Bryan Level 03
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Posts by Bryan

    That's how you end up realizing that Nature gives us only pleasure and pain as stop and go signals, and that's why you end up with pleasure as the goal - not because you're soft and indulgent and just want to hide in your hole and escape pain, but because your rigorously and vigorously clear-eyed about the reality of life

    Very well said, thank you. Carpe Diem!

    Some Latin poets do not make use of alliteration, others try to avoid it, but is very frequent in Lucretius and sometimes quite heavy. It seems Ennius commonly used alliteration, but after him it came to be less popular (thought to be too obvious or simple for "golden age" Latin). It is therefore one of the Lucretian anachronisms. An early example from DRN is used at 1.86 "Ductôrēs dánaum (dēléctī prîma virôrum), The leaders of the Greeks, selected as first among men." Most editors point out the alliteration in this case is used to mock the idea Lucretius is expressing.

    We have a good example at 1.200 "nōn pótuit pédibus quī póntum per váda póssent... [so why has Nature] not been able [to make men so large] who on foot would be able to go across the sea through the shallows..."

    The reading is near technically perfect. The meter is clear and consistently treated, all elisions are passed over with ease. Perhaps too much focus is given to the perfect rendition of the poetry and taken away from a focus on the actual meaning of the words. Lucretius was passionate in this section about the soul's mortality, and from this perspective we all can tell that the reading is indefensibly robotic!

    I agree, that the issue of justice lies exactly here: "Have the two castaways agreed on any ground rules?"

    As we know, justice must be created, it does not just float around and therefore without us fabricating it by mutual agreement it will not be around at all.

    KΔ32 "Natural justice is a mutual agreement of mutual interest to not harm each other and to not be harmed. All of the living things that are not able to form treaties regarding not harming each other and not being harmed: for them nothing can be just or unjust - in this same situation also are all of those tribes who were not able or did not want to form treaties about not harming and not being harmed."

    I find it helpful to keep the Macedonians/Diadochoi in mind. From one perspective, they were a constant source of abhorrent behavior and destruction. Many people found living underneath them to be humiliating and intolerable. There is no evidence that Epikouros ever even complained, as Metrodoros says "ΟΥΔΕΝ ΔΕΙ ΣΩΙΖΕΙΝ ΤΟΥΣ ΕΛΛΗΝΑΣ it is not our responsibility to save the country (Plutarch, Non Posse 1098 C)" Kolotes even dedicated his work to the Ptolemy family.

    Without any sort of "Platonic" ideal form of "good" or "evil" the only way to judge good or bad is if it elicits pleasure or pain.

    And for this reason indeed there is a general equivalency in our school between the use of ἀγαθὸν as pleasure and κακὸν as pain, even though it seems we cannot press for a total equivalency because of instances such as "oὐδεμία Ἡδονὴ καθ᾽ἑαυτὸ κακόν (KΔ8) no Pleasure by itself is bad" Here we have to admit difficulty taking κακόν as an exact equivalent to pain, as it requires the conceptual framing of "bad/evil." Which takes us to:

    In order to explain the point, however, it is necessary to use the terminology of both schools, and refer to platonic good and evil.

    As we know, Epicurus stood in disagreement with Plato who argued for the existence of mixed pleasures (μικταί ἡδοναί), which Plato imagined as pleasures which contained an aspect of pain. In reality, as Epicurus understood, pain and pleasure are mutually exclusive at any particular point in the body. Epicurus also stood in disagreement against the Κυρηναϊκοί/Cyrenaics who viewed the removal of pain as a state of calm to which pleasure could then be added.

    "It is not possible for the Good to be placed anywhere, when neither What is painful nor What is distressing is any longer making way for it" Metrodorus (Non Posse 1091 B) ἔνθα γὰρ τεθήσεται Tἀγαθόν οὐκ Ἔστιν ὅταν μηθὲν ἔτι ὑπεξίῃ μήτε Ἀλγεινὸν μήτε Λυπηρόν.

    It is common for people to consider the removal of pain/discomfort/desire to be the beginning of pleasure. In fact, the removal of pain/discomfort/desire and resulting painless state that exists, is exactly what pleasure is. Full physical contentment is naturally and frequently achieved when we have the natural and necessary accommodations of food and shelter.

    "Τοῦτο αὐτὸ τὸ ἀγαθόν ἐστι: τὸ φυγεῖν τὸ κακόν- Τhis very thing is the good: Escaping from the bad" Metrodorus (Non Posse 1091 A)

    In failing to appreciate this fact, the common man, when he in a painless state, typically tries to add to his complete pleasure by engaging in further activities. Yet any attempt to add more pleasure to the complete pleasure of painlessness must always lead to failure, and never allows the mind to settle. The common man chases variation of bodily pleasures because he is not mentally content.

