⟐ as the symbol of the philosophy of Epicurus

  • I received an email from a reader of epicuro.org who prefers to remain anonymous with an original proposal that immediately thrilled me. Here is his email:

    Epicurean philosophy is among the greatest movements of thought in history, on a par with the most common religions.

    Unlike religions (e.g. Christianity) and other more recent movements (e.g. Communism), it does not have a symbol with which it can be identified around the world.

    I therefore thought of a symbol that could condense the main points of Epicurus' thought, in a graphic that is as minimalist as possible.

    The result is this: ⟐

    A rhombus with a dot inside.

    The four sides of the rhombus represent the quadrifugaco, the way to happiness according to Epicurus.

    The point, on the other hand, represents the Democritean atom at the basis of Epicurean physics and the key concept of clinamen, the random movement of atoms.

    This symbol corresponds to the UNICODE U + 27D0 standard so it is copyright free.

    What do you think?

    Simbolo Epicureismo.png

  • That is an interesting suggestion Michele!

    I think it does have some potential, at least for certain uses.

    However as to this:

    it does not have a symbol with which it can be identified around the world.

    .... I am not sure that the ancient Epicureans would agree --- it seems as if they did have something they used: the bust of Epicurus himself, which you are holding in your excellent avatar! ;)

    This is an interesting questions from many perspectives. It probably also relates to the use of the term "Epicurean" as the name of the philosophy rather than "hedonism" or even "atomism" or the like. Both words have uses, but neither word captures the whole philosophy like identifying it with the founder himself does.

    And I think that relates too to the issue that Don refers to, such as the use of the Greek letter (such as Society of Epicurus does) representing "friendship". Anything that conveys only one aspect of the philosophy fails to capture the fullness of it, and may tend to falsely imply that one aspect of it is "the most important."

    I know personally that was my immediate reaction to the letter indicating friendship, and I think that's also why I rarely refer to the philosophy as atomism or hedonism. Both words have their uses, just as this suggested symbol might.

    I suspect even the christians ought to be concerned about the cross for the very same reasons. (Which is one reason I gather than the Mormons do not use the cross very often, even though they consider themselves to be christians.)

    If the question were: What unicode symbol on a keyboard would work best, I doubt anyone could come up with any better.... though it would be interesting to consider the options and think about that.

  • Those are nice images. I put one behind a lampshade for a fun effect. It does solve the issue of not using Forms, but the use of the Greek Key design may be critiqued as not fully using our little boat.

  • That's a beautiful piece of artwork and maybe "represents" the philosophy but it is completely impractical as a symbol or logo. We need something more in line with the Nike swoosh, Christian cross, Islamic crescent, Atheist A, Apple apple, ... You get the idea. Something bold, graphic, and that you could hang from a necklace.

  • 1727-simbolo-epicureismo-png

    To repeat and expand on michelepinto 's and others' proposals:

    • The four sides = The four lines of the Tetrapharmakos
    • The dot = the atom (or whatever basic building block of matter you want in modern terms)
      • The space around the dot represents the void.
    • The points at the top (a triangle pointing up) and bottom (a triangle pointing down) of the diamond shape represent pain and pleasure.
      • Additionally, the points represent the choices we make based on pain and pleasure. Which way will we decide to go? It's up to us!
    • The symbol is an abstract eye to represent the motto SIc fac omnia tamquam spectet Epicurus. You could even include the letters SFOTSE in some arrangements around or inside the diamond.
    • The diamond shape with dot is an abstract representation of a walled Garden with a group of people inside.
      • For those Epicureans who want to emphasize lathe biosas it can represent that but doesn't need to.
    • The two sides of the diamond represent two people facing each other with outstretched arms < > joining hands in friendship.
    • The diamond itself represents the most durable natural physical substance which stands for the unshakable enduring trust in the Canon and the physical nature of the Cosmos with no supernatural intervention.

    I'm blue-skying here but just wanted to provide in how many directions you can go with a simple figure. I agree with Cassius that the most traditional "symbol" was the bust of Epicurus but that's hard to capture graphically (unless someone is up for a challenge).

    Edited once, last by Don: Added more interpretations ().

  • Can you tell me something about the papyrus reproductions on the wall?

    It is a fun little craft project to print out PHercs, cut them into the surviving pieces and put them under a frame!