PD19 And The Meaning Of No "Greater" Pleasure

  • Godfrey , I'm going to take a shot at paraphrasing my understanding of your interpretation. Please correct me if I'm wrong!

    • Bounded, finite time is contained within infinite time.
    • We can only experience finite time as mortal beings.
    • Therefore, the only pleasure we can actually experience is finite no matter how we might desire infinite pleasures; so we need not (nor should not) concern ourselves with worrying about infinite time or infinite pleasures.

    Am I close?

  • Don : yes, that's a good paraphrase!

    I would add that the PDs are stated in terms of limits and of nature, which ties into other uses of those terms. But yours is a good summary of the point of these particular PDs, at least as I currently understand them.

  • Here is some of the key material on this from DeWitt's chapter on "The New Hedonism". This excerpt starts in the middle of the previous section before the immortality discussion.

    It is impossible to whip up a thirst or an appetite superior to that created by natural hunger and thirst. To the youthful Menoeceus Epicurus writes: "Plain-tasting foods bring a pleasure equal to that of luxurious diet when once the pain arising from need has been removed, and bread and water afford the very keenest pleasure when one in need of them brings them to his lips." 22 This is the fixed ceiling for pleasure, which he endeavors to establish in opposition to Plato, who compared the appetitive part of the soul to "a many-headed beast" and held to the opinion that desires increase endlessly and that pleasure defied the fixing of a limit.23

    The natural and necessary desires that still await mention are those for clothing and shelter. The authorized teaching concerning these will be made plain by the first half of Authorized Doctrine 18: "The pleasure in the flesh is incapable of increase when once the pain arising from need has been removed but is merely embellished." The Greek word here rendered "embellished" has also been translated by "varied" and by "variegated," but these renderings fall short of revealing the meaning. Seneca does better when interpreting the word as "to season, as it were, and divert."24 This is correct; to luxurious men it is a fact that eating is a way of passing the time. Epicurus himself applies the word poikilmata, "embellishments," to food, Vatican Saying 69: "It is the ingratitude of the soul that makes the creature endlessly lickerish of embellishments in diet."

    Cicero, however, happens to be our best guide, because the meaning of his version is made clear by Lucretius. He says "the pleasure can be variari distinguique but not increased." 25 The first of the verbs italicized applies properly to color and the second to needlework, as may be gleaned in the lexicon. Lucretius confirms this: "It hurts us not a whit to lack the garment bright with purple and gold and embroidered with striking designs, provided there still be a plain cloak to fend off the cold." 2«

    When once the meaning of poikillo has been fixed as "embellish" and applicable alike to diet, clothing, and housing, the doctrine can be extended with precision. The function of walls is to afford protection from the weather; the enjoyment of this is a basic pleasure, and, being basic, cannot be increased. If the walls are decorated, the enjoyment of them is merely a decorative pleasure. Similarly, the function of a garment is to avert the pain arising from cold and the resulting pleasure is basic and, being such, cannot be increased but is merely embellished if the cloth is gaily colored or brocaded.

    The case is not different in respect of diet. The satisfaction of natural hunger is the basic pleasure, which is not increased but merely embellished by richness of diet. Epicurus is recorded by a late doxographer as saying: "I am gorged with pleasure in this poor body of mine living on bread and water." 27 Porphyry records him as saying: "It is better for you to lie down upon a cheap cot and be free of fear than to have a gilded bedstead and a luxurious table and be full of trouble." 28

    In the same Authorized Doctrine, 18, in which the ceiling of pleasure for the flesh is defined, the ceiling of pleasure for the mind is set forth: "As for the mind, its limit of pleasure is begotten by reasoning out these very problems and those akin to these, all that once created the worst fears for the mind." These words need not seem enigmatical: the worst fears are created for the mind through false opinions concerning death and the gods, the topic of Authorized Doctrines 1 and 2. These fears rank in point of importance with false opinions concerning pleasure and pain, the topic of Doctrines 2 and 4. The cure for all these false opinions and the fears they entail was dubbed by detractors the tetrapharmacon, or fourfold remedy. It is charmingly elaborated by Epicurus in the letter to Menoeceus, which alone of his extant writings possesses literary grace.

