Posts by Garden Dweller

    Tell me if I am over-interpreting the Epicurean approach:


    A student of Epicurus, when confronted with a pain causing problem, will use a strategic method to relieve the pain, including:


    Analysis of the root causes of the problem, which may be complex and not easily discerned.


    Consulting with others on how best to resolve the problem, including use of the body of knowledge obtained through scientific method.


    Respond to the problem by means of a strategy focused on achieving a state of pleasure, which may be by use of a number of complex problem solving methods, if needed.


    Simple problems may have simple solutions, but more difficult problems may need a coordinated approach with a number of methods.


    This is what I mean by rational decisionmaking.

    Some mental pains that I can imagine are anxiety, worry, desire for revenge, fear and anger. I know that one of the basic goals of Epicurus is to reduce or eliminate fear/anxiety/worry in humans.


    I am using the terms Rational Decisionmaking and Rational Behavior Decisionmaking in place of the term Hedonistic Calculus. Section 18 is an attempt to describe Hedonistic Calculus, how one would make behavior decisions using criteria that align with Epicurean philosophy. I don't like the philosophical term Hedonistic Calculus because the word hedonist makes me think of eating grapes off a tross while participating in an orgy, and the word calculus reminds me of difficult to understand mathematic concepts, when in fact the term Hedonistic Calculus means a careful choice of behavior to maximize one's joy and happiness.


    You can see in the original section 18 I used a mathematical explanation, or a spreadsheet explanation of hedonistic calculus. After reflection, I don't like this explanation, it is not the way I make decisions about my life. That is the reason for the rewrite of this section.


    Either the English language is failing me with words to describe what I mean, or perhaps I need to find better words to describe things like "Present Moment Physical Comfort Enhancement". That phrase is clumsy and not quality writing. I could remove the word Physical which would reduce the clumsiness and make it less specific. One could write an entire book on the hedonistic calculus, and I am trying to describe it in a few paragraphs.

    Present Moment Distress Reduction


    Be attentive to one's body and respond to distress in the present moment.


    One should constantly monitor your body's senses: are you sitting comfortably, are your clothes and shoes comfortable, are you warm or cold, are you hungry or thirsty, do you have any mental stress or physical discomfort? When you sense any of these distress indicators, take action to remedy the discomfort as soon as you can.

    I agree that focusing one's attention on negative things is not good for the mind. I may need to go through the full text and change the focus from negative sensory inputs to ways of enhancing comfort. ...



    Present Moment Physical Comfort Enhancement


    Be attentive to one's body and how one could improve comfort and contentment.


    At frequent intervals, one should be aware of one's current physical state and imagine what one could do to increase comfort, such as drinking to relieve thirst, finding a good sitting position, wearing clothes that do not bind or chafe, or getting up and stretching after being inactive for some time. When physically active, enjoy the exercise but know the limits and take a break when appropriate.

    I intend to replace this with:


    18. Rational Behavior Decisionmaking


    In order to use reason to live a life of happiness and tranquility, one applies rational decisionmaking to ones life based on the philosophy of Epicurus.


    Rational Behavior Decisionmaking involves selecting one's behavior and activities, including:


    Which activities we choose to do each day

    Which people we associate with

    How we speak to and treat other people

    Recognizing nature through our senses

    What we consume

    Distinguishing between pleasure and pain, and determining which actions or events led to the experience of pleasure or pain



    Levels of Rational Behavior Decisionmaking


    Present Moment Distress Reduction


    Be attentive to one's body and respond to distress in the present moment.


    One should constantly monitor your body's senses: are you sitting comfortably, are your clothes and shoes comfortable, are you warm or cold, are you hungry or thirsty, do you have any mental stress or physical discomfort? When you sense any of these distress indicators, take action to remedy the discomfort as soon as you can.


    Present Moment Positive Emotion Enhancement


    Over one's life, one should learn specific behaviors that enhance feelings of joy, kindness, love, grace and other positive emotions (pleasurable emotions). Behaviors which bring pleasure might include calling a friend for a conversation, preparing a meal, writing a poem, taking a nap, designing a project, organizing one's desk, reading a book or going for a walk. The behaviors which an individual finds pleasurable are individual to that person. Each person must make themselves aware of the types of behaviors which enhance one's positive emotions, and in the present moment, should select that behavior which the individual feels would be most pleasurable. It may be helpful to make a list of behaviors that have been enjoyable in the past to help one remember the options that one has in the present moment.


