Susan Hill Level 03
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Posts by Susan Hill

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    And I second what Don says about asynchrony. We have been missing for a while Susan Hill here on this topic but if she drops back in it would be interesting to see you two exchange ideas given that this is such an area of interest to you both.

    I’m afraid I have to essentially agree with Matt at this point. I have not found anything further that makes Epicurus’ theology more robust, integral, or informative to human life. He does not seem to have developed much by way of a praxis, so any further development would require comparison with other, possibly complementary theologies, or innovation. Epicureanism is missing the kind of in-depth philosophy of mind and consciousness that eastern schools have, so I do see anything like transcendence, moksha, or enlightenment being part of this package. I really think a mystic must look elsewhere..

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    It's not my personal experience of “the Other”...

    Susan would you be comfortable elaborating on this? I'm wondering if that could be helpful in defining what exactly we're discussing.

    It gets a bit more complicated if you are talking about Eastern philosophies where you can realize your self (atman/ jiva) as being one with God/Brahman/Perusha etc., but in most cases, an experience of the divine is of something not identical to oneself. It is of a separate consciousness, being, or intelligence.

    My offering here is to say those experiences are what it would feel like to be a "god" - the ineffable sensation of pleasure during such an experience is what it would "feel" like to be a god. You're not God or a god, but that's a genuine experience of what it might feel like to embody the blessedness and incorruptibility of what Epicurus wrote.

    It’s not my personal experience of “the Other” but it sounds like a valuable and pleasing technique. In fact, a form of “Deity Yoga”!:


    From Wikipedia: “Deity yoga engages creative visualization as a skillful means of personal transformation through which the practitioner (sadhaka) visualizes a chosen deity (yidam) ...in order to transform their experience of the appearance aspect of reality.... Self-generation is the practice in which one imagines oneself as the deity. This is held to be more advanced and accompanied by a degree of spiritual risk.”


    Interesting! It doesn’t say why it’s risky. ;)

    Thank you, Cassius. It looks like all of the papers listed were written 1 to 11 years before this YouTube presentation. I don’t think Penrose and Hameroff had been able to publish their experimental results before then. The issues raised seem to be addressed in the presentation, but I would be interested if you find anything else of this nature.


    It’s a long presentation, so I understand if people give it a miss!

    This video is the best information I have found on the theory of consciousness that Roger Penrose has been working on. It is a difficult lecture, but gets better as it goes along, and the second half is more biology than physics. The Q and A session at the end is excellent.


    There is some pretty solid science here, with successful experimentation. If you choose to watch it and can’t stand the math, jump ahead to the 40min mark. I would like to watch it again before I make suggestions on how the theory may relate to anticipations, “images” of the gods, and to epistemology in general, but I think there is something important here:


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    >>I sometimes think (as in the "absence of pain" formulation) that he was so far ahead of us in the terms of his discussion that we don't recognize what he was saying. Probably the same can be said for his statements on divinity


    That’s quite possible. He could have done something really profound in realizing a theology that did not become tied up with strict asceticism. It would be so sad if there is not enough to reconstruct it. It is incredibly unique.

    >>So the question that is probably on the table is how this faculty of recognition operates, and whether it can receive stimulus that is not strictly part of the eyes/ears/tongue/nose/skin.


    I think the answer to that is presently as elusive to science as the question of how consciousness arises. Some even say consciousness is an illusion, therefore.


    >>1. Is this faculty purely operating in accord with the "etching" that it has at birth?


    Perhaps the recognition of divine intelligence, blissful and immortal, but not a dram more.


    >>2. Is this faculty operating purely in accord with its etching plus its influences by the things we see/hear/taste/touch/smell during our lifetime after birth?


    Going on the other things I have read discussed herein and written elsewhere, the faculty can mature and be educated by repeated exposure, yes. However, great care must be taken in controlling rampant speculation about things that we cannot possibly have rational or sensory evidence of.


    >>>3. Is this faculty operating in accord with its etching, plus what we see/hear/taste/touch/smell during our lifetime after birth, plus something else that is perceivable by the brain through mechanisms not currently understood by science, but understandable by science after additional study through techniques not yet invented? (For a gross example, attempts to study claims of "ESP" or "gravity waves" or "cosmic rays" or similar claims of repeatable phenomena, all of which - if proved to exist through repeated observation - we will presume due to our prior conclusions to be the work of a "natural" and not the work of a "universe-creating-supernatural-being" phenomena? I suppose even "contact with a UFO" or "contact with an alien race" would fit in this category if they actually landed in Central Park and said "We are here to serve men" and gave us what we thought at first was a table of profound natural laws but which turned out to be a cookbook. )


    Yes.

