Does the philosophy change you?

  • And then remember to ask yourself: "What will happen to me if I get this or do this?, and what will happen to me if I don't get this or don't do this?"

    Just wanted to add... when you ask this of yourself, also consider the wider circle of people around you, remembering that what you do will bring consequences for others as well, and any harm done to them will evoke some kind of reaction, breakdown of friendship, or retribution. (Ultimately the best way of functioning would be "post-conventional moral reasoning").

  • And then remember to ask yourself: "What will happen to me if I get this or do this?, and what will happen to me if I don't get this or don't do this?"

    Just wanted to add... when you ask this of yourself, also consider the wider circle of people around you, remembering that what you do will bring consequences for others as well, and any harm done to them will evoke some kind of reaction, breakdown of friendship, or retribution. (Ultimately the best way of functioning would be "post-conventional moral reasoning").

    Good points, Kalosyni. I'd offer some emphases to your statement: "what you do will bring consequences for others as well, and any harm done to them will evoke some kind of reaction" towards you, "breakdown of" your "friendship, or retribution" towards you! We do not exist in a vacuum. One of the things that flows from having responsibility for our choices and rejections is that we need to weigh the consequences to ourselves. I'm not saying that others' concerns are more important than our feelings. I'm saying that our feelings are inextricably linked to our interactions with others. Our well-being is caught up in social interactions of all kinds. We need to be cognizant of how we can provide ourselves with the best social interactions we can have to provide ourselves with the most pleasurable life. If we lie, cheat, steal, belittle or even just disregard others, our lives will be less secure and thus most likely less pleasurable. Epicurus's observation is of great importance: "a pleasurable life does not exist without the traits of wisdom, morality, and justice; nor do the traits of wisdom, morality, and justice without pleasure: because the virtues grow together with a pleasurable life and the pleasurable life is inseparable from these."

  • to experience the pleasure freely without a need to thank anyone.

    Agreed... with the following addendum :) Your post got me to thinking.

    When you say "without a need to thank anyone," I'm assuming (correct me if I'm misinterpreting) you're referring to a god or a capital-G God. "Someone" who has "bestowed" their "blessings" upon you. Scare quotes used intentionally here. Fully and completely agree with that sentiment.

    However...

    Epicurus's writings and associated texts contain multiple references to the importance of gratitude in the Epicurean life, including:

    • "The life of folly is empty of gratitude and full of anxiety – it is focused wholly on the future." (U491, quoted by Seneca)
    • He will be grateful to anyone when he is corrected. (Diogenes Laertius' characteristics of the sage)
    • "the old can be young by means of gratitude for the pleasures which have happened" (Letter to Menoikeus)
    • VS17: 17. It is not the young man who is most happy, but the old man who has lived beautifully; for despite being at his very peak the young man stumbles around as if he were of many minds, whereas the old man has settled into old age as if in a harbor, secure in his gratitude (χάριτι) for the good things he was once unsure of.
    • VS55: Misfortune must be cured through gratitude (χάριτι) for what has been lost and the knowledge that it is impossible to change what has happened.
    • VS69: The ingratitude (ἀχάριστον) of the soul makes a creature greedy for endless variation in its way of life.
    • VS75: This saying is utterly ungrateful (ἀχάριστος) for the good things one has achieved: Provide for the end of a long life (τέλος ὅρα μακροῦ βίου.). (Saint-Andre note: The force of ὅρα here might be "provide for" (as I have translated it), "beware", or even just "look to"; the overall sense is that preparing for a supposed afterlife shows a lack of appreciation for the good things of life on earth.)
    • VS35: Don't ruin the things you have by wanting what you don't have, but realize that they too are things you once did wish for. (Note: Doesn't specifically use gratitude but is implied)

    So, gratitude appears to be an important component of the Epicurean life, of an Epicurean perspective on the world. For me, this includes gratitude directed toward people (not gods) or just gratitude for the joy of living, gratitude for the fact that I'm around to experience both the little pleasures and the big pleasures available to me. As silly as it may sound, I say "Thank you" when the alarm goes off in my car to tell me I've left the keys in the ignition. I'm not thanking the universe; I am literally thanking the engineer that came up with the idea of including this in my car. That's what I'm thinking when I say that. I am sure to thank people for doing nice things for me and not letting them pass by. I'm not a god. I don't see gratitude as a weakness ^^ I can also feel gratitude for the sun shining on my face when I'm walking through the woods or seeing the sun streaming through the leaves. Not to some Deity for His Creation <X but gratitude for the *fact* of my existence and my ability to be here and now and to experience that pleasing sensation.

    I don't mean to belabor this point, but I have found this attitude helpful and felt the need to share it.

  • That's a good point, reminds me of the joke when the doctor saves some ones child the parents say "thank God" instead of thanking the doctor who did 12 hour surgery. Thanks to everyone on this forum :D

  • To intrude a couple of mixed metaphors: For me, the Garden (and this place) is not so much like going to or joining a church (or the Stoa, or the like) – as it is like going to the grocery store for a variety of food and drink that are both tasty (pleasurable) and healthful. Or our local co-op with its emphasis on organic, local and natural products. (“No, I don’t think I’ll have an avocado with dinner tonight – maybe tomorrow. But I will take a bottle of this wine.” :/ :) )


    Or, what I find in Epicurus is – to quote a phrase from Kalosyni that I’ve never forgotten – “tools, not rules.” Finally letting go of that (ingrained) struggle to find (and clutch hard in a mental fist, so to speak) “the right rules” (rules as commandments -- commanded by whom?) just makes things a bit easier. “Easy does it.” (It does ... . 8) )


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    Note: I am aware that “canon” can be translated as “rule” – but I take it more in the sense of a measuring (or weighing) tool, a set of guiding principles to make life easier and more enjoyable.

  • I like your metaphors, Pacatus :)


    Note: I am aware that “canon” can be translated as “rule” – but I take it more in the sense of a measuring (or weighing) tool, a set of guiding principles to make life easier and more enjoyable.

    I think your spot on with seeing the canon like a tool. A κανών (kanon) was originally a measuring tool, like a yardstick (or meter-stick), plumb line, or the like.

    Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, κα^νών