that maintains that pleasure is a restoration of the natural state and that certain pleasures result, not in the restoration of the natural state but in unnatural states accompanied by distress. (Does 20.3.3 above overcome this objection? Isn’t that how the theory describes the physical reality?)

    20.4.1 This objection can be met, given more precision in the formulation of the theory. Example: the proper functioning of the nutritive organs consist in the ingestion of food, in that this allows the organism as a whole to feel free from the distress of hunger. Therefore we are constituted to feel pleasure when we eat. If someone eats to excess, the defect does not lie with his nutritive organs, which are working properly and so produce pleasure, but in his lack of recognition of the limit to which that function should be exercised. Epicurus addresses this in PD 18-21.

    20.4.2 What about empty desires, which don’t contribute to any natural good? Practical wisdom encourages eliminating these, yet as long as pleasure is felt they are considered to be good. If these are not appropriate to the organism, but to a disordered nature, then that empties the notion of appropriateness is emptied of content. (Again see 20.3.3 above.)

    20.5.2 The main objection to the account of pleasure, that it cannot deal successfully with unnecessary pleasures, is in fact an objection to the general theory of Epicurus. That theory is an impressively systematic attempt to revive the early physiological accounts of pleasure as a form of perception, and to apply it to the epistemological theory which fitted the general account of perception. In thus striving for generality it paid the usual price, failure to deal with recalcitrant counter instances. As always, the multi-colored butterfly of pleasure eludes the net of necessary and sufficient conditions. (Once again see 20.3.3. Since I’m an amateur at this, can anybody explain this last sentence to me? What would be necessary, and what would be sufficient?)


    Chapter 21: The Stoics

    (As I understand this chapter, their argument is that the Stoic theory of pleasure would be a part of the idea that any impression must be assented to. My thinking is that while this has some value for therapy for, say, addiction or anger management, this is not how pleasure functions. Pleasure and pain occur as perceptions, before the opportunity for assent. Choice and avoidance again are as described in 20.3.3.)

    21.7.1 A fully adequate theory of pleasure needs to combine the Stoic insights (regarding pleasure as a belief, an assent) with elements drawn from other theories, in particular something more like an Aristotlean/Epicurean theory of enjoyment. Gosling regards being pleased, rather than enjoyment, as the central concept in the elucidation of the complex phenomena of pleasure. The book ends with a footnote referencing another book by Gosling for his take on a complete theory of pleasure. (A poor excuse for a cliffhanger if you ask me.)


    (This concludes my decidedly non-scholarly notes on the book. It is an excellent though very academic book, but were it not for the fact that over half of the book is dedicated to Plato, I would heartily recommend it. It was challenging but worth the effort that I put into it. A richer knowledge of ancient Greek philosophy than I possess, and perhaps more effort than I was able to put into it, would prove it to be richly rewarding.)

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    I don't want to go down a tranquilist rabbit hole, but there's an element of tranquility in there.

    I agree that there is definitely an element of tranquility in the writings. Tranquility is also part of a well functioning life, as being relatively calm allows for better decision making in addition to allowing for a more complete experience of pleasure. Isn't the big question whether ataraxia is a goal or a byproduct and/or tool?


    That's why I like this from 18.3.15 in G&T: "Once one is convinced of the truth of Epicurus' doctrines and has incorporated his teachings into one's life, one ceases to worry and lives a life as near to ataraxia and aponia as is possible for one." This seems like a pretty common sense interpretation to me.


    Doesn't the most confusion arise over the part of the letter to Menoikos that cited by Don , and the paragraph containing it? I'm wondering if focusing on that and the following paragraph might be useful (by "paragraphs," I'm referring to the Saint-Andre translation). The "goal" in the quotation, to me, refers to the fact that all animals seek pleasure and reject pain. Then in the next paragraph pleasure is referred to as the primary and innate good. So is "the good" something different from a biological imperative?

    Yes 18.3.19 is the part that bothers me. From the point of view of pleasure it makes sense as you describe and seems to be a good elaboration of PD 5. My concern comes from their statement in the final chapter about a proper theory of pleasure combining Aristotelian/Epicurean and Stoic theories. For a discussion among Epicureans it can be illuminating but if discussing with Platonists and the like it could lead down a rabbit hole and into Wonderland!