    In this letter the doctrine of the basic pleasures and the consequent fullness of pleasure is elaborated: "It is for this that we do everything, to be free from pain and fear, and when we succeed in this, all the tempest of the soul is stilled, the creature feeling no need to go farther as to something lacking and to seek something else by which the good of soul and body shall be made perfect."29 In speaking of "going farther" and "seeking something more" he refers to the superfluous or merely embellishing pleasures.


    At the same time that the denial of immortality resulted in placing body and soul upon a parity and required the formulation of a dualistic good, it demanded a doctrinal counterpoise for the surrender of belief in immortality. That this surrender was recognized in the reasoning of Epicurus as a further delimitation of the scope of pleasure is indicated by the position of the Authorized Doctrine in which the remedial doctrine is stated; it is No. 19 and follows that on the ceilings of pleasure: "Infinite time and finite time are characterized by equal pleasure, if one measures the limits of pleasure by reason." This is both paradoxical and subtle. It is shocking to Christian feeling and was hardly less so to the pagan of antiquity. To the multitude, as Lucretius observed, it was a gloomy and repulsive thought.30 To Platonists, with their stately, elaborate, and mystical eschatology, it must have seemed like nihilism.

    Its subtlety is equally manifest. As will presently be shown, Epicurus maintained that pleasure is not altered in kind by the fact of duration or extension; here he declares that it is not increased in quantity. All pleasures have fixed ceilings and fixed magnitudes. When in the words of the Doctrine he speaks of "measuring the limits of pleasure by reason," he means recognition of the fact that for the body health and the expectation of its continuance is the limit of pleasure, and that for the mind the limit is the emancipation from all fear of the gods or death. The attainment to this state, he now declares, is a condition of one dimension. He seems to think of it as an Alpinist would regard the ascent of an arduous mountain peak. The pleasure would not be increased by remaining on the peak.


    It is possible, however, to arrive at a higher degree of precision, always a chief objective in the reasoning of Epicurus. This higher precision depends upon discerning the subsidiary doctrine of the fullness of pleasure. For this there is a double logical basis: the first basis is the infinity of time, from which it is deduced that there can be nothing new. As the Epicurean Ecclesiastes expresses it, 1:9: "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." Lucretius reminds us in similar vein "that all things are always the same" and "no new pleasure can be devised."31 From this it follows that the exhaustion of pleasures is feasible and the fullness of pleasure is attainable.

    The second basis of this subsidiary doctrine is the existence of natural ceilings of pleasure, which, being thus limited, could be enjoyed to the full. Out of this was begotten the familiar metaphor of the aged sage as taking leave of life like a satisfied banqueter. This theme was chosen by Lucretius for the ringing finale of his third book; he personifies Nature and represents her as rebuking the complainer because he cannot depart "as a guest who has had his fill of life" or "as one who is full and has had his fill of experience." 32 The wise man, on the contrary, can say bene vixi, "I have lived the good life." This is the cry of triumph uttered by old Diogenes of Oenoanda; to quote his own words: "Facing the sunset of life because of my age and on the verge of taking my leave of life with a paean of victory because of the enjoyment of the fullness of all pleasures." 33

    If still further precision on this topic be sought, it may be observed that this doctrine of the fullness of pleasure is supplementary to the doctrine that death is anesthesia. The latter may help to reconcile men to the state of being dead but it fails to compensate for the surrender of immortality.

