Titus Level 03
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Posts by Titus

    There's also The Herculaneum Society, promoting the study of the archeological site and of the papyri. They hold a biannual conference and minor events througout the year. I tried to attend last year, but the conference had been already sold out.

    Offtopic: It seems there is amazing progress in digital unrolling of yet unaccessible papyri. Unfortunaly, the data surpasses my browsers capacity, perhaps someone else can check out some of the scans.

    My note: I think frugal hedonist is a good description of Epicurus's lifestyle, much better than the ascetic he's made out to be.

    My thoughts: Frugality in an Epicurean context could mean to focus on one's senses and impressions, rather than pursuing foreign ideas of what happiness is made of. Leaving things behind can help to focus on our measuring instruments and on what makes us happy personally.

    I can tell you from my actual holidays, touched by a thousand beautiful impressions a day. Eating an elaborated meal or driving a cool car couldn't add anything to my happiness. The openness of my senses already fills up the cup to its fullest.

    Frugality could also teach us about the limits we're able to live with and therefore how to improve resilience.

    In the end I would argue, it's not about frugality, but pursuing elemental features of ourselves.

    Titus could you elaborate on what you mean?

    According to my reading of DeWitt, it seems St. Paul is able to offer something greater than the fullness of pleasure to the former Epicureans. He is offering the fullness of the life of immortal beings. These are just some thoughts that touched me while reading your comments on Lucian.

    Concerning your initial question, I personally would see pleasure as part of the epistemology rather than something to be treated in the quite ethically centred principal doctrines.

    I have to think of "St. Paul and Epicurus" where DeWitt indirectly suggests St. Paul is opening a path to the heavens. Consequently, the gods would experience something more valuable than our current pleasures. I personally think it has to do with their physics, being made of a different kind/quality of atoms.

    Presuming you are right about that (and I have no reason to doubt!) then it would be really interesting to read Diels' commentaries on Lucretius in particular or Epicurus in general.

    I just decided to do so because I really appreciate Diels colourful and powerful art of writing ;) . I cannot imagine to do so without a positive attitude. My edition doesn't include any commentary by him and there may be none as he passed away before publication. I checked Wikipedia for further information and it seems he exchanged letters with Usener (!) and did a university lecture on Greek philosophy. Both were published some years ago and might be of interest.

    I wonder if it would be worth going from German to English to pick up any twists that Diels might have seen in some of the key passages, such as around line 62 in book one.

    For detailed discussions it might be of interest listening to another voice. One could use translation software to translate foreign translations into English. On the other hand, there are already many professional English translations available (Bailey, Munro etc.). The translation of a translation (especially by software) also may have some issues. For your passage, Diels sounds this way:

    When, before the eyes of men, life was ignominious on earth

    Bowed down by the burden of heavy-weighted religion,

    That stretched out its head from the lofty heights of heaven

    And with a hideous grimace dreadfully afflicts mankind,

    Then first a Greek dared to turn the mortal eye

    Against the monster, and boldly to oppose it.

    Not the fable of the gods, not the lightning and thunder of the sky

    Scared him with their threat. No, only the stronger rose

    Higher and higher his courage. So first he dared the locked doors.

    the closed gates of Mother Nature in a mighty storm.

    And so it happened. His courageous spirit remained victorious, and boldly

    He set foot far above the flaming walls of the universe

    And he penetrated the infinite universe with an inquiring spirit.

    From there he brought back the truth as the spoils of victory:

    What can become, what cannot? And how is everyone surrounded

    Its working power and the fundamentally resting landmark?

    Thus, as if in retaliation, religion lies at our feet

    Completely defeated, but us, triumph lifts us to heaven.

    Traducido con DeepL

    Diels’s verses read so naturally that one forget it is a translation.”

    In my opinion it's still the best translation to German and it is still used in academia (as it is also in public domain). Diels did a great job. Especially Lucretius' hyms proclaiming Epicurus as saviour and his philosophy as the path to light sound impressive. Diels was definitively a friend of Epicurean Philosophy.

