Titus Level 03
  • Member since Mar 3rd 2016
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Posts by Titus

    I would like to add my personal view, which I see somehow between the two oppositions. I suggest a very important cause of the dispute is a different way of access to Epicurean philosophy.

    The very common approach of reading the letter to Menoeceus is very clear in its essence. The letter argues, that we should prefer a life focusing on a peaceful state of lifing. It is argued, through making us independent from goods we do not need, wrong beliefs, fears etc. we achieve the best life imaginable and become generally independent from the difficulties of the world. The main problem is, that this approach doesn't refer to Epicureanism as a wider system of knowledge. Many thinkers only refer to the ethics as presented in letter to Menoeceus (additionally Principal Doctrines, Vatican Sayings) but do not apply Canonics and Physics, which they consider as a different point of interest.

    For a person who studies all three main branches of Epicurean philosophy and even tries to combine and interconnect, it's something different. Understanding Epicureanism as a holistic system reveals that pleasure occurs in the beginning. It's a central part of Epicurus' epistemology. It is so important, because it occurs naturally. Searching for pleasure is not an abstract idea, it's an aim that is intrinsic to every lifing being.

    In my opinion, Epicurus understood rightful, that pleasure is natural and central for every lifing being. We are not able to choose, we have to handle with our attraction to moments, which we perceive as more delightful than others.

    In the Epicurean world, nature sets the standards. Epicurus reflects pleasure and comes to the conclusion, that it has to do with the conditions of our being. This is why he distinguishes between natural and not natural, necessary and not necessary. In other words: There is this basic impulse called pleasure and Epicurus examines this term in relation to the fundamentals of being alive.

    In conclusion, we get an approach to the term pleasure which stretches from the Canonics to the Ethics by corresponding to the Physics.

    In my personal opinion, Epicurus is neither looking for painlessness nor for pleasure as pleasure on its own. He tries to find out what a human is in itself. This is why he focuses on senses, feelings and anticipations. In relationship to a theory about the functioning of the world (physics) Epicurus derives his conclutions about how to conduct.

    Consequently, satisfying all natural and necessery desires is the highest level of being. But being a sensitive being also means, that there are differencies in how this natural desires can be fulfilled and perceived. This is the flavour, which can tend to be not necessary (as Diogenes Laertios explains). This is why Epicurus advices only to fullfill natural but not necessery desires if they do not harm.

    Finally, my personal view puts 'painlessness' in the centre, but it never occurs as that abstract idea as the word tends to appear. Ataraxia and aponia are related to the world made of atoms, which means that they will never exist perfect or erase the relationship with the world itself. We perceive painlessness only as a pleasureful state because it means, that we acquire everything what our natural fundamentals are looking for. This position is an important part of Epicurus' way to absolute freedom, but it remains only, if we remain near to the given fundaments, as set by nature.

    As Lucretius tells to us at the beginning of book two of De Rerum Natura:

    Lucretius. De Rerum Natura. William Ellery Leonard. E. P. Dutton. 1916.

    Hello to everybody,

    I am Titus, 33 years old and I have been still in contact with Epicurean philosophy since summer 2011 I think so. Probably I had come in contact through the wikipedia article, then I decided to buy a book with phrases and sayings by Epicurus and I got wondered because everything written there sounded very well and constructively. I think I discovered Cassius' blog one year later and I am proud to say that I own the two writings on Catius' Cat as a printed version ;)

    There was a time I spent more than one hour a day with thinking about Epicurean philosophy and there is still no day I don't remind about the blessings of philosophy.

    First, I focused on ethics. I am still impressed by Epicurus' teachings on desires and needs, especially because they turn Maslow's pyramid around. I am not a friend of asceticism, but I am of the understanding that a body and mind freed from pain and desires build the proper basis for a happy life full of pleasure. In my opinion, living on this fundament enables one to be open for the essential sensations, feelings and anticipations.

    Later on, I discovered the great Lucretius and the even greater hyms adoring Epicurus and his philosophy. Lucretius shows the universe as an ever changing one, disillusioning any idea of stable ideas distant from the essentials of life. His explanations, e.g. on aging are amazing. There are passages with such a deep understanding of the world and its processes, far beyond tcurrently teachings . For sure, some of his explanations do not fit as we know today, but his methods are still remindable.

    There is so much more to say. Sometimes I struggle with the English language and this may be the cause why I participate just little in the forums. Additionally, I do not read as much about Epicurean philosophy today as I did before. It's already a part of my life. Sometimes I come to recognize that a person emphazises on this or that and I wonder why. I do not search for richness or trophys. I am focused on happiness, resilience through right understanding and a network of friends. This is, what a good life is made upon!

    Sounds a great idea to be among the first players in the market. Like investing in start-up companies ;) . However, I think here's already a great platform for discussion and the board is also mentioned in the wikipedia article on Epicurus in 'external links'. So there's already a significant advantage. I would rather promote intensifying posting on EpicureanFriends :)

    Behind analyzing Epicurean persons and writings in history on this topic, we could also argue with the Epicurean's way of thinking and his approach to the universe. In my opinion, an Epicurean focuses in his daily life primarily on sensations, feelings and the preconceptions. By to do so, he leaves behind the ideas of the men of the croud. Contrary, referring to the ideas of the crowd is the daily basis of action for a politician. (Heavily) involving in politics, as you can see by observing politicians, always means to adapt and to repeat phrases and ideas which are just related to artificial constructions that have no relations with the basic nature of things. Finally, involving in politics is able to drive a person far away from (in my opinion) the core propagation of Epicurean philosophy: Focussing on your natural perception and by this revealing your true personality, that is common with the easyily aquirable pleasure of nature.

