I'll still be unpacking boxes, but on Friday I'll be taking a 4 hour drive to my grandparents house to visit my dad's side of the family as we have Thanksgiving on Saturday with some early-Christmas gift unboxing. The following day I'll be tagging along with a childhood friend and his family to go watch Knives out, admittedly I have no interest *at all* in the movie since its directed by Rian Johnson.
After that, more unpacking.
In my search for little-known Epicureans throughout history, some of the first and most enigmatic I had come across were the ones who had crossed paths with Dante Alighieri.
Introducing: Manente Degli Uberti, commonly known as Farinata Degli Uberti
A 13th century aristocrat who was the military leader of the Ghibelline Faction (supported the HRE over the papacy) within Florence, he was often accused of being a heretic. Though we have little information about his philosophy, his ideas, or anything else aside from his military accomplishments in retaking Florence and single-handedly, prevented its razing. It's still worth mentioning him, since the time period in which Epicurean Philosophy is perhaps at its most misunderstood, was during the middle ages prior to the re-discovery of De Rerum Natura.
In fact, 19 years after his death, an Inquisition led by the Franciscans investigated the claims of his "heresy" and they exhumed the corpse of him & his wife, and submitted them both to a posthumous execution. Later, he is found within Canto X of the Divine Comedy within the sixth circle alongside Epicurus & his followers. Boccaccio wrote in a commentary on Dante, about why Farinata was included in the Divine Comedy and the actions of the Inquisition:
"He was of the opinion of Epicurus, that the soul dies with the body, and maintained that human happiness consisted in temporal pleasures; but he did not follow these in the way that Epicurus did, that is by making long fasts to have afterwards pleasure in eating dry bread*; but was fond of good and delicate viands, and ate them without waiting to be hungry; and for this sin he is damned as a Heretic in this place."
* While this definitely isn't close to describing the life & actions of Epicurus, we have to give Boccaccio the benefit of the doubt here, as this was the middle ages and Epicureanism was nothing but a shadow of itself until Poggio Bracciolini re-discovered Lucretius.
Secondly, we have a banker and the father of a close friend of Dante: Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti
Cavalcante was a wealthy Guelph-aligned banker and alleged Epicurean Philosopher, whose son Guido Cavalcanti was actually a close friend of Dante. Not much else is known at all about him other than that he shows up in Canto X of the Divine Comedy in the sixth circle of hell. What's noteworthy about him is that his son, Guido; the famous poet and friend of Dante, was arranged in a marriage with the daughter of Farinata Degli Uberti.
I've always been meaning to make a thread about these two, and now that my living situation is a bit more stable, I think I can put in the time to share some more of my findings.
Nate I'm not too familiar with reddit but I've expressed my frustration at the current Epicurean subreddit, and my attempts to reach the moderators have been left in silence. I briefly mentioned it once in a Skype Discussion that the head mod on there once approvingly commented on a r/Stoicism post, of a mural of Epicurus with an attached quote from Epictetus.
If we decided to make our own Epicurean subreddit I would suggest the forum be r/Epicurean_Philosophy and exponentially more organized and aesthetically pleasing, with proper rules and all. I haven't been too active in the past few weeks, even on my Discord, since Im packing up everything and moving this weekend. But if you made that push for a new subreddit we can call our own, I would be happy to moderate it with you.
Quick Update: I just reserved that subreddit name. I think we should try and foster a genuine Epicurean subreddit, and I would be more than happy to add you Nate and Hiram as mods. I'll start making the necessary changes to the Discord bot that auto-posts from r/Epicureanism and make an announcement for those also interested. But I won't be too active until I get settled into my new place.
The book is finally in my hands now. When my shift ends, I'll start reading it chapter by chapter.
My copy just arrived, I'll be reading it when I get home.
Edit: No I won't, my card keeps getting declined and I have to call the bank & wait a few days
I just found this video released yesterday that talks about the principles of Epicurus. Its another one of those unfamiliar content producers trying to explain his philosophy to equally uninformed people.
However, I think it does a better job than most, but is still not without flaw. He does mention the "static" and "moving" pleasure misconception as being something that Epicurus defined, albeit he barely goes into it and its mentioned for only a few seconds and never again. He also places heavy emphasis on the three types of desires, which while I do think they are valid, he went a little too in-depth on them while not mentioning anything like the Hedonic Calculus, which I think is more reliable as a concept.
