Posts by Godfrey

    It looks like you've already answered your question about moral responsibility. I'd like to add that it appears to me, on the basis of this discussion, that Utilitarianism is an attempt to "improve" upon Epicureanism by adding to it. As an Epicurean, to me the additions seek to bring together ideas which do not belong together. I had thought that there would be more in common between the two philosophies but they actually seem quite divergent.

    Regarding the greatest good for the greatest number, there's a rather famous short story by Ursula LeGuin that I recommend reading. It's titled " The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" and I believe you can find a free copy online. It's an interesting take on the idea.

    To clarify regarding PD5, my point was that PD5 doesn't talk about responsibility, moral or otherwise. Guess I wasn't very clear! Regarding consequentialism, I'm not familiar with that so I can't really comment.

    And thank you for the conversation as well! I too find it a great way to clarify my understanding.

    Beyond that, ditto what Cassius said. But he said it better than I can!

    It's interesting how these ideas turn up in so many cultures. But why wouldn't they? It's also interesting and beneficial to examine how they manifest in various cultures. Thanks for the review!

    By the way, I never drank coffee until I visited friends in Denmark. The coffee was excellent, as was the conversation and friendship afterwards. That was quite a while ago! Last summer their son came to visit us and, again, the conversation after our shared meals was extremely pleasurable.

    Daniel, a key difference between the two philosophies that jumped out at me now that I've read your above post more carefully is the concept of moral responsibility. Specifically: "it is everyone’s moral responsibility to increase the pleasure of every person (including themself) while relieving their pain."

    To the best of my understanding, moral responsibility is excluded from Epicureanism. In it's place is PD5: "It is not possible to live pleasantly without living prudently and honorably and justly, [nor again to live a life of prudence, honor, and Justice] without living pleasantly. And the man who does not possess the pleasant life, is not living prudently and honorably and justly, [and the man who does not possess the virtuous life], cannot possibly live pleasantly."

    So as Epicureans we try to live prudently, honorably and justly because living this way minimizes our pain and maximizes our pleasure. There is no moral responsibility to anybody else involved. The end result may possibly be the same, but the intention is entirely different. This might seem reprehensible to a Utilitarian, but to an Epicurean it provides clarity, and with clarity, freedom.

    Wow that's a lot of information on utilitarianism, in a good way. I need to read what you've written more carefully as I'm only vaguely familiar with utilitarianism.

    Regarding Epicureanism, I think that the best way to understand the overall ideas is by using the three categories of the Canon, Physics, and Ethics. As I understand it, this is the original framework. Part of outlining is fitting your categories into these categories: nature into Physics for example. To me, it's of primary importance to understand that pleasure is one of the three aspects of the Canon as that explains why it is the greatest good. So you need to understand the Canon to distinguish pleasure from good ol' hedonism.

    Cassius has some excellent one sheet breakdowns on the forum, also his Elemental Epicureanism and Ante Oculus are quite helpful if you focus on the instructional parts before diving into all of the source material. Hiram's book Tending the Epicurean Garden is also helpful, and if you haven't seen it he has a self study course at

    There's also DeWitt, although it's pretty expensive and (at least for me) takes a while to give it a proper reading.

    It's a big challenge to zoom in to the core of the philosophy. That's where the Canon/ Physics/ Ethics structure is so valuable and from there you can explain the various ideas much more clearly. Not that I'm an expert by any means, but that's what has allowed me to get a grip on the philosophy. Now when I read new material or re-read material I feel like I understand it more clearly instead of getting overwhelmed.

    Hi Daniel! Have you written an outline yet on the forum? For me the process of thinking through the overall philosophy (the more detail, the better), putting it in words and getting feedback on it was probably the most valuable way to clarify my thinking and understanding of the philosophy. It's possible that that process would be a good way for you to think about and tighten up the points you're concerned with, and could even suggest a path forward.

    Hi Oscar! Godfrey here. Just want to say that I've been thoroughly enjoying the street drummer Dario Rossi. Amazing performance! I love how hard he works, how hard he must have worked for years, and how much obvious pleasure he gets from his drumming. It's inspiring to see how pursuing one's pleasure with passion and perseverance can not only multiply one's pleasure but spread it into the world as well.

    Thanks for that!

    I'm reading a book called Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness" which is a study of joy in our environment by Ingrid Fetell Lee. Marie Kondo seems to be popping up everywhere including this book. Here is an excerpt of the author's take on her system:

    "...what I realized is that Kondo’s philosophy isn’t really minimalism. It’s sanity. After all, we still have plenty of stuff. And now that we can see the things we have, our place actually feels more abundant, not less. That’s because abundance isn’t about just accumulating things. It’s about surrounding yourself with a rich palette of textures that enliven your senses. If true minimalism is like clear-cutting a field, Kondo’s method is like weeding a garden. It’s a process of removing the background noise to create a canvas on which to build a joyful home. Yet it’s also worth remembering that just weeding alone doesn’t create a beautiful garden. You have to plant flowers, too."

