Maybe a thread, or an inclusion in the thread concerning pleasure, we should note the "moving" and "static" definitions and how they're limited (as opposed to how much credit Neo-Epicureans give them).
Cassius here are the proper sources
More sensual claim: Cicero's De Rerum Deorum, Chapter 40, paragraph 113, 2nd to last line prior to Chapter 41
"As for Metrodorus, Epicurus's co‑partner in philosophy, he supplied him with many still more outspoken quotations; in fact Metrodorus takes his brother Timocrates to task for hesitating to measure every element of happiness by the standard of the belly, nor is this an isolated utterance, but he repeats it several times. I see you nod your assent, as you are acquainted with the passages; and did you deny it, I would produce the volumes. Not that I am at the moment criticizing your making pleasure the sole standard of value — that belongs to another inquiry."
Poverty claim: Philodemus, On Property Management, XXV 3. Philodemus' Approach to Property Management and the Debate between the Epicureans and the Cynics.
I don't have the actual pdf of Philodemus, or rather one that is unrestricted. But here's the citation.
"The debate between Metrodorus and the Cynics focuses on the issue whether wealth has any value and, if it does, of what kind. While the Cynics are staunch advocates of πενιά or πτωχεια, "poverty or pensury [sic]," denying that wealth has any value at all, Metrodorus treats it as an instrumental good whose practical value is determined by its good or base use. His position is closer to Zeno's position than one might expect: like Zeno and other Stoics, Metrodorus views (natural) wealth as a preferred indifferent of some sort. Philodemus highlights that aspect when he suggests that, on the one hand, the wise man will be hopeful and content with a frugal life, but, on the other hand, "he feels more inclined, prompted by his will, toward a more affluent way of living" (XVI.4-6) Woolf (2009) argues that this was Epicurus's position as well"
Maybe I can look into Raphael Woolf, to find that argument and see if it points to any other sources.
Edit: The Woolf Section cited is from "The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism", Chapter 9 which was written by Woolf titled "Pleasure and Desire" (Which right away opens with "pleasure is the absence of pain").
Fragments of Metrodorus' books were found at Herculaneum, likely that Philodemus was versed or had access to them.
Its worth adding as a final touch, that the intellectual heir of Epicurus, Metrodorus, espoused a sensual hedonism. He also disavowed the asceticism and poverty of the cynics in favor of affluence while also maintaining that wealth was not the means for happiness.
Well said Cassius.
I think there are two parts to the most common misconception, the first being revisionism and strawman-esque argumentation against the philosophy. If Epicurean Philosophy was the minimalist life built on virtue and freedom from mental disturbances, then surely the only point of contention between the dominant Hellenistic philosophies would have been the epistemology and physics, yet the argumentation and disagreements always seem to boil down topleasure. For the Stoics always say that you should be indifferent to pleasure, but not pursue it, and the others say that pleasure itself is evil, but why antagonize the Epicureans as overindulgent hedonists like Diotimus the Stoic did, because if its to be "expected" that they weren't the overindulgent hedonists, he would have been laughed at and his trial would've ended with an innocent verdict.
No, its far easier to mis-characterize your opponents arguments so that you may better defeat them. For us the Stoics are the unemotional and uncaring husks who say
"Do not worry that your sister fell ill, be virtuous and all will be well"
Or the Platonists, in which our straw man might appear as: pseudo-mystics who only speak of philosophy in tricky games to confuse all others to give the image of intelligence
Clearly those two examples are gross caricatures, but the point still stands. It makes little sense to say that Epicurean Philosophy is somehow both the overindulgent and ultra-hedonist school of red wine waterfalls and brothels for every street corner while simultaneously being the school of frugal minimalism where even a grand feast is bread and water, and socializing consists of only platonic friendship, and that we must all limit our desires and pursue only the smallest, and static pleasures of the mind.
Obviously this false schism must be mended. Since EP can only resemble one side to this broken dichotomy, which one is it? This brings me to my next point.
The second reason why I think this misconception could happen is that it is a matter of unwilling ignorance, or taking things only at face value.
If we examine the surviving texts, its easy to see why someone could come to that conclusion of the minimalist perspective, especially when we read L to M, Laertius, and a few of the Selected Fragments (Ive only read Peter St. Andre).
But it's just that, the face value. The same source telling us Epicurus ate only bread and water also tells us that he wrote over 300 books, of which a vast and overwhelming majority has been lost, and only very recently have the papyrus scrolls in Herculaneum begun to be deciphered through new methods of technology that preserves them and reveal the charred characters.
