Here at this link is a new presentation by Emily Austin of several major points from her "Living for Pleasure" book.
As I think most of you here at the forum know, Dr. Austin has agreed to sit for an interview with our "Lucretius Today" podcast, and we hope to set that up and record in over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I think you'll agree with me that this is a very good presentation not only of points from her book but good food for thought that those of us who are Epicurus enthusiasts would give to an audience that's not already pretty familiar with Epicurean philosophy.
So with the knowledge that we'll probably have Dr. Austin herself reading this thread at some point in the future, let's talk about our thoughts on what she picked out as significant about Epicurus, how she presents the topics, perhaps in what order they are presented, and any other thoughts you have on how to give a "first impression" of Epicurean philosophy to others.
I know myself that every time I start out talking to someone new I approach the subject in a different way, not only because my thoughts change but because I want to fine-tune what I say to the person who is listening. It's really interesting to think about how to make presentations as persuasive as possible. Do we start out with "hooks" to draw people in on terms they recognize? Do we start with the most controversial issues, or do we save those for later? One thing I noticed in this presentation is that there's not a specific item devoted clearly to "epistemology / canonics"? Is that an advanced topic that isn't best as part of a first impression, or is it something that should be addressed earlier in a talk. Should that be incorporated with the physics like the ancient Epicureans are reputed to have done? How much of an issue should be made in a first talk, and when in the presentation, is it best to bring the issues of supernatural gods and life after death into these discussions.
Lot's to think about here, but I want to repeat that I sense that even where I might quibble with certain choices she makes, I get a real sense that Dr. Austin's viewpoint is much superior to most other modern writers. Even in this presentation she doesn't shy away from negative remarks about the Stoics, and that's one of the best indications to me that she's on the kind of quest we are on - to get to the heart of Epicurean philosophy without adulteration from viewpoints that undercut the conclusions.