    This isn't interior design, but it is quite compatible with an Epicurean approach to life. Basically you are maximizing the pleasure you get from your belongings.

    We've been tinkering with this at my house and it's surprisingly effective. In getting rid of possessions that no longer "bring joy", we find we're getting much more pleasure out of our remaining possessions.

    The whole process isn't at all intended to be ascetic, but joyful. Similar to our philosophy! And it's a nice chance to reflect on what is natural, necessary, not natural, not necessary, etc.

    This is quite helpful. I've been thinking of gratitude more along the lines of a pleasurable practice (a la the contemporary gratitude practice), which in my mind does not cause trouble to self or other. Favor and indebtedness are entirely different and make much more sense in the context of the doctrine.

    Thanks Cassius and Elli!

    I'm responding to Elli's graphic posted in the graphics area but not posted here yet. Not sure if this is the intent of this thread; maybe this belongs elsewhere....

    The translation in the graphic has the word "favor" where some translations use "gratitude" and others use "partiality". Personally, I prefer the use of favor or partiality to gratitude: it seems to me that a blessed being would feel gratitude.

    Can anyone comment as to 1) the correctness of the various translations of this word, and 2) the differences that they may have in understanding the doctrine?

    I've got the impression that the school of EP is considered to have followed Epicurus's thinking unusually closely through the centuries. But this topic is interesting in that it may be an example of a bit of variation in the doctrine and the potential ramifications of that, which I think Cassius is doing a good service to explore. Given the fragmentary remains of the documentation, it's great to see accessible studies of what exists and how it might fit together.

    Wow, that video is hysterical and a little scary! ^^=O

    Cassius, I appreciate and agree with your comments. The article is definitely not a "deep dive" into EP, but it's a nice starting point for some practical applications of the philosophy. It would be really interesting to see a discussion of Property Management regarding this subject.

    Which reminds me of a two-part piece Hiram wrote which I need to read. Here's the link to part 1:…operty-management-part-i/

    This article showed up in my news feed this morning. It's written by a personal finance blogger who from time to time explores a particular school of philosophy and applies it to practical living and finances. Perhaps he over-emphasizes frugality, but he has a nice take on hedonic calculus (without using the term) and an interesting take on applying the overall philosophy.…form-your-financial-life/

    I confess that I'm an aficionado of modernism and have avoided Tom Wolfe's book for years =O. I'll give it a read though! In the linked article the reviewer mentioned "good modernism and bad modernism". One of the criticisms of modernism is an over-reliance on rationality. To me, the best modern design is actually more "Epicurean" in that it embraces both sensuality and rationality. And pleasure.

    Cassius, this touches on something that I've had on the back burner for awhile. I read an interesting article on "embodied cognition" and put it aside to follow up on (which I've not yet done). Here's a link to the article:…n-on-architecture/531810/

    It seems to touch on pleasure and the anticipations if one wants to look at it in a Epicurean context. The book that it refers to in the article is by all accounts quite scholarly and ponderous. There are a couple of lighter books, that I haven't had a chance to read yet, that at first glance seem like they may address similar ideas. "Joyful" by Ingrid Fetell Lee, and "The Architecture of Happiness" by Alain de Botton. This is all very premature from my end but there may be some relevance to your post. Note that these books all deal with design and/or architecture, but there is probably some overlap with art and music for what it's worth....

    Elon Musk is a great example of how the hedonic calculus might work. It seems to me to be a process, a continuous feedback loop. As a person is considering embarking on a project, they consider the eventual fulfilment/happiness that they may obtain through working on and completing the project. For any project there is a relationship between ambition (or perhaps altruism) and happiness: something along the lines of "wouldn't it be awesome if I could put man on Mars?!" Or for another person "I'd really be happy if I could get out of bed and walk on the beach!" At this point there is a particular amount of data with which to perform a hedonic calculus, depending on the person's situation.

    Once the project is started, the continual (as opposed to continuous?) feedback loop begins. How much hard work will bring the person happiness? Maybe more or less than they thought, so they make an adjustment. Maybe the plan is to sacrifice short term happiness for long term happiness. As more data accumulates, more decisions can be made. And so on.

    If we were blessed with infallible reason we wouldn't need this process. But we use our reason to evaluate the data we acquire through the Canon. Then we act on that and discover where our reasoning, or the data, was incorrect. Then we adjust and carry on.

    The beauty of this, to me, is that this is simply how life works. With EP, we're conscious of that and work with it. We're not trying to force our lives, and those of others, into a mental construct.

    Thanks for clarifying that.

    It seems like many things in EP are not absolutes but are subject to each person's contemplation with respect to the Canon and the types of desire. "Live unknown" appears to be one of those things.

    Social media is a great example of the pros and cons of the idea!