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    18.3.15 A wise man needs to know certain basic facts about man and nature, convince himself of them and acquire certain habits of life. These will ensure that pleasure predominates. No daily hedonic calculus is necessary; the calculation is all at the stage of working out the facts, the effects of belief in them, and the proper regimen. From time to time one will have to review one's knowledge and confirm one's attitudes and practices. Once one is convinced of the truth of Epicurus' doctrines and has incorporated his teachings into one's life, one ceases to worry and lives a life as near to ataraxia and aponia as is possible for one. To achieve the best life possible, conviction and good habits are enough. One's wisdom shows in the acquisition and development of those characteristics that will keep his life as pleasant as it can be, and that being so he will not be deluded into thinking that it will improve if only it lasts a little longer.

    18.3.17 Living a life free of disturbance is not just a matter of staying alive and not being disturbed, as with a person under heavy sedation, but living the sort of life specific to the being in question. This is vaguely Aristotlean: if one is living according to one's nature then one is enjoying one's life, and failure of enjoyment is a function of disrupted nature. Epicurus is less interested in individual activities and their enjoyment, and more in a condition of the individual which ensures him balance independently of external circumstance.

    18.3.19 Ataraxia consists in a condition of correct belief, and aponia in a condition free of bodily lack. Epicurean wisdom, phronesis, is more like Aristotelean practical wisdom than Plato’s wisdom. The distinction between wisdom and ataraxia is therefore verbal rather than real. Since absence of wisdom is equivalent to the absence of ataraxia and therefore of mental pleasure, and its presence to the presence of mental pleasure, using it or mental pleasure as a criterion of worth amount to the same thing.

    This quote is, to me, particularly compelling and also disturbing. It seems to be something of a summation of Epicurean pleasure from G&T's point of view.


    The idea that the understanding and acceptance of the philosophy, combined with good habits (presumably these include the pursuit of pleasure!) seems to me to be simply how one lives according to any chosen philosophy. I like that they seem to be attempting to come to a resolution of the "absence of pain" argument which doesn't involve living in a bubble. However the idea that ataraxia is basically the same thing as phronesis seems to open the door for all sorts of problems, primarily the argument that one should pursue practical wisdom rather than pleasure. However PD 5 is saying largely the same thing to my mind. So is my concern in this regard just a matter of semantics, of trying to define an undefinable abstract good? I fear that in defining pleasure they have removed pleasure from the equation.

    Indeed there is a lot in there! This book is a complicated web of arguments and counter-arguments. I've tried to keep my quotes and paraphrasing accurate and in context but may not have fully succeeded.


    As to 18.1.5, that was my paraphrase. Here is the complete paragraph:


    "18.1.5 When it comes to assessing various degrees of pleasantness, Epicurus seems to have thought that pleasures are of two sorts, those of change (kinetic) and those of stable condition (katastematic) and perhaps that either sort could be primarily bodily or mental. (DL X.136, 144). Those associated with motion seem to be those which accompany a change from pain to its removal, whereas those of a stable state are those of conditions where pain is absent, and with it any cause of change (DL X.128-9). Quite generally, pleasures cannot increase in degree beyond the point of removal of pain (PD 3, DL X.139). With bodily pleasures this limit is reached when the need that is causing pain is removed. Mental pain is largely caused by such things as grief and fear, and so is only to be removed by reflections on the sources of these emotions (PD 18, DL X.144). In either case there is no possibility of increase past the point of the removal of pain, only of variation. There is no need, therefore, to get into complexities of comparative intensities or other methods of assessing the comparative pleasantness of different activities. A life free from pain ipso facto wins over one not so free."


    I am pretty sure the book contains good material somewhere supporting the view that kinetic implies ANY KIND of change, even moving the focus of the mind from one thought to another, so if someone comes across that reference and can pull it out and highlight it so we can find in the future I would appreciate it.