    Only the possibility of having enjoyed all pleasures to the full in this life can counterbalance the relinquishment of the hope of enjoying eternal pleasures in the afterlife. This is the "true understanding" of which Epicurus speaks: "Hence the true understanding of the fact that death is nothing to us renders enjoyable the mortality of existence, not by adding infinite time but by taking away the yearning for immortality." 34 What cancels the yearning for immortality is the conviction that the fullness of pleasure is possible in this mortal life. The ingenuity of this argument is undeniable; it means the victory over death and we have proof of its wide acceptance in the vigor with which St. Paul in his ardent plea to the Corinthians champions the resurrection of the dead as a new means of victory over death.

    Incidentally, without close scrutiny it is difficult to discern by what sort of logic this doctrine could be reconciled with the perfect blissfulness of the gods. If pleasure is not increased by the length of its duration, how could the lot of the gods seem more desirable than that of the mortal sage? With this problem Epicurus did not fail to deal. The topic must await detailed treatment in the ensuing chapter on the True Piety. Here it will suffice to say that the superiority of the happiness of the gods is represented as consisting in the perfect assurance of its continuance. Involved with this judgment is a startling paradox: what renders the happiness of the gods eternal is this perfect assurance of its continuance; its eternity is a result, not a factor of causation. It is a quality of life.

    The paradox that ranks major to this, that happiness is not increased in magnitude by immortality, has found its way into Western thought through the literature of consolation. Obviously, if happiness is not increased by immortality, neither can it be increased by length of mortal life. The philosopher Seneca expatiates upon this inferred aspect of the doctrine, though without mentioning its source, and comforts his correspondent by dwelling feelingly upon the wisdom of measuring a human life by its achievement rather than its length.35 In the course of this homily he compares the long and merely vegetative life to that of a tree and this detail survives for us in the poem of Ben Jonson which begins,

    It is not growing like a tree, in bulk,

    Doth make man better be.

    But the last lines of the poem hark back definitely to Epicurus:

    In small proportions we just beauty see

    And in small measure life may perfect be.

    The sentiment recurs in Christian hymnology:

    He liveth long who liveth well.

    Such is often the fate of Epicurus, to be quoted anonymously if approved, by name if condemned.

  • And DeWitt connects this to the "unity of pleasure"


    If at this point the attention be recalled to the synoptic view, it may be observed that the telos has been presented under three aspects: first, as a unitary good it is pleasure; second, as a dualistic good it is health of mind and health of body; third, in a seemingly negative aspect it is freedom from fear in the mind and pain in the body. This seeming negativism was spotted by the antagonists of Epicurus as a chink in his armor, and the arrows of their dialectic were concentrated upon it. The weakness alleged was that of calling two disparate things by the one name of pleasure.

    It is plain to see how Epicurus was led to switch emphasis to this aspect of pleasure. As usual, he was working his way to greater precision in his analysis of the subject and, as will presently be shown in more detail, he discerned that according to Aristippus and Plato no such thing as continuous pleasure was possible; they recognized only peaks of pleasure separated by intervals either devoid of pleasure or neutral or mixed. From this it followed with inevitable logic that the wise man could not be happy at all times. This conclusion was repugnant to Epicurus as a thoroughgoing hedonist and was repudiated. This repudiation could be made good only by vindicating for freedom from fear and pain the status of a positive pleasure. This in turn resulted in a doctrine of the unity of all pleasure.

    Though we certainly fall short of possessing the whole argument of Epicurus, there is ample evidence upon which to construct the skeleton of a case. The Feelings, as usual, are the criterion. It may be recalled how he proved life itself to be the greatest good by pointing out that the greatest joy is associated with the escape from some dreadful destruction. By a similar argument, even if not extant, it could be shown that the recovery of health is a positive pleasure when the individual has recently survived a perilous illness. It would be a positive pleasure also to be freshly relieved from the fear of death and the gods through the discovery of the true philosophy.