    Yet full mental contentment can be achieved just as naturally and frequently as full bodily contentment -- by the very realization of the simple ease of obtaining bodily contentment and then fostering gratitude and a full appreciation for your success in doing so.

    "For the end of all our actions is to be free from pain and fear, and, when once we have attained all this, the tempest of the soul is laid ; seeing that the living creature has no need to go in search of something that is lacking, nor to look for anything else by which the good of the soul and of the body will be fulfilled. When we are pained because of the absence of pleasure, then, and then only, do we feel the need of pleasure. Wherefore we call pleasure the alpha and omega of a blessed life (DL X 128)." An Epicurean's goal is bodily comfort and a calm mind.

    Thank you Elli, for your excellent response and wise words. Liantinis correctly perceived the situation, as sad as it is, and was brave enough to report what he saw.

    ἐναργὲς δὲ Cημεῖον τοῦ μηδὲν δύνασθαι τοὺς θεοὺς

    πρὸς τὸ ἀπερύκειν τἀδικήματα

    τὰ Ἰουδαίων καὶ Αἰγυπτίων ἔθη

    πάντων γὰρ ὄντες δεισιδαιμονέστατοι

    πάντων εἰσὶ μιαρώτατοι

    a clear Indication of the inability of the gods

    in regards to the prevention of wrongdoings

    is provided by the Jews and Egyptians

    because of all people they are the most superstitious and

    of all people they are the most stained with blood.

    Διογένης ὁ Οἰνοανδεύς (Diogenes Oinoanda) · NF 126 III

    I am happy that you also agree that ἡ επιβολή τῆς διανοίας is best understood as 'attention.' This certainly simplifies a point in our philosophy which has unnecessarily caused confusion historically.

    I would be very grateful for any information in regard to finding Giovanni Indelli and Voula Tsouna's treatment of Philodemus' On Choices and Avoidances, published by Bibliopolis in 1995. Dr. Tsouna let me know today that she is not aware of any place the book is available, and she only has two, one here with her in California and the other in Greece, so she was not able to provide me with a copy.

    Here is KD 10 from a somewhat different angle:

    εἰ τὰ Ποιητικὰ τῶν περὶ τοὺς ἀσώτους ἡδονῶν

    ἔλυε τοὺς φόβους τῆς διανοίας

    τούς τε περὶ μετεώρων καὶ θανάτου καὶ ἀλγηδόνων

    ἔτι τε τὸ πέρας τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν ἐδίδασκεν καὶ τῶν ἀλγηδόνων :

    οὐκ ἄν ποτε Εἴχομεν ὅ τι μεμψάμεθα αὐτοῖς

    πανταχόθεν ἐκπληρουμένοις τῶν ἡδονῶν -

    οὔτε τὸ λυπούμενον Ἔχουσιν -

    Ὅπερ ἐστὶ τὸ κακόν·

    If the things that produce the pleasures of degenerates

    released the fears of the mind

    about the heavens and death and pains

    and if those things taught the the Limit of desires and of pains:

    then we would never have had anything to hold against them

    who would be filling themselves from all places with pleasures-

    and they would not have pain or sadness from any place-

    which is exactly what 'evil' is.

    TOYC ΑCΩΤΟΥC “profligates” οἱ ἄσωτοι–τῶν ἀσώτων: libertines, spendthrifts; a lost case; from ἄσωτος–ἀσώτη–ἄσωτον: having no hope of safety, in desperate case, abandoned, past any hope of recovery. ἄσωτος

    ΜΕΜΨΑΙΜΕΘΑ “(then we would not) blame” μέμφομαι–μέμφεσθαι: hold (acc.) against (dat.); here, “we would (not) have held (ὅ τι) against (αὐτοῖς).”

    ‘…but this form is not body, but quasi-body [quasi corpus], nor has it blood, but quasi-blood’ given such statements one might at first think of a statue as a good analogy. But as we know, every discrete object will eventually break up into the parts that composed it. “τὸ λέγειν ὡς οὐδ' ἐν τοῖς σώμασιν καταλείπει τοὺς θ[εούς] ‘τῶν σωμάτων’ λέγων ‘τὰ μὲν εἶναι συγκρίσεις, τὰ δ' ἐξ ὧν αἱ συγκρίσεις πεπόηνται.’ μήτε γὰρ ἀτόμους νομίζειν τοὺς θεοὺς μήτε συγκρίσεις, ἐπειδήπερ οὗτοι μὲν διαιώνιοι τελέως, αἱ δὲ πᾶσαι φθαρταί. μηδὲν δὲ σῶμ' ἔχειν τοὺς θεοὺς ἀφθάρτους ὄντας, [they say that] regarding the claim that (Epicurus) does not allow the gods to be bodies when he says ‘of bodies some are compounds, and others are those things out of which compounds are formed’ for he considers the gods to be neither simple entities nor compounds, since those are completely eternal, while these are destructible, so in no way can gods have bodies, since they are indestructible (Philodemus On Piety column 2, Obbink lines 34-50).”

