EricR Level 3
  • Member since Feb 1st 2016

Posts by EricR

    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.

    It has been forever since I posted something here. But when I came across this quote in a book I'm reading, I thought it might be appropriate to share it with you.

    The book is called "Spinoza, Liberator of God and Man" by Benjamin DeCasseres (1873-1945). He was a writer in many forms, from editorial to poetry, and the author of many books and booklets. He is associated with the Egoist philosophical tradition. This is not the place to outline that tradition, but I can say that some of its writers point to Epicurus as among the first to work out a philosophy that placed the individual as "the measure of all things".

    In the opening chapter of the book on Spinoza (an actual ancestor of DeCasseres), he outlines a brief history of philosophy up to Spinoza. He opens the first chapter with this fascinating concept,

    "I conceive the Philosophic Mind as a being. Its adventures are epics. It is Ulysses, Don Quixote, Siegfried, Hamlet, Gulliver, Lucifer. Mind is man's only weapon against oblivion and destruction. Thought is war. Encased in a little skull, Mind, dowered with the power of infinite combinations, with its feet of reason and its wings of imagination, makes perpetual war on Mystery."

    When it came to Epicurus he says,

    "Trapped between the contradictions of Plato and Aristotle, Mind fell into the pits of self-mockery - the autumnal beauty of Skepticism and the winter of grim Stoicism... And Mind entered the skull of Epicurus, the Goethe of antiquity - "The meaning of Life is Life itself"...

    The mind of Epicurus had made a tremendous discovery, the greatest that had ever been made - that the will-to-live and the will-to-pleasure are one. Whatever lives, lives for egoistic gratification."

    I really enjoy poetic writing like that. How can you resist a line like "the winter of grim Stoicism"?

    Treating the Philosophic Mind as a single entity that enters the heads of different individuals is a great literary device that links them all to a single pursuit. And his idea that Epicurus' discovery was the greatest ever prompted me to share this with you.

    Thanks, Cassius. There is new music coming. In fact I will be finally launching a website showcasing my stuff and making it available for download. I will let you know when it's ready. Should be some time next week and can be found at

    I reloaded my "Mystic Nature" video on my timeline here. I had made some changes to it and neglected to make it visible.

    Thanks so much for the kind BD greetings! As I am the worst Epicurean on the planet, I am especially humbled to be the first BD entry! Why the worst? Because I still seriously entertain foundational metaphysical principles that are incompatible with the Epicurean view.

    But I am touched to be remembered on my BD. :)

    To your question, Scott, I am in Canada! Hence Cassius' remark about the frozen north. 100% accurate. 8o

    I thought I'd offer some thoughts on this. There seem to be 2 topics under discussion, free will and anarchism. I will address them separately.

    Free will is a topic that is so crucial that I think we need to treat it cautiously. In fact, because of its religious overtones, I don't really like the term. I prefer volition or even better, "choices and avoidances"! Mathitis Kipouros, can you please clarify this sentence for me. I need some help to understand, "...we actually use our free will to try an approach/achieve whatever determinism we can get a hold of." I suspect it's something like the following, but please correct me if not.

    Neuroscientists, physicists, etc. claim determinism to be the law of nature, and the evidence they recruit for this is powerful. In fact, I accept their evidence yet still have a problem with their conclusion. If I am a scientist wanting to validate or invalidate a hypothesis, I have to test it and assess the results of the experiment. If I have no free will, then whatever assessment I make is determined so I cannot actually know if it’s correct. Since I had no choice in my conclusion, how can I know that conclusion is right? I suppose one can say that logical deduction itself is what tells me something is correct or not, but how do I know logic is correct? I’m still faced with the same problem assessing logic. I know there are whole books out there that refute the notion of free will. But I still get stuck on this point. How can I know anything if I cannot make any choices about what is true or false?