    To substantiate this drift of reasoning it is not impossible to quote a text: "The stable condition of well-being in the flesh and the confident hope of its continuance means the most exquisite and infallible of joys for those who are capable of figuring the problem out." S6

    This passage marks a distinct increase of precision in the analysis of pleasure. Its import will become clear if the line of reasoning already adumbrated be properly extended: let it be granted that the escape from a violent death is the greatest of joys and the inference must follow that the possession of life at other times cannot rank greatly lower. Similarly, if the recovery from a dangerous illness be a cause for joy, manifestly the possession of health ought to be a joy at other times. Nevertheless the two pleasures differ from one another and it was in recognition of the difference that Epicurus instituted the distinction between kinetic and static pleasures. The difference is one of intensity or, as Epicurus would have said, of condensation. At one time the pleasure is condensed, at another, extended. In other words the same pleasure may be either kinetic or static. If condensed, it is kinetic; if extended, it is static.

    There is a catch to this reasoning, however; it holds good only "for those who are capable of figuring the problem out." This marks Epicurus as a pragmatist, insisting upon the control of experience, including thought. His reasoning about kinetic and static pleasures is sound, but human beings do not automatically reason after this fashion; they fail to reason about the matter at all. Although they would spontaneously admit the keenest joy at recovery from wounds or disease, they forget about the blessing of health at other times. Hence it is that Epicurus insists upon the necessity of being able to reason in this way. Moreover, this reasoning must be confirmed by habituation. The same rule applies here as in the case of "Death is nothing to us." It is not enough to master the reasons for so believing; it is also necessary to habituate one's self to so believe.37 This is pragmatism.

    There is also another catch to this line of reasoning. The conclusion clashes with the teaching of Aristippus and Plato and it also violates the accepted usage of language. It was not usual to call the possession of health a pleasure and still less usual to call freedom from pain a pleasure. It was this objection that Cicero had in mind when he wrote: "You Epicureans round up people from all the crossroads, decent men, I allow, but certainly of no great education. Do such as they, then, comprehend what Epicurus means, while I, Cicero, do not?" 38 The common people of the ancient world, however, for whom Platonism had nothing attractive, seem to have accepted Epicurean pragmatism with gladness. Cicero, being partial to the aristocratic philosophy and having no zeal to promote the happiness of the multitude, chose to sneer.

    The irritation which Cicero simulates in the above passage was beyond doubt genuine with those from whom the argument was inherited. They had been nettled by the phraseology of Epicurus, who was mocking Plato. The words "those who are capable of figuring the problem out" are a parody of Plato's Timaeus 4od, where the text reads "those who are incapable of making the calculations" and the reference is to mathematical calculations of the movements of the celestial bodies, which "bring fears and portents of future events" to the ignorant. Baiting the adversary was a favorite sport of Epicurus.

    Epicureans at a later time were in their turn subjected to incessant baiting by Stoic opponents, and it may have been these who tried the reduction to the absurd by means of a ridiculous example. If those who are not in a state of pain are in a state of pleasure, "then the host who, though not being thirsty himself, mixes a cocktail for a guest is in the same state of pleasure as the guest who is thirsty and drinks the said cocktail." 39

    Cicero, however, had his tongue in his cheek and knew that this was mere dialectical sparring, intended rather to disconcert the opponent than to refute him. He was partial to the New Academy and to Stoicism, both of which tended to turn argumentation into a game and thus make it an end in itself. They could not fail to be intolerant of the procedures of pragmatism, of which action is the primary object and not logomachy.

    This extension of the name of pleasure to freedom from fear and pain was not the sole achievement of the new analysis. In popular thought, the correctness of which Plato assumed, pleasures were classified according to the parts of the body affected, eating, drinking, sexual indulgence, philosophical thinking. In respect also of this conventional classification Epicurus exhibited finer discrimination. He not only discerned that the pleasure associated with one organ is brief and intense while that associated with other parts is moderate and extended but also observed that certain pleasures, like that of escaping a violent death, affect the whole organism.

