Making Epicurean Philosophy Zines

  • I am thinking about making zines which could be handed out at meet-up groups (or any where). Zines could feature short sayings and/or basic outlines of some good points in Epicurean philosophy.

    If you have anything you think should be in a zine, please add it here to this thread. And you are welcome to create your own zines as well, and share them on this thread.

    To read about the history and art of making a zine, click here.

    For a simple folded one page zine, click here.

  • I just remembered that this came up in a different thread, and found this good outline for a zine, by Don:

  • A small zine could be used for simple presentation of a few Principle Doctrines, together with some kind of illustration.

    A longer zine could be 8-1/2 x 11 sheets of paper folded in half and stapled on the spine, and could be formated in a "booklet format". I am thinking this might make more sense because more information could presented.

    It will be important when making zines, to present ideas while also maintaining the overall congruity of the teachings. The following quote by Cassius is from this thread -- could be used in creating an advanced booklet format zine to be given out at meet-ups.

    1. That Epicurus was attempting to be absolutely consistent from bottom to top of his philosophy. In other words, I think he did his best to make his ethics (which seems to be the focus of this current conversation) as consistent with his physics and his epistemology as possible.
    2. That means that any interpretation of Epicurus' ethics which would appear to conflict with Epicurus' physics and epistemology is not likely to be a correct interpretation of what he actually taught.
    3. That his physics established without room for doubt (in his system) that:
      1. There are no supernatural gods or other forces.
      2. There is no "fate" either supernatural based or through hard determinism in physics (because of the swerve)
      3. There is no life after death (there is no immortal soul; mortal cannot unite with immortal; etc) which means we only have one life to live.
      4. There is no absolute virtue or eternal "concepts" of any kind (because there is nothing eternal in the universe except the atoms, which means that there are no eternal combinations that could form a basis for anything absolute; and because there is no "center" to the universe from which there could be a single perspective by which to judge all others; because there is no supernatural god whose perspective could be deemed to be the only correct one, etc.)
    4. That his epistemology establishes without room for doubt (in his system) that:
      1. The senses are the ultimate foundation for all reasoning that can be deemed to be correct.
      2. That there is ultimately no standard for "good" except pleasure and no standard for "bad" except pain.
      3. That knowledge we can have confidence in is possible in many things, even in some important things that we can't observe directly, such as items 1-4 above. However omniscience about everything we might like to speculate about is not possible and not therefore we can't hold our own conclusions up to a standard of omniscience.

  • Kalosyni

    Changed the title of the thread from “Making Zines of Epicurean Philosophy to Give Out” to “Making Epicurean Philosophy Zines”.
  • In the middle of a night (after being woken by the sound of the train horn) I began this possible text for a zine, based on some earlier writing by Cassius. This could be given out (or made available) at Epicurean meet-ups. Just now finished, and thinking this is pretty good introductory material as well.

    "On Pleasure" -- (first draft) (possible text for a zine)

    "Stranger, here you will do well to tarry, here our highest good is pleasure." This is the slogan traditionally attested to have been the "motto" of the original school of Epicurus in Athens.

    Epicurus advocated living in such a way as to derive the greatest amount of pleasure in one's lifetime, yet doing so through "choices and avoidances" so as to prevent suffering from overindulgence which might detract from pleasurable experiences.

    In some books, and also on some places on the internet, you may encounter people who talk as if Epicurus held "painlessness" or "tranquility" or "stillness" to be the highest good, as if they know better than Epicurus what he "should" have said. We hold this philosophical emphasis on tranquility as incorrect.

    Our Epicurean philosophy group is devoted to a classical interpretation that takes Epicurus at his word based on his canonics and epistemology. We incorporate within this classical Epicurean system all his statements about tranquility and absence of pain in such a way as to give full effect to everything he said, without rewriting Epicurus to suit modern neo-Stoic idealism about the nature of virtue and pleasure. So while tranquility and absence of pain is considered to be pleasurable, it not considered an end goal, nor is it the guide to living the best life.

    We welcome and encourage you to study and participate in our group with the goal of pleasure in view. We are mindful that there may be some who disagree with the "pleasure" emphasis, and we moderate our group discussions to ensure that those of us who wish to associate with the classical view have a safe place here to study with like-minded people.

    We ask that you respect our goals within this group and if you find that you are firmly of the view that the word "painlessness" represents the ideal that you wish to be associated with in studying Epicurus, then we ask that you find other places outside our group to express your views (such as on the internet and at Facebook).

    For those who are new to our group or to Epicurean Philosophy, we suggest studying the Epicurean texts to understand the path of pleasure within Epicureanism.

    Since there is ambiguity in interpretation, please take your time in order to thoroughly understand the subtleties.

    For those with previous study of Epicureanism, citations alone may not convince anyone who has previously made up their mind on this subject. Yet with curiosity, time, and observation of one's own life experiences, the wisdom of this understanding may come to be self-evident.

    And now, if you feel the desire and patience to dive into examining this topic, we suggest the study of several of the most clear statements in the ancient Epicurean texts on this issue:

    (1) Epicurus' Letter to Menoeceus:

    And for this cause we call pleasure the beginning and end of the blessed life. For we recognize pleasure as the first good innate in us, and from pleasure we begin every act of choice and avoidance, and to pleasure we return again, using the feeling as the standard by which we judge every good.