    As for anarchy, it is a word that means "no rulers". So I must disagree with your statement that "anarchism espouses the view that an authority figure is not bad in and of itself as long as its authority is justified by the benefits it provides to the ones it's leading." Anarchism is the rejection of rulers. I know of no political context in which a committed anarchist justifies being ruled. Yes, there are situations in which being ruled is tolerated, but the rulers have no standing in the mind of an anarchist.

    "Transcending the self" is yet another important topic. But my old brain struggles to juggle multiple topics in a single thread.

    Ok, there's quite a bit to digest here.

    I will say this much. As I said at the beginning of this thread, I thought this was important because it "...puts to the test every law of the land to determine whether it harmonizes with the innate idea of justice".

    To me, this means the anticipation of justice is key to those small things in our culture such as the legal system, laws, legislation, government power, etc.!!

    In other words, the Anticipations as a key part of the natural ability to understand reality really, really, really matters. We need, at least, I need to get it clear and correct.

    This also addresses the argument which immediately must be confronted by anyone who asserts that there are truly innate "ideas." They must be confronted immediately with the question: "Well, then, give me a list of them!"

    That is almost exactly where I was headed with my original post. When I read that passage in which DeWitt names "justice" and "divine nature" AND "other such abstractions" I took them to be named anticipations. So I wanted to understand what makes them so and then could we start sorting out (listing) others.

    But I see I was making a mistake in being so specific. But I think Don has a good point about them being "always true" in their role as primary ways of knowing. If they represent principles incorrectly, in way that sight can be incorrect in the case of colour blindness, then the rational mind must be engaged to correct the perceptual error. I gather the anticipations must work the same way? They are considered true unless their is a known deficiency in function?

    Boy, this is hard to sort through, at least for me. :)

    Ok, think I'm sloooooowly getting the idea here. The feeling that something is unfair is the operation of the faculty of anticipation while the actual thought of "this is unfair because..." is the operation of the rational mind. That mind can make mistakes due to personal issue, incorrect information, ideoligical bias, etc. But the original ability of sensing "something" unfair is the faculty in operation that requires interpration.

    Interestingly, I came across this picture this morning. I think it speaks to this question despite what I suspect is a religious origin.

    Thanks, Don. That is very helpful. Clearly, the important detail in all of this is differentiating between the sense or feeling of fairness and actual thoughts of it. My reference to the blank slate is related to the latter. What is blank are the actual ideas, thoughts, concepts, etc. that are later conceived via the interaction of the Anticipations with experiences. Am I understanding this correctly?

    Now, how about "divine nature"? If we are not born with actual innate ideas, what is going on with this one? What is innate in us that refers to what we later define conceptually?

    Great responses, guys, thanks! I find the concept of the Anticipations to be the most difficult to understand. Indeed for me, the notion that we are born with innate ideas makes no sense and I can understand its opposite, the blank slate.

    However, as Cassius describes it as faculty or ability, I can start to get my head around it. The concept of "justice" is an awkward one to deal with because of the various ways it can be described. Look a the daily news to see what I mean. Which "justice" is actually just? This question will take us into endless conceptual debates.

    When I've watched children at play and they get into a dispute over a toy, game, etc. I've witnessed the indignant retort, "hey, no fair!" This is usually the result of a desire being thwarted, but they don't say, "hey, I didn't get my want fulfilled!" or some childhood equivalent. They refer to something called "fair" that represents the feeling of their desire being denied. In other words, they sense innately that there was something unfair, or unjust, about the situation. Does this sound like the existence of an Anticipation of "justice"?

    An example from our adult world is pornography. While definitions abound in trying to pin down what is pornographic and what is not, I can say with confidence that "I know it when I see it." While the context can vary historically and across cultures, I've often wondered if most people "know it when they see it" and then attempt to define it afterward. Is this an example of an Anticipation?

    Hi All,

    It has been a loooong time since I posted here. I've been roaming philosophical/spiritual landscapes and my explorations have led me back here. Go figure! I will talk about that on my wall as it is personal.

