EricR Level 3
  • Member since Feb 1st 2016

Posts by EricR

    At the risk of seeming frivolous, (comes with age :P ) here's a moment with Woody Allen that may add something to this topic.

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    Thank you so much for the BD greetings. Very kind of you especially considering my...umm...lack of participation here! :)


    I also heard from another online friend who I hadn't connected with for quite some time. I've actually been somewhat out of the online picture generally for the past 2 years. I've just finally uploaded some music videos to an otherwise dormant youtube channel. There are only 2 pieces there, uploaded last week. More are coming.

    EricR
    Welcome to my youtube channel. I offer original music and videos that I hope offer a momentary respite from the challenges of daily life. We are more than…
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    I'm also updating my old mindmuser.com website and am starting to post there. I'm really not sure what I'm going to do there, but it seems that I am drawn to offer some information I've picked up over my 67 years.


    As I've said to Cassius privately in the past, I find the kindness in this group quite alluring since I am a terrible Epicurean :) .


    I've pretty much tossed all philosophies out in favour of sorting out my own approach to life. That does not mean I don't consider various ideas, but some people are very attached to theirs. So you can imagine the kind of reaction I can expect from being so independent and declaring the value of a free mind.


    Anyway, thank you so much for thinking of me.

    As I said, I'm comfortable with the idea. That does not mean I believe it. Only that I can understand its appeal and am comfortable with believers as long as they can be comfortable with me.


    Also, the word "God" has to be clarified since the Abrahamic version is only one way. It is one of the reasons I generally stay away from the topic other than asserting my ignorance.


    I have found that a genuine feeling of gratitude does not depend on knowing its source. Gratefulness is its own reward as it can neutralize poisons like resentment, envy, jealousy, etc. It has to be genuine though and only the individual can ever know whether it is or not.


    Thanks for the respect. If I wasn't being me, I'd be...? ^^

    Thanks, Don. My favourite sentiment in it is the idea that "today is the only day that is given to you...today." There is something so obvious about that. Yet so many allow pain in the form of anger, resentment, and hatred to dominate that simple fact. It is very sad.


    I personally am quite comfortable with a supernatural god being invoked if it draws someone's attention to gratitude. I don't know what may or may not lay beyond, but I do know that being grateful for my days promotes a happier time here. I realize that is anathema to this site, but I gotta be me! :)

    Thanks for this, Don. I came across this video a few years ago and loved its message. I realize it comes from a Christian monk so may be unacceptable here. But the message is exactly as you highlighted.


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    What else could comprise reality besides parts that can be re-arranged to make wholes?


    Answer: Reality is comprised of whatever causes parts to combine to make wholes. Do parts combine without a cause? Can they cause themselves to combine due to their inherent attributes? If so, what caused those attributes? Is there an infinite regress of causes, meaning nothing started this process?


    There are serious philosophical arguments involved in this, but they take us a long way from EP and what I think is its strength, a practical set of principles for achieving happiness in the world.


    This is as far as I wish to go with this topic. Better brains than mine grapple with questions like this.

    Ok thanks. I look forward to hearing and discussing more.


    I hope members here understand that I am not trying to negate EP or argue for an alternative position. I genuinely stumble over this point. Frankly, without solidly finding firm philosophical ground for asserting there is "nothing other than atoms and void" and being able to explain this, EP is in the same position as other systems of thought, and yes, religions. ie: a metaphysical belief system.


    I seriously want to penetrate Epicurean thinking on this as the entire philosophy hinges on it. As I said, it still holds me back.

    Thanks, that is very helpful. The line in PD25 about referring actions to the end of nature is particularly relevant. It speaks to what I said about the danger of admitting other metaphysical possibilities.


    Is it fair to say that once one opens those doors, the tsunami of speculative theories, assertions, floods the philosophical landscape? Once someone buys into any of these explanations, it often leads to the wide variety of religious beliefs which Epicurus faced from all sides.


    And that is a big part of what he was dealing with.

    The answer to the question about pink ponies I would give is the same for any assertion like that, "yes, there may be conditions and/or circumstances about which we have no information yet that could allow for this. But, under our current understanding, common sense determines that it is highly improbable".