    This is an interesting question because as I remember reading somewhere, Epicurus experimented with how much he needed to maintain his happiness and pleasurable living from time to time. Sorry, can't think of the citation off the top of my head.

    I remember this, too. I also remember Epicurus comparing himself to Metrodoros, who wasn't able to eat as cheap as Epicurus. ^^

    Quite interesting question, because I didn't eat anyting on Monday and Tuesday. I did so because I was interested in the experience. Additionally, I had a weight loss of about 1kg.

    In general, I would advice intermittent fasting. I do it "naturally" (because I very often skip breakfast) and have never had any problems eating what I want. Since I walk most of my distances, physical activity may also count.

    Thank you Titus for your feedback. I decided not to use "natural but unnecessary" category to see if I could create something very direct and usable.

    Due to my short-reading ^^ , I just even recognized you 've introduced your own categorization (necessary for happiness and health of the mind) and skipped the "natural but unnecessary" category.

    My anew reading leads me to new points. I remember Epicurus distinguises the "natural and necessary" desires in another three categories, saying in Menoiceus

    "and of the necessary some are necessary for happiness, others for the repose of the body, and others for very life."

    Propably, one could asume your two categories as part of this triad.

    There's also the way of reading them related to aponia and ataraxia as your categories sum up many of material features of them.

    I agree with that but especially in the context that it is always a matter of comparing the resulting pleasure to the resulting pain and never a strict out-of-context analysis

    I think this is one of the reasons, Epicurus is arguing in abstract terms rather than presenting a list made of concrete. But I also recognize these abstract terms being related to an idea of basic principles of the nature of man. While this may set a focus (e.g. keeping your body healthy, care for your personal relations) I agree it's a matter of ongoing comparing and evaluating pleasures and pains.

    There's a fun fact story I would like to share. Aproximately 10 years ago I read an academic article critizing the pleasure calculus of Epicurus. The author argued, in the search for happiness one would have to constantly evaluate, which he condemned as quite unrealistic. How else would a costumer visiting a supermarket make his choices?! :D

    It's interesting how others perceive the famous approach of Epicurus how to categorize desires.

    I would have categorized the natural and necessary desires in the way you do.

    Generally speaking, the natural and not necessary desires are according to my perception extensions to the necessary desires, but still natural. Because they are based on our innate human condition, they just have to be avoided in the case of causing pain and damage.

    The unnatural desires relate to everthing else. Since almost everything can be related to a natural source, I would suggest this category is something more about abstract ideas and wants, as Diogenes Laertios relates them to the search for power and fame.

    Power and fame are not bad themselves, but one usually looses focus on what is the well of our wellbeing. This is the reason why we should usually avoid them and be very critical to these conditions.

    Original intented for a commentary on the Lucretius Today podcast, episode 140. I think this suits better here. As always, this is my personal interpretation, even while I think in ultimate terms.

    It's a pleasure to me, that the discourse on the letter to Menoikeus in episode 140 of Lucretius Today is leading to the acknowledgement of the "blessed life" or "eudaimonia", as this has always been close to my understanding of Epicurean philosophy. There is even more to say about the differentiation of pleasures. This has also been of quite importance to me but has also evolved over time. In my opinion, a common misunderstanding is interpreting the natural and necessary desires as simply "bread and water" or frugality. This might be the yogi's or monk's interpretation, but they dismiss the context as the modern reader doesn't grasp the meaning of "Peace and Safety!" in the bible. There's also the implied message of being focused on your body, which also means being focused on your senses, your perceptions. This is what is in the centre of life. You're a corporal being, so prioritizing on the very voices of your body satisfies best. Arguing in a short run, having satisfied the needs of the body (aponia) and having accomplished a state of resilience against fear and bad influences (ataraxia) opens the path for the realizing of maximum pleasure (hedone) and accomplishing the good live (eudaimonia) all folks on Earth are seeking for.