    For the gods “there is in them no solidity, so to speak, or numerical identity, like those things which on account their compactness he calls ‘solids’ (ND I.37.105)” Not every object is discrete. Some objects are formed by a process: as in the common example of a waterfall, which although a flowing mass of constantly changing matter, we nevertheless “κατ᾽ ἀριθμὸν ὑφεστῶτας, conceive (them) as numerically distinct (ΔΛ Χ139)”

    Of course, no amount of assault against such a nondiscrete object will effect its continued existence (following our analogy, stabbing a waterfall with a sword is inconsequential to the existence of a waterfall). “εἴ γ' εὐ[σκοποῦσίν] φησιν φύσιν τούτων πραγμάτων καὶ πολλῶν αὐτὴν περιεστώτων δοξ[άζειν ἐξεῖναι] καὶ πολλοῖς [ἀι]δίοις [θεοῖς κἀθα]νάτοις [εἶναι], (Epicurus says) that he thinks that is is possible for their nature to exist even with many troubles surrounding it, and that it is possible thus for many eternal and immortal gods to exist (Philodemus On Piety column 3, Obbink lines 62-70).”

    The only threat to a nondiscrete ‘constant flow’ existence is insufficient supply of material. However, the material in the entire universe is infinite. In the infinity of space with infinite material, that there will be areas through which matter infinitely passes is a certainty. This process can take any shape, and when in the shape of man, here we find gods. They are certain to exit. They are certainly eternal. They are certainly indestructible. “...οὓς δὲ καθ᾽ ὁμοείδειαν, ἐκ τῆς συνεχοῦς ἐπιρρύσεως τῶν ὁμοίων εἰδώλων, ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ἀποτετελεσμένους ἀνθρωποειδεῖς, in a similar shape, from the continuous influx of similar films, to the same place where they are rendered as human-shaped (ΔΛ Χ139).”

    Thank you, Elli, for your response. I thank you also for your past comments on TO AΦΘΑΡΤΟΝ with its meaning of "that which is not in touch" which is good to keep in mind along with the connotations of "that which is self-sufficient" and "independent."

    As we know, Epicurus reminded the people of his day not to add to their natural conceptions of gods, and to preserve them in the state "as the typical idea of a god is (mentally/naturally) engraved, ὡς ἡ κοινὴ τοῦ θεοῦ Nόησις ὑπεγράφη (X123b)." We have no ability to deny the existence of the conception, or the gods themselves, because "the knowledge of them is clear, ἐναργὴς δέ ἐστιν αὐτῶν ἡ Γνῶσις.” Which of course it is. Telling all the people around the world that the gods do not exist is like telling people that they themselves do not feel hunger or pain. They feel it, they know it. For an atheist to be made, a person must accept arguments that fight against their natural anticipations of the gods (or they assume the additional cultural ideas regarding the gods are the same as their anticipations, judge both to be ridiculous, and deny both together) – just as for a religious person to be made, they must accept additional ideas along with their natural anticipations.

    Regarding the use of "intuitive apprehensions of the mind" ἡ φανταστικὴ ἐπιβολὴ τῆς διανοίας, we do have the use by Epicurus in KD24 and ΔΛ X51. “The entire graphic perception of the mind” “the full pictorial focus of the mind” “the complete visual attention of the mind.” Because all thought is based upon images, the use of φανταστική (‘graphic’) here is only further explaining the process of mental focus; the whole phrase is therefore equivalent to ἡ ἐπιβολή τῆς διανοίας (‘the perception of the mind’) alone, which Lucretius translates (2.740) as animī iniectus ‘a casting of mental energy’ or ‘a throwing out of the attention.’ Instead of using the modern analogy of ‘focusing’ the mind (as though the mind were something like a camera), Ἐπίκουρος and Lucretius use the analogy of ‘throwing’ or ‘casting’ the mind (as though the mind were something like a net). Put simply, animī iniectus and ἡ επιβολή τῆς διανοίας are equivalent to our modern use of ‘attention.'

    This is wonderful work! It is excellent to see new compositions in hexameter. I have only tried forming a few lines— it takes a lot of work and goes far to gain even more appreciation of the rather fun 7,400 lines Lucretius wrote. Thank you!

    Elayne, hello! It has been a great to hear you on the podcasts, and I am happy to be speaking with you now.

    I think we should not find ourselves saying "these observations don't fit my model so I'm going to disregard them because I like my model", but instead say "my model no longer fits my observations as well, so I'll either make a new model or wait for more observations-- and in the meantime I'll continue to have confidence that I can make observations of reality."