    The next step in this new analysis was to declare that this fact of extension or intension was of no fundamental importance. The high value assigned to this principle is indicated by its promulgation as Authorized Doctrine 9: "If every pleasure were alike condensed in duration and associated with the whole organism or the dominant parts of it, pleasures would never differ from one another." Positively stated, the meaning would be that pleasure is always pleasure; it is of no consequence that some pleasures are associated with the mind, others with the stomach, and others with other parts, or that some affect the whole organism and others only a part, or that some are brief and intense, others moderate and extended. In other words, it makes no difference that some pleasures are static and others kinetic. Pleasure is a unit. This unity could be expressed in ancient terminology by saying that all pleasure was a kind of motion, kinesis or motio, the ancient equivalent of reaction.

    To put the colophon upon this topic it should be added that three Authorized Doctrines, Nos. 8, 9, and 10, deal with pleasure and all three imply the quality of unity. The eighth stresses the fact that the evil attaches solely to the consequences; all pleasures are alike in being good: "No pleasure is evil in itself but the practices productive of certain pleasures bring troubles in their train that by many times outweigh the pleasures themselves."

    The ninth Doctrine has been quoted above. In it the item about "condensed pleasure" was pounced upon by Damoxenus of the New Comedy as a good cue for merrymaking; quite aptly he allowed a cook to dilate upon it.40 Some five centuries afterward the frivolous Alciphron testified to the longevity of the theme by assuming it to be still good for a laugh.41

    The tenth Doctrine, last of the three, serves to shift all ethical condemnation from pleasures themselves to the consequences: "If the practices productive of the pleasures of profligates dispelled the fears of the mind about celestial things and death and pains and also taught the limit of the desires, we should never have fault to find with profligates, enjoying pleasures to the full from all quarters, and suffering neither pain nor distress from any quarter, wherein the evil lies." Such declarations afforded to enemies of Epicurus a means of besmirching his name, but he was absolutely honest; he did not evade the logical implications of his principles; he flaunted them. By disposition he was a teaser; he drew enjoyment from the squirming of the piously orthodox.

    A variation of the same teaching appears in an isolated saying. "I enjoy the fullness of pleasure living on bread and water and I spit upon the pleasures of a luxurious diet, not on account of any evil in these pleasures themselves but because of the discomforts that follow upon them." 42 The net effect of these pronouncements is to put all pleasures in a single class, all being good, irrespective of extension or condensation or of the organ affected or of approval or disapproval, which attach only to consequences. This is an instance where Epicurus exhibited deeper insight than Plato in the latter's own field, discerning the one in the many.

  • Thanks for posting those excerpts.

    I think I'm in agreement with Dewitt in these, but, honestly, it's sometimes hard to tell with his convoluted, almost-Victorian prose style along with his superfluous Christian non sequiturs.

    I sometimes have an easier time parsing Ancient Greek than I do Dewitt!

  • Yes I do think you and Godfrey both are largely in agreement with DeWitt here.

    In this case I think his Christian allusions are maybe better placed than in some other areas.

    For example he seems almost theological with


    Only the possibility of having enjoyed all pleasures to the full in this life can counterbalance the relinquishment of the hope of enjoying eternal pleasures in the afterlife

    I do think that Epicurus was aiming for something like that - an explanation that is not only logical but rises to an emotional level of satisfaction necessary to combat the emotional lure of false religion.

    Even Dewitts cite of


    He liveth long who liveth well



    It is not growing like a tree, in bulk,

    Doth make man better be

    Seem pretty good to me.

    In virtually all of what we are doing we are looking to lock in confidence in the conclusion, and if we don't phrase the argument in an understandable and even gripping way it's hard to accomplish that goal.

    Epicurus' example of picking not just the bulkiest but the most tasteful food at a banquet is really good for that, I think. It's real world and we can immediately grasp its attractiveness in combatting the maybe more immediate thought of looking for the "longest" rather than the "most pleasant.". There may not be a universal ranking of pleasures in terms of desirability, but I think we have to clearly identify in our minds that duration or time is only one aspect of our perception of pleasures, and not the most important aspect of our ranking. If we internalize even that simple observation I think that carries us a long way to the understanding we need.