    The yogi and the monk may think they have gained inner calm, strength and happiness through focusing on whatever teaching they follow. But in reality, they just have entered the sphere nature is calling everyone for. Their philosophies work, albeit their proper message is only a side effect. The real forces working might never reach their recognition.

    But this is just the starting point. Reconnected with my senses and perceptions, I skip the world of ideas, as one could call the neither natural nor necessary desires. What is of importance to me is feeling. Recognizing my stomach's fullness, the warmth of the sun on my skin. Breathing fresh air. Enjoying a tasteful and varied meal. All these pleasures poured into my cup to its fullness! I do enjoy this while my body is freed from pain and my mind is freed from fear and anxieties. I try to build up friendships and have my life organized, according to the rules and customs of the area I live in. Finally, I end up living the life of a blessed being, men calls a god.

    Excursus: If the Stoics feel truly happy, they do so because they are "Epicureans in disguise". What's finally in their power are their senses, their natural needs. They conclude these via second hand abstractions, not realizing which realm they are entering. They are endangered to distract-thinking, focussing to much on the mind and being the mastermind, while nature holds all the cards in the game.

    Quality talk. I still have about 130 episodes to hear. ^^ I especially enjoyed the discussion on chance and the jump to Epicurus' classification of desires. I also recently read Lucian's "Alexander the Oracle Monger" (or did Charles mention Alexander the Great or both? But I definitely remember the mentioning of false and ambigious oracles) and I can tell you, it's a quite immersive experience listening to people talking about and interconnect all these issues as if they were grown up with. Living in the Epicurusphere. Brilliant. :thumbup:

    Personally, I would interpret PD19 in the sense that we should not worry about the idea of infinitive ages but focus on a good standing in our nowadays condition and be happy about it. The only characters enjoying constant and infinitive pleasure are the unshakenable "gods" but our consistency is bound on the atomic variability of the universe. Therefore we should enjoy and not disturb ourselves with unrealistic ideas of perfect and infinitive forms.

    There was a guy in Austria who reopened one of the biggest belle epoque hotels in the world in the 1980s. He had a personal connection to Epicurean philosophy and set up a yearly award for a person living the best of an Epicurean life (according to his personal interpretation). After a few years the hotel had to close again due to financial issues, but he went more spiritual and started publishing two or three volumes, now stating a more frugal version of Epicureanism than in the luxury palace. Reminds me to revisit one of his books I own (though I remember them being spiced with esotericism).

    It's amazing to read a first hand analysis of an Epicurean, actively propagating the philosophy. For myself it feels "in motion", like reading a living voice. Reminds me of the importance to keep the philosophy breathing. There's a lot of space for interpretation, but I'd only like to emphasize on the practical issues Philodemus is concerning. I can draw direct connections to my personal experiences from Philodemus' advices. He tells us to keep our health in a good condition, to stay connected with our friends etc. Personally, I too often forget to stay on the grounds of Epicurean philosophy, disturbed by the impressions of my surroundings and driven by unreflected emotions. That is why it is good to read this kind of devotional literature.

    Philodemus is an example to others and it would be great just to become a fraction of his brilliance.

    How should we go about determining how widespread Epicureanism was in Antiquity?

    The proper question is: How should we go about determining that there was any philosophy more widespread than Epicureanism?

    Is there any inscription larger than that of Oinoanda? Or was there any Roman library found other than focusing on Epicurean philosophy? Historians hoped to find traces of early Christianity in Pompeii. What did they find nearby? "I will be faithful to Epicurus, according to whom it has been my choice to live." Inside of a magnificent building, inhabited by the rich and influent.

    I got the book through interlibrary loan some months ago. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to read its contents sufficiently to get a complete picture before returning. I definitely agree with most of Nate's commentary.

    It's rather of the kind of books suggesting Jesus was a Yoga adherent who visited India than presenting facts like the appearance of Epicurean vocabulary in the letters of Paul.

    What I still find quite interesting is Hannah's suggestion that the Gospel of Thomas shall be a reliable and unaltered source while the other gospels are said to be compiled fiction. But this is off topic.