camotero Level 01
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Posts by camotero

    Quote from Herodotus on epicureanfriends.com


    For we have frequent need of the general view, but not so often of the detailed exposition. Indeed it is necessary to go back on the main principles, and constantly to fix in one’s memory enough to give one the most essential comprehension of the truth.

    Quote from Herodotus from Epicurus Reader

    For we frequently need the overall application [of the intellect], but not so often the detailed application.


    36. We must, then, approach those [general points] continually, and get into our memory an amount [of doctrine] sufficient to permit the most vital application [of the intellect] to the facts;

    The word application is what's confusing for me here. If he hadn't put "[of the intellect]", I would've read it as application of the principles. I guess "application of the intelect" could be analogous to "view"?

    Well the Epicurus Reader has just arrived. The back cover reads as follows:


    "A total philosophy of life, death, religion, science, ethics, and culture promising liberation from the obstacles that stand in the way of our happiness, the teachings of Epicurus claimed many thousand committed followers all over the Mediterranean world and deeply influenced later European thought. From the first years of its development, however, Epicureanism faced hostile opposition, and, as a result, much of our evidence for the content of its teaching is unhelpful and even misleading.


    The Epicurus Reader fills the need for a reliable selection and translation of the main surviving evidence, some of it never previously translated into English. Included here, with exception of Lucretius' DRN, are the most important surviving texts of a system of thought that even today remains a powerful living philosophy. "


    So I'm hopeful that the translation will be pro Epicurus.


    From what I glimpsed, and as the cover says, the biography of DL is not complete but rather just selections of the text.

    Bailey's I can't find specifically, though there are other options of him that I wonder whether would contain Diogenes, but all of them are too expensive.


    My options are this version of RD Hicks:


    Lives of the Eminent Philosophers
    Lives of the Eminent Philosophers
    www.amazon.com.mx


    This Yonge version:


    Lives of the Eminent Philosophers
    Lives of the Eminent Philosophers
    www.amazon.com.mx


    Or the already mentioned Mensch version:


    Lives of the Eminent Philosophers: Compact Edition
    Lives of the Eminent Philosophers: Compact Edition
    www.amazon.com


    I also found this one, that is not specifically Diogenes but contains the "ancient biography of Epicurus" (and other texts, so that may be convenient):


    The Epicurus Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia
    The Epicurus Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia
    www.amazon.com.mx


    TABLE OF CONTENTS:

    Introduction

    The ancient biography of Epicurus

    The extant letters

    Ancient collections of maxims

    Doxographical reports

    The testimony of Cicero

    The testimony of Lucretius

    The polemic of Plutarch

    Short fragments and testimonia from known works:

    * From On Nature

    * From the Puzzles

    * From On the Goal

    * From the Symposium

    * From Against Theophrastus

    * Fragments of Epicurus' letters

    Short fragments and testimonia from uncertain works:

    * Logic and epistemology

    * Physics and theology

    * Ethics

    Index


    Biografía del autor

    Brad Inwood is Professor of Philosophy and Classics, University of Toronto.

    Lloyd P. Gerson is Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto.

    your native language is not English and your country of residence is not the USA, correct? If not, that's likely an advantage to you rather than a disadvantage, but it's still a relevant consideration to be sure we communicate clearly.

    Yes, that's correct, dear Cassius. It's kind of you to take that into account.

    It's very possible that differences in background also help explain some of our differences in perspective

    Yes, definitively. I come from a religious education, so there's that, but perhaps most uf os come from some sort of religious education; fortunately, mine was not a religious family at all; even though my family was not particularly religious, I hadn't a formation that shielded me from the nonsense of "virtue for the sake of virtue" either, and that's something that I struggle to shed, to this day. Also, being and engineer, reason, definitions and ideallizations have been an important and very valuable part of my formation and my approach to the world. The only times that I thought reason could take a secondary role, was when it came in conflict with "what was good", "the good" being defined as something related to virtues and idealizations, so there was no shortage of confusion there. So, I've promoted, and lived by, virtue for the sake of virtue, for too long, though I don't anymore. I come with wounds and confussions from my time playing jedi, if you will :S


    So, reason, has been a great tool for me at many times, thus I have a bit of trouble putting it in a secondary role. I find analogies in my experience using reason to soothe myself at times of fear when I was a child, and distress now as an adult, and how Epicurus used reason to get rid of the unfounded fears about the things that disturbed many if not most during his time, particularly superstition. Although, it's been idealizations, rather than superstition (although I guess they're some sort of superstition), what's been a source of distress for me the most. I don't know yet how to use the canon as a tool for soothing, although allowing myself to see life as the greatest good, and pleasure as it's deterministic goal/end/north, and permitting myself to follow it with use of my free will and reason, has been of great help so far, so I'm hopeful.