    Even - especially - the analogy of the Alpine climber working to gain the summit is a good analogy. We want very badly to get there and the achievement is tremendously emotional and satisfying, but we don't have to - or want to - stay there very long.

  • In this case I think his Christian allusions are maybe better placed than in some other areas.

    Well, a broken clock is right twice a day.

    Okay, that was harsh, I'll admit that... But you already know I'm triggered by his Christian allusion hobby horse. Those take me right out of his argument with an eye-rolling "By Zeus, another @#$& Epicurean-inspired Bible verse!?? At this point, it wouldn't surprise me if Dewitt wrote "John 11:35 clearly shows that Jesus was an Epicurean because..."

  • Quote

    He liveth long who liveth well

    See, that's my issue. The "Christian hymnology" citation is superfluous and wrong.

    Here's the source of that line that Dewitt is citing:


    That hymn seems to me to be the opposite of what Epicurus stood for. Bonar is saying "living well" is keeping your eye on heavenly rewards not the here and now in THIS life, the only one we have.

    Yuck!! "The life above, when this is past, Is the ripe fruit of life below"?! <X  :cursing: That's certainly not the Epicurean fruit to be plucked.

    I find Dewitt doing this too often: taking a line or phrase out of context and imbuing it with meaning it doesn't necessarily have.

    Maybe this is another hymn that needs an Epicurean do-over.

    PS. I'll stop there. I don't want to derail this thread with a polemic against Dewitt. I think he's a top-shelf scholar and I like his academic papers, but, by Zeus, "Epicurus and His Philosophy" (not to mention his "St Paul..") suffers from some flaws in presentation that, for me, make it hard to fully embrace it.

  • I find Dewitt doing this too often: taking a line or phrase out of context and imbuing it with meaning it doesn't necessarily have.

    Oh wow! Yikes on DeWitt! -- I've been saving the reading of that book till we have a future book study Zoom. It seems that the excerpt in post number twenty-four above (especially the first few paragraphs) is very helpful.

    In this thread on PD19 (which is really be about PD18-22) - I think I get it as I read it, yet if I had to explain it to someone, not sure if I could put it into my own words (which would be the true test of understanding).

  • It could be (and from self-observation of my internal feelings), that dopamine levels are actually highest during the first minute of starting to eat, and especially highest when starting to eat after being very hungry. So the intensity of pleasure is highest at that point, and though it is still pleasurable, it feels less intense after -- so this is why it is a "peak moment of pleasure".

    As for PD19: "Finite time and infinite time contain the same amount of joy, if its limits are measured out through reasoning."

    You've all done a thorough explanation. But I wonder how to say it in the most simple way --

    Joy that lasts a finite time is the same kind of joy that lasts an infinite time. So we don't need to be immortal to experience a complete life.

  • Oh wow! Yikes on DeWitt! -- I've been saving the reading of that book till we have a future book study Zoom. It seems that the excerpt in post number twenty-four above (especially the first few paragraphs) is very helpful

    Yes, i don't want to imply that there's not value in reading Dewitt 's magnum opus. Dewitt does provide some insightful, helpful, and refreshing insights. It's just his use of references devoid of context, Epicurean-inspired Christianity notions, and similar dross that irks me. Someone needs to do a "Jefferson Bible" job on "Epicurus and his Philosophy."

  • Do we agree that variation of the contents is desirable, if not absolutely necessary?

    There's a lot more to get here, but I want to clip this just as an easy answer: no.

    Variety is a preference, like anything else. Some people have an absolute need for consistency and do not desire variety at all. Variation is not generally preferable, it comes down to the individual. And the individual may desire consistency in some things and variety in others as well. Neither is a universal good.

