Do Pigs Value Katastematic Pleasure? ( Summer 2022 K / K Discussion)

  • pursuing the details on difficult topics can be very motivational.

    Yes, this is a very useful discussion. Painful at times but great for getting clarity. Thanks Cassius and Don !

    We also know that for example Epicurus divided things into "natural and necessary," and that that distinction was significant to be recorded several places very clearly, including the principal doctrines, the letter to Menoeceus, and the vatican sayings

    To that, I'd say "Bingo!" According to On Choices and other quoted material, Epicurus used the words katastematic and kinetic. Yes, I will continue to "assert" that. But *maybe* they weren't central to his philosophy because THEY'RE BOTH PLEASURES. He didn't see the need to belabor the point.

    This discussion has me thinking further about pleasures v desires. Whether with nefarious intent or through misunderstanding, it seems to me that the Platonic/Ciceronian treatment conflates and confuses pleasure with desire, and that this is a major cause or the katastematic-kinetic brouhaha.


    Don's quote seems to hit on a key: of course there are different types of pleasure, but they're all pleasure. And pleasure is the goal, not any particular type of pleasure. More specifically, the experience of the feeling which is pleasure is the goal (or guide, if you prefer).


    As to Cassius' quote, Epicurus clearly has a division of "things into natural and necessary". Correct me if I'm missing something, but I've never found a connection between pleasure and natural and necessary in any of the writings of Epicurus. The connection that he consistently makes, in all cases (at least in translation) is between natural and necessary and desires. In the PDs it's between desires and pains. But never pleasures.


    Why? My thinking is that pleasure is typically a result. Desires are something that we can tangibly work with. Epicurus' concern is with describing practice, with things anybody can do to achieve pleasure. He doesn't care what type of pleasure you achieve, he's concerned with how you go about achieving pleasure. And to him, you do this by working with your desires and with your pains. If you understand your desires, you will be more effective at achieving pleasure. As you minimize your various pains, these will by definition be replaced with pleasure. But you must always remember that your guide and goal is pleasure. Understanding desires and removing pains are only tools for pursuing pleasure. We can also pursue various pleasures for pure enjoyment, but for an effective practice to achieve lasting pleasure he focused on working with desires and on things which cause pain.


    To me, this is the important concern for a practicing Epicurean. And the Golden Ones and The Cow have done a fine job of diverting the focus to sorting out fancy pleasures. But since they have been so successful, it's useful for us to untangle the mess that they've created.

  • Correct me if I'm missing something, but I've never found a connection between pleasure and natural and necessary in any of the writings of Epicurus. The connection that he consistently makes, in all cases (at least in translation) is between natural and necessary and desires. In the PDs it's between desires and pains. But never pleasures.

    You are correct. The word used is επιθυμία (epithymia "desire, yearning, longing; passion") not ηδονή (hedone)

  • My thinking is that pleasure is typically a result. Desires are something that we can tangibly work with. Epicurus' concern is with describing practice, with things anybody can do to achieve pleasure. He doesn't care what type of pleasure you achieve, he's concerned with how you go about achieving pleasure. And to him, you do this by working with your desires and with your pains. If you understand your desires, you will be more effective at achieving pleasure. As you minimize your various pains, these will by definition be replaced with pleasure. But you must always remember that your guide and goal is pleasure. Understanding desires and removing pains are only tools for pursuing pleasure. We can also pursue various pleasures for pure enjoyment, but for an effective practice to achieve lasting pleasure he focused on working with desires and on things which cause pain.

    Brilliant! :) :thumbup: :thumbup:

  • I wake up this morning thinking about this, which is not a response to present interlocutors but to the Wikipedia-Epicureans.


    If there is really one major primary and unyielding position I have on the "katastematic / kinetic" pleasure issue, it comes down to this:


    I am going to presume that the goal of this website and at least most of our joint work here is to make Epicurean philosophy understandable and practical to a new generation of people. Given that presumption, and that the presumption that they aren't minting too many new people whose first language is ancient Greek, then it is imperative that the word "katastematic" not be left in Greek, but be translated into plain English. "Kinetic" needs the same treatment, but at least given our modern usage of the word "kinetic, that word is not so ambiguous and amorphous. I suspect what we are reading into it given the English version is not faithful to what was really meant philosophically by "kinetic," because Kinetic" today has an implication of "frenzy" which is not positive. But at least "kinetic" is not grossly useless and meaningless and amorphous like "katastematic."