    As an aside, I'm sure, that the "deterministic" part of my last sentence is going to jump out. I think this is what I was referring to in another thread. As I see it now (feel free to try and change my mind), what we feel pleasure from is not a choice, is largely undetermined by us, and mostly, if not fully, is determined by our biology and formation.


    And thus, I circle back to reason, to touch on the risks of following pleasure withouth the check of reason. I think of myself as a child of teenager, and wonder whether I would've been served well by the concept of pleasure being the end/goal/telos of life. I also wonder, whether or not the virtues for the sake of virtues can serve as guardrails to protect children and teenagers from doing stuff that could be harmful for them in the long term, as a way of forming in them anticipations that allow them to live happily before being exposed to these more complicated way of seeing life. Most children, teenagers, and arguably some adults, don't have the ability to foresee (again, reason) the consequences of their choices and avoidances. Any thoughts on this?

    the repeatability of the senses

    Do you mean the ability to repeteadly use the senses as tests, right?


    By the way, this brings up to mind another possible cause for confusion. Perhaps we're conflating the innaccuracies of language with the innaccuracies of reason. It's obvious to me that we have to agree on the same meanings of language as the medium to communicate our arguments, but the confusion that derives from it doesn't invalidate the reasoning it is trying to communicate. It's a similar instance of the case of value vs. truth, that DeWitt used. If the meaning of language is not properly agreed upon, the argument, or exposition of reasoning, may end up not being useful, but not because of that the argument is false, and when all the meanings are properly agreed upon, we are going to be able to see the truth of the argument.


    Also, I know it could seem, to some, a hassle to have to be clarifying meanings of terms all the time, but it can be a pleasurable activity too, as I've seen in many threads around here. It's a joy that not other animal on earth gets the luxury of experiencing. There's so much depth of experience available in that activity. Not only the pleasure of the process, if you're nerdy like me, but the pleasure of reaching clarity with friends about a concept that is going to be useful to the group. But we need not satanize concepts and abstractions, we need to agree that concepts are good, are a material part of our human nature (they rest in the atoms of our minds), and helpful to move forward with a certain context of time and space. Thus, they are going to have to be "brought to present value" whenever that context changes, but that, again, can be very pleasurable too.


    I think that paragraph from Laertius, while giving importance to the proper, constant and repeated engagement of sensations, (which is great, and probably a huge problem when not done) doesn't disregard reason at all, but rather reinforces it's importance.


    I feel a bit more confident that the term "critical thinking" could the modern meaning of "true reason". The "critical" part is what makes it material and useful for us, as a test, perhaps, yes, of a second order to the sensations, preconceptions and feelings, but an indispensble test nontheless.

    I do think, however, in general, that we are suffering from the difficulty of really having a bright line definition of many of these words (logic, reason, dialectic, dialectical logic, etc).

    Yes. Even if it's not a Canonical faculty, don't you think is worth being clear about what it is? or what it's not?

    Of all the comments this is probably the most important to articulate better. We confirm that the tower is in fact square by walking toward it, viewing it from different angles, touching it, etc. It is never reason *alone* which does the confirming, it is the reliability of subsequent multiple sensations.

    Ok, I see what you mean. But what if we're not able to go closer to the tower? (or the atoms) wouldn't it be nice to have some certainty that perhaps you have an alternative (which we do) to go to the tower? Like, with reason, formulate an indirect way of determining it's shape and testing it. Again, the testing wil involve the sensations, (so I'm not disregarding those as essential), but can you see here how reason comes as a very good thing for us. I guess no one has disputed reason that works this way, to our pleasure.

    "Well, comparing multiple sensations to see which is reliably repeated IS a form of "reason" or even "logic!"

    I agree this doesn't make sense. But you do need reason in order to be able to use your sensations better, more usefully, in different ways that help you more than in raw, brute fashion. Don't we?