    In chapter 19: Gosling & Taylor, On Katastematic and Kinetic Pleasure


    "19.3.4 It is perhaps worth emphasizing that any view on this subject owes us an account of Epicurus' choice of terminology. On the more traditional view one has to suppose that 'kinetic' is chosen because Epicurus has an account of perception in terms of the movement (kinesis) of atoms. The trouble with this is that Epicurus' account of the organism quite generally is in terms of the movements of atoms, so that it is difficult to know what 'katastematic' is referring to. This might tempt one to Merlan's version of the contrast in terms of stable (katastematic) as against passing pleasures. There is no evidence that we can find for this in the original context of Epicurus' writings, though it has to be admitted that perusal of Cicero, and acceptance of his translations, does give some colour to the view. On the other hand, there is evidence in the background to Epicurus for the kind of contrast which we are suggesting, and it fits very well with a view which relieves Epicurus of the awkwardness mentioned earlier in this chapter."


    Cassius Not sure if this is what you were referring to, but it's a start....

    This is a continuation of notes on Gosling and Taylor's The Greeks on Pleasure, begun here: https://www.epicureanfriends.com/index.php?thread/1602-gosling-taylor-the-greeks-on-pleasure-notes-up-to-but-not-including-epicurus/


    For the most part these are quotes and/or paraphrases from the book; my comments are italicized and in parentheses. Text in bold is my emphasis. The authors of the book are not Epicureans, theirs is an academic take on Epicurean pleasure, worthy of discussion. There is much more to their discussion of Epicurus than I’ve been able to include here, but I think I’ve covered their main points.


    Chapter 18: Epicurus

    18.1.4 According to Diogenes Laertius, Epicurus used an argument similar to Eudoxus that all living things are pleased with pleasure and are by nature, without recourse to reasoning, hostile to pain, and so we automatically flee the latter.

    18.1.4 Epicurus seems to insist on the fact that the recognition of the value of pleasure is pre-rational. This suggests that he insists on the relation of pleasure to perception. In other words, the experience of pleasure is the experience of its goodness. For consistency with his theory of knowledge he must be able to give a perceptual basis for judgments of value if he is to claim that they can be known.

    18.1.4 This is sometimes construed as though pleasure was a feeling attached to a perception. But pathos, Epicurus’ word for pleasure and pain, means a way of being affected; there are two pathe that occur with every living thing: pleasure and pain.

    18.1.4 There is no midway between pleasure and pain: pleasure is defined as the absence of pain. Not, of course, that any absence of pain (e.g. death) is pleasure, but any painless conscious life is a pleasure. This does not consist simply in being alive, but in living the kind of life characteristic of the species.

    18.1.4 Every perception involves either pleasure or pain, and in such perception a sentient being grasps the value or disvalue of being so affected, a grasp that is, at a pre-logical level, constituted by acceptance or aversion. The bias of this way of thinking will be to make the goodness of each particular pleasure obvious in each perception. There will be no temptation to make the value of pleasure maximization over a life obvious to perception.

    18.1.4 Anyone who makes a judgment of the worth of a life can only do so by reference to its pleasantness, which can only be judged by the perception of those who live it. There is room for argument as to what form of life is pleasantest, but no room at all for discussion as to what makes something good.


    18.1.5 Per Epicurus, kinetic pleasures are those which accompany a change from pain to its removal. Static pleasures are those of conditions where pain is absent, and with it any cause of change. Quite generally, pleasures cannot increase in degree beyond the point of removal of pain, only in type.

    18.1.5 With bodily pleasures this limit is reached when the need that is causing pain is removed. Mental pain is largely caused by such things as grief and fear and so is only to be removed by reflections on the source of these emotions. See PD18. Since there is only variation after the point of removal of pain, not increase, there is no need to discuss comparative intensities or measures of comparative pleasantness of different activities.

    18.1.6 Therefore the problem is to determine if a life of pleasure can be attained and if so, how. At the bodily level Epicurus held that severe pain is short lived, and long lasting pain generally allows for an excess of pleasure over pain (PD4), so that properly viewed unavoidable pains of illness should not be given much weight. Meeting other bodily needs is a fairly easy matter (PD15, 21).

    18.1.6 At the mental level, things are more complicated. Painful emotions are aroused by fear of future evil (pain=evil). These are to a large extent based on false views, either on the nature of man and the universe or on the nature of pleasure.

    18.1.6 A simple life removed from public affairs and bolstered by reflection on the basic facts about the structure of the universe can be relied upon to produce a stable happiness. (???)