    So what are we REALLY talking about in this issue?


    Did Epicurus hold that the "healthy functioning of the organism" is a pleasure? HECK YES!

    Did Epicurus hold that a background sense of calmness and tranquility is also a pleasure? HECK YES!

    Did Epicurus hold that a confident continuation of our present state of pleasure is also a pleasure? HECK YES!

    Did Epicurus hold that our ideal state of functioning to be filling our experience pleasures and thereby eliminating from our experience all pains? HECK YES!


    And I suspect that we could go on and on, as long as we are clear what we are talking about in our native language.....


    However for purposes of explaining Epicurus to other people and even most of us understanding it for ourselves, we need to be clear on what Epicurus did not do:


    Did Epicurus hold that he had come up with a semi-mystical concept so subtle and so exotic that no one but a Greek uttering the incantation "katastematic" could understand what he was talking about? HECK NO!


    Did Epicurus ever hint that "katastematic" pleasure, even when translated into understandable terms, was a special type of "fancy pleasure" (Elayne's term) which supercedes and transcends all other types of pleasure and is the true goal of life? HECK NO!



    It's really only when we constantly talk about a word that no one today truly knows all the shades of (since we are not ancient Greeks) that we find the divide unbridgeable. Explain what is meant in clear terms and we can then agree where possible and reduce the disagreements to clearly defined issues, but until we explain in clear English terms what we are talking about, we just spin our wheels endlessly.


    No one here at EpicureanFriends is guilty of what I am complaining about, and just to be super-clear I am 100% confident of the motives of everyone in this present conversation. But the Wikipedia-world is dominated by people who are perpetuating just this kind of confusing, and they are doing it because they will not accede to "PLEASURE" being what Epicurus held to be the goal and guide of life. And getting back to the opening premise, if the goal of the website here is to help explain Epicurus to a new generation of people, then we have to get ready to stand up to the Wikipedia-mindset on this issue.

  • There is so much good stuff coming up here in this thread, yet it feels just beyond my ability to adequately synthesize. Thank you Don for your work on translation, and Godfrey you added some good stuff too.


    And Cassius thank you for holding the line and your explanation in the above post. I would add that your label of the "Wikipedia-Epicureans" would refer to the "tranquility-as-the-goal-Epicureans". You continue to uphold the "fullness-of-pleasure-Epicureans" as the best way to bring forward the philosophy to the next generation -- and which is why I came onto this forum.


    I think there are many layers to all this, such as if someone is hoping for a therapeutic benefit from Epicureanism -- and yes I confess that is me!


    Until we create a kind of "Epicurean bible" we will continue to have these discussions and it will be difficult to bring the philosophy to the next generation.


    So what are we REALLY talking about in this issue?


    Did Epicurus hold that the "healthy functioning of the organism" is a pleasure? HECK YES!

    Did Epicurus hold that a background sense of calmness and tranquility is also a pleasure? HECK YES!

    Did Epicurus hold that a confident continuation of our present state of pleasure is also a pleasure? HECK YES!

    Did Epicurus hold that our ideal state of functioning to be filling our experience pleasures and thereby eliminating from our experience all pains? HECK YES!


    This is the kind of stuff that needs to go into a book (together with Epicurus' writings).


    And I agree on not using the word "katastematic".

  • I would add that your label of the "Wikipedia-Epicureans" would refer to the "tranquility-as-the-goal-Epicureans".

    Exactly. Wikipedia editors (of which I am one and anyone else can be, too!) are, for the most part, entering third-party information that should be sourced. There is nothing - except time - stopping any of us or anyone else from entering information, citations, and references to Nikolsky, G&T, Wenham, DeWitt, Sedley, the sun-size paper author I forget their name, et al. to Epicurus-related articles on Wikipedia.

    (Unless someone would like to share an experience that didn't go well in the past? Even so, the opportunity still exists.)

  • I just found this, and it looks like a worthwhile read, and may be good for those who want a clear presentation of things -- Chapter 7 -- starts with a very clear introduction and then at about 5 pages into it, goes into a comparison of kinetic/kastastematic. I didn't get very far into it, so not sure what his full take on Epicureanism is. (Is this already referenced somewhere on the forum?)