Throughout all of history until perhaps the 20th century (barring DeWitt and a few others), Epicurean Philosophy was always seen as the indulgent hedonist school rather than the Neo-Epicurean one we see today. To assume that EP is the minimalist & removal of pain school given the surviving sources is as ridiculous to assume that its the ultra-hedonistic school that would make even Sade blush.
Found two books by obscure French Philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau (1854-1888) who was seen as an Epicurean.
"Mémoire sur la morale utilitaire depuis Epicure jusqu'à l'ecole anglaise" (Memoir on Utilitarian morals from Epicurus to the English School)
"La Morale d’Épicure et ses rapports avec les doctrines contemporaines" (The Morals of Epicurus and its relation to contemporary doctrines)
A brief textbook on the history of philosophy from the pre-Socratics all the way up to the late twentieth century. There's a section on the Hellenistic Era that opens up with Epicurus, I mentioned this book to Cassius during today's (1/12/2020) Skype Call and said that I would copy it, so here it is attached below, as well as the link down below.
If the law is just 🤔
EDIT FROM CASSIUS: Because we did not get to this paragraph during Episode Two, I am pasting the text to be discussed in Episode three here, to be followed by the comments relevant to this paragraph that have already been posted. Charles' post follows and then the rest in order:
Welcome to Episode Three of Lucretius Today. This is a podcast dedicated to the poet Lucretius, who lived in the age of Julius Caesar and wrote "On The Nature of Things," the only complete presentation of Epicurean philosophy left to us from the ancient world.
I am your host Cassius, and together with my panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you line by line through the six books of Lucretius' poem, and discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. Be aware that none of us are professional philosophers, and everyone here is a a self-taught Epicurean. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yourself, and we suggest the best place to start is the book, "Epicurus and His Philosophy" by Canadian professor Norman DeWitt.
Before we get started with today's episode let me remind you of our three ground rules.
First: The opinions stated on this podcast are those of the people making them. Our aim is to bring you an accurate presentation of classical Epicurean philosophy as the ancient Epicureans understood it, not to tell you what we think Epicurus might have said or should have said, in our opinions.
Second: In this podcast we won't be talking about modern political issues. How you apply Epicurus in your own life is entirely up to you. Over at the Epicureanfriends.com web forum, we apply this approach by following a set of ground rules we call "Not Neo-Epicurean, But Epicurean." Epicurean philosophy is not a religion, it''s not Stoicism, it's not Humanism, it's not Libertarianism, it's not Atheism, and it's not Marxism or anything else - it is unique in the history of Western Civilization, and as we explore Lucretius's poem you'll quickly see how that is the case.
Third: Please be willing to re-examine whatever you think you already know about Epicurus. Lucretius will show that Epicurus was not focused on fine food and wine, like some people say, but neither did he teach that we should live like a hermit on bread and water, as other people say. Epicurus taught that feeling - pleasure and pain - are what Nature gave us to live by, and not gods, idealism, or virtue ethics. More than anything else, Epicurus taught that the universe is not supernatural in any way, and that means there's no life after death, and any happiness we'll ever have comes in THIS life, which is why it is so important not to waste time in confusion.
As we get started today, remember that the home page of this podcast is LucretiusToday.com, and there you can find a free copy of the version of the poem from which we are reading, and links to where you can discuss the poem between episodes at Epicureanfriends.com.
This is the text that will be covered in Episode Three. The Latin version of Book One has this as beginning at approximately line 81.
1743 Daniel Browne Version: But in these things, I fear, you will suspect you are learning impious rudiments of reason, and entering in a road of wickedness. So, far from this, reflect what sad flagitious deeds Religion has produced. By her inspired, the Grecian chiefs, the first of men, at Aulis, Diana’s altar shamefully defiled with Iphigenia’s blood; her virgin hair a fillet bound, which hung in equal length on either side of her face. She saw her father, covered with sorrow, stand before the altar; for pity to his grief the butchering priests concealed the knife. The city, at the sight, overflowed with tears; the virgin, dumb with fear; fell low upon her knees on the hard Earth; in vain the wretched princess in distress pleaded that she first gave the honored name of Father to the King; but hurried off, and dragged by wicked hands, she, trembling, stood before the altar. Alas! not as a virgin, the solemn forms being duly done, drawn with pleasing force to Hymen’s noble rites, but a chaste maid, just ripe for nuptial joy, falls a sad victim, by a father’s hand, only to beg a kind propitious gale for Grecian ships. Such scenes of villainy Religion could inspire!