    18.2.2 Problem: this would suggest that Epicurus attaches no significance to sensual pleasures, which contradicts some of his recorded statements.

    18.2.5 Problem: judging pleasures and pains by their effects (as in the letter to Menoeceus) implies that duration is an important factor.


    18.3.1 Discussion of VS33 the voice of the flesh is not to hunger, not to thirst, not to feel cold as it relates to his statement that no good is conceivable without the pleasures of taste, love, hearing and sight. The latter does not say that these pleasures are either greater or more important than any others, only that Epicurus cannot conceive of the good if these pleasures are removed. It doesn’t imply that no others are necessary, or any ranking of pleasures. Pleasures of sight and hearing my be generally unmixed, but the unmixed pleasures of taste and sex are only possible with removal of distress. To Epicurus there are only two pathe, pleasure and pain, so to avoid these pleasures (a) in the unmixed case is avoiding an obvious good, and (b) in the other cases is avoiding painless perception which is genuine pleasure, as well as the pleasure of replenishment.

    18.3.2 Regarding the comment that all pleasure begins in the stomach, it is the common view of sages that a well-regulated diet is the foundation of a well-regulated life.

    18.3.3 Epicurus thought that bodily pleasure (painless sensory pleasure) had a certain primacy and that ataraxia is confident expectation and memory of bodily pleasure. So well-based mental pleasure is dependent on bodily pleasure. However this does not make bodily pleasure greater. Further, since anxiety can ruin bodily pleasure, and since ataraxia requires bodily pleasure as a general rule, there is a sense in which ataraxia constitutes the highest condition of pleasure and is thereby more important.

    18.3.4 This is not a proof that this was Epicurus’ thinking, but an interpretation which defends against interpretations of inconsistency and therefore a preferred interpretation.

    18.3.5-18.3.8 (This is an extended 3 page discussion of Epicurus vs Aristippus and the Cyrenaics. Cassius , based on previous posts this might be worth a separate post with a reproduction of the text. For now, I’m skipping to the end of the discussion.) Duration: the view that a long period of pleasure is better than a short one, and worse for pain, is the most natural and plausible way to understand the calculation of pleasure and seems to be suggested by PD4. But PD19 and PD20 state that an extension of a period of pleasure will not increase it, that it is the body that wants infinite pleasure but the mind knows better. This seems to imply that a wise man will not take the duration of pleasure into account.

    18.3.9-18.3.14 (The discussion of duration now runs for 3 pages; I’m noting the end of the discussion.) Comparing two pleasures, or two periods of pleasure, is possible only if one is mixed, in which case the unmixed one is pleasanter than the mixed one. Comparison of two unmixed pleasures is only possible if one or both periods of pleasure can be extended to a point where it becomes mixed. But this is to look on lives from the outside. In actual practice, surely the wise man will always be concerned with increasing the proportion of pleasure in his life and reducing the amount of unavoidable pain. It is only in fanciful utopian conditions that he will not be concerned with duration.


    18.3.15 We are so used to the problems of utilitarianism that we are inclined to assume that anything that sounds like a hedonic calculus is meant for day to day use. But this does not seem to be true with Epicurus. He is not telling us that a wise man must perform daily intricate calculations of the sort perhaps envisaged in Plato’s Protagoras.

    18.3.15 A wise man needs to know certain basic facts about man and nature, convince himself of them and acquire certain habits of life. These will ensure that pleasure predominates. No daily hedonic calculus is necessary; the calculation is all at the stage of working out the facts, the effects of belief in them, and the proper regimen. From time to time one will have to review one's knowledge and confirm one's attitudes and practices. Once one is convinced of the truth of Epicurus' doctrines and has incorporated his teachings into one's life, one ceases to worry and lives a life as near to ataraxia and aponia as is possible for one. To achieve the best life possible, conviction and good habits are enough. One's wisdom shows in the acquisition and development of those characteristics that will keep his life as pleasant as it can be, and that being so he will not be deluded into thinking that it will improve if only it lasts a little longer.

    18.3.17 Living a life free of disturbance is not just a matter of staying alive and not being disturbed, as with a person under heavy sedation, but living the sort of life specific to the being in question. This is vaguely Aristotlean: if one is living according to one's nature then one is enjoying one's life, and failure of enjoyment is a function of disrupted nature. Epicurus is less interested in individual activities and their enjoyment, and more in a condition of the individual which ensures him balance independently of external circumstance.