    "Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy" by David Wolfsdorf


    https://sites.unimi.it/zucchi/NuoviFile/Wolsdorf12.pdf

  • btw -- Cassius, it may be tempting to want to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" on this writing by Wolfsdorf, but there still could be something helpful in it.

  • And I agree on not using the word "katastematic"

    That would be a wrong conclusion to draw from my rant. :)


    Ironically it is essential to use the word at proper times and contexts, because otherwise there will be no way to unwind the distortions Of two thousand years.


    So I am not saying that we should never use the word, just that we should be clear how we are using it, and maybe above all else be considerate of when and where and how we use it, because virtually no one who is not a professional philosopher will have any clue what it means. Overuse of untranslated words can serve in talking to normal people as a barrier to the understanding of what should be and is a very simple philosophy that is not difficult at all to explain:


    - There is no supernatural realm and no meddling God or gods.

    - There is no heaven and hell and no existence after death.

    - There is no fate and you are not a billiard ball.

    -There is no absolute right / wrong / sin/ evil / good / virtue / depravity.

    - Nature gave us only pleasure and pain as guides for us to make decisions on how to live.

    - Do your best to intelligently maximize the pleasure and minimize pain in your life because you only live once.




    I suppose one subtitle for this forum ought to be borrowed from Dewitts article: "Philosophy For the Millions!"

  • Also something along the lines of "perception/sensations are our primary means of understanding. Reason can only be an effective tool in evaluating information that the senses provide: it cannot provide correct information about the world if it seeks to undermine the senses."

  • Also something along the lines of "perception/sensations

    Yes it always seems there is more to add, and it's always a fun and productive exercise to think about what else needs to be made clear "up front" to introduce someone to Epicurus.


    But no matter how long I think about it I can't figure out an appropriate occasion to say "You know all the basic stuff I told you about pleasure? You can now put that out of your mind because what I really want you to pursue is this Greek word that I can't really translate for you exactly into English but it sounds like "catatonic."


    :)

  • You know there's another aspect of this discussion that's relevant to the presentation of Epicurean philosophy to "normal people" and we probably ought to consider it now too:


    Quote

    When, therefore, we maintain that pleasure is the end, we do not mean the pleasures of profligates and those that consist in sensuality, as is supposed by some who are either ignorant or disagree with us or do not understand, but freedom from pain in the body and from trouble in the mind. For it is not continuous drinkings and revelings, nor the satisfaction of lusts, nor the enjoyment of fish and other luxuries of the wealthy table, which produce a pleasant life, but sober reasoning, searching out the motives for all choice and avoidance, and banishing mere opinions, to which are due the greatest disturbance of the spirit. Of all this the beginning and the greatest good is prudence. Wherefore prudence is a more precious thing even than philosophy: for from prudence are sprung all the other virtues, and it teaches us that it is not possible to live pleasantly without living prudently and honorably and justly, (nor, again, to live a life of prudence, honor, and justice) without living pleasantly. For the virtues are by nature bound up with the pleasant life, and the pleasant life is inseparable from them. For indeed who, think you, is a better man than he who holds reverent opinions concerning the gods, and is at all times free from fear of death, and has reasoned out the end ordained by nature? He understands that the limit of good things is easy to fulfill and easy to attain, whereas the course of ills is either short in time or slight in pain; he laughs at (destiny), whom some have introduced as the mistress of all things.


    Does this mean that Epicurus has said (elsewhere) that he wouldn't know what the good is without the pleasures of sex and other activities which we'd all agree to be very "active" in nature, but that now that he knows what the good is he's going to throw them all out and live as "passively" and "quietly" as possible? That's the way I see this passage being interpreted all the time (again referring to the "modern commentator" world in general, not here.


    To me, readings of that phrase that are consistent with the whole of the philosophy, and with the clear statement that he wouldn't know the good without active and indeed joy/delight/exuberant pleasures, is something like this:


    "I've told you that "Pleasure" is the goal of life, but note that I have not told you which pleasures too pursue, and I have not told you that having sex 24/7 or having one drink after another 24/7 or partying 24/7 is the ultimate goal of life. If you do those things, any normal person in normal circumstances is going to destroy their lives and suffer much more pain that they will conclude is far worse than the pleasures they gained. What I am telling you is that the best you can do in life is to pursue pleasure prudently. Yes you should pursue the pleasures that allowed me to see what the good is, but pursue them in an intelligent (like I did) so that you don't run yourself into an early grave from all the partying. And when I say pursue those pleasures prudently, I don't mean abstain from them totally, or live in a cave, because the man who engages in too much frugality is making just as bad a mistake as the man who indulges in excess. You can always remember what the goal looks like by this mental exercise: "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."