    Just one other thing right now, which I don't see as much happen on this forum as in discussions of Epicurean philosophy elsewhere is the logical mistake of reading "There is no greater pleasure than X" and interpreting that as "X is a greater pleasure than all else" (I know this is about finite/infinite time which is a slightly different thing) which breaks my mathematical heart. The former only implies that X is greater than or equal to any other pleasures. It does not imply that other pleasures are all less than X or that we're making an ordered list of all pleasures in the universe. Again, that's not meant to correct anyone here, but may be helpful for communicating outside this forum - at least if someone has a less scary-math way of talking about it haha

  • The former only implies that X is greater than or equal to any other pleasures. It does not imply that other pleasures are all less than X or that we're making an ordered list of all pleasures in the universe.

    Great point, and one I have not seen made here, as we may not have too many "mathematical hearts"! I am going to have to ask Martin why he hasn't hammered us with this point before! ;) Martin I presume you agree with Reneliza?

    Variation is not generally preferable, it comes down to the individual.

    As to this point I generally agree with it (the only word that I think we can rely on as always preferable in itself is "pleasure." But I wonder if "variety" is not something of such general significance that it merits mention in a sort of "natural and necessary" kind of way. Is not boredom a pretty general human problem?

  • Yes, i don't want to imply that there's not value in reading Dewitt 's magnum opus. Dewitt does provide some insightful, helpful, and refreshing insights. It's just his use of references devoid of context, Epicurean-inspired Christianity notions, and similar dross that irks me. Someone needs to do a "Jefferson Bible" job on "Epicurus and his Philosophy."

    Don has done a good job of placing his criticisms of DeWitt in context so the only thing I really want to say is to remind everyone that Don has been here a long time; he reads Greek very well; he's read tons of specialized academic articles, and he's far ahead of the curve in understanding the subtleties. He's an expert reader and researcher and he's far from being a novice.

    On the other hand, if you are a "normal person" and come to the subject with only a general understanding of philosophy and where Epicurus stands in it, DeWitt's book is the single most valuable place you can start to get a quick and thorough overview of the subject. We can talk about other good books, and there are many, but I would contend that there are none anywhere in DeWitt's league for a through and sympathetic presentation of the whole of the philosophy.

    I've seen it time and again and it will continue to happen. If you don't ground yourself in a thorough overview of DeWitt early in your reading, you'll spend a LOT of needless time nursing your former Buddhist or Stoic or Humanist or other positions that you will ultimately conclude (if you stay with the subject long enough) are ultimately incompatible with Epicurus.

    Save yourself a lot of time and effort and even heartache and read DeWitt early in your reading process. Then you'll see the forest and you can play with the trees at your leisure for the rest of your life. I have yet to meet the person who, like Don, isn't able to see when DeWitt is going over the line drawing analogies to Christianity, and you can safely ignore those if you don't find them interesting or helpful. (And I do think that there are many people who are immersed in Christian familes and friendships for whom is commentary, especially in St Paul and Epicurus, is helpful.)

  • Don has done a good job of placing his criticisms of DeWitt in context so the only thing I really want to say is to remind everyone that Don has been here a long time; he reads Greek very well; he's read tons of specialized academic articles, and he's far ahead of the curve in understanding the subtleties. He's an expert reader and researcher and he's far from being a novice.

    I sincerely appreciate the kind words, even if I don't necessarily see myself in that way all the time. Thank you!

    On the other hand, if you are a "normal person"

    Hey! Who're you calling "abnormal"! ^^

  • Is not boredom a pretty general human problem?

    I'll have to push back on that statement. Boredom comes from dissatisfaction not lack of variety. Sometimes people looking for variety are running from something - possibly even an emotional trauma. They try to fill a void with novelty. I have a real problem if we start using boredom as a reason for varying pleasures.

    (Note: I'm posting this from my previous post so people can respond to this topic without Cassius' and my DeWittean banter)

  • Two points to start with one to poke at Don, Wouldn't the Jefferson Bible count as an epicurean "job".

    And to Cassius:

    "The only horrible thing in the world is ennui, Dorian. That is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness." Oscar Wilde

    Boredom is therefore a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.” ― Bertrand Russell

    Otherwise I agree with the conclusions reached pertaining to PD's.