    All I am saying is that there are mysteries. But, in the context of our personal lives and pleasant living, some mysteries are so beyond our capabilities that they just don't matter. We "know" the existence of atoms. Beyond that, we are blind which renders such speculation useless.


    I have no problem with the possibility of things beyond our ability to know. But again, I don't think they matter in any practical sense. Which of course gives rise to the question, why am I bothering to talk about this? Fair question.


    I will admit that for some people, admission of metaphysical possibilities opens the door to religious assertions. Therin lies the danger. But am not one of those people.

    I find it difficult to understand that in the era of the atom bomb, anyone can say we don't know whether or not atoms exist.


    However, I would say that we don't know whether atoms (and void) are ALL that exists. It is the idea that there could be something other than material existence, that in my view is a more accurate way to think about this question. In this case, I think can say that we don't know.


    Since we do know that atoms exist, this basis for Epicurean philosophy remains sound. Even if we were to discover some other thing that supercedes or is a substrata for atoms, it would not negate the reality of atoms and void. Because they still exist and are functioning to combine in the multitude of ways that create physical reality regardless of anything else that may exist.


    I'm not sure if any speculation about what may or may not be beyond atoms/void actually matters.


    We still have to pursue our own happiness and enjoyment of life on our own.

    I am in awe of the universe and its complexity and my miniscule existence in it, and I can take pleasure in that contemplation.

    Couldn't agree more, Don. I was once visiting a mountain range and was sitting on a rock ledge. It suddenly dawned on me that if this was the moment in geological time that this particular rock ledge gave way, I would be swallowed up. Talk about feeling tiny! I started to actually shake. So I quietly got up, thanked the ledge for not killing me and went home for a glass of wine. (ok, 2 glasses) :)

    Fascinating conversation! Thanks, folks.


    It reminds me how much discomfort many of us experience with uncertainty. Also, each of you has a personal take on this question which is at it must be. I don't think I can respond to each of your specific comments except to say I appreciate them all. Lots for me to consider and add to the mix. I am far from adamant in my views.


    Cassius I will do my best to read through all the material in your response. Please have patience with an old brain like mine that reads slower than it used to. :)


    Matt I love your references to Taoism. I've been involved in that tradition for a loooooong time so I know where you're coming from. (I taught a Taoist martial and health art (Baguazhang) for 20 years.)


    With regard to atoms and void, I actually have a response for my own question. It goes like this: We DO know that there are particles and space in which they move. This has been validated repeatedly in particle physics. We DO NOT know if there is something transcendent beyond, behind, above, etc.


    The example I offered of the eastern assertion that "all is mind, consciousness, spirit" is just that, an assertion. One can choose to believe it which is where it slides into religion. To my thinking, it is a possibility, but here's the salient point...it doesn't matter!


    Whether or not there is something other than atoms/void changes nothing about the facts of living that we each face every day. We must meet our needs for food, shelter, etc. no matter what one does or does not believe. Gravity functions the same way for a Christian, Buddhist, or Epicurean. They all fall down, not up. To me, the Epicurean focus on pleasure resonates with me no matter what the actual truth of the universe is.


    I fully accept that there may well be only atoms and void. But I try to remain humble enough to know that I don't actually know with certainty if that is the case. The assertion that there is no other possibility seems exactly the same mistake made in religions - mistaking an asserted belief for knowledge. Of course, I may be wrong! :P

    Thanks to all. :)


    I wasn't wanting to debate or elaborate on the question of atoms/void, or whether it is actually matter/energy quantum fields. That is not what I asked at all. Nor was I saying that an alternative view such as "all is mind" is true or even a better concept.


    Here is what I asked: is it accepted within the community that it's an indisputable fact that "there is nothing other than atoms and void", or is it thought to be a belief that may or may not be true or provable?


    This is as much an epistemological question as physical.

    The most fundamental assertion here is PN03 - "The universe consists of solid bodies and void." As appealing as EP is to me, it seems the entire philosophy is built on that statement. For me, it is a stumbling block as I still wonder about other ways of seeing the universe.