Despite its immediate flaws, he doesn't present the idea that happiness is simply the absence of pain, although he was a little soft on the concept of indulging in pleasure. There was even a bit where he included the fear of death and god, and included the problem of evil that is "attributed" to Epicurus. Still, its perhaps one of the better videos out there, I might browse through the comments later and provide a counter-argument against the concept of the two types of pleasures.
I'm sure as a counterpoint to the initial claim of this thread, we can find more evidence of the contrary.
Like the Satyricon a work of adventure by who we believe to be Nero's Fashion adviser, Gaius Petronius (Arbiter). Many of its characters are care-free, in wanton lust with one another, of many backgrounds and occupations. What binds them together is not only love & sex with each other, but the merriment of adventure & pleasure. (This was written a little under 90 years after Lucretius died)
In one of the later chapters, this party finds themselves in the company of an obscenely wealthy Elite, who find themselves bored and tired of the extreme extravagance and pretension of learning. In addition to their gaudy host, the adversary of the main character is a Sophist by the name of Agamemnon.
I wouldn't claim that the party of adventurers in this novel are Epicurean, but even in Neronian Rome they deny obscene pleasures & don't seem to fall in the camp of "freedom from pain".
So last Sunday on 11/3/19 I spoke to Cassius in a group call about reviving Discord as a means to host an Epicurean community. I took the initiative to set one up and sent him the link, and from then on it has grown quite quickly.
As of this writing, we have 26 users in the server, 22 if you do not count alt accounts, myself, the other bot, and the Epicurus Bot that I have been struggling to complete.
I find that some of the text channels make for the most quickest and efficient method of answering & asking small questions instead of browsing google or the forums for a deeply embedded answer.
Below are the channels, which include voice channels as well as links and text of some of the key sources available to us.
One thing that we are discussing right now, is the possibility of a group call on the 20th of each month. We've posted our schedules in the 20th planning channel, and have also come to the conclusion that if nobody has the right schedule for the call, then we can have it on the closest date to the 20th in spirit.
All in all, the Discord is very new and shows some high potential to keep expanding. I've already laid out some roles and perms for moderators to expedite things along if it keeps growing and becomes a large server.
EDIT: Oh and one more thing, there are links included to two Facebook Groups (Epicurean Philosophy & Hiram's "Garden of Epicurus") as well as the page "Epicurean Touchpoints". A channel that has a bot automatically posting anything from the subreddit r/Epicureanism into the Discord. Including links to the forums here, and Robert Hanrott's daily blog at Epicurus.today with a disclaimer on the latter that he often writes about politics, that we understand but ultimately cannot endorse.
In Act 2 there is an aria sung by Acis about him arming himself to fight Polyphemus, here's are two excerpts from the libretto that are especially striking.
"When beauty's the prize,
What mortal fears dying?"
Which instantly reminded me of what Elli said on Sunday about aesthetics.
"Without her no pleasure,
For life is a pain"
Which is just another nail in the coffin, so to speak, about the constant themes of pain/pleasure & tranquility/destructiveness.
I've been taking a look at Act 2 of Acis & Galatea and it seems that the trend of Epicurean-friendly lyrics continues, aside from the act of Galatea reviving Acis through her divine power, deus ex machina much?
I tried recording sections from Book 1, but despite my good mic, Audacity picks up on a ton of background noise.
I love the contrast here, between Elayne's "Maximalism" & Wynn's Minimalism. Though you could easily see the two and want to find some median between them, I think that would be redundant as long as both are Epicurean. While VS 63 comes to mind, we should all embrace the pleasure that comes with finding, and living comfortably within our own style.
Frankly, I'm more of the maximalist mindset that Elayne has, I indulge in the extreme pleasures, right up to that limit, often pushing the envelope until I realize I may need to take a step back and examine my choices through the hedonistic calculus as a fall-back method, but when that refrain has had its time, I quickly reciprocate to more pleasure.
wynnho This was recently talked about, and yes, Epicurus did say that wise people will marry. It's more of a matter of the message of "don't rush into marriage" among other quotes & statements regarding love, that was lost in translation and quickly became one of the key criticisms of Epicureanism. (Selection is from Epicurus: The Extant Remains from a Cyril Bailey translation)
Another book on my shelf that I haven't been able to sit down & finish even one of these mini papers.