    I think the place to start is more the question of separating the terms "mind" "soul" and 'spirit" and determining whether they are separate entities from the Epicurean viewpoint.

    Yes, I'm unsure that spirituality, in our case, would actually have anything to do with our "spirit" or "soul", since these are not seen as supernatural or immortal, or as part of God...


    I'm not at all confident of my ability to come up with a definition that would satisfy many, but here is very tentative attempt:


    I begin with a quote from Carl Sagan:


    ‘Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual … The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.’


    I like his words "profound, immense, intricate, beautiful, subtle, elating, humbling..." But for the theist, these things are seen to have their origin in the divine (God).


    Epicurus observed certain religious practices as part of his spirituality, and he did this by way of cultivating appreciation for, and connectedness with, the gods.


    So perhaps Epicurean spirituality is the recognition of the profound, intricate, beautiful, blissful, subtle, elating, humbling and tranquil nature of the gods, and the practice of attuning our own nature to that god-like state.


    Now this is not a definition that would appeal to the atheist or secular Buddhist, who claim a spirituality without any gods, but a spirituality without any gods is a very modern innovation, and I think it would be unrecognizable to Epicurus.


    Thoughts?

    Oh I HATE articles like that! ;-) I suppose academics have a right to write for other academics ;-)

    It's an old article. I guess at one time all university students would have studied Latin and Greek. (Lucky buggers). ;)

    Yes I think we are definitely at that point and we need to talk about what "giving it a whirl" means. I keep thinking in terms of online interaction via zoom or skype or whatever, leading eventually to a polished presentation that we can maybe commit to video

    Oh look at me doing multiple quotes on my laptop... Lol, So much easier...


    I was really just talking about daily personal application. E.g. Am I going to start praying to Zeus for wisdom and tranquility...? Or should I study Philodemus for a few more weeks first? Naw, I'll give it a whirl and see what happens! :)

    (But, I'll read Philodemus too, 'cause it's fun...)

    What does "spiritual" mean..... Well, I don't think we are going to get a clear definition on that one, and yet we do all have an idea of what it means...


    From Wikipedia: "There is no single, widely agreed-upon definition of spirituality. Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions with limited overlap. A survey of reviews by McCarroll each dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which "there was little agreement." This impedes the systematic study of spirituality and the capacity to communicate findings meaningfully..... In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live," incorporating personal growth or transformation, usually in a context separate from organized religious institutions."


    I was thinking along the lines of "spiritual" meaning relating to the numinous or divine, but that turns out to be circular since "numinous" is defined as relating to the spiritual! "Spiritual," "divine", "God".... I'm afraid there really is a point at which language breaks down. There are a few extra words to describe it in Greek, and quite a few more in Sanskrit, but often it is described in terms of what it is NOT - it is the ineffable. And yet we do manage to talk about it, even without a dictionary definition.

    The article is available here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2…etadata_info_tab_contents


    Quote
    Quote from Susan Hill I recently finished reading "The Significance of Worship and Prayer among the Epicureans" by George Depue Hadzsits. (Was it you who recommended that to me?? If not, have you read it?) It definitely takes things a little farther in suggesting that the pious can achieve a certain familiarity with the divine... I will go through it again and select some edifying excerpts for the Divinity forum.


    Quote from DON I just finished reading the Hadzsits article. Very intriguing. He does seem to provide more concrete motivations for the ancient Epicureans to take part in the standard rituals and prayers of the time. I think I'll have to read it again to get all the information from it. I get the impression that the gods - Venus, Athena, etc - could literally embody individual qualities of the Epicurean gods and so be an object of prayer and worship. That would lead one to emulate and embody those qualities oneself on a deeper personal level. No benefit flowed from the gods, but that didn't preclude gaining benefit from the practice. Is that part of what you got? Or am I misunderstanding?