    So my question here is this - is it accepted within the community that it's an indisputable fact that "there is nothing other than atoms and void", or is it thought to be a belief that may or may not be true or provable?


    It is this question that holds me back from buying into EP fully since I see other ideas such as the eastern notion that "all is Mind (consciousness or spirit)" as among those other ways of seeing the structure of reality. I cannot shake the idea that we don't actually know the truth about the real nature of everything, so we make choices about it. One of these choices is certainly PN03, but it's not the only one.


    I personally am confronted with what I think of as "the Mystery" since no matter what set of ideas, religious beliefs, etc. one encounters, there is a point at which I have to admit "I don't know". Going beyond this into "I know" is where all the dangers of religions lay. "Beware - beyond this there be dragons".


    So, do Epicureans know there are only atoms and void, or do they believe this.


    Note - I am sincere in this question and not trying to be clever or manipulative.

    I watch the entire video and really enjoyed it. A couple of things stood out for me.


    First, I thought Hiram was correct in his comments about the need to use social media to reach young people. More specifics about that would be worth exploring. What platforms are best; the differences between them, etc.


    Second, even though this was the 12th Annual Symposium, its inclusion of a variety of speakers from around the world for the first time gave the entire thing a feeling of being at the beginning of something.


    Finally, it was apparent that the work done over the past decade or so has focused, rightly in my view, on assembling the Epicurean materials to make them available to all who are interested. There is a copious amount of writing on the philosophy and I wonder if finding new formats in which to present it might be the next step.


    I'm not the best person to talk about formats, being an old guy. :) But from what I observed in the video, seeking out new channels and new ways of offering the ideas is at least part of the next step.

    Glad you understand. Caution with assumptions is always prudent.


    I have been wrong so many times it is comical. It took me a long time to accept (not to learn, but to really accept) that my view of what is best is not universally true. It is one of the things that brought me to a more individualized view of living well.


    I still sometimes wish everyone would just "get it" and start making better choices, live better lives, be better people. Alas, noble sensibilities are sometimes like leaves on a tree, hanging on in strong winds.

    I would add that "egoistic gratification" cannot come to the fullness of joy and will not be completely pleasurable unless we join together with others in friendship and savoring of life -- we would then come to let go of a hyper self-focused individualism

    I said nothing about "hyper self-focused individualism". This is the issue with the word "egoist" that I was talking about. It has become a despised word because it is assumed to refer to some form of mean-spirited selfishness that harms other people. In fact, the word merely refers to the idea that each individual person is the measure of what is good for that individual. Nothing more or less.


    I don't know what you mean by "the fullness of joy". But whatever it exactly is, the statement seems to indicate that one cannot experience it without other people. I have deep, satisfying, complete feeling experiences on my own all the time so I must differ on this point.


    My sense is that you don't like the word "egoism" because you equate it with this "hyper-self focused" state which you appear to think is bad. Again, I'm only using the word in its simplest form. Namely, referring to oneself with regard to determining what is good or bad which in the context of Epicureanism is pleasure or pain.

    Thanks for the warm welcome (or returning welcome...not sure... :) )


    Anyhoo...I've been roaming a variety of philosophic materials and came across DeCasseres in my exploration of Egoism. It is possibly the most despised set of ideas from virtually all others, which reminded me of the line in chapter one of Dewitt's book about Epicurus being "at the same time the most revered and most reviled. Of all founders of thought in the Greco-Roman world."


    If I am honest with myself, I must admit to placing concerns for my own well-being, pleasure, pain, enjoyment, suffering, etc. ahead of others most of the time. I presume I don't need to explain to folks here that this does not involve callousness or a lack of compassion, kindness, etc.


    This honest reference to oneself and one's own pleasure and pain as the arbitrator of what is good is one of the reasons I feel drawn to Epicurus.


    As to your question about DeCasseres' sympathies towards Nietzche Cassius, I'm not sure but will see what else I can find. Certainly, Nietzche is well established as an Egoist writer, but I am not clear on what the various writers thought of each other. As I come across interesting material, I can share it here.