Munro Version: This is what I fear herein, lest haply you should fancy that you are entering on unholy grounds of reason and treading the path of sin; whereas on the contrary often and often that very religion has given birth to sinful and unholy deeds. Thus in Aulis the chosen chieftains of the Danai, foremost of men, foully polluted with Iphianassa’s blood the altar of the Trivian maid. Soon as the fillet encircling her maiden tresses shed itself in equal lengths down each cheek, and soon as she saw her father standing sorrowful before the altars and beside him the ministering priests hiding the knife and her countrymen at sight of her shedding tears, speechless in terror she dropped down on her knees and sank to the ground. Nor aught in such a moment could it avail the luckless girl that she had first bestowed the name of father on the king. For lifted up in the hands of the men she was carried shivering to the altars, not after due performance of the customary rites to be escorted by the clear-ringing bridal song, but in the very season of marriage, stainless maid mid the stain of blood, to fall a sad victim by the sacrificing stroke of a father, that thus a happy and prosperous departure might be granted to the fleet. So great the evils to which religion could prompt!
Bailey Version: Herein I have one fear, lest perchance you think that you are starting on the principles of some unholy reasoning, and setting foot upon the path of sin. Nay, but on the other hand, again and again our foe, religion, has given birth to deeds sinful and unholy. Even as at Aulis the chosen chieftains of the Danai, the first of all the host, foully stained with the blood of Iphianassa the altar of the Virgin of the Cross-Roads. For as soon as the band braided about her virgin locks streamed from her either cheek in equal lengths, as soon as she saw her sorrowing sire stand at the altar’s side, and near him the attendants hiding their knives, and her countrymen shedding tears at the sight of her, tongue-tied with terror, sinking on her knees she fell to earth. Nor could it avail the luckless maid at such a time that she first had given the name of father to the king. For seized by men’s hands, all trembling was she led to the altars, not that, when the ancient rite of sacrifice was fulfilled, she might be escorted by the clear cry of ‘Hymen’, but in the very moment of marriage, a pure victim she might foully fall, sorrowing beneath a father’s slaughtering stroke, that a happy and hallowed starting might be granted to the fleet. Such evil deeds could religion prompt.
This from Diogenes of Oinoanda:
[So it is obvious that wrong-doers, given that they do not fear the penalties imposed by the laws, are not] afraid of [the gods.] This [has to be] conceded. For if they were [afraid, they] would not [do wrong]. As for [all] the others, [it is my opinion] that the [wise] are not [(reasoning indicates) righteous] on account of the gods, but on account of [thinking] correctly and the [opinions] they hold [regarding] certain things [and especially] pains and death (for indeed invariably and without exception human beings do wrong either on account of fear or on account of pleasures), and that ordinary people on the other hand are righteous, in so far as they are righteous, on account of the laws and the penalties, imposed by the laws, hanging over them. But even if some of their number are conscientious on account of the laws, they are few: only just two or three individuals are to be found among great segments of multitudes, and not even these are steadfast in acting righteously; for they are not soundly persuaded about providence. A clear indication of the complete inability of the gods to prevent wrong-doings is provided by the nations of the Jews and Egyptians, who, as well as being the most superstitious of all peoples, are the vilest of all peoples.
On account of what kind of gods, then, will human beings be righteous? For they are not righteous on account of the real ones or on account of Plato’s and Socrates’ Judges in Hades. We are left with this conclusion; otherwise, why should not those who disregard the laws scorn fables much more?
So, with regard to righteousness, neither does our doctrine do harm [not does] the opposite [doctrine help], while, with regard to the other condition, the opposite doctrine not only does not help, but on the contrary also does harm, whereas our doctrine not only does not harm, but also helps. For the one removes disturbances, while the other adds them, as has already been made clear to you before.
Are there other Epicurean texts directly on point on the corrupting power of religion?
Am I also not remembering that someone famous in the Middle Ages made a comment about Lucretius' line "So great is the power of religion to persuade to evil deeds!" being one of the most memorable of the poem that would live forever? or as long as poetry survives.... or something like that?
This below is a hint of it, but not the full quote:
"When a single day brings the world to destruction, only then will the poetry of the sublime Lucretius pass away." This judgment by the Roman poet Ovid , written in the generation after Lucretius's death, has been echoed by such writers as Voltaire and George Santayana; the author of De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) holds a place in world literature as one of the great philosopher-poets.
The most obvious and famous result of this attitude is Lucretius’ extreme hostility to traditional religion—which, in his view, is neither reasonable or natural and is the source of endless anxiety and cruelty. And responses to his poem often begin and end with that. Voltaire, as one might expect, enthusiastically approved the most famous line in the poem attacking traditional religion: “That shows how much/ religion can turn mankind to evil” (1.134), and the energy of that endorsement is matched by any number of people who turned away from Lucretius in horror for this irreligious stance.