    By searching by my own I have found two very interesting editions:

    - "Leyendo Epicuro, Carta a Meneceo; Seneca, La Vida Feliz" by José Hernández Espinosa. It's a compilation for philosophy students with some brief introductory material. Reading is relatively easy. There are also questions on the text, so it helps to rethink one of the basic texts of Epicurean philosophy.

    - "El Epicureismo - una sabiduria del cuerpo, del gozo y de la amistad" by Emilio Lledó. I haven't been able to read much so far, but it seems the author is an hidden Epicurean enthusiast and advocat for the philosophy of Epicurus. The book was first published in the 80s. Some years before now, in his personal 80s, he published this secondary edition. Lledó is a well reputated award-winning Spanish philosopher and writer. The cover on its own may speak for the content of the book: a fresco from Pompeji, showing the wealth and richness of nature, probably Venus (and please remind the beginning of "On the nature of things"!).


    I have been interested in the philosophy of Epicurus for about 10 years and at that time there were almost only collections of texts or scientific literature for sale. This has changed a lot in the meantime. There are more and more books that draw on Epicurean thought. It is the same with Stoic philosophy, only that this development started some time earlier.

    If you search for Epicurus on Amazon or enter Epicureanism, there are now even guidebooks published by professional publishers. They are also available in multiple languages. I find this development amazing. However, I'm a bit critical, because it looks very much like commercialization to me.

    Has anyone read any of these books? Is it worth buying them? Or can you forget about them? What is your personal opinion?

    Here are some examples:




    He didn't engineer a utopia; he plotted the course of a happy life. If he has an heir among political theorists, we should look not to Marx, but to Thomas Jefferson.

    For sure, this is the central criticism of Marx(ism) and also of a lot of other authors on Epicurus: The garden philosopher didn't construct an utopia that tries to change the world politically. But it doesn't mean that Marx wasn't inspired by his intensive reading of writings of Epicurean descent. The only question is to what degree Marx got influenced by Epicurus. But this question is very hard to answer. I would never believe Marx to be an Epicurean, but I believe in the flow of philosophical information. Epicureanism is like the Museo del Prado in Madrid and Marx got inspired by visiting the paintings of the old masters to draw his own picture.

    Marxists present(ed) Epicurean philosophy as an incomplete building, but often as a fine one. I had a look on a old book about the central teachings of Marxism-Leninism. Before the author started his critique he only had the honest words on Epicurus.


    I visited this place five years ago. It's a small but fine museum. You can buy copies of busts of Epicurus and Hermarchus online or at the museum's shop. They are cheap and of a good quality. Ironically, these busts itself are not shown in the museum (but are made from casts of the originals they have in their depot). But they show a original Roman statue, itself a Roman reproduction of a Greek bust of Metrodorus. It was amazing to have a look on a statue, Roman Epicureans had a look on!

    These are some notices about my personal research on the connection between Epicurean philosophy and its reception by Marx. Don't take them too seriously.

    Some years ago I discovered an interesting connection between Marx and Epicurus. I had read the verses of Lucretius on cultural evolution and suddenly I reminded what is so called "historical materialism". I had to laugh out loud because I thought perhaps Communism might evolve only some steps further. I did so, because I reminded that Marx completed his Dissertation in March 1841 about "The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature". It's quite interesting because De Rerum Natura is perhaps the only book from classical antiquity, trying to compare some elements of Democritean and Epicurean philosophy. For sure, Lucretius had to be one of Marx's most important resources.

    This was just the start of my reserach about the connection between Marx and Epicurean philosophy. Just a funny fact and it seemed to be just a remindable similarity.

    I wasn't able to forget about the topic, so I checked some years later Marx's dissertation. And I really wondered about, because Marx's refers in his dissertations introduction to the letter to Menoikeus:

    "Philosophy, as long as a drop of blood shall pulse in its world-subduing and absolutely free heart, will never grow tired of answering its adversaries with the cry of Epicurus:

    Not the man who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them, is truly impious."


    This passage gives several information: First: Marx knowed the letter to Menoikeus. Second: He also refers to in matter of critique of religion. Third: We should not underestimate the influence of Epicurus on Marx (especially, because Marx also did reserach on hellenistic philosophy in his youth).

    The whole topic is so interesting to me, because the philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach is always said to have had influenced Marx heavenly. Heavenly in kind of critique of religion and heavenly in kind of materialism. Ironically, his basic work "The Essence of Christianity" was published also in 1841, perhaps some months later than Marx' dissertation. My conclusion is, perhaps, just perhaps, you could forget about Feuerbach. Marx didn't need Feuerbach.

    I know little about Marx and I know little about Feuerbach. I know nothing about their personal connection. These are the points I have to evolve my knowledge. Unfortunately, there is rare primary literature on the topic. Just cultural scientists and marxists copying from each other.

    At the moment, my hypothesis is the following: Marx was heavenly influenced (from several sources and) by Epicurus, from which he borrowed some key ideas. Later, writers like Feuerbach also did influence Marx, but perhaps they rather served as a mirror to Marx. Feuerbach was a compagnon in the same era. Feuerbach was a person to refer to and to talk with. Who would refer to Epicurus, this old philosopher? We also have to remind that in the 19th century Epicurus was just available to an elite who was able to handle classic Latin and Greek.

    If there might have been a great influence of Epicurean philosophy on Marx, this influence logically might been overwritten by the living philosophers of that era.

    Finally, I would like to share a sweet piece of chocolate with you. Erich Fromm mentions the mentioned quote by Epicurus in his book "Marx's Concept of Man" but without mentioning Epicurus. He handles this quote just global, as a sign of Marx's refering to classical antiquity philosophers. He lists every other philosopher... but not the one.