    18.3.19 Ataraxia consists in a condition of correct belief, and aponia in a condition free of bodily lack. Epicurean wisdom, phronesis, is more like Aristotelean practical wisdom than Plato’s wisdom. The distinction between wisdom and ataraxia is therefore verbal rather than real. Since absence of wisdom is equivalent to the absence of ataraxia and therefore of mental pleasure, and its presence to the presence of mental pleasure, using it or mental pleasure as a criterion of worth amount to the same thing.

    18.3.20 Normal life is pleasant unless one's constitution is disturbed; one's whole tendency is against disturbance; since pleasure is only reduced by disturbance this means that the organism appreciates as good/best the pleasant/most pleasant, whose worth is recognized in perception. Once one recognizes the nature of the good as given in perception one can see that many beings actually pursue illusory goods. The wise man recognizes that a relatively unmixed life is attainable, and to a large extent achieves it in that recognition; he thereby acquires an indifference to either death or the extension of life and a contentment with what he has.


    (The next, and final, thread will cover katastematic and kinetic pleasures and the final chapters of the book.)

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    Maybe even the concept of a "pleasant life" is so much of an abstraction as to be misleading to talk about as a single concept, just like it can be hazardous to talk about a single "greatest good?"

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    Is this the same as the "highest good" or what Torquatus describes in "On Ends" as "We are inquiring, then, what is the final and ultimate Good, which as all philosophers are agreed must be of such a nature as to be the End to which all other things are means, while it is not itself a means to anything else."

    The first quote brings up an excellent point as to the "greatest good" being an abstraction. It reminds me of an ongoing debate back in architectural school.... El Lissitsky wrote in Russia: An Architecture for World Revolution that the square is the basic element of all design. A friend and I started pushing the idea for fun, and people were arguing over it for months. Just as each design has its own basis, so does each life.


    Part of the genius of Epicurus is that he incorporated pleasure into the Canon and thereby made it a criterion rather than an abstraction.

    This book is pretty academic. As I am extremely non-academic, this post consists only of quotes and/or paraphrases of portions of the book. These are merely notes of things that I found interesting and not at all an outline or summary of the book.


    In the book, the authors number practically every paragraph (i.e. 1.0.1), and I have included these numbers for reference as to where my notes came from more specifically. This posting is mainly intended for reference (not to discourage discussion, however, as anyone feels the desire) future part(s) will deal with Epicurus and should be more interesting for discussion.


    Chapter 1: The Background

    Two approaches, didactic and physiological

    1.1 Didactic approach: manly, effortful virtue/excellence as opposed to effeminate easy pleasures

    1.1.3 Demetrius of Phaleron: pleasure is transitory as opposed to virtue

    1.1.5 Solon: avoid pleasures which bring distress

    1.1.5 Prodicus's story of Heracles: 1) the conventionally virtuous life is pleasanter than the life of luxury and 2) the best way to show that the virtuous life to be desirable is to show that it is pleasanter.

    1.1.6 What is valuable is not short term pleasures but the long term pleasantness of one's life.

    1.1.7 By the early 4th century BCE, didactic thinking has some elements of hedonism although these were subservient to virtue ethics.

    1.2 Physiological approach

    1.2.1 Empedocles (494-c434 BCE), Anaxagoras and Diogenes of Apollonia, as described by Theophrastus, consider pleasure and pain as kinds of perception.

    1.2.6 Empedocles, pleasure results from filling a deficiency. (Note to Cassius , Martin and Charles : in the 6/20 Skype call I confused Eudoxus with Empedocles… did I mention that I’m not an academic?)

    1.2.6 Theophrastus: "Empedocles says that desires arise in living things from their deficiencies in the elements which make each other complete, and pleasures from what is appropriate, according to the mixtures of things which are like and of like natures, and pains and sufferings from what is inappropriate." In other words desires and pleasure and pain relate to keeping the four elements in proper balance.

