Episode 176 - "Epicurus And His Philosophy" Part 28 - Chapter 12 - The New Hedonism 05 (Not Yet Released)

  • Welcome to Episode 175 of Lucretius Today. This is a podcast dedicated to the poet Lucretius, who wrote "On The Nature of Things," the only complete presentation of Epicurean philosophy left to us from the ancient world. Each week we walk you through the Epicurean texts, and we discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. If you find the Epicurean worldview attractive, we invite you to join us in the study of Epicurus at EpicureanFriends.com, where you will find a discussion thread for each of our podcast episodes and many other topics. We are now in the process of a series of podcasts intended to provide a general overview of Epicurean philosophy based on the organizational structure employed by Norman DeWitt in his book "Epicurus and His Philosophy." This week we continue our discussion of Chapter 12, entitled "The New Hedonism."

    The Root of All Good

    Pleasure Can Be Continuous

    Continuous Pain Impossible

    The Relation of Pleasure To Virtue

  • In our discussions we spend most of our time talking about Torquatus' positive presentation of Epicurean ethics in Book One of "On Ends," but there is a lot of material also in Book Two.

    In this episode of the podcast DeWitt reminds us of the criticism that Cicero raised that we should not be calling a state of absence of pain as a positive pleasure. Cicero knew that it is important to Epicurean theory that we be able to do just that, so to be sure we are on top of this issue here is some of the important material, this from the Reid translation of On Ends.

    I have highlighted at the end of this passage CIcero's attempt to ridicule the idea that the host who pours a libation for a thirsty guest can be thought of as experiencing just as much pleasure as the guest who drinks it.

    Cicero seeks to make that look ridiculous, but this is true if we think logically of all types of pleasure as pleasure (this is the "Unity of Pleasure" that DeWitt is talking about). In this example each person is experiencing the positive pleasure of being alive without pain, and even if they are experiencing different types of pleasure at the particular moment, if they are experiencing no pain then they are experiencing the height of pleasure open to them (as pleasure is filling their experience so they are in no pain.)

    DeWitt sees this "unity of pleasure" perspective as the intent of the point to be taken from PD09:

    PD09. If every pleasure could be intensified so that it lasted, and influenced the whole organism or the most essential parts of our nature, pleasures would never differ from one another.

    And I think he is probably correct.