Episode One Hundred Two - Corollaries to the Doctrines - Part Two

  • I just finished listening to the podcast...enjoyed it hearing many of the ideas presented, even though there were some hard topics presented (the torture description which I had never heard of before).

    It seems to me that this podcast points to tranquil pleasures as being very important.

    "We refuse to believe, however, that when pleasure is removed, grief instantly ensues, excepting when perchance pain has taken the place of the pleasure; but we think on the contrary that we experience joy on the passing away of pains, even though none of that kind of pleasure which stirs the senses has taken their place; and from this it may be understood how great a pleasure it is to be without pain." --Cicero, paragraph #56

    This explains the importance of absense of pain in Epicureanism.

    And there was a comment about Cyrenaics...didn't take notes, so can't restate the exact quote. Instead, I will give this description from Wikipedia:


    "The Cyrenaics taught that the only intrinsic good is pleasure, which meant not just the absence of pain (as it did for Epicurus), but positively enjoyable sensations. Of these, momentary pleasures, especially physical ones, are stronger than those of anticipation or memory. They did, however, recognize the value of social obligation and that pleasure could be gained from altruistic behaviour. The school died out within a century and was replaced by the philosophy of Epicureanism."

    I just feels like there is so much in common between the two schools. Because even mental pleasures of anticipation or memory exists "in time" and so has a momentary quality.

    It is possible that my own belief leans more toward the Cyrenaics. Memory might become more important for me if I grow old and infirm. But for now I both need and want to "indulge" in pleasurable activity...and I choose healthy activities that don't bring pain or problems.

  • Here's another article on the Cyrenaics:

    Cyrenaics | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    It's a solid article. Here are just a couple quick snippets:

    Another striking feature of the Cyrenaic theory is its lack of future-concern. The Cyrenaics advocate going after whatever will bring one pleasure now, enjoying the pleasure while one is experiencing it, and not worrying too much about what the future will bring. Although the Cyrenaics say that prudence is valuable for attaining pleasure, they do not seem much concerned with exercising self-control in pursuing pleasure, or with deferring present pleasures (or undergoing present pains) for the sake of experiencing greater pleasure (or avoiding greater pains) in the future.

    The Cyrenaics instead aim at enjoying the pleasures that are present, without letting themselves be troubled at what is not present, that is, the past and future. Epicurus thinks that the memory of past pleasures, and the expectation of future pleasures, are themselves most pleasant, and hence he emphasizes the importance of careful planning in arranging what one will experience in the future. The Cyrenaics, however, deny this, saying that pleasures are pleasant only when actually being experienced.

    That's been why I've gravitated to the Epicureans and not the Cyrenaics. I'm not "old and infirm" but I take great pleasure in reliving trips taken and other events in the past. I just did a nice review of last year on Jan 1 and took great pleasure in thinking about what my family was able to do this past year all things considered.

  • Cassius and Joshua,

    In relation to the comments "being able to be happy even under a torture session" during the last episode, where should I read again in Lucretius' Nature of things? Perhaps in "the senses" section.

    It's about Cicero’s critic/mockery on this specific idea, taken from a letter written by Epicurus if I remember well. It really took my attention. I also remember the differentiation between happiness and pleasure. It was interesting indeed, not bad to kick off the new year.

    I’d like to review these elements in the book. Thank you both.

  • Good question, Alex, but can you clarify what you are asking? At this precise moment I am not recalling a part of Lucretius specifically on this as much as I am remembering Diogenes Laertius and Cicero's criticism. And then as to the relationship between happiness and pleasure there is the "shout" part of Diogenes of Oinoanda and then several instances here in Torquatus.

    Can you clarify your question? (Or maybe Joshua or Don or someone can go ahead and respond further as is.)

  • Yeah, sorry about the confusion.

    All the comments and quotations in the few last episodes (Cicero's criticism for example) are interesting because I can learn and analyse about stoicism more in detail, how they confront epicurean philosophy, etcetera. It's useful to review other opinions and thinkers to compare and contrast, it makes the debate wiser I believe.

    So I fancy to go back to Lucretius and reading again about that topic, related to Cicero's criticism. I thought I should review 'the senses' as the most appropriate reading; is that correct? Therefore, the question was what book exactly should I review? Perhaps you could recommend two or more passages from different books. I don't intend to read all six books again.

    As you can see, I am not that good to produce an argument or ask a clear question. Just confusion.

    Thank you.

  • Ha no problem! Lucretius does not much confront the Stoics directly except by implication.

    I think you might find helpful the appendix on logic in the DeLacy book on Philodemus' On Signs. - at the back of the book. He has a very good section on the development of Epicurean empiricism that might address what you are looking for to compare to the Stoics.

    But you may be asking about a certain part of the debate rather than just the whole Stoic v Epicurean debate. If you are looking at the higher level, have you read DeWitt?

  • Thank you, Cassius.

    You did recommend me to carry on with DeWitt after Lucretius, rather than searching for subtopics. I am going to follow your advice as soon as I can. I agree, DeWitt is the best option to start digging into Epicurean philosophy.

    In the meanwhile, I enjoy the episodes very much, it's a rich debate about subtopics. I do like Joshua's participation, I can't get enough. I came across analysis and comments about Epicurean view on death in the last two episodes, very interesting indeed, a subtopic that appeal to me.

    Also, the view on happiness/pleasure even during hardship comes handy to me right now due to negative circumstances. I am facing adversity (accommodation, finances) so I am under pressure. I have to deal with it. Therefore, I have no choice but let DeWitt aside at the moment. Nevertheless, I find a certain degree of sanity (happiness/pleasure) when listening to the podcast every week. I forget about adversity for one hour. I might be applying Epicurean principles unconsciously, who knows. I've just realised that I am participating in this particular forum, asking questions and so on, despite the situation; a bit strange to be honest.

    In the near future, once I find myself in a better position, I go for DeWitt.

    Thanks for the comments and advice Cassius, I appreciate it.

  • "Good luck" with your circumstances Alex. I am sure most of deal with varying degrees of serious problems and yes reading Epicurus is a refuge from the storms and gives hope and grounding to weather them.