    (2) Torquatus in Cicero's On Ends:

    I will start then in the manner approved by the author of the system himself, by settling what are the essence and qualities of the thing that is the object of our inquiry; not that I suppose you to be ignorant of it, but because this is the logical method of procedure. We are inquiring, then, what is the final and ultimate Good, which as all philosophers are agreed must be of such a nature as to be the End to which all other things are means, while it is not itself a means to anything else. This Epicurus finds in pleasure; pleasure he holds to be the Chief Good, pain the Chief Evil. This he sets out to prove as follows: Every animal, as soon as it is born, seeks for pleasure, and delights in it as the Chief Good, while it recoils from pain as the Chief Evil, and so far as possible avoids it. This it does as long as it remains unperverted, at the prompting of Nature's own unbiased and honest verdict.


    The truth of the position that pleasure is the ultimate good will most readily appear from the following illustration. Let us imagine a man living in the continuous enjoyment of numerous and vivid pleasures alike of body and of mind, undisturbed either by the presence or by the prospect of pain: what possible state of existence could we describe as being more excellent or more desirable? One so situated must possess in the first place a strength of mind that is proof against all fear of death or of pain; he will know that death means complete unconsciousness, and that pain is generally light if long and short if strong, so that its intensity is compensated by brief duration and its continuance by diminishing severity. Let such a man moreover have no dread of any supernatural power; let him never suffer the pleasures of the past to fade away, but constantly renew their enjoyment in recollection, and his lot will be one which will not admit of further improvement.

    (3) Diogenes of Oinoanda, Fragment 32

    If, gentlemen, the point at issue between these people and us involved inquiry into "What is the means of happiness?" and they wanted to say "the virtues" (which would actually be true), it would be unnecessary to take any other step than to agree with them about this, without more ado. But since, as I say, the issue is not "what is the means of happiness?" but "What is happiness and what is the ultimate goal of our nature?", I say both now and always, shouting out loudly to all Greeks and non-Greeks, that pleasure is the end of the best mode of life, while the virtues, which are inopportunely messed about by these people (being transferred from the place of the means to that of the end), are in no way an end, but the means to the end. Let us therefore now state that this is true, making it our starting-point.

  • Looks great! You’ve taken a lot of work into yourself, but the result is good.

  • Preliminary thoughts -- sorry but I have been very busy the last two days:

    Being well aware that Kalosyni has started with some material originally from me, I should say simply "Great Work!"

    But I don't think I have ever liked anything I have ever written for very long, so I am always revisiing.

    In this case, while I do think that the warnings about interpretations does deserve a place, I don't know that in a "Zine" format that they ought to be near the front.

    I think I would start out with a more positive statement of what Epicurean philosophy is about, and then after that take note of the differences in interpretations. I am presuming that the opening selection in the Zine is what is intended to grab peoples' attention(?)

    I guess what I am thinking is to at the very least lead with the positive, starting more with something like:

    You may have heard that Epicurus taught that everyone should "party hard!" at every opportunity. Or you may have heard that Epicurus taught that people should pursue "absence of pain" and retire from the crowd as the best way to spend their lives. The people who printed this Zine invite you to join them in the study of the true Epicurean perspective on life, and we think you'll find a lot to like. For example:

    - Epicurus taught that there is no fate, and that people have the ability - and the need - to take control of their lives in every way that they can.

    - Epicurus taught that there is no vengeful supernatural god who throws the wicked into an eternal hell, nor is there a partial god who rewards his friends and punishes his enemies.

    - Epicurus taught that "religion" as most people understand is a dangerous and damaging threat to human well-being.

    - Epicurus taught that there are no absolute and artificial rules to which everyone must conform, but that we should live our lives by the standards that Nature herself teaches us through the senses and our feelings of pain and pleasure.

    - Epicurus taught all this and much more, all with human happiness as the ultimate goal of life!

    and then continue from there with the rest of the suggestions.

    Just my first reaction!

  • Thank you Cassius, and I totally see what you mean about leading with the positive.

    Epicurus taught that there are no absolute and artificial rules to which everyone must conform, but that we should live our lives by the standards that Nature herself teaches us through the senses and our feelings of pain and pleasure.

    I think that would need its very own zine to explain, as would some of the other points in your post 8, as well.

    As far as my post 6 above, maybe simply focusing on pleasure and the supporting text.

    I can also imagine simple categories of basics presented with specific Principle Doctrines referenced.

    Also thinking to explain the specific and pragmatic "what" and "why".

  • A few points from the podcast:

    1. The quiet before - is incubation/strategizing, back and forth communication, agreeing on a common goal (not using twitter or facebook) but using genuine conversation using signal or a text chain, direct messages between a small group of people.

    2. Importance of focus

    3. Mechanism of spread, slowly recruiting to your world view - making it public, going beyond the coffeehouse discussions and thinking about how to make it attractive (he mentioned the use of twitter hashtags (?) as coffee shop is not useful now due to covid)

  • Thinking further (after listening to the podcast) I must state that I firmly believe that this forum is "pro-social" as Epicureanism brings helpful (and healing) wisdom and ways to living life. And eventually we might want to organize into a non-profit. Yet that would take some time to clarify exactly what our "mission" as a non-profit would be. We would definitely want to preserve the teachings of Epicureanism, and preserve the database of writings, teachings, essays, podcasts, and helpful thread discussions. The other goal would be to have activities to "spread the word" of Epicureanism.