    I'm slow-reading DeWitt's book. I came across this line on page 213 (ch 11 Soul, Sensation, and Mind) and it struck me as very important:


    ...the volitional mind takes cognizance of the Anticipations, that is, the innate ideas of justice, of the divine nature, and other such abstractions, and it puts to the test every law of the land to determine whether it harmonizes with the innate idea of justice.

    The importance of this quote is its applicability to modern times since we are living in a culture of laws, for better or worse. The key anticipations mentioned of justice and divine nature are particularly important as they relate to the laws under which we currently live.

    So I am curious to know what innate ideas are thought to be "justice" and "divine nature".

    Eoghan, your story is similar to mine with regard to Stoicism. I too dipped my toes into the Stoic pond for a while although I came to it through my curiosity about Virtue (that's another story). I too stared at the question of "why is virtue itself a good?" and its obvious answer "because it feels good".

    Further, I kept coming across nasty comments about Epicurus so started wondering more about him. His goal of pleasure fit with my other passion, Buddhism, with its goal of reduced suffering. (also no gods, eternal universe etc.).

    So welcome and may you have conversations here that build a pleasant life.:)

    Kevin, in your Epicurean outline you said: "The fact that that the question of free will has been discussed for millennia, does make me feel like my perhaps over-simplified view may have a huge blind spot. To the extent that the question of free will is interesting to you I welcome any further thoughts."

    That is one of the most honest and open statements I've seen on any philosophical topic. Very impressive and trust me, rare. I too try to be open about others' ideas and the likelihood of being blinded by my own notions. :)

    I don't think your view is over-simplified. I think you have thought this through. That you have done this yet still "welcome further thoughts" is commendable. If I may offer a possibility for you to consider - I think your blind spot is that you are using free will to deny free will. Everything you said is based on the ability to assess evidence and decide on conclusions. As I said in my post here there seems to be something about the psyche must be able to choose what is true or false.

    I do not deny the deterministic aspect of nature. It's there to be seen by any thinking person. I also don't understand free will and don't even like the phrase given its religious overtones. I prefer volition. Further, the idea that we are "completely free" is silly. Obviously we react to stimuli, are affected by our environment, influences etc. But somewhere, somehow, we have the ability to make some choices.

    You now have the choice about responding to me or not. If you do, you can choose to agree, argue, discuss, condemn, laugh, or insult me. Take a moment to think about how you want to come across in your response. That too is an act of volition.

    I'll be interested in what kind of response your post gets. It's no secret that I left FB last fall, although I opened a pseudonym account there to help out some friends with their marketing. I am questioning even that at the moment. Friendship vs. online privacy. Such a crappy choice!

    KDF Have you read my blog post on Free Will? If so, I would love to read your response to the central question I pose there. Namely, if we cannot make any free choices, how can we assess evidence and come to a conclusion about something being true or false?

    Why bother giving any topic the thought and examination in order to come to a conclusion? We have no choices so it's all a waste of time. Further, why present any arguments or evidence in order to persuade someone of an alternate position to the one they hold? They cannot make any choices about what is true or false, and even if they do seem to, how can we know if they are correct? We have no free will with which to assess anything. Without free will, how can we have knowledge?

    Please forgive me if I am being a pain about this. :) Also, understand that I am not talking about some kind of ghost in the machine that is free of all influences. I am talking a level of evolutionary complexity that over the vastness of time has given rise to our unique ability to "know that we know" and make choices about what is true or false.

    Perhaps I'm way off base on this and someone can show me how to have knowledge without free will. I am open to ideas.

    This is among my favourite topics. The philosophical and psychological debate has raged forever and for me it seems to come down the "momentary ability to assess information and choose what is correct".

    Here is my blog about it. which explains this is more (but not tons of) detail.

    I make no claims as to how or why or to what extent our will is free. Bigger brains than mine have grappled with that down the ages. :)