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    Here are some of my highlights from the paper. Hadzsits provides lots of citations from Lucretius, Philodemus, Cicero, and others, so they can be examined more closely if desired.


    pg. 75: "...the gods of the Epicurean theology inspired the sincere Epicurean with intense enthusiasm, catching for Lucretius a certain glow... To Philodemus. also, the gods were truly inspiring, great and august... The inspirational power of the gods, as revealed to the Epicureans, was for them unlimited; the religious problem was counted among the big problems of life, and one of the great conditions of human happiness and superiority was an Epicurean pious attitude toward and holy regard for divinity..."


    There was a lot of criticism of Epicurean theology because people could not imagine how anyone could or would have pious sentiment for gods that did not intercede in human affairs. How could they make use of the "existing machinery of worship, pg. 77" (religious ceremonies and temple attendance) without hypocrisy?


    Hadzsits suggests this may have been a "convenient means to an end, pg 79", that there was an emotional appreciation of the "allegory, poetry, symbolism" and tradition of the religious institutions, but that such appreciation was "necessarily accompanied with a conscious intellectual reservation", pg 78.


    Now this is where there will be dissent within the ranks:


    pg. 82: "

    But even among the Epicureans a belief in a reciprocal relation between God and man did exist, withal that the gods did not care for man; but the comparative subtlety of the Epicurean theory seems not to have been fully comprehended in antiquity, nor, perhaps, fully realized, in practice, even within the Epicurean school, and the Epicureans remained in religious isolation. The deeper significance of worship and prayer depended upon the Epicurean definition of evOa-E/eta and pietas, and included a re-interpretation of this reciprocal relation between man and God. The Epicureans counted themselves among those philosophers who believed that the gods bestow Tc'v arya0wdTa ra toTa, but might also be 83Xd'8rs icaD ,ca,c&j. . . ai'rt'ov', - a theory tenable even within the circle of Epicurean theology, a theory subject, however, to re-interpretation by the Epicureans who rejected the vulgar idea of divine 'OeXt'aL and ------"


    [Sorry - see the SnipIts for the Greek....]


    So what is he getting at, that there is anything reciprocal between humans and gods?


    He writes (pg. 84), "Through the mediation of worship and prayer, the intellectually gifted and the spiritually equipped drew nearest to the gods, in whose care rested that form of redemption which was possible under the terms of Epicurean psychology and epistemology; worship and prayer were but the media, the final means, in fact, of communication with the gods, whereby the Epicurean - through the saving grace of wisdom having become susceptible to the divine influence - was capable of receiving that blessing from the gods which alone, according to Epicurean thought, was a possibility. Worship and prayer completed the religious mood of the suppliant wise man, who alone could obtain from the gods what Epicureanism characterized as /IEyL'crrr/v cxfeXEtav! Under all these conditions, the reciprocal relation between the Epicurean and his gods, resting on the worshipper's intellectual-spiritual aspiration, was completed by the reward of inspiration of a divine tranquility, - while the consequent subjective exaltation to realize in conscience or in deed that which might have been the formal burden of Epicurean prayer constituted the test of its efficacy...."



    And in the notes: "Epicurean religiosity was a matter of enlightenment and its intensity was in proportion to the clarity of the vision."


    Again, there are a lot citations here in the paper.


    This is a difficult passage, but I think that the idea is that the gods are the repository of the perfection of Epicurean eudaimonia, and that through appropriate worship and prayer one can be influenced/blessed/rewarded with a similar (god-like) disposition. So the word "communication" might be more along the lines of perceiving the blessed state of the gods, and receiving that into one's psyche. Somehow, the spiritual aspiration and practice itself brings about the sought-after receptivity and redemption. It was efficacious towards realizing Epicurean sagehood.


    How it would be "reciprocal" - as in the gods receiving something from us, is not clear to me.


    Boy, I'm having trouble with the software... Here are the SnipIt's larger....




    Also Susan et al we need to find a good online source for material from Philodemus' "On Piety." I think the major reference is a work by Obbirk from 1996 which I have looked at but not studied closely

    Crikey, it's $300! Maybe I need to start a GoFundMe campaign! 700 pages too... Gosh, I'd love to see it.


    I stopped entering source texts into the forum because I didn't know how to proceed with translations being so contested. Also, we now have the "Lexicon" section which makes replicating the same material in "Divinity" redundant. The Lexicon structure is probably better.


    I guess what would be ideal is to have each original Latin or Greek passage submitted along with a few translations, and then a breakdown like Don does, and then a big discussion, but that essentially means redoing all Epicurean scholarship from scratch, doesn't it...?. That's a pretty tall order.