  • If Liebersohn was correct in his assertions (in his paper on Kinetic-katastematic pleasure) that the Letter to Menoikos was written around 296 or 295 BCE and that it was written for people new to the philosophy, does this have any relevance in placing LM in relation to other passages on pleasure? More or less developed due to being written when he was older or younger? More broad brushed for a newbie reader? Or are the contexts of the other passages too vague to make any reasonable assumptions?

  • Great questions Godfrey. No doubt there are going to be differences in emphasis due to who he is talking to and at what stage of life. However I don't think these different things we are discussing are ultimately contradictory -- I think that they all can be reconciled quite well if one just takes a very expansive and sweeping definition of the word "Pleasure" and realizes that all qualifications and types of pleasure are going to come UNDER the umbrella of the main term.


    And I do think that's an important point -- I think the motivation of the "Wikipedians" is to reduce the types of pleasure to only those which are "approved" and that makes way for Platonic / Aristotelian categorization into "better or worse" pleasures. And in fact we all do have personal preferences that determine how we personally weight (feel) pleasures and pains, but given that there is no god, no fate, no hard determinism, those are personal choices and not philosophical grounded. We as philosophers aren't gods and there aren't Platonic ideals and we can describe out thoughts to other people, but we can't make them "feel" the we that we do ourselves. The only ranking that works philosophically is that ALL pleasures are desirable / good, it's only that in certain contexts some pleasures cost more in pain than they are worth to the individual involved. If you remember that the ultimate term is Pleasure and that all the different feelings just have to be sorted out personally according to our personal feelings, then you're fine. But if you arrogate to yourself the right to tell everyone that your particular ranking is the "noble" or "worthy" or "divine" one, then you've become a priest and standing in the shoes of the type of supernatural god that we believe does not exist.

  • I think the motivation of the "Wikipedians" is to reduce the types of pleasure to only those which are "approved" and that makes way for Platonic / Aristotelian categorization into "better or worse" pleasures.

    I'm going to again stress that we're not dealing with a monolithic authoritarian editorial board of "Wikipedians." Each and every one of us has the ability to sign up for a free account and add content. Whether that's just External Links to pertinent papers on JSTOR or Academia or books, or actually adding prose edits in articles ***and backing them up with citations***, we can all do it. There's no barrier. I would have done it myself today but I was under the weather and took a sick day. My plan is to include some additional material directly in the katastematic article. It could use some bulking up.

    What we're really dealing with here are people - the hoi polloi to use Epicurus's term - working under the influence of popular acculturation and academic indoctrination. They have not set sail in their own little boat, free from all indoctrination. The hoi polloi are not aware there's even a controversy. Although, I will admit there *may* be some Stoic or Platonic sympathizers selectively editing Wikipedia. Yet another reason to get an account, get on, and at least start providing some *referenced* counterpoints.

    "I've told you that "Pleasure" is the goal of life

    I agree 100% with you. Why then, I ask, does Dewitt not want to just stop at saying this? Dewitt's whole "Epicurus didn't say pleasure was the greatest good. Life is the greatest good" is, in my opinion, an unnecessary obfuscation. When he writes in that paper Cassius posted today:

    Quote

    Pleasure Not the Greatest Good

    IN SPITE of this teaching it was not the doctrine of Epicurus that pleasure was the greatest good. To his thinking the greatest good was life itself. This was a logical deduction from the denial of immortality. Without the afterlife this present life becomes the concentration of all values. Pleasure, or happiness, has its place as the end, goal or fulfilment of living.

    It was the Stoics and Cicero who concocted and publicized the false report that Epicurus counted pleasure as the greatest good. This is mistakenly asserted in all our handbooks.