And Martin Ferguson Smith, but again not the full quote:
Charles' Post Follows:
Are there others?
I seem to recall the story of Jephthah having to sacrifice his daughter, not her in particular but from the result of a vow he made to secure victory over a battle.
I don't know where to put this but when looking for info on Asclepiades of Bithynia I found this article from our Epicurean Friend Christos Yapijakis. http://iv.iiarjournals.org/content/23/4/507.full
Edit: Just noticed that Elli had shared this article to the FB group last year in January.
Would love to be a part of this, though perhaps we could cover 1-3 quotations per episode?
A great thread Cassius, I've actually been grappling with the concept over the past week and a half, and was meaning to make a thread when I felt confident enough to present it
I think it is correct Epicurean thought to point out that pleasure and pain are separate feelings and do not blend together.
This is specifically what I've been thinking about, and the concept its been has been whether or not pain and pleasure aren't on the black and white axis that almost everybody treats it as such, but rather a polarity where both can attach themselves to a center, what we define as experience. Thus, this leads to the possibility of feeling pain and pleasure simultaneously, hence the multiple interpretations of how we actually achieve pleasure, since it can either be through the removal or fulfillment of desire with that pleasure actually achieved through indulgence (both minimalist or "maximalist" hedonism combined with the calculus, which combines the latter for the calculus removes the pain ie VS 21), or pleasure achieved through the removal of pain and the ataraxia that follows (which I find it can be a slippery slope to asceticism, personally).
We have PD 3 and 4 and the two, at least for me seem to contradict, yet can be mended by VS 37.
PD 3: "The limit of quantity in pleasures is the removal of all that is painful. Wherever pleasure is present, as long as it is there, there is neither pain of body, nor of mind, nor of both at once."
PD 4: "Pain does not last continuously in the flesh, but the acutest pain is there for a very short time, and even that which just exceeds the pleasure in the flesh does not continue for many days at once. But chronic illnesses permit a predominance of pleasure over pain in the flesh."
VS 37: "Nature is weak toward evil, not toward good: because it is saved by pleasures, but destroyed by pains."
Now, PD 8 tells us that no pleasure is bad in itself but can lead to greater pain than the initial pleasure. But what about if the current pleasure continues when that new pain arises? A person at a party in the company of friends, could be suffering from mild alcohol poisoning (pain) yet be having the time of their life (pleasure) in the form of the music, atmosphere, the drink itself, or any other number of factors that culminate in a higher sense of pleasure than the pain of their liver and intoxication. The key here isn't determining the measurement of how much pleasure these other factors add up to, or how bad the pain from the intoxication is, its the quantity, as what is more pleasurable is superseding the current pain they are experiencing.
There are of course, a ton of other "situations" both hypothetical and completely grounded in reality, instead of a party-goer, we can look at a mountain climber admiring in awe, the summit they had just climbed and the view afterwards despite their sore feet and immense hunger/thirst. While I disagree that pain and pleasure can blend into a new feeling, we cannot deny that there are many instances in which pain and pleasure are both experienced simultaneously, and its up to us and the quantity, or magnitude of pain/pleasure to determine what we currently experience.
As I mentioned at the start of this comment, my thinking on this hasn't been polished enough, but upon seeing this thread I could not help but share my thoughts. I'd love to hear some feedback on this thread, of what Mike, Cassius, and I have said.
Interesting question Oscar, but I think it has less to do with whether something is "fixed or unfixed" as it is instead the variety of the sources that we gather from. As you have probably surmised from the thread discussing the SoFE's 20 tenants, there is of course the classical interpretation, or in other words what Epicurus had envisioned, to understand his words in the context of Ancient Athens (ie why the problem of evil makes little sense when attributed to Epicurus). Indeed Epicurus himself told his students that they should write their own outlines and understandings of the philosophy. It's written in the Letter to Herodotus:
"Those who have made some advance in the survey of the entire system ought to fix in their minds under the principal headings an elementary outline of the whole treatment of the subject. For a comprehensive view is often required, the details but seldom. ... For it is impossible to gather up the results of continuous diligent study of the entirety of things unless we can embrace in short formulas and hold in mind all that might have been accurately expressed even to the minutest detail."
However, given the history of the philosophy, it most definitely grew within the following centuries after his death, we see this with Lucretius and the elaboration of the idea of the Atomic Swerve (Clinamen), or throughout the middle ages up to the Enlightenment when EP was beginning to have the proper recognition it so rightfully needed when Lucretius and Epicurus were invoked alongside the materialists and hedonists and became incorporated into sophisticated worldviews. Simultaneously, even, the works of the Epicureans began having a clarity or revival so that they could be studied and accepted on their own merit without the help of Enlightenment thinkers using bits and pieces.
