What in the good gods is going on here? 😅
Episode 214 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. In this episode we take up Cicero's allegation that true friendship and true happiness are impossible for Epicureans.
I’ve made some changes in my life recently that are directly related to this…
I’m 37, I was married for 10 years…I have 2 daughters.
In my case in my marriage the passion has dissipated significantly and I was “dissatisfied” over the course of about 5 years. This feeling led to a feeling of depression.
So that relationship ended…
And this is what I’ve learned. People have wildly varying ranges of sexual desire…it has to do with genetics, age and hormones. The problem is that we often aren’t honest about what we want when meeting someone, we don’t communicate well. This was especially true in my 20’s.
But what I’ve learned now is that honesty is in fact the best policy when it comes to a sexual relationship….one you verify that the other individual is on the same page as you with their drive matching yours, it’s critical to let them know exactly what you desire in this relationship so as to manage expectations. I think unmanaged expectations are the main source of dissatisfaction in a sexual relationship…and communication is key.
To reach the best conclusion, we must always manage expectations by communicating.
And I’ll say I have spread the gospel of Epicurus far and wide these days.
Im just checking in.
I saw this topic and I’d love to chat about it.
I’ll be back a little later to comment. Since this subject has been significant in my life lately.
For me it was difficult as well… I had multiple times where I reverted back. But the reality is now (in my opinion) the world reflects the naturalistic ideas of Epicureanism. I don’t see miracles, I don’t see angels, I don’t see the righteous and pious being rewarded and the sinners being punished. When someone says “God blessed me” for saving me from disaster, but simultaneously allows someone else to have tragedy, the answer is always its all in God’s plan. I just don’t see any of that. It takes years to undo what has been put in our minds….
And I don’t take this lightly, I know it’s powerful. It can cause a person to abandon friends, forsake family and allow some terrible folks to justify their really terrible behavior with “greasy grace”… even if I sin I am always forgiven, bought and paid for. It’s the ultimate lack of accountability with no warranty.
I’m 37, I’ve determined I’m in the month of mid to late July or very early August of my life. Summertime is waning as Autumn approaches. I know time is precious, the most valuable currency.
I’m still very eager to suck the marrow out of life. The ride will end when ever it does, in meantime I’ll continue to press on.
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. The great Christian and religious dilemma.
Because life is so sweet it’s hard to leave it for illusory afterlife promises.
Only to make the following centuries full of pleasure repressed, shame and guilt filled people wandering around making super bad decisions.
In a similar way the Celtic people of Spain were significantly influenced by Iberian and Carthaginian societies and they had their own unique Celt-Iberian culture that looked very different from Gaul, but very much Celtic.
The Celts living in Italy would’ve been far more reasonable and “civilized” since they would have had significant contact with the Etruscans and Latins for centuries. Probably far more Italian in mannerisms than their Gallic or British counterparts.
A Celtic Epicurean??
I haven’t slept in or slept more than 6.5 hours max in the last 6 years or so. Between my job that vacillates between day shift and night shift, kids and just the fact that I don’t fall asleep right away and I am thinking about the sword of Damocles that will always fall on me from various corners of my life instead of sleeping. I do miss the days of a solid “lay in” after 10 hours. But circumstances change, but this is a personal hope for me to get back into a more restful rhythm.
You can probably infer from my veiled language what the change is. But it’s astonishing the hold that some circumstances have on us and how long we are willing to be miserable for.
Well I’ve been gone for awhile with some pretty stressful things at work and at home over the last couple months…but that spring renewal is here.
As of late, I have had some Epicurean wisdom in action, and I have made some significant changes based solely on pursuing my own pleasure. The hedonic calculus or spectrum, or whatever we call it is a real quantifiable thing. Experiencing certain pains to pursue greater pleasure are sometimes necessary. This state of the pursuit pleasure is the natural state of human behavior, surrounded by a cloud of illusory constructs that tell us to reject this natural state. Those constructs are wrong…they keep us from pursuing pleasure.
You never truly realize how muted our behaviors and perspectives are until you get that blast of pleasure and you realize that you haven’t truly been living…this can last years.
So Epicurean wisdom must be lived. There is a danger of only receiving Epicurean philosophy in an intellectual or stoicized manner and still live in a state of anesthesia without pleasure. It makes sense in the mind, but the body misses out. I can say that was my situation for awhile. But no more…
A somewhat relevant observation I’ve made about people and sincerity of belief has recently occurred in the military involving beards. As a standard rule of thumb, men’s grooming and appearance disallow any facial hair with the exception of a well maintained mustache. Beards are not allowed unless there is a medical reason for not being able to shave like pseudofolliculitis. But such waivers are rare. However now “religious exemption” has appeared on the scene…
For years certain religions such as the Indian Sikhs were barred from joining most military branches due to the need for a clean shaven face and cropped hair. Short of a professional job such as a Doctor, JAG or Chaplain, no Sikh could join for many, many years. Then overnight the “Norse Pagan” people started popping up, claiming that to truly practice their religion they must maintain a full beard. The Sikhs are of a ethnic and cultural tradition that extends back to the Middle Ages, while the “Norse Pagans” are a 20th and 21st century fabrication and reconstruction of historical beliefs that went extinct back in the early Middle Ages with the advent of Christianity. What I do know is that many people are now claiming to be “Norse Pagans” when ultimately they are atheists or agnostics that truly don’t care, but are only claiming this (which is a huge administrative process) so they claim this religious classification. Now if someone TRULY believes that Odin, Thor and the Giants are real…then more power to you, enjoy. However…if you are doing this because you want to sport a beard. I question your sincerity in general and whether you take anything seriously.