    This is a thoroughly scientific and most reasonable position to take. This is our position for the first class of things mentioned in KD 24, but Epicurus would differentiate between those inferences which we consider subject to correction and those inferences which we consider to be fully confirmed and certain conclusions.


    (1) "that which is believed regarding what is still pending confirmation (τὸ δοξαζόμενον κατὰ τὸ προσμένον)" -- These are observable things which we have not yet fully observed. For all the things in this class we are totally open to the possibility for future correction if (when we have the opportunity for closer and repeated examination) we receive observations that contradict any theories we may have previously considered regarding them. This view in line with most modern scientific approaches.


    The second class are all the things we are able to directly observe (2) "that which is actually present to sensation, feelings, or the whole visual focus of the mind (τὸ παρὸν ἤδη κατὰ τὴν αἴσθησιν καὶ τὰ πάθη καὶ πᾶσαν φανταστικὴν ἐπιβολὴν τῆς διανοίας) -- These are things which can be sensed and inspected and form the basis of all our clear thinking.


    The third class are all the things we cannot directly observe (3) "that which is unobservable (τὰ ἄδηλα)" -- These invisible things must be tested by their observable interactions with class (2) things actually present (τὸ παρὸν ἤδη). Because our conclusions about things in this class are based upon their visible interactions with (2) what is directly observable and not based upon (1) that which is pending confirmation, we are certain about the conclusions we have reached regarding them. Clearly, this final view is antagonistic to most modern scientific approaches.

    Great Stuff! Certainly we distinguish between (1) what is technically visible but too distant for us to observe, (2) what we can observe and (3) what is unobservable. Here is KD 24 from a somewhat different angle.

    Εἴ τιν᾽ ἐκβαλεῖς ἁπλῶς αἴσθησιν καὶ μὴ διαιρήσεις τὸ δοξαζόμενον κατὰ τὸ προσμένον καὶ τὸ παρὸν ἤδη κατὰ τὴν αἴσθησιν καὶ τὰ πάθη καὶ πᾶσαν φανταστικὴν ἐπιβολὴν τῆς διανοίας, συνταράξεις καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς αἰσθήσεις τῇ ματαίῳ δόξῃ, ὥστε τὸ κριτήριον ἅπαν ἐκβαλεῖς. εἰ δὲ βεβαιώσεις καὶ τὸ προσμένον ἅπαν ἐν ταῖς δοξαστικαῖς ἐννοίαις καὶ τὸ μὴ τὴν ἐπιμαρτύρησιν, οὐκ ἐκλείψεις τὸ διεψευσμένον: ὡς τετηρηκὼς ἔσῃ πᾶσαν ἀμφισβήτησιν κατὰ πᾶσαν κρίσιν τοῦ ὀρθῶς ἢ μὴ ὀρθῶς.

    "if You reject even one sensation and will not separate

    (1) a theory about what is still pending

    versus (2) what is actually present according sensation,

    feelings, or the whole visual focus of the mind:

    then you will disturb the remaining senses with empty thought

    as you will reject the whole basis of judgment.

    also if You affirm

    (1) all that which is still pending in theoretical concepts

    along with (2) that which is not pending confirmation:

    …you will not avoid error

    since you will have retained all doubt

    regarding all judgment of what is true or not true."

    (1) τὸ προσμένον ἅπαν ἐν ταῖς δοξαστικαῖς ἐννοίαις “all that which is still pending [confirmation] regarding theoretical concepts” is equivalent to τὸ δοξαζόμενον κατὰ τὸ προσμένον ‘a theory about what is still pending’ (both of which are explaining τὸ δοξαζόμενον), as in the common observation of the distant square tower.

    Excellent list. Understanding how we come to our conclusions is necessary in order to have certainty about them.

    “οὑχὶ καὶ [διαφέρει] τοῦ φανεροῦ Tάφανὲς; καὶ παρακρούειν ἡμᾶς Ἔχουσι σθεναρῶς, ἐπειδὴ τὰ παρ' ἡμῖν ζῷα [παραφυλάττοντες] εἶναι φθαρτὰ, τοὺς θεοὺς ἀφθάρτους ὑπάρχειν λέγομεν; Kαὶ πάντων γενητῶν καὶ φθρτῶν ὄντων, τὰς τῶν ὀλων ἀρχὰς ἀγενήτους εἶναι καὶ ἀφθάρτους [ἀξιοῦμεν]; Φιλοδήμου Περὶ Cημείων XX.20-30

    Isn’t the invisible [different] from the visible? Can’t they strongly slap us aside, because [while observing] that the living things around us are destructible, we say that the gods are indestructible? And although all things are created and destructible, [we think] that the elements of all things are uncreated and indestructible?”

    Philodemus quoting Bromius (Cf. De Lacy “On Methods of Inference” pg. 69-70)