    Future Distress Reduction


    There are a number of problems which one can avoid in the future by taking action today. Examples are preparing a financial budget to avoid a lack of funds, excersising to improve future health, medical care to heal a wound, working today to avoid future poverty, brushing one's teeth to avoid tooth decay. Select this type of preventative behavior when a relatively minor negative experience today will prevent a major discomfort tomorrow.


    Future Positive Emotion Enhancement


    Some actions one can do today can reap benefits in the future. Examples are planting a seed to enjoy the future crop, getting an education which will improve one's career, investing savings so that one may enjoy free time from employment. Select this type of action strategically, with a consideration as to risk and reward, in particular regarding what one is giving up today.



    Self Preservation and Maximization of Pleasure


    Life is what allows us to enjoy pleasure, so preservation and extension of one's life is the prime directive to maximize one's ability to experience pleasure.


    In one's rational behavior decisionmaking process, one should always consider the risk of death or injury associated with the behavior, and the impact of the behavior on one's health and longevity.


    Suggestions for starting out with a system of rational behavior choices:


    Make a list of foods which cause indigestion or other problems and avoid them.

    Consciously select the food and drink which you consume using science-based knowledge of a healthy diet as well as your preferences in flavor and taste.

    Make a list of things which you enjoy doing and which bring pleasure, so you can refer back to them when you have time and don't know what to do.

    Make a list of preventative actions you wish to take and know how they need to be applied in order to be effective.

    Imagine the type of life one would like to have in the future and ask oneself what can one do today to bring that life into effect.

    If there is an activity which you particularly enjoy, for example, a morning walk or afternoon tea, deliberately schedule these activities on your calendar so they don't get neglected and double booked by more mundane tasks and responsibilities.

    I intend to edit the following sections and welcome comment:


    16. Preserve the Health of your Body


    Your level of happiness over the long term depends on how you treat your body. Neglect and abuse can bring pain. Eat healthy foods, exercise and use your body to maintain your fitness level. Use appropriate hygiene and preventative medical care. Avoid alcohol and drugs in excess. Exercise is an example of a short term discomfort that has long term benefits. Strive to achieve a healthy mind in a healthy body.

    This section will be replaced with:


    16. Preserve the Health of Your Body


    Your level of happiness over the long term depends on how you treat your body. Neglect and abuse can bring pain. Eat healthy foods, exercise and use your body to maintain your fitness level. Use appropriate hygiene and preventative medical care. Exercise is an example of a short term discomfort that has long term benefits. Strive to achieve a healthy mind in a healthy body.


    Our senses are the most direct and true connection with the natural world, far more direct than our understanding and learning about the natural world that we receive through communication with others. One should carefully guard against anything that would disturb, modify or distort one's senses and sensory observation of the natural world. One should moderate the use of intoxicants which distort one's perception of the world. Avoid alcohol and drugs in excess.

    Our written language is somewhat limited in the meanings it can convey through a single word. The words "pain" and "pleasure" are not adequate to describe the positive and negative sensations which we receive from our environment. Some synonyms for pain that one may sense include distress, dismay, discomfort, worry, anxiety, disturbance, fear, bother, discontent, displeasure, stress, distastefulness and unpleasantness. Synonyms for pleasure that one may sense include joy, peace, relief, comfort, contentment, enjoyment and satisfaction.

    Let me state a hypothetical position without using the word virtue:


    In one's rational behavior decisionmaking (hedonic calculus), one should always consider the risk of death or injury associated with the behavior, and the impact of the behavior on one's health and longevity. This self-preservation assessment is equally important or superior to the question of whether the behavior will result in pleasure.


    Justification: Life is what allows us to enjoy pleasure, so preservation and extension of one's life is the prime directive to maximize one's ability to experience pleasure.

    Life allows us to enjoy pleasure. Is self preservation of one's own life a virtue in Epicurean philosophy?


    By self preservation, one might include avoiding high risk activities, seeking preventative healthcare, practing good diet and exercise, and learning ways to extend one's health and lifespan ?