    1.2.6 The urge toward pleasure is the natural instinct of the organism to seek its own best state.


    Chapter 2: Evaluative Theories

    2.1.3 Democritus had an ethical theory and pleasure was a central feature of it.

    2.1.4 Democritus's ethics had a test of conduct. That test was based on the ultimate aim of life, and whether an action aided or hindered achieving that aim. The ultimate aim was a state of well-being. His first innovation was that well-being is a state of mind and independent of externals or possessions. He called this euthumia (gladness, joy, having one's emotional and appetitive self, "thumos," in a good state), not eudaimonia. Secondly, he gave euthumia a specific definition: "...the end is euthumia, which is not the same as pleasure... but is that state in which the soul remains in calm and stability, not shaken by any fear or superstition or any other emotion." So he saw the aim of life as a state of tranquility rather than a life of pleasure as commonly recognized.

    2.1.4 The term ataraxia (freedom from disturbance) was not in common use before Epicurus. It was the standard Epicurean term for the ideal state of the soul.

    2.1.4 Democritus saw the aim of life as tranquility, not what is generally recognized as a life of pleasure. But he may have considered a life of tranquility as the pleasantest life.

    2.1.5 Euthumia consists in the distinction and discrimination of pleasures, the finest and most beneficial thing for men per Democritus.

    2.1.5 Pleasure isn't considered the pleasure of the moment but the long term pleasure of one's life.

    2.1.8 Per Democritus, all men have the same good, euthumia, and a life of moderation was required to achieve it.

    2.3.1 Aristippus is considered the champion of the sybaritic life (sensuous, self-indulgent) and the founder of the Cyrenaic school.

    2.3.3 Cyrenaics were radical hedonists, taking the pleasure of the moment to be more important than the pleasantest life. Bodily pleasures were most important, but no pleasure was pleasanter than any other. All living things pursue pleasure and shun pain. All we have available to us is the present moment, which is why the pleasure of the moment is the most important.

    2.3.4 Notes sybaritic hedonism v rational long term hedonism.


    (The authors now embark on almost 300 pages devoted to Plato and Aristotle. For me, this wasn’t very fruitful reading so I skimmed and skipped over most of it. Apologies to anyone interested in these two; perhaps somebody else could post on these chapters. Following are my sparse notes from that portion.)


    Chapter 3: Protagorus

    3.1.1 Pleasure is confined to the concluding pages of Protagorus.

    3.2.12 Socrates probable view is that the good equals long term pleasantness. This comprises three theses: 1) Long term pleasantness is the only thing that everyone ultimately aims at, 2) long term pleasantness is the only thing ultimately worth having, and 3) what makes the things we call "goods" worth having is their contribution to a life in which pleasure predominates over distress.


    Chapter 4: Gorgias

    4.1.1 Callicles in the Gorgias would rather have a life of continual recurrence of unsatisfied desire, as this would allow him repeated opportunities for replenishment, i.e. pleasure.


    Chapter 5: Phaedo

    5.1.1 In the Phaedo, Plato separates the body and the soul and begins to develop the purpose of life as development of the immortal soul. In this conception the pleasures of the body are a nasty diversion from the work of the soul.


    Chapter 6: Republic

    6.8.8 Plato in the Republic is unaware of the distinction between the process of replenishment and the end state of repletion when considering pleasure to be the fulfillment of a lack. Pleasure as produced by becoming v being.


    Chapter 8: Between Republic and Philebus

    8.3.1 Eudoxus of Cnidus (via Aristotle): pleasure is the good because:

    - all animals, including men, pursue it, and what all pursue is the good

    - all animals and men avoid pain as an evil, and what is opposite of an evil, pleasure, must be good

    - pleasure is never for the sake of something else: no one ever asks "why enjoy yourself?"

    - if pleasure is added to anything it makes it better.

    (Note to Cassius , Martin and Charles : here’s Eudoxus.)


    Chapter 11: Aristotle: the Contrast of Treatments

    11.3.10 Aristotle is saying that to enjoy something is to bring a telos to the doing: to do it to the full.


    Chapter 13: Pleasure: Formal or Final Cause

    13.2.4 Telos is not a decisively purpose word like goal, but it equally means completion or perfection. Aristotle often uses it as actualization of natural potential.


    (From here I’ll skip to chapter 18, which begins the treatment of Epicurus. I’ll start a new thread for that.)