Epicurus himself was wise and proficient in philosophy, that we do not deny, but having a fixed view of him isn't too unlike an "ideal" Epicurus where we conveniently forget his statement about the sun or his meteorological predictions in his Letter to Pythocles.
Epicurean Philosophy stands as one of the few surviving ancient schools of thought, and almost alone in actually being right and correct without revisionism.
Interestingly enough, Mettrie has quite a few quotes on the subject, decades before Darwin.
"The first generations must have been very imperfect. Here
the esophagus will have been lacking; there the stomach, the vulva, the
intestines, & so on. Obviously the only animals that will have
have been able to live, conserve, & perpetuate their species, will have been
those who have been provided with all the parts
necessary for reproduction, & which in a word no
essential part will not have been missed. Conversely those
who have been deprived of some part of a necessity
absolute, will be dead, or shortly after their
birth, or at least without reproducing. Perfection
was no more the work of a day for nature than for art."
"People say that all eyes are made optically and all ears mathematically! How do they
know that? Because they have observed nature; they were astonished to see that its
productions were so equal, and even superior, to art. They could not do otherwise
than suppose that it had some aim or enlightened purposes. Nature thus existed
before art, which was created following in her steps and came from her as the son
comes from his mother. And a chance arrangement, providing the same privileges
as an arrangement made on purpose by all possible hard work, earned our common
mother an honor which is due only to the laws of movement."
"By what an infinite number of combinations matter must have passed before
reaching the only combination which could result in a perfect animal, and through
how many others before reproduction reached the degree of perfection it enjoys
"Everything doctors & physicists have written about
the use of the parts of the animated bodies, always appeared to me
unfounded. All their reasoning on the causes
finals are so frivolous that if Lucretius had refuted them so wrongly then he must have been a bad physician as he was a great poet"
"The elements of matter, by dint of twitching &
mingling, having managed to make eyes, it was
impossible not to see, as not to see oneself
in a mirror, either natural or artificial. The eye has found itself
the mirror of objects, which often serve them in turn.
Nature did not think more of eyeing to see, than
water, to serve as a mirror for the simple shepherdess. The water is
found suitable for returning the images; the shepherdess saw there
with pleasure, her pretty face. This is how the author of the Machine Man thinks."
Mettrie made sure to reject all of the supernatural and to stay firmly within a naturalistic and material view of the world, often conceding to Lucretius and disagreeing with his former Cartesian colleagues .
Well, after revising the first edition of the 31 original paragraphs found in Mettrie's "The System of Epicurus", I stumbled across an English translation, however, I find that some sections are a bit misleading and the translator took many liberties.
I've corrected a few of my translations as a result, but my translation process has been checking every single word I'm not familiar with in dictionaries, thesauruses, google, yandex, and collins translating for numerous synonyms or if they are simply nouns or rather, verbs, thus changing the entire context of each sentence. Since French is a Romance Language based on Latin, its syntax is seen as "backwards in order" compared to our Germanic language, this seemed to be problematic for even the translator before me.
As far as my actual knowledge of French: I was incorporated into a Spanish (Latin based) speaking step-family at a young age, listening to hours of opera and reading librettos with their English translations next to them, and one of my exes was fluent in French and she taught me over the course of a few years.
As I have been busy telling others about this forum and looking everywhere I can for Epicurean figures throughout history, I have elected to make a thread detailing my findings, and will be continually updated whenever I come across a new promising lead. Consider this a list of even the smallest literary or bibliographical references to Epicurean Philosophy.
Another book by Evremond
"Pensées d'Épicure précédées d'un Essai sur la morale d’Épicure" which translates directly into "Thoughts of Epicurus preceded by an Essay on the Morals of Epicurus"
Charles de Saint-Évremond; "Discours sur Épicure" 1613-1703; No idea what it's about and its in French, maybe I need to start a translation if I can't find one online.
Evremond was a very reclusive writer who never allowed to have his works be published unless he had died, but he was a libertine and a student of Gassendi, spending the later half of his life frequenting a hedonist salon.
Lucilio 'Giulio Cesare' Vanini; "De Admirandis" 1616; Full title being "De Admirandis Naturae Reginae Deaeque Mortalium Arcanis" or "On the Marvelous Secrets of Nature, the Queen and Goddess of Mortals"
Vanini, despite being a pantheist, rejected much of Aristotle and sought to explain everything through the teachings of Epicurus and Lucretius, but developed his own view of mechanistic-materialism.