Don Level 03
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Posts by Don

    But Bailey's "hold" has almost a Buddhist sound to it and I would accordingly reject that implication as negative. I would probably add this to my personal list of examples from Bailey where his choice of words reflects poorly on his assessment of Epicurean philosophy.


    Does pleasure "hold" us, or does it provide the very goal and reason for living? If Bailey agreed personally with the latter option I don't think he would have used the word "hold" - if he didn't like "engage" and wanted to follow Munro's direction then "keep" or even "sustain" would have been a better choice.

    I would see hold here in your sense of keep, something that "holds you up" or "supports you." I don't see hold on this sense as having a negative restraint on you. Consider engage and "hold your attention."

    More seriously you are of course right, but the issue that takes precedence (at least in my mind, and in many circumstances) is that clarity and the benefit of ourselves and our friends trumps everything else, regardless of what the "rabble" choose to believe!

    When you say rabble, I relish the fact that Epicurus literally uses όι πολλοί "hoi polloi" (the many, literally) to refer to the masses who misunderstand our hold false opinions.

    More seriously (to borrow a phrase), I think it behooves all of us in all circumstances to be clear in our minds what we mean and to be clear in our presentation. I have no argument with those who say the goal is pleasure period, but I'm going to always read that as live pleasurably.

    My first reaction is that tranquility/equilibrium ("neither pain in the body nor trouble in the mind") are defined specifically as pleasure by Epicurus.

    I'm still of the general opinion that Epicurus's goal or telos is "living pleasurably" and not "pleasure" which sounds to me like we need to be titillated at all times.

    I fully agree that the greatest good can't be imagined "without the joys of taste, of sex, of hearing, and without the pleasing motions caused by the sight of bodies and forms" but there's nothing inherently inconsistent with Epicurus's philosophy to wanting to have a calm mind and a pain free body.

    What I am not sure about, since I haven't gone as far into the details of LFB as you guys have, is whether the result increases confidence in resisting rationalism and idealism in thinking, or the reverse.

    My first response to that is "Yes, it does resist those." My take on LFB is that her research shows that our bodies naturally inform us how to act. Our bodies want to be in equilibrium, to have our budgets in balance. We ignore that at our peril. Understanding that things that gives us pleasure are generally positive for our well-being and things that move our affective circumplex toward high arousal levels of displeasure are negative for it. With caveats, per LFB, that things like exercise may be unpleasant in the moment and make us run a deficit in our body budget but will pay benefits in the long run. And not automatically assigning emotions to our affective feelings but instead looking at the underlying physical characteristics can get us in touch with pleasure and displeasure in our lives.

    With the continual caveat that (1) Epicurus' philosophical perspective might not be the same at all as what modern science is looking at, and (2) we need to be constantly on guard as to the implications of any particular approach.

    Agreed, but I don't think it's counter to the philosophy to try to incorporate our best understanding of nature. Epicurus and the founders didn't have access to the last 2000+ years of science, so the fact that we can even have this conversation comparing modern neuroscience with Epicurus's philosophy is mind-boggling to me!

    I believe DeWitt to be correct at least insofar as he is stressing that there is a human functioning process that Nature set up for us to use to determine what to consider to be "true," and that this biological process is not "abstract reason" or "abstract logic." That would be the takeaway of most any version of the whole "canon of truth" discussion.

    From what I read, DeWitt is surmising there's a sequence but basically so intertwined it's hard to say which comes first. She's yes Barrett would not give logic a part in this. Godfrey is right to in saying: Past experience gives us the ability to build "concepts" (read Epicurean prolepses). Our senses are compared to these concepts/prolepses which affects our affective circumplex (read Epicurean pathē: pleasure/pain ηδονή/άλγος).

    A quick post; today is pretty busy so it may be a while before I get back on....


    In reacting to Don 's post, I think one of LFB's points is that sensations in a particular instance don't come first. A prediction comes first and the sensations serve as a reality check as you can see from the description of a prediction loop. So the sensations are "true" but they don’t seem to be primary.


    Another thing that seems like it might be fruitful to discuss is affect and the affective circumplex.

    Good point, Godfrey ! I appreciate and agree with your clarification there.

    First, let me say that I have nothing to add to Godfrey 's excellent summary other than to encourage people to read LFB's book and explore her research.

    Here's my take on the prolepses relation to LFB:

    The Canon has the following:

    -Sensations

    -Pain/Pleasure

    -Prolepses

    My understanding is that this order is meaningful and now even more so in light of LFB's research (and, I should include, from others):

    - the sensations include all of our sensory input

    - This input then impacts our "feeling" of pain or pleasure, or as LFB states, pleasure/displeasure.

    -and our minds use this to compare our past experience to our current situation. These are our predictions based on our "prolepses."

    I'm still not entirely convinced that Cicero is a reliable narrator.

    The "inborn" vs "early experience" paradigm of the prolepses is an important one and I'll not resolve it here. But it seems to me that there is probably a faculty we're born with but individual prolepses have to come from experience in utero, early in life, or even later. To say we're born with prolepses seems to me to fall into the realm of Plato. Epicurus vociferously argued against his philosophy.

    My take was that LFB's "concepts" come very close to describing Epicurus's prolepses.

    I think her pleasure/displeasure axis is maybe a better description of "feelings" since Epicurus's άλγος can be translated as "pain" but encompasses "pain (of either mind or body), sorrow, trouble, grief, distress, woe" That's the word he usually uses that's translated "pain."

    So, there are my initial thoughts for this thread. Look forward to continuing this conversation!

    I'm not impressed.

    I started to read the paper but come across phrases like "necessary pain" and a rather free translation of the key line in the Menoikeus Letter. The author translates it as "freedom from pain in the body and from trouble in the mind". The word freedom does not appear. The line literally reads "neither pain in the body nor trouble in the mind". It may or may not be significant, but their free interpretation leaves me unimpressed.

    I had a thought this morning following up on our conversation about atoms/seeds being rearranged into new forms.

    I'd like to offer the analogy of colors represented by binary code with 1=atom 0=void

    http://markfairchild.org/WhyIsColor/Questions/4-5.html

    Rearrange the atoms "in" the void, you get a different color.

    This is an analogy (or is it a metaphor?) so don't take it literally, but it's it helpful as such?

    . Is the topic: "Lisa Feldman Barrett on the Operation of the Emotions"?

    I think it's deeper than that. The emotions are only one aspect of her research and not even the one that seems to resonate the most with Epicurus's Philosophy. I see much stronger analogies with her talk about sensations and "concepts".. The emotions are along for the ride from my perspective here. That seems to be her most provocative topic for a lay audience.

    I think Godfrey was planning to weigh in again as well.