Posts by Godfrey

    Aren't there lots of intrinsic (natural?) goods? Eating, drinking, breathing, shelter, etc, but the GOAL of any good is pleasure. An intrinsic good is necessary for survival, but we pursue it to attain pleasure and/or avoid pain. So pleasure would be considered the goal rather than just a good.

    Cassius, I'm unable to answer or start a conversation. The message "Error Message 403 Forbidden Access to this resource on the server is denied" keeps popping up. I've tried to answer on two Android devices and a Windows computer and get the same popup.

    Regarding the Skype discussion, I was sorry to miss it and plan to join in in the future. I do have a lot going on for the next few weeks and so may be sporadic in attending, but not through lack of desire :thumbsup:


    Regarding your points Cassius:

    1, 3: Yes, we're in agreement.

    2: I did read the chapter and much of the discussion seemed to depend on references of which I'm unaware. It's good to know why!

    4: Nikolsky sounds like a valuable piece of the puzzle, I've downloaded that and will read it.

    5, 6: I generally understand that Epicurus was responding to Plato and others but I haven't read Philebus and probably should find a Cliff Notes version to get the general idea. However I never considered that this was Epicurus's primary reason for discussing things as he does. Sitting here in 2019, studying philosophy of living, my motivations are far removed from philosophical competition. So it's quite helpful of you to point out his context. DeWitt does that quite a bit, but when reading his book I'm focused more on understanding the philosophy than the context.


    If not for the negative programming we have all received from religion and ascetic philosophies, much of this issue of pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain would all be pretty much a matter of "common sense" that a child would be ashamed not to understand.

    This sentence of yours is exactly spot on! My frustration when writing this, which I couldn't articulate, is that it IS common sense. But at the same time the reason for my frustration is a lifetime in a culture inundated with religion and ascetic philosophies, so context, both of antiquity and of today, is indeed valuable.

    I’m working on digesting DeWitt, Gosling & Taylor (having some indigestion with this one) and Wenham regarding katastematic and kinetic pleasure. Trying to get beyond the academic and into the practical day to day. So I’m putting some thoughts down to help me in the process and putting them here to see if they hold up.

    Wenham seems to be spot on in describing pleasure as “experiential” as opposed to “attitudinal”, and supporting this with the fact that pleasure is a Feeling and a part of the Canon.

    Regarding katastematic and kinetic pleasures and whether or not Epicurus defined them in this way, I confess that I’m a bit lost. Since I’m not writing this for academia but for my own pleasure and it’s growth, now I’m just putting down ideas (hopefully coherently) that came up while reading DeWitt’s The New Hedonism.

    What is definitely attributable to Epicurus seem to be the ideas of continuous pleasure and unity of pleasure. Thinking about my experience of continuous pleasure leads me to times when I have been troubled by something and have, usually through extended effort, managed to solve the problem. Examples: 1) I spent years trying to figure out the most prudent way of saving and investing. It was (and still is) a great relief when I finally did a period of intense research and decided on and implemented a strategy that works for me. 2) Similarly for chronic health challenges: after extended periods of trial and error, finally arriving at a solution provides mental as well as physical relief/pleasure. 3) Being at a transitional period of my life, I embarked on an extended period of reading and introspection and in the process discovered Epicurus’ philosophy which has relieved much mental disturbance and brought much pleasure.

    Is there a point where kinetic pleasure becomes continuous pleasure? Each of these examples (finances, health and philosophy) involves continued maintenance. If the maintenance is neglected the pleasure eventually vanishes. This is how I am understanding condensation (or more accurately extension, as it’s opposite) of pleasure…. A natural and necessary desire by it’s nature is recurrent (eating, drinking, etc.); autarchy is achieved when prudently considered continued effort, carried out through a what could be called an hedonic regimen, allows one to reach a place of continuous pleasure. At this point the natural and unnecessary pleasures provide the icing on the cake.

    In other words, continuous pleasure requires continued effort and action. Over time, I think, the effort diminishes although the action involved may continue. Using my examples above: 1) Having settled on a strategy for my finances, there are “chores” which I perform weekly, some which I perform quarterly, and some that I do every six months. Notably the chores aren’t necessarily pleasurable in themselves, but they do lead to pleasure/peace of mind. 2) Having found a solution to a chronic health problem, one must continuously monitor one’s diet, exercise, sleep, take one’s meds if applicable, etc. 3) Similarly, philosophy requires continued reading, contemplation and ideally discussion to really take root and flourish.

    So pleasure is pleasure. Some pleasures are the result of continuous effort, some are more immediate. Some are mental, some are physical. Some pleasures are attained by removing things (fear of the gods, fear of death, other mental disturbance, illness, etc.) and some by obtaining and/or consuming or doing things (food, water, reading a good book, going skiing). Some are necessary for life, some make life more fun. Taking care of things that pain our bodies or disturb our minds brings us pleasure: health and serenity are our natural states and feel good. When our bodies and minds are free of pain and disturbance we can especially enjoy other pleasures, particularly if they outweigh any pain involved. As the sky has much variety but is all the sky, so goes pleasure.