    I'm afraid at my age, to some degree, it is more efficient to try something out and see if it works. I think if I had told myself that I needed to translate the whole Bible for myself before I could try Christianity, I would never have moved on from Christianity, you see? The proof is in the pudding! Is there a point at which we can say "Okay, I think get the gist of this, let's give it a whirl!" :) I don't think I have seen any posts here saying "So, I tried such and such, and this is what happened!" I'm not sure what to make of that.


    As for the Hadzsits article, I don't think you will have a problem with his translations, because he doesn't translate anything. All sources are given in Latin and Greek.

    That was probably me... I posted on it here: Thoughts on Reverence, Awe, and Epicurean Piety. I don't remember the details of the article although I do remember that it really got me thinking about the subject.

    Yes! Thank you, Godfrey. A really interesting article.

    I just finished reading the Hadzsits article. Very intriguing. He does seem to provide more concrete motivations for the ancient Epicureans to take part in the standard rituals and prayers of the time. I think I'll have to read it again to get all the information from it. I get the impression that the gods - Venus, Athena, etc - could literally embody individual qualities of the Epicurean gods and so be an object of prayer and worship. That would lead one to emulate and embody those qualities oneself on a deeper personal level. No benefit flowed from the gods, but that didn't preclude gaining benefit from the practice. Is that part of what you got? Or am I misunderstanding?

    Ah ha! Now we're talking! :thumbsup: Lemme gather my thoughts and I will get back to you! :)

    A review of the literature regarding innate leanings towards spirituality/religion is frustrating because, although books and articles like "The God Gene" start off by saying, yes, there is a genetic and innate neurological proclivity towards spiritual seeking/belief, they then descend into scientism.


    The narrative goes "There is a gene (or brain state) that can be correlated with spiritual proclivity; all religious experience is false; therefore, these delusional experiences must be evolutionarily adaptive in some way, like pro-social, as an encouragement to breed in the face of death (!), or because of anti-depressive qualities." Arrg...


    Substitute in other words for things that you find meaningful and real and see how you feel about the conclusion. Instead of spirituality/religion, how about "love", or music or mathematics or science!


    "There is a gene (or brain state) that can be correlated with an attraction to science; all scientific reasoning is based on false premises; therefore, these tendencies must be evolutionarily adaptive in some way, like pro-social, as an encouragement to breed in the face of death (!), or because of anti-depressive qualities." Lol.


    Regarding Cassius' "...I would probably use words like a "faculty" that "disposes us to organize what we perceive" in ways that are helpful to our forming of mental images that we then store in our memories and use as operators for further analysis."


    I'm wondering if this were the definition of a prolepsis/anticipation, how would it be different from simple "learning ability" or "the faculty of cognition", or "knowledge creation ability"?

    I continue to find your topics you mentioned there very interesting especially "meditating on the gods" and "trying to emulate them" and to tease out exactly what Epicurus, Philodemus, Lucretius, et al had to say in this area.

    Well, alrighty then... I recently finished reading "The Significance of Worship and Prayer among the Epicureans" by

    George Depue Hadzsits. (Was it you who recommended that to me?? If not, have you read it?) It definitely takes things a little farther in suggesting that the pious can achieve a certain familiarity with the divine... I will go through it again and select some edifying excerpts for the Divinity forum.

    That's probably why each of the major font controls in the toolbar has a "Remove" feature at the bottom.

    Yes, that menu option does not work on my new iPhone. And changing the text size will only work for a couple of sentences at a time. I can see it works a lot better on a laptop.

    To me, the idea that the gods speak Greek or are individuals or that there is one all-powerful God, when seen as an anticipation, is evidence of the effect of cultural norms on pattern recognition which in turn had an effect on Epicurus' ideas of the gods. Visions of the gods can come from exposure to the myths just as visions of the dead can come from memories of the living.


    It's also of great use when considering the anticipations to keep the gods in mind. ;)

    This would be elucidated by examining the spiritual feelings of children, perhaps raised by atheists, like myself, or outside of any religious context. If spirituality is innate, you would find some such youth seeking out explanations for their instincts at some point. Or, you may find people raised in one cultural religious context, nevertheless converting to other belief systems that better reflect their instincts.


    https://greatergood.berkeley.e…ituality_grow_in_children