    I see nowhere in any of Epicurus's writings or any early adherents of the Garden to substantiate a phrase like "Life is the greatest good." At least Dewitt does say "pleasure is the end, goal or fulfilment of living." But that's what the "greatest good" is although he tries to jump through some hoops to say otherwise. (Dewitt tries to use VS42)

    This wording bothered me in DeWitt's book and it bothers me here. It seems a milquetoast concession to an uneasiness to just saying "Pleasure is the Greatest Good. It is the thing to which all things point."

    Even if someone wants to say Epicurus was using the philosophical terminology of the other schools in saying "the greatest good" (I think this was not the case and that Epicurus was genuinely saying 'pleasure is the greatest good') "Life" can't be the "greatest good" because our lives can't point to life. That's a tautology. Maybe "Living is a pleasure."? Ok, but yeah.

    I'm sorry to bring up the rabbit hole again, but it bothers me. To my understanding, pleasure is the greatest "thing" to which we can aspire in our lives because everything we do ends with "Should I do this?" And we answer the question in the end "is it pleasurable or painful?" If you ask"is it virtuous?" you have to answer a whole set of other questions that finally boil down to "will this provide me with pleasure or pain?"

    I find Dewitt's formulation of "Life is the greatest good" a tad nonsensical. Of course, life - living - is great and a good thing but it's great because it's the only thing we have! We exist now. After we exist, we do not exist. Non Fui, Fui, Non Sum, Non Curo. Yes PD2 says "Death is nothing to us; for what has disintegrated lacks awareness, and what lacks awareness is nothing to us." Before we "disintegrate" we're alive, we're living, we're making choices and rejections, and that's great. That's a pleasurable thing to experience. But I'm not persuaded by his "no definite article in Latin" idea, not his saying the Stoics and Cicero are the ones responsible for "Pleasure is the greatest good" from what I've seen.

    And I know this has been written and cited before by Cassius, so in the interest of fairness and to work on my citation habits:


    Common Fallacies About Epicurus (#2): Epicurus maintained that Pleasure is the “Greatest Good” – NewEpicurean


    Oh, and btw, I am feeling a little better after sleeping much of today away. From miserable to uncomfortable. The terrible can be endured...

  • 1. Yes feel better soon!


    2. I have no real desire to defend the way DeWitt made his point but I do think he was on to something that is significant and not ludicrous. He's following through in the insight that he expressed as pleasure has no meaning except to the living. That's a clear application of all good and evil comes to us through sensation, which only occurs during life, and that point (there IS no afterlife!) Is of huge significance.


    As I commented to Nate yesterday, how could anyone who sincerely holds this belief NOT see that every minute of life is valuable in an eternity of nothingness and want to get the most out of life that is possible?


    Lucretius has an extended passage on this if I recall - where he points out that some who say that they understand the point still seem to fear death and rush to make sacrifices and worry what happens to their body - because they don't really believe that death is the end.


    Life itself is not the guide - that would be circular and Dewitt doesn't say that, as you point out. It's the difference between your greatest "asset" (for most people a house or where they live) and what they do with that house (enjoy life in it).


    Dewitts formulation of this in my view isnt clear because he doesn't carry it far enough and defend Epicurus far enough - but as is usually the case in my view, he is "in tune" with Epicurus' overall view of life - because he appreciates it and is attempting to follow it to its logical conclusions - in a way that most writers don't even try.


    Most are caught up so much in this "absence of pain" rabbit hole trying to force it into their ascetic or Buddhist or stoic or even judeo+Christian paradigms that they miss the real foundation - that when you die you are gone forever and thus you "seize the day."


    Dewitt slips sometimes because he isn't Dewittian (rebellious against the orthodoxy) enough.

  • I am glad you reminded me of this section from Lucretius, the opening of book 3. For all the talk we see from the commentators about the intricacy of pleasure analysis, we hardly see any development and dwelling on this issue that after life there is nothing. And that's even among those who say that they know that the soul "consists wholly in the blood" and so these people need nothing else from philosophy on that point. They're just going through the motions, repeating that "death is nothing to us" but then glazing it over and skipping on to doctrines that they think that they can meld with their pre-existing philosophies.


    When the truth is these people are not internalizing the real significance of death, when they should be acting on it with urgency and talking emphatically about how important it is to "make hay while the sun shines."


    From book 3:


    [31] Since then I have taught what are the first seeds and principles of things, how they differ in their figures, and of themselves fly about, beaten by mutual strokes, and from them all beings are produced, the nature of the Mind and of the Soul comes next to be explained in these my lines, and all the terrors of infernal pains banished, and headlong driven quite away, that from the bottom so disturb the life of man, and cover all things with the gloom of death, and leave no place for pure and unmixed pleasure to possess.


