So instead of limiting ourselves from scholarly discusdions, we can be more effective and productive if we also apply Epicureanism in the most practical context. I don't think it is wrong to talk about things like happiness at work, choosing the right products to buy, ideal home for a tranquil life, how love provides and destroys happiness, why criminals deserve punishment or second chance, how success makes one happy or misserable, when is the right time to quit a day job, how Epicureans should practice defensive driving, parenting, Epicurean life hacks, and the like.
I agree. In fact, this is what we should be preoccupied with if we want to grow and make a non-Epicurean world an Epicurean one. This is what priests and pastors do. Every Sunday, they talk about how Christians would live in a secular world. If we don't do it, we will remain a small and endangered species remote from the real world.
There is no such thing as too much pleasure, because then it would be pain, at the moment it is felt to be "too much"... a person will have fluctuating energy levels and intensity levels that will suit them best. Less than that intensity will leave them searching for more, due to remaining pain,
Elayne Thanks a lot. This is a crystal-clear explanation which finally removes my confusion. I see.
Numbness is APATHEIA. Apathy. This is a Stoic ideal.
Ataraxia isn't numb, it means no-perturbations, and if we follow Epicurus' logic that all sentience is either pleasurable or painful, ataraxia would be pleasurable.
Ok. That answers my question whether or not ataraxia is pleasure.
And so I don't think it is good terminology necessarily to say that there is something "between" pleasure and pain as much as it would to say something like "all feelings are either pleasurable or painful" which makes the point that there are no other types of feeling that don't fit under one of the two labels.
Yes Cassius. This is already clear to me. That's actually how I understand it as I used to quote Torquatus about it.
Hiram I remember there was a thread where I quoted Torquatus that pleasure is the removal of pain, and there is no state between pleasure and pain. If ataraxia is not opposed to pleasure, is it pleasure? Is it the removal of pain? For stoics, ataraxia is not the removal of pain but numbness. The pain is simly not felt, but it exists.
And if ataraxia is the removal of pain, it also means pleasure. And if ataraxia and pleasure are the same, why is there a need for these two words to exist across Epicurean texts? Why not use only either pleasure or ataraxia alone?
No, clearly from the individual subjective perspective some pleasures ARE greater than others. What is incorrect is to imply that the gradation from lesser to greater are the same for everyone - it clearly is not.
I realize that my answers seem so flatly stated that I must come across like Moses handing down tablets from Mt. Sinai.
Ok Cassius. This one is clearer. Thanks.
There is no way to say absolutely that one pleasure is greater than another. The pleasure of smelling a rose has no objective sanction to be greater, or lesser, than the pleasure of standing on top of Mount Everest.
Therefore, it is wrong to use the phrases "greater pleasure" or "greatest pleasure" for they do not exist?
Some people are going to choose to accept less pleasure in order to suffer less pain, but some are going to deem that more pain is worth it if greater pleasure can be obtained, and the activities in which they choose to pursue and accept pain are going to differ too.
Does it mean that there always has to be pain to achieve any type of pleasure?
I'm beginning to lose my tranquility once again. If tranqulity as a goal were true, another question is whether such tranquility is Buddhist tranquility which is based on minimalism or Taoist tranqulity which is based on moderation. So the question would become: "Is Epicurus more Buddhist or Taoist?
I don't know now whether Epicurus is mimimalist or moderate. If none of them were true, I also couldn't imagine him to be an extreme hedonist like Aristippus. And if not any of them were true, who exactly is Epicurus then since he is not a minimalist, not a moderate, and not even an extreme hedonist?
By the way, the reason why I created this blog is to counter every self-help content that fools ordinary people with lies and empty advice. One of which is this Youtube video that tells people lies about Epicureans:
Thanks again Cassius!
Mike your wording is really very good already. Also - I presume English may not be your first language? If not, that makes your command of the language particularly noteworthy.
Thanks Cassius. Yes, English is not my first language.
Mike is there a link for an RSS feed? I don't immediately see one but will add it to Epicurustoday.com as well if you have one.
Here is the link: http://epicureanmindset.blogsp…eds/posts/default?alt=rss
Yes Cassius. That's exactly what I am thinking. Your excellent articulation is really quite helpful for me. Maybe, I fell short in my choice of words. This is my problem whenever I try to reach the "not-so-stupid" lay readers as compared with the learned ones.
Thanks Cassius for the commentaries. They are really helpful for me in refining the mentioned topics.
However on the part where you said that "expect the worst and you won't get disappointed," I don't think that's what I am trying to express. If you get back to the paragraph, I wrote: "In other words, expect the worst and execute your best response." This doesn't seem to expess passive acceptance such as not getting disappointed by merely expecting the worst. My last sentence "execute your best response" is not a stoic response but a concrete response in addressing a problem which I also stated in the same paragraph "...so we can better construct an alternative response that can immediately address every potential problem..."
I also made it clear that the response is not a mental manipulation in the succeeding paragraph: "This implies that we don’t have to manipulate our mind just for the purpose of not becoming troubled. We can’t fake the reality. Fears and worries are real, "
Is addressing a potential problem possible without expecting it?
I remember when I was an existentialist, there was also a debate whether a certain song was existentialist or of Cynics. The song was "Let It Go" which is the soundtract of Disney's animation movie Frozen. Same here with "Bear Necessities."
I'm not familiar with the song/movie. But after listening to it from your link, it still sounds Taoist to me. Being one with nature means being as soft as water. This submission means literally relying on nature's bounty. Therefore, bare necessities are part of Yin virtue in Taoism.
Definitely, it is not how much money that counts but how prudent a person is in recognizing how much is enough for him.
Cassius Yes. That's the point. A happy person may either be someone who makes do with a living wage or someone who is a high-net-worth individual. But an anxious person may either be the one who is lacking or the one with excesses.
If so, our mindset, which is the product of our relative experience and circumstances, contributes a lot in our prudence.
For instance, a crippled man is happier to have a wheelchair to use than a car to drive, but we can't tell an Olympic runner that a wheelchair is what can truly make him happy.
In other words, everyone has his own need and mindset unique from one another.
I think the real problem lies in our use of the word "wealth" as opposed to how Epicurus used it.
The conventional meaning of wealth is significant amount of resources while Epicurus seems to have used the word figuratively by saying that poverty is wealth.
If we define wealth literally, not figuratively, we will lose sight of the simplest message here by Epicurus.
As far as I understood, Epicurus seems to be telling us that the equivalent value of pleasure that we can find in a significant amount of material resources can also be found in poverty.
If that is the case, it is vain and unnecessary to desire a significant amount of material resources more than what poverty can equally offer.
This is why he said that wealth, if not limited, is great poverty.
I got it. Prudence is what I think the core texts are suggesting when faced with the dichotomy of pleasure. It is because moderation is primarily the core philosophy of Taoism/Daoism. Key words such as Yin/Yang, balance, stillness, neutrality describe Taoism as a philosophy of moderation. I don't think Epicurus is a Taoist. But I think he is prudent.
I see. So instead of moderation, prudence must be the guiding measurement?