    Strategies which minimze maintenance are very helpful. So much of our time is spent on maintenance, storage and employment to pay for our collection of things. For most people in today's world, a process of simplification and reduction in one's accumulation of things is very healthy in the sense that it frees up time for more pleasurable activities.


    After working on simplification for some time (decades), I did find that in some areas of life I had bottomed out, and was practicing simplification only because it had worked before. I had to change my strategy and focus on the activities I enjoyed doing, and in some cases started purchasing things that I previously sold at a garage sale (for example).


    Most people would benefit from simplification of their lives. However, someone who has successfully made their life more tranquil through simplification may need to redirect their efforts to maximize joy-comfort-fascination-pleasure.

    With regard to diet, different people have different needs. I would recommend using a science based diet which is shown to work against the many diet induced diseases of modern civilization.

    When dealing with controlling people, it is helpful to say what you really think to them without anger.


    You probably know this, but arranging your life to gain independence and distance from unpleasant people will help you move to a better place. Clearly, people who want you to be unhappy should be avoided. But be strategic, building a stable and independent life takes time.

    In order to use reason to live a life worthy of the gods, one applies rational decisionmaking to ones life. Rational decisionmaking is based on the philosophy of Epicurus and involves selecting one's behavior and activities, including:


    Which activities we choose to do each day


    Which people we associate with


    How we speak to and treat other people


    Recognizing nature through our senses


    Distinguishing between pleasure and pain, and determining which actions or events led to the experience of pleasure or pain

    Here is an attempt to describe "Hedonistic Calculus" as it might be applied today.


    Rational Behavior Decisionmaking


    Levels of Behavior Decisionmaking


    Present Moment Distress Reduction

    Be attentive to one's body and respond to distress in the present moment.

    One should constantly monitor your body's senses: are you sitting comfortably, are your clothes and shoes comfortable, are you warm or cold, are you hungry or thirsty, do you have any mental stress or physical discomfort? When you sense any of these distress indicators, take action to remedy the discomfort as soon as you can.


    Present Moment Positive Emotion Enhancement

    Over one's life, one should learn specific behaviors that enhance feelings of joy, kindness, love, grace and other positive emotions (pleasurable emotions). Behaviors which bring pleasure might include calling a friend for a conversation, preparing a meal, writing a poem, taking a nap, designing a project, organizing one's desk, reading a book or going for a walk. The behaviors which an individual finds pleasurable are individual to that person. Each person must make themselves aware of the types of behaviors which enhance one's positive emotions, and in the present moment, should select that behavior which the individual feels would be most pleasurable. It may be helpful to make a list of behaviors that have been enjoyable in the past to help one remember the options that one has in the present moment.


    Future Distress Reduction

    There are a number of problems which one can avoid in the future by taking action today. Examples are preparing a financial budget to avoid a lack of funds, excersising to improve future health, medical care to heal a wound, working today to avoid future poverty, brushing one's teeth to avoid tooth decay. Select this type of preventative behavior when a relatively minor negative experience today will prevent a major discomfort tomorrow.


    Future Positive Emotion Enhancement

    Some actions one can do today can reap benefits in the future. Examples are planting a seed to enjoy the future crop, getting an education which will improve one's career, investing savings so that one may enjoy free time from employment. Select this type of action strategically, with a consideration as to risk and reward, in particular regarding what one is giving up today.


    Suggestions for starting out with a system of rational behavior choices:

    Make a list of foods which cause indigestion or other problems and avoid them.

    Make a list of things which you enjoy doing and which bring pleasure, so you can refer back to them when you have time and don't know what to do.

    Make a list of preventative actions you wish to take and know how they need to be applied in order to be effective.

    Imagine the type of life one would like to have in the future and ask oneself what can one do today to bring that life into effect.

    When one makes lifestyle decisions, how does one apply hedonistic calculus?


    Sample decisions:

    Should I eat healthy food or food that tastes good but has long term negative health effects?

    If I reduce the number of things that I own, my life is simplified, but what if I start to get bored with my minimalist situation?

    Some luxuries are very pleasing, but I can't afford them, should I get a second job to pay for them?


    Did Epicurus recommend a certain lifestyle?


    Does Epicurus recommend eating simple food and growing one's food in a garden?

    Would living in a garden and harvesting one's food be a life to strive for as a student of Epicurus?