The backside reads:
"The Philosophy of Epicurus (c. 341-271 B.C.E.), has been a quietly pervasive influence for more than two millennia. At present, when many long revered ideologies are proven empty, Epicureanism is powerfully and refreshingly relevant, offering a straightforward way of dealing with the issues of life and death.
The chapters in this book provide a kaleidoscope of opinions about Epicurus's teachings through two thousand years. They tell us also about the archaeological discoveries in Oenoanda and Herculaneum that promise to augment the scant remains we have of Epicurus's own writing(1). The breadth of this new work will be welcomed by those who value Epicurean philosophy as a scholarly and personal resource for contemporary life.
Epicurus: His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance, is the title of a conference on Epicurus held at Rochester Institute of Technology, April, 2002, when many of the ideas were first presented."
(1) I think this is just an embellishment of the editor, The Wall at Oenoanda & the Villa de Papyri as we all know weren't from Epicurus himself.
Anyways, this book is essentially just a collection of presentations, speeches, and writings/essays about Epicureanism and its modern merits as well as focusing on specific aspects of the philosophy.
Since I haven't read it yet, and cannot summarize it, I'll just list each "chapter" with its title & author.
(Page) 5 "The Philosophy of Epicurus: It It an Option for Today?" - Dane Gordon
(Page) 17 "Philodemus, The Herculaneum Papyri" - David Armstrong
(Page) 45 "The Angry God: Epicureans, Lactantius, and Warfare" - James L. Campbell
(Page) 69 "Plotinus and Epicurean Epistemology" - Lloyd Gerson
(Page) 81 "Atomism and Gassendi's Conception of the Human Soul" - Veronica Gventzadze
(Page) 113 "Epicurus and Bishop Butler" - David E. White
(Page) 127 "The Young Marx on Epicurus: Dialectical Atomism and Human Freedom" - Paul Schafer
(Page) 139 "The Fixation of Satisfaction: Epicurus and Peirce on The Goal" - David Suits
(Page) 157 "Theological Paradox in Epicurus" - Marianna Shakhnovich
(Page) 167 "Epicurus on Friends and Goals" - Daniel Russell
(Page) 183 "Epicurus on Friendship: The Emergence of Blessedness" - M. R. Wheeler
(Page) 195 "Death as a Punishment: A Consequence of Epicurean Thanatology" - Stephen E. Rosenbaum
(Page) 209 "Diogene's Inscription at Oenoanda" - Abdrew M. T. Moore
Throughout the week I may sit down and read some of these and provide summaries in the responses.
I'll have to see if I can get a comp. copy at work. I keep seeing Wilson showing up on my article feed & on fringe youtube searches.
From my brief understanding, it seems this book is full of errors. But it's worth looking into, maybe I can pirate a mobi or epub/pdf of it.
Could you explain your questions? Why would duration be irrelevant to "unnecessary" desires?
Maybe I should've rephrased, but duration is *only* relevant to these unnecessary desires.
I'll be bookmarking this thread, I've spent too much time on the forums today while in my office (lol). In the meantime, I'll be thinking of replies. On the old Discord, Ethan and I used to discuss the 3 types of desires quite frequently, and while I do agree that many non-Epicureans tend to focus on them, I do think they are indispensable for getting rid of the idea that we are just "blanket hedonists" and a good teaching tool for those new looking to learn more.
Of course what may be necessary to someone, may be unnecessary to someone else (insulin comes to mind). But that is the nature of desire regardless of any philosophy - we just choose to embrace it.
It would be impossible to write a classical tragedy with an Epicurean in the main role. It took genius to write the De Rerum Natura, but could Lucretius have written an Aeneid?
Maybe not Lucretius, but certainly his late-contemporary Epicurean fellow by the name of Virgil.
Good points all around. However I think that duration as a variable would only be applicable if the desire you chose to fulfiil is natural, but unnecessary. Though we aren't ones for hypothetical situations, I can see this as a more useful tool for determining the priorities of your disposable income.
For example: should you buy a nice down pillow thats better than the cushioned rock beside your headboard? Or should you buy a cheap box of wine at target after an excruciating week?
I came across this article a few weeks ago, and thought little of it at the time. But now it has my attention, I'll keep this short as I don't have much time before I head out for the day, but take a quick look at the graphic presented in the article and the variables below it.
What would be considered the Epicurean position on a more defined calculus such as this? While we may not endorse the formal logic & mathematics around Epicurus' time, this presents something different. As most of the variables are unitless, it still remains dependent for each individual according to his or her personal lives & dispositions.