Which brings me to the reason WHY we shave: Gas mask seals. To maintain a properly sealed gas mask, a man must have a clean shaven face to make a proper seal. If the seal fails, chemical agents will seep in and disable or kill the wearer thereby putting themselves in danger…and everyone else. Just like the Greek phalanx we rely on our wingmen and battle buddies to be doing the right thing so we are working as a team to stay safe. So if someone goes down because of a beard, that may also put me in jeopardy.
Now I’m not going to exactly be happy if a pious Sikh is the cause of my demise because he couldn’t get a seal on his mask…but I’m going to be DISGUSTED with the person who feigned religious belief and made this disaster possible. Thus there is a real world example of how sincerity of belief or disbelief can really effect the view people have of you.
I think one of the biggest concerns I had with the gods discussion deals with sincerity. Epicurus would’ve needed, in whatever way, to believe that the gods (in whatever form) were “real” (in whatever sense atomic beings or images in the mind). If not, his opponents that claimed that he was purely avoiding a charge of impiety would be correct. I don’t believe he was hiding a complete disbelief and fabricated a theological system to avoid being executed… like Socrates was, but rather he just adapted his system to what he knew of popular religion and the myths…and we ended up with atomic epicurean gods.
I do hold that sincerity of belief is important to trusting the rest of a person’s character. If perhaps Epicurus was acting in a manner that fit the description held by his opponents, that he was merely hiding a form of atheism while constructing a false theology that allowed for him to remain in good standing with the pious Greeks, then that would cause the rest of his system to be called into question in my opinion. That would be a very troubling situation. But I don’t believe he did that.
Atoms and void…and turtles all the way down.
I wish I had more time to discuss this!
And I’m using this language poetically. The reason I see nature this way is because, though I operate seeking a pleasurable life, which is the goal of EP, I can see that the universe doesn’t explicitly care that “Matt” the individual is saturated in pleasure (though I may deeply care), nature has created avenues for me to experience pleasure as the goal. If I go swimming in the ocean seeking pleasure, and I am devoured by a rogue great white shark operating on the same hunger satisfying hedonic principle that drives me to head to my local steakhouse for a sumptuous dinner, nature didn’t play favorites. We are equals, the shark and I. This time the shark’s instinctual pleasure seeking won out. The difference is for me to know how nature works and not attempt to find pleasure in shark infested waters where I’m the the sumptuous meal.
In the last few months I’ve been flirting with some ideas that come out of Taoist philosophy that seem to work well with my concept of the material universe within EP and also seem to enhance my overall view of reality. Lately I feel that I sense nature’s “behavior”…not in a supernatural, providential or pantheistic way, but more in the way nature and the cosmos seem to operate upon fixed processes that are very reliable in their outcomes and that nature has a will of it’s own independent from human will. Almost like a “behavior,” Nature manifests and unmanifests, creates stars and galaxies and simultaneously destroys them, causes living beings to act according to instinct to sustain life and create more life, while simultaneously killing and destroying other life. These processes exist independently of our speculation and even our existence. In Taoism, the ineffable and apophatic aspects of nature are best understood by living in accord with them or flowing with them, as opposed to necessarily knowing them. So there is always room for some introspective awe about unknowns in nature, yet since will live in the universe and are a part of it the best way to know nature is to live in accord with it, and we can take comfort in knowing that life operates upon certain principles that we can come to rely on. Atoms and void, and their behavior, rely upon each other to make the universe the way it is. Being and non-being “create” each other…just like up creates down, hard creates soft etc. they are concepts that we define, but they exist as aggregates in nature.
I started thinking about nature in this way a little while ago when I realized that though I have plans and desires for my life, nature has its own plans that I’m subject to. Nature operates upon certain reliable principles and the real magic is observing them and understanding that everything operates according to its will.
Ironically, the idea that social media profited a person monetarily is actually one of the issues. On the lowest level, selling handmade clothing on Etsy is probably the most benign thing that social media could be used for…and in a vacuum that in itself isn’t a bad thing at all. But on a much larger scale, the person who works at Facebook in their R & D department that contracts out to people who specialize in psychological manipulation for keeping people addicted to things (such as online gambling etc.) as a means to keep people (and kids) engaged on their platform…even if it means that society becomes more dangerous and unhealthy because of it, it doesn’t matter to them because the company makes a profit, the dollar is the bottom line. It’s ultimately the same principle. But on a macro level, the developers who create these platforms and allow extremely addictive and hostile content to proliferate across them are a huge aspect of this problem.
I obviously very much disagree that this subject is being presented “incorrectly” since there is ample evidence in the medical community that there is a wide scale issue and to simply ignore that fact would be adding to the problem. Whether it comes down to the companies that are the facilitators or users who don’t know how to manage their online time in a healthy way, there is an obvious issue.