    For a test, I just googled epicurus on my phone. After hitting "more results" four times we still hadn't shown up.

    When I googled epicurean, New Epicurean showed up on the 3rd "more results" ? but no Epicurean Friends.

    Not sure if it matters, but I've got Google set to not store my searches. This, I think, would make my searches similar to someone who is doing a first time search for Epicurus or Epicurean.

    Cassius Lucretius seems extremely relevant!

    JJElbert I wasn't trying to imply that you were slacking, more just thinking it through for myself. :thumbsup: You make a good point about separating the interpretation from the sensation. Having done that, we can address the sensation with science, the Canon, reason to the extent that it removes our mental disturbances.

    There will always be mystery: it's part of what makes life interesting! As Epicureans we just approach them differently than people with a more dogmatic or Platonic bent.

    My embryonic take on this is that there are bizarre and "mystical" experiences that people may have which can be explained using Epicurean physics in a similar fashion to the way Epicurus explained thunder and lightning and the like.

    We have made incredible advances in science since Epicurus's time. In areas like weather, sensations, dreams, gravity, etc, the Greeks seem quite primitive to us. I'm suggesting that there are many areas where our knowledge is as primitive as the Greeks, one of which is "mysticism". The proper approach, to me, is to address individual mysteries with Epicurus's methodology aided by modern science. We now have advanced biology and physics; quarks, strangeness and charm, dark matter....

    Discarding the unexplained as hogwash is no better than attributing it to the supernatural. Epicurus was quite good at offering multiple explanations for phenomena, while meeting his standards of intellectual rigor and avoiding dogma. And he knew when to quit, removing fear of the unexplained and moving on.

    This doesn't specifically deal with sacrificing oneself for another and may be obvious, but is a key part of the pleasure/pain equation so I'll throw it in here:


    ...because this is the primary and inborn good, we do not choose every pleasure. Instead, we pass up many pleasures when we will gain more of what we need from doing so. And we consider many pains to be better than pleasures, if we experience a greater pleasure for a long time from having endured those pains. So every pleasure is a good thing because its nature is favorable to us, yet not every pleasure is to be chosen — just as every pain is a bad thing, yet not every pain is always to be shunned. It is proper to make all these decisions through measuring things side by side and looking at both the advantages and disadvantages, for sometimes we treat a good thing as bad and a bad thing as good. (Letter to Menoeceus)

    Welcome Dubitator314! too discovered Epicurus through Stoicism, via Cicero. It bothered me that many modern Stoics basically discard large parts of their philosophy (physics and logic, specifically) as irrelevant in today's world. The philosophy of Epicurus seems to me to be a well integrated system. And, as you say, pleasure is a more sensible goal than virtue: virtue being a means to an end. Also atomism, to me, is much more sensible and relevant than providence.

    Writing a personal outline was extremely helpful for me to begin to more fully understand and appreciate the philosophy. If you haven't done it, you might check out the Personal Outline section of the forum at: Personal Outlines of Epicurean Philosophy

    for examples.

    Cassius the pattern you wrote down for the Wurster article is a great start to a list of fallacious arguments. Elayne, the idea of using numbers is hilarious!

    An additional tactic is to create additional content explaining the point of view that we're pursuing here. It's already being discussed in other threads (podcast, books...) Also there's some excellent content on the forum already: there must be a way to get some of it into the mainstream or on to Academia or Jstor or similar sites or journals. Maybe at some point it will reach a critical mass. (Although I say this as someone who's not a writer or a philosopher and not contributing much in the way of content, so I'm kind of blowing hot air. Apologies for that :/)

    A couple of years ago my doctor suggested that I try a ketogenic diet along with intermittent fasting. I enjoyed both, but a cholesterol test showed that my bad cholesterol levels had skyrocketed. Apparently some percentage of people have this reaction to keto; I've stopped and would recommend to anybody doing keto that they monitor their cholesterol levels.

    I'm thinking of giving intermittent fasting another try. For me it was as simple as having a late breakfast and slightly early dinner. I'm not doing it for weight loss but for energy.

    I've never done any multi-day fasting but have read about the benefits. The hedonic calculus doesn't add up for me on that, though. ;)

    Here's an article from 2018 which seems pretty comprehensive:…xray-technique-180969358/

    According to this they've only been successful with small fragments so there's not much text to publish. And in addition to the technological issues, getting access to the scrolls is a major challenge.

    Also the Getty is presenting a lecture in October on the subject; maybe the speakers mentioned are worth researching: