Posts by Daniel

    So, there isn't something physically pure about "Majors" and "Minors"––they just work really well with classical music, and contemporary, popular music (to our ears). Plato and Aristotle would have heard the "Minor" chord to be absolute garbage (sort of how we hear an augmented chord), while they may have found the weird, augmented chord to be rather beautiful.

    Brilliant, Nate! Really. You should have these posts published somewhere.

    ‘Classical music,’ far from being a universal phenomenon, represents a specific geographical and cultural epoch without equal in other eras or civilisations. Indeed, even in pre-Bachian Europe, the music the Church imposed on the Catholic ecumene was based on the imitation of the Greco-Roman musical tradition, which was fundamentally of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern origin and, arguably, deriving from an exclusive melodic sensitivity.

    Shortly after Carolingian times—with the forced conversion of Saxon tribes that followed the Massacre of Verden and the restoration of the Empire—another musical sensitivity (in this case harmonic) starts to penetrate the musical universe of the Church, which had remained secluded until that point. What might have been the origin of such new sensitivity?

    Musicologists refer to a ‘pagan residue’ existing in the indigenous cultures of Northern Europe (Thrasybulos Georgiades, Music and Language: The Rise of Western Music as Exemplified in Settings of the Mass). Undoubtedly, a tonal system emerged, after a few centuries, from the opposition of the Church tradition and that of the indigenous music culture of Northern Europe.

    The quotation is extracted from the First Essay of „Genealogy of Morals“, entitled ‚Good and Evil, Good and Bad.‘

    In it, Nietzsche argues that the two opposite pairs 'good/evil' and 'good/bad' have very different origins, and that the word 'good' itself came to represent two opposed meanings. In the 'good/bad' distinction, 'good' is synonymous with nobility and everything which is powerful and life-asserting; in the 'good/evil' distinction, which Nietzsche calls 'slave morality', the meaning of 'good' is made the antithesis of the original aristocratic 'good', which itself is re-labelled 'evil'. This inversion of values develops out of the ressentiment of the powerful by the weak.

    „Writing“ is the translation of „Schrift“ in the original German version. Sometimes, „Schrift“ can also be translated as „Script.“ Nietzsche is describing a sort of primeval ‚clash of civilizations,‘ so to speak.

    „Let's bring this to a conclusion. The two opposing values "good and bad," "good and evil" have fought a fearful battle on earth for thousands of years...“ (Genealogy of Morals, Essay I, 16)

    (We repeat thrice the absolute acceptance) : Certainly, Christianity is another version of Judaism… Certainly, Christianity is another version of Judaism… Certainly, Christianity is another version of Judaism… 8o8o

    Christianity has been defined as a ‘morality of slaves.’ What genealogy and psychology lay behind this new forma mentis?

    Nietzsche believed the Jews, as a historically oppressed group, were responsible for the spread and triumph of ‘slave morality’ over the ‘master morality’ of noble, culture-creating aristocracies:

    “All the world’s efforts against the aristocrats, the mighty, the masters, the holders of power are negligible by comparison with what has been accomplished against those classes by the Jews—the Jews, that priestly nation which eventually realized that the one method of effecting satisfaction on its enemies and tyrants was by means of a radical transvaluation of values, which was at the same time an act of the cleverest revenge. Yet the method was only appropriate to a nation of priests, to a nation of the most jealously nursed priestly revengefulness. It was the Jews who, in opposition to the aristocratic equation (good = aristocratic = beautiful = happy = loved by the gods), dared with terrifying logic to suggest the contrary equation, and indeed to maintain with the teeth of the most profound hatred—the hatred of weakness—this contrary equation, namely, the wretched are alone the good; the poor, the weak, the lowly, are alone the good; the suffering, the needy, the sick, the loathsome, are the only ones who are pious, the only ones who are blessed, for them alone is salvation—but you, on the other hand, you aristocrats, you men of power, you are to all eternity the evil, the horrible, the covetous, the insatiate, the godless; eternally also shall you be the unblessed, the cursed, the damned!”

    (Genealogy of Morals)

    Judaism was the soil out of which grew Christianity—the flower of slave morality. Though a single unified system, it carried different emphases for the two groups. For the Jews, the foci were self-pity, ethnic solidarity, thirst for revenge, obsession with freedom, hatred of the strong and powerful, and desire to recover lost wealth. The Christians—through the figure of Jesus—preferred to emphasise the value of the downtrodden (‘blessed are the meek’); faith in God to bring justice (‘the meek shall inherit the Earth’); salvation in the afterlife—and a fixation with love as means for ameliorating suffering.

    Nietzsche considered that the struggle between these competing moralities was the single most important event in all of history, symbolised as a conflict between Judea, representing slave morality, and Rome, representing master morality:

    “The symbol of this fight—between the two means of valuations—written in a writing which has remained worthy of perusal throughout the course of history up to the present time—is called, Rome against Judea, Judea against Rome. Hitherto there has been no greater event than that fight, the putting of that question, that deadly antagonism. Rome found in the Jew the incarnation of the unnatural, as though it were its diametrically opposed monstrosity, and in Rome the Jew was held convicted of hatred of the entire human race; and rightly so, insofar as it is right to link the well-being and the future of the human race to the unconditional mastery of the aristocratic values, of the Roman values . . . The Romans were the strong and aristocratic; a nation stronger and more aristocratic has never existed in the world, has never even been dreamed of . . . The Jews, conversely, were that priestly nation of ressentiment par excellence, possessed by a unique genius for popular morals . . . Which of them has been provisionally victorious, Rome or Judea? . . . Rome is undoubtedly defeated.”

    (Genealogy of Morals)


    „...The materialist revolution of the nineteenth century could not have taken place without undermining the authority of Scripture, a process that began in the seventeenth century, spread in the eighteenth and became a kind of scholarly discipline in the nineteenth...“

    „...Hobbes gave us the first Epicurean-friendly interpretation of the Bible, stripped of all miracles and spirits, and focused on this-worldly happiness and peace. Spinoza not only duplicated Hobbes‘s efforts, but bequeathed to modernity the great fiction of Christ the merely moral man, the harmless messiah for the nonscientific masses. Strauss completed the work of both Hobbes and Spinoza, excising all elements of the Bible that did not fit into the Newtonian universe, and providing the model and method that defined modern scriptural scholarship thereafter...“


    „...There are three major points of transformation in the modern reembrace of moral Epicureanism…“

    „...First, Epicureanism became Machiavellian in strategy because it arose at a time when Christianity was powerful and able to persecute its detractors...Obviously, the best place to understand this Macchiavellianism is its source, Machiavelli himself...“

    „...Second, modern Epicurean materialism shifted the original asceticism and embraced hedonism instead...May we not push the material limits boundaries, so that we, and not chance, determine the limits of pleasure? And so, rather than turn our powers towards ourselves in an effort to control our desires, as Epicurus had counseled, modern Epicureanism bids us to turn our powers against nature itself in an effort to control it, and remake it according to our desires...Our main focus will be on Francis Bacon...“

    „...Third, Epicurean materialism became political rather than remaining apolitical, as it had been originally. This move followed upon the second transformation, the mastering of nature and the consequent releasing of desire from its natural limits...modern natural rights,an invention designed to replace natural law, a vestige of the old view of cosmology that Galilean-Newtonian atomism was in the process of displacing during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries...Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau...“


    “…As we go from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the atomism of Epicurus and Lucretius moved from being an alien smuggled into Christianized culture in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to being the only tenable theoretical view of natural philosophy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The time period may be conveniently marked by the contiguous lives of Galileo Galilei (1554-1642) and Isaac Newton (1642-1727)…”

    “…chief among the various figures who contributed to the victory of materialist atomism in science…Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) and Robert Boyle (1627-1691). These three are extraordinarily interesting because they combined atomism with fervent Christianity. The link that allowed this new combination was a common hatred of Aristotelianism…”

    “…Bruno was the martyr for the cause…Gassendi was engaged in ongoing conversations with the most famous philosophers and scientists of the day – Kepler, Galileo, Mersenne and Thomas Hobbes – and his books enjoyed a wide and enthusiastic readership. Finally, Boyle was the great advocate of taking atomism from the theoretical realm of the physicists to the very practical realm of the chemists…”

    “…If we may provide the briefest statement that characterizes the Galilean-Newtonian revolution, we might call it the vindication of atomism through the victory of mathematics…With the complete theoretical victory of Epicurean materialism, all the essential elements of Epicurus’s system – the eternal and indestructible atoms, the infinite universe with the unlimited number of worlds, the banishment of the creator God, the rejection of miracles, the displacement of design in nature by chance and material necessity, and the elimination of the immaterial soul – fell into place…”

    “…For those living in the two centuries between Newton’s Principia and the dawn of the twentieth century, the world was as Newton had described it, and that world was almost exactly as Epicurus had planned it. To understand that moral Epicureanism followed necessarily upon the adoption of theoretical Epicureanism, and that moral Darwinism is the culmination of moral Epicureanism, is to understand the modern world…”


    “…As the Roman Republic crumbled from internal decay, and the two Caesars, Julius and then Augustus, substituted imperial for republican rule, the new empire championed the philosophy of the Stoics, which seemed to answer far better to the required virtues of duty and self-sacrifice for the common good than did the apolitical and pleasure-based morality of Epicureanism…In addition, while Stoicism argued that the natural order was divinely ordained and the gods watched over human affairs, Epicureanism denied any relation of the gods either to nature or human affairs – and moreover had the malodorous reputation of being either openly or secretly atheistic…”

    “…But during the first four centuries of Christianity, Epicureanism was a living rival, strong enough and pervasive enough to be an object of worry, and hence an object of scorn, both in regard to its focus on pleasure and the denial of the soul’s immortality, and its alleged atheism…”

    “…The thirteenth-century incorporation of Aristotle as the pagan philosopher most compatible with Christianity deserves our special attention…it was Aristotle’s account of nature, as taken up by Christianity, that formed the intellectual foundation of scholasticism; as a result scholasticism was the reigning intellectual approach going into the Renaissance…much of the success in reintroducing Epicurean materialism on friendly terms in the West depended on a general discontent with the excessive dry formalism into which scholasticism had unfortunately fallen by the Renaissance…Christians, at least some of them, were therefore ready to use one pagan philosophy (Epicureanism) to uproot another (Aristotelianism)…”

    “…because of some who were enamoured with Aristotle and neglected or downplayed Scripture as a source of truth, other Christians (the so-called radical Augustinians) came to see Aristotle’s thought as a kind of spiritual contamination and tried to destroy its influence. The theology they used to combat Aristotelianism, called nominalism, inadvertently paved the way for Epicureanism…”

    “…In the spring of 1417 Epicureanism was awakened from its deep slumber. Poggio Bracciolini, infected with the characteristic Renaissance desire to…” [Here, Wiker summarises the rediscovery of De Rerum Natura. The story is told in disparaging terms, of course, just the opposite of “The Swerve”. There’s a moment in which he even hints that the destruction or loss of Lucretius’s book would have saved us lots of trouble. ]

    “…The works of Epicurus, along with those of his poetic spokesman, became once again available…the publishing history of both attest to the spread of interest in Epicureanism all over Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the firm restablishing of Epicurean materialism by the seventeenth century…”

    “…First, there was the not-such-a-bad-guy approach of simple restoration without advocacy…Second, there was the honey-on-the-rim-of-bitter-poison approach of introducing Epicureanism through an appreciation of Lucretius the poet…A third way attempted to subordinate the materialism of Epicureanism to Christianity, creating a Christianized hybrid of two utterly irreconcilable views of the universe…”


    "...Since there is such deep irreconcilable disagreement between Christianity and Epicureanism on the cosmological and larger moral level - both in regard to their respective natural foundations and in regard to Christianity's supernatural elements and goal - there will also be radical disagreement between the two on the particularities of morality, even when there appears to be agreement on the surface..."

    "...we must also realize that Christians were not the only ones arguing from an intelligent design position. Much of what is said in this chapter of Christianity, insofar as it is based on the natural law, could be said of Stoicism and Aristotelianism as well, but historically Stoicism and Aristotelianism were influential in the long run because they supported the approach of Christianity, and therefore, Christianity took up their arguments and carried them forward..."

    "...As a consequence, no sexual act is intrinsically evil, for as Epicurus himself said, "every pleasure is a good thing...Moral restrictions arise in Epicureanism from two sources, our bodily constitution and the peculiar moral boundaries of the society in which we happen to find ourselves...for Epicureanism, a particular relationship of sexuality to marriage can only be considered a social convention which may be useful but is not essentially good..."

    "...Thus, when Jesus was asked about divorce, he did not question whether divorce might be useful, or allow for greater pleasure, or reduce the amount of pain; rather, he rejected divorce as contrary to the natural, created order..."

    "...Therefore, in contrast to Epicurean relativism, permanent monogamy is the natural moral standard by which all other sexual practices and marriage customs one happens to find, rather than being explained in terms of the accidents of place and time, are understood to be caused by moral defect, a falling away from the intended natural goal...masturbation, fornication (sex outside marriage), adultery, homosexuality, pederasty and bestiality are all condemned as violations of the natural order..."

    " the current debate about abortion, everything ultimately depends on whether one thinks that human beings do or do not have an immortal soul, that is, on whether one is adopting the argument of the Christian or the Epicurean...If the Epicurean is right about nature, then the Christian is a fool, and a pernicious, meddling one at that, for treating a mass of cells no bigger than a pencil point as a divinely informed sacred life. But if the Christian is right about nature, then the Epicurean is promoting and engaging in mass murder on a scale dwarfing the wickedness of all other combined..."

    "...It is also important to notice that Christianity stands almost alone in its condemnation of suicide...the centrality of Christ's passion made the bearing of severe suffering the very model of redemption. Christians were commanded to take up the cross and, as Christ did, bear their suffering to the bitter end, for bearing such suffering in imitation of Christ was taken to be the path to holiness and eternal life...That ancient, great abyss between the Epicurean's and the Christian's moral reasoning about suicide is the very abyss that has opened up again in the contemporary debates about euthanasia and the right to die; and again, the two sides share nothing in common..."


    "...death is everything to the Christian, for death seals the relationship, for better or worse, of each individual human being to God. Rejection of God and his moral order mean eternal damnation - and the pain involved in neither small nor of short duration, as Epicurus promised all pain would be..."

    "...Death, therefore, does not bring extinction, but judgment, the very thing Epicurus and Lucretius both thought to be the worst of disturbances... The Christian God, unlike the Epicurean gods, will both punish and reward..."

    "...In the Old Testament, pain, toil and death are ultimately tied to moral disobedience, and becomes an inescapable punishment that all human beings must bear (Gen. 3:16-19). In the New Testament, where everything is turned on its head, or perhaps better, things are turned right side up again, pain, toil and death become the window to eternity - and worse yet, in regard to Epicureanism, the very window opened by God himself in his passion, death and resurrection..."

    "...Furthermore, the 'imperfections' in the universe, imperfections that were for Lucretius a certain sign that the universe was made by chance and not divine design, were linked by Christianity to the violation of the moral order of the universe...Again, toil and pain are punishment for the disobedience of the first human beings (Gen. 3:14-24), and plagues, diseases, droughts and the like were, as clearly seen in the account of Moses and Pharaoh (Ex. 3:1-14:31), directly brought on by God as well. Even more opposed to Epicurus, the entire New Testament, from the Gospels to Revelation, is quite adamant in the assertion that demons - immaterial fallen angels - also use various sicknesses to afflict humanity. Finally, and most peculiarly Christian, nature itself somehow participates in the fallenness of humanity..."


    "...As opposed to Lucretius's belief that we are amoral by nature, the biblical account clearly presents human beings as moral by nature. This is seen not only in regard to the example of sexuality..., but also in the command of God not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:16-17), God's anger when he is disobeyed (3:11), and the moral blame assigned to Cain for killing his brother (4:11-13). This sets the pattern for the whole Bible: from the ten commandments (Ex 20:1-17; Deut 5:6-21) all the way to the last judgment depicted in Revelation (20:1-15), there is no doubt that some acts are intrinsically evil whether or not they might happen to give us pleasure and pain, and the moral commandment are explicitly tied to God's will, both in regard to creation and redemption..."


    “To begin at the beginning…we can see that the Christian God is a creator God. He is not, like the god of Epicurus, a part of nature, nor is nature coeternal with him. He exists as an independent immaterial being. Furthermore, the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) strikes directly against Epicurus’s doctrine that the universe, atoms and the void are all eternal…”

    “…His omnipotence extends from before time to all of time. Therefore, unlike the Epicurean gods, the Christian God is not only a creator but a miracle worker, and examples of miracles abound throughout the Old and New Testament…”

    “…Creation is from the top down, so to speak, whereas in Epicurus, it was from the bottom up. That is, God is portrayed in Genesis as an intelligent designer, creating, according to the plan of his intellect and will…For Epicurus and Lucretius, by contrast, the visible form a thing takes is caused by the accidental relations of matter…”

    “…In regard to humanity, according to Genesis 1-2 human beings are distinct from other animals. They are the pinnacle of earthly creation, somehow made in God’s image, not, as with Lucretius, a happy accident of chance, ultimately no different from other animals. Following upon this, it is clear from reading the entire Bible that human beings have an immortal, immaterial soul; that death, rather than being the natural dissipation of atoms, is an unnatural punishment; and finally, that the immaterial soul lives on after the death of the body…”

    In that context, I forgot the paragraph that Vincent Cook has on his site about "Epicurus and The Judeans" (for some reason I can't reach the site this morning, so this is the link) -


    By the way, I remember an article by the late Christopher Hitchens on Hanukkah. It was related to the same story and sympathetic to Epicurus. Have you read it?