    Ok now on that point it is my position (and I think Epicurus') that there IS no essential difference between humans and other animals. And that precise argument is stated very clearly by Cicero who complains that Epicurus reduces us to the state of animals by not worshiping reason/logic as he (Cicero) does.

    I get it that is not convenient to give humans a special place in the world, but we can nonetheless use reason, and it has been, evidently, advantageous (also disadvantageous) to us. I firmly believe that it's been disadvantageous to us beause we haven't been using the other two legs of the canon right, feelings and anticipations, and were these to take a more prominent role in the consciousness of most, many things in the world would change for good. You don't have to go all the way to worship reason, but I'm arguing that recognizing the important place it evidently and materially has in our lives, is of the essence not to over simplify Epicurean Philosophy. Don't raise it to the level of the canon, I get it, in order to keep it in check and not fall in the trap of over valuing it, I like that, but do recognize it has an active role in the use of the canonical functions, and as such (at least for me) is of the essence to uderstand it better; I'm not sure that throwing the baby with the bath water of platonic ideals, absurd/paradoxial abstractions, is going to be useful towards understanding that part of Nature better.


    About the podcast, I also believe it was Elayne who said it, but, as I'm not sure, and as I was't listening to the podcast in that precise moment, hence, not having the full context of that particulalr part of the conversation, I prefered no to name anyone.


    It's a great idea that we should put the doubts or comments directly in the episodes, I'll try and do that.

    Some quotes that I have found so far that may be clarifying as to what was it that Epicurus rejected:


    Page 24:

    Quote from DeWitt

    Equally fallacious was the allegation that the canon had been set up as a substitute of logic. [...] The function of ancient logic was to score points, and make opponents wince, but no adversaries were needed for the use of the Canon.

    So, rhetoric? Which may have been considered logic, but it's not. Am I wrong?


    Page 122 (talking about Plato):


    Quote from DeWitt

    Thus, in his system, reason became the only contact between man and reality [...]


    Epicurus denied the existence of Platonic ideas [...] Thus, to his thinking, man stood face to face with physical reality and his sensations constituted the sole contact with his reality. [...]


    Thus Nature [...] becomes a norm, while the Platonic Reason is eliminated, along with the Platonic Ideas.

    So here his equating reason to Platonic reason/ideas.


    So he is not talking at all about reason, as in what we understand as logic. Also, from page 123:


    Quote from DeWitt

    The position of Epicurus becomes seemingly paradoxical because there is no instrumentality by which reason can be dethroned except by reason itself. Consideration of this paradox may be postponed until it has been shown how the Platonic concept of reason may be rendered absurd. **The conclusions will be absolutely logical if the premises are accepted. **

    So it seems to me that there was a desire to render reason useless in general for the sake of particularly rendering absurd and useless, at least, the two associations to reason/logic that are quoted above. Throwing the baby with the bath water?


    The last line quoted above is a testament to how reason is not to be disregarded, isn't it? Perhaps this is the type of true reason that we won't be able yo get by without?


    If this reason isn't logic, or formal logic, could we agree that it could be "critical thinking"?


    Also, and by the way, the preeminence of sensation over reason is established only mechanically, on page 129:


    Quote from DeWitt

    Let it be assumed that a human being has been deprived of all his five senses. This is tantamount to death, and the subject has ceased to be a rational creature. [...] Laertius ascribes to Epicurus the idea "that the sensations lead the way". In the present context, this notion seems to have apposite application: The possession of sensation seems to be construed as antecedent to rational activity.

    Also, it's been stated over and over again that while that sensations can and are always true (in that they bring a pure impression) they can be, as DeWitt puts it, valueless as a criterion (the round/square tower example). And how are we going to discern this if not by reason?


    I must add also, that I found also this example, when he is explaining the difference between logic and the canon (page 24):


    Quote from DeWitt

    The researcher works on the basis of an hypothesis, which he puts to the test of experiment, that is, of the senses [...]

    This reinforces one of the doubts I expressed some posts above. Isn't the hypothesis's logic/reason? Without the hypothesis, what is there to try and prove? Yes, the senses perceive the reality, but to understand it, we need reason/logic, don't we? Otherwise we are perceiving reality, alright, but if we don't process it with reason, we're no different than other animals.