    For what men vainly talk, that disease and an infamous life are more to be feared than the terrors of death, and they know that the soul consists wholly in the blood, and therefore they want no assistance from our philosophy, I would have you observe that those boasts are thrown out more for the sake of praise and popular breath (if their vanity by chance leads that way) than that they believe any such thing; for let these very men be banished from their country, and driven into a desert far from human sight, stained with the guilt of the foulest crimes, yet they live on, afflicted as they are, with all sorts of misery, and wherever the wretches come, they fall a-sacrificing, and slay black cattle, and offer victims to the infernal gods, and in this deplorable state they, with more than common zeal, apply themselves to the offices of religion.


    And therefore it is proper to view men rather under a doubtful fortune, and observe how they behave in circumstances of distress, for then they speak truth from the bottom of their hearts, the mask is pulled off, and the real man shows undisguised.


    [59] Besides, covetousness and the blind desire of honors, which compel unhappy men to exceed the bounds of right, and urge on the partners and assistants of their crimes to strive day and night with the utmost pains to arrive at the height of wealth: these plagues of life are chiefly nourished by fear of death; for infamy, and contempt, and sharp want seem far removed from a sweet and pure state of life, and, as it were, hover about the gates of death; and wherefore will men, possessed by a false fear, labour to avoid, and stand at the remotest distance from them, they add to their heaps by civil war, and, insatiable as they are, double their riches, heaping one murder upon another. They laugh with cruel delight at the sad funeral of a brother, and hate and fear the entertainments of their nearest relations.


    [74] From the same cause and from the same fear, envy often becomes the tormentor of mankind; they complain that one is raised to power before their eyes, another to respect, a third distinguished by shining honors, whilst they lie buried in obscurity, and are trod upon like dirt, and so they pine themselves to death for the sake of statues and a name; and some men, from a fear of death, conceive so great a hatred for life, and the preservation of their being, that in a gloomy fit they become their own executioners; not considering that this fear of death is the source of all their cares, this breaks through all shame, dissolves the bonds of friendship, and in short overturns the foundations of all goodness; for some we see betray their country and their dear parents, striving by that means to deliver themselves from death, and the pains of Hell.


    For as boys tremble, and fear every thing in the dark night, so we, in open day, fear things as vain and little to be feared, as those that children quake at in the dark, and fancy advancing towards them. This terror of the mind, this darkness then, not the sun’s beams, nor the bright rays of day can scatter, but the light of Nature and the rules of reason.


    [94]First then, I say, the mind of man (which we commonly call the soul) in which is placed the conduct and government of life, is part of man no less than the hand, the foot, the eyes, are parts of the whole animal;

  • And back on DeWitt's point, these discussions also remind me of what I think is (to me) the most clear and unmistakeable way of referring to pleasure -- as "the guide" of life more so than "the good."


    Lucretius Book 2


    At quidam contra haec, ignari materiai,

    naturam non posse deum sine numine reddunt

    tanto opere humanis rationibus atmoderate

    tempora mutare annorum frugesque creare 170

    et iam cetera, mortalis quae suadet adire

    ipsaque deducit dux vitae dia voluptas

    et res per Veneris blanditur saecla propagent,

    ne genus occidat humanum.



    So I tend to think of DeWitt's point being that life is our greatest "good in terms of an 'asset'" while pleasure is the "guide" for what we do with that asset.


    Pleasure as "the guide" seems a lot more compelling to me in many cases. Trying to decide what "the good" is often seems like a word game that never has an end, sort of like Epicurus' talking about walking around endlessly harping on the meaning of good.


    But seeing pleasure as "the guide" of life is (to me) a lot more clear. I know what a guide is. And I know that even with a guide I can make mistakes, or get sick, or for any number of reasons fail to reach my destination. It's like that cliche we hear a lot today about how "the journey is more important than the destination." Yes I want a good idea of what the destination looks like so I can set off with that goal in mind, but for the day to day walking along the path to that final goal, which I may be unlucky enough never to reach, what I want is a reliable GUIDE. Lucretius' "Divine Pleasure, Guide of Life" is really a good phrase for that.