    I think we always have to be careful with the word "random" not to imply that anything is possible. I don't think "anything is possible" is Epicurean, and would cite the AA Long article "Chance and Natural Law in Epicureanism"

    These are Wiker's opinions, of course. I am quoting from his book. His reading of Epicurus and Lucretius is usually incomplete and unsympathetic. How much is willful ignorance and how much malice, I'm still undecided.


    In view of the latest debate on the compatibility of Epicureanism with other worldviews and philosophies of life, I would like to call attention to the following quotation:

    In focusing on Christianity for historical reasons, we should not forget the fundamental cosmological and moral agreement between Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Since all three share a common foundation in the Old Testament, all three will be in basic opposition to Epicurean materialism (and hence moral Darwinism). Consequently, much of what is said about Christianity in its opposition to Epicureanism could be said of Judaism and Islam as well...

    It‘s not only you who chooses your enemy, it‘s more often your enemy who chooses you.


    "...Whether we are Christian or not, it is simply true from the very beginning Christianity set itself completely against Epicureanism at all points. The victory of Christianity in the first five hundred years A.D. necessitated the defeat of Epicurean materialism.The two could not coexist..."

    "...Nor could they coexist when Epicureanism was revised in the Renaissance...This, the antagonism between moral Darwinism and Christianity in the 19th century and beyond was and is simply a continuation of a very ancient animosity..."


    "...The entire materialist account of human nature, society, morality and religion, which forms the stream of modernity flowing toward its culmination in Darwin, is found clearly and succinctly stated in Lucretius. Lucretius seems so modern because we are so Lucretian..."

    "...For anyone even mildly familiar with modern evolutionary theory this is a remarkable passage (De Rerum Natura, 5.837-77)…

    (1) Random variation at the atomic level brings about a diversity of creatures at the level of species.

    (2) Monsters (later called monstrosities by Darwin) do not survive because they cannot defend themselves, nor provide sustenance, nor procreate by the 'ways of Venus.'

    (3) Whatever animals have survived must have been the most fit, having greater cunning, courage or quickness (or greater utility to human beings), and so are 'able by procreation to forge out the chain of the generations.'

    (4) Like the monsters, those species that are less fit do not survive, for they 'lay at the mercy of others for prey and profit…until nature brought that kind to destruction,' that is, extinction...“


    "Why has contemporary science choose to ignore or dismiss the existence of a designing intelligence? Why has it sided with the materialist?..."

    "...As I shall argue, modern science itself was designed to exclude a designer. Even more surprising, modern science was designed by an ancient Greek: Epicurus..."

    "...The argument of this book is that the ancient materialist Epicurus provided an approach to the study of nature - a paradigm, as the historian of science Thomas Kuhn called it - which purposely and systematically excluded the divine from nature, not only in regard to the creation and design of nature, but also in regard to divine control of, and intervention in, nature..."

    "...This secularization culminated in Darwinism because it was with Darwin that materialism, which had been slowly but surely permeating and re-forming the predecessor Christian culture, finally reached and devoured God the creator and the immortal human soul, leaving behind a completely Godless, soulless universe..."

    "...Every distinct view of the universe, every theory of nature, necessarily entails a view of morality; every distinct view of morality, every theory about human nature, necessarily entails a cosmology to support it..."

    "...The so-called culture wars are the result of this great conflict...Epicurean materialism and Christianity have been implacable foes since the very origin of Christianity...there is no possibility for compromise in the current moral debates between the rival sides..."

    Daniel how did you come across this book? Is it well known?

    As far as I know, the book is not well known.

    I had downloaded it - together with other titles, such as "Elemental Epicureanism" ;) - on my kindle, a couple of months ago. I must have found the title intriguing, maybe because it comes from a perspective which is not mine at all. I had started to read but found it boring.

    Anyway, a few days ago I saw that Hiram made a reference to the book on FB, and that encouraged me to pick it up again.