    I know no one here advocates for the nullification of the importance of reason, but I think there may be a strong disregard of logic/reason that perhaps is not too helpful either, and as an example I'd like to bring something that was commented in that same episode (of the Lucretius podcast I mentioned above), after I finished listening to it: "How do we know something is true? I can feel when something is true". I don't think this is true, but I'm open to be corrected. I'm pretty sure the person who said this didn't mean it and said it rhetorically or lightly as no one objected it. But as I said, I don't think you can feel truth. You may have true feelings. But the truth about something has to be established (and agreed upon to be able to move forward) logically, albeit after the senses gave us content to reason about, and after we've tested out reasoning with those same senses.


    These are honest questions, I really don't want to stir things up just for kicks.


    And also, I recognize I have a long way to read in order to be able to say I've studied enough, so I appreciate and recognize the patience and tolerance shown by the most advanced around here. I post what I post humbly (even if sometimes this doesn't show), keeping this in mind, and perhaps out of my depth, because it's fun 😁 and I have felt encouraged to do so. I think that is one of the most valuable characteristics of this forum.

    I did read it! Haha. First, as I said, I was playing devil's advocate. That being said, if I had it 100% clear, perhaps that game wouldn't make sense at all to me. I may be at fault of not remembering it well enough, but I have it by my bedside so I'll check it out and come back later.

    I would really like to dig into what this means here, as I think this is where people go wrong and think that there's something mystical about the "first mental image" reference.

    Quote

    [38] For this purpose it is essential that the first mental image associated with each word should be regarded, and that there should be no need of explanation, if we are really to have a standard to which to refer a problem of investigation or reflection or a mental inference.

    You touched on this subject in episode 28 of the Lucretius podcast (which by the way has been one of the best ones), when you where trying to define "what is truth?" and I think Elayne pointed out that for all of you to be able to talk about a thing and reach a conclusion, you all must have an agreement on the meaning of the words you're using.


    I think that's right. In order to use logic to make an argument, you have to do it on the same context as the on you're arguing with.

    "logic based on nothing that can be verified through the senses."

    But how can logic be verified through the senses, if it is completely a mental thing. Wouldn't it be, logic should be constraint to material issues? Or that if it has to fly a bit into the ether, it should have a grounding back into maerial reality, otherwise it would be plain speculation about things that don't exist?

    I need to check the texts but do I remember correctly that Epicurus didn't necessarily write against logic so much as rhetoric?

    Did they have these standards of reasoning back then? Perhaps the reason why the epicureans disregard it is because reasoning was misused back then.


    Math (which would be deductive reasoning?) drove some to overstate its importance and then make the abductive argument that leads to the ideal definitions.


    And the other type of logic was... dialectic? which, if wasn't analyzed by these standards, resolved arguments more because of the charisma of one part rather than actual reasoning...


    Also... going back to the argument about how we are some species in an evolution spectrum, isn't this a particular faculty of our species? I'm going full devil's advocate here: If the faculties of the senses, the feelings, and the anticipations, are faculties of all animals, and reason is particular faculty of our own, how come reason is not part of the Canon of Truth? If you ask me, it seems more plausible to find truth in by way of reasoning as the article explains, and the canon is more a canon of morality, rather than of truth.


    What am I missing?

    I find this link, that explains the different types of reasoning:


    Deductive Reasoning vs. Inductive Reasoning


    I think is short enough to be worth reading when you see this.


    This is sort of a very summarized version of what the podcast explains.


    This is what has always struck me about logic (not that I'm close to being an expert!). You can have an internally consistent argument that has no basis in reality, so what's the point?

    I'm not sure what internally consistent means, buy I gather that you may be talking about an argument being valid (that is, well formed) and it being true. This article addresses that: if the premises are false, the conclusion is going to be false. But this doesn't discard the whole framework of logic, as a useful means for communicating an argument, it just emphasizes that if you use it wrong you'll get wrong results.

    I do think that math and geometry are useful and when not considered to be magical is valuable to know.


    From what I read the only type of reasoning that would allow magic, is abductive reasoning, because it allows for the less certainty. As a understand them, deductive logic gives general premises to confirm that a particular case is an instance of them (less margin of error), the inductive takes particular observations to infer a general rule about things (more margin of error), and abductive takes whatever particular observations and jumps to "the most likely particular conclusion" (thus, the greatest margin of error).