Godfrey Level 03
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Posts by Godfrey

    At first glance it appears that Epicurus made a significant improvement by adding the third category of "unnatural." Having just necessary and unnecessary, for me, makes choices and avoidances rather black and white. The third category allows more room for personal nuance.

    With two categories I think the tendency would be toward choosing the necessary and avoiding the "unnecessary" desires. This feels to me like a rigid sort of virtue ethic. With the three categories, the middle one (natural and unnecessary) becomes what I like to think of as the "sweet spot" where we make our most interesting choices. This is what puts the "pleasure" in "pleasure ethics."


    One who is incorruptible and is feeling undiluted bliss is self-sufficient, secure in themselves, and has no troubles oneself nor feels any need to cause trouble for others. So, they are affected by neither anger nor obligation because all that comes about through frailty.

    Although I'm ignorant of Greek nuance, I agree that this is the best translation in light of my overall understanding of EP, and a review of the various versions in Nate 's compilation.

    Seligman's system is based on virtues, and subordinate to the virtues are personal strengths. He determined the virtues by having a team study philosophies from around the world and from various eras for commonality, and from that compiled a list of "universal" virtues. You fill out a questionnaire to find out which are your signature strengths from a list of 24 strengths. Your signature strengths are 3-5 that score highest on the questionnaire. So his method is a combination of objective and subjective, but starts with the objective and determines the subjective from there.

    It's an interesting method, but for me it seemed useful more as a brainstorming tool, perhaps useful to get some personal insights just by means of a fresh point of view. It's too formulaic to be of much further use, at least for my taste.

    Regarding the article above on happiness, which is from a positive psychology source....

    Not long ago I read a book by Martin Seligman (one of the founders of positive psychology) about positive psychology, and I was surprised to learn that he was heavily influenced by Aristotle. Positive psychology appears to fall into the objective approach to happiness, which I found quite interesting at the time as I couldn't put my finger on what bothered me about it.

    but I'm getting bogged down in minutiae.

    Ain't that the truth! I've become totally bogged down in my attempt to read the NE. I've been reading through and highlighting, then going back and parsing my highlights. The parsing is where everything grinds to a halt. I've read the first two books, but I'm haven't even made it through parsing the first book.

    Keep up the good work! There's interesting stuff in the book, but what a slog!

    This is quite thought provoking Martin !

    Overall, I like it. But in the spirit of inquiry, can we really say that we don't have any beliefs without becoming Skeptics? For instance, I believe that I'm not a brain in a vat. Do I know that? I think so, but I could be wrong. I believe what science tells me, to the extent of my understanding as a lay person. Do I know it? Not really, I'm accepting the information provided by people that I consider honest and better informed than me. More "knowledgeable."


    1. 1. an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. "his belief in the value of hard work"
    2. 2. trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something. "I've still got belief in myself"


    1. 1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. "a thirst for knowledge"
    2. 2. awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. "the program had been developed without his knowledge"

    Thanks for posting this: it's a good opportunity to clarify the definitions and ramifications of the terms knowledge and belief.

    Cassius since you first mentioned Dynalist a week or so ago, I've been experimenting with it and I'm finding it easy to use and extremely useful for all sorts of things. It is definitely giving me a way to improve my note-taking. I've never used outlining much, but it's turning out to be a powerful tool and this app is a great tool for implementing that tool, if you will.

    It's seamless between my phone, tablet and computer. Although the computer version has a bit more functionality, the phone/tablet version has plenty. And it took very little time to get up and running on both versions. Most of the questions that I had, which I hadn't really looked into, you just answered in the above post.

    :thumbup: :thumbup:

    It seems like the simplest way to deal with the discussion on the NE is to have a separate thread for each of the ten books. There may be overlap between the books, in which case maybe there could be an overall thread as well to cover such things. Anyway, that's easy to implement before the discussion gets too far along....

    I'm just starting Book 2, so you're comfortably ahead Don !

    My very general take is that this is really interesting reading, reading it from an Epicurean perspective. If I was reading this with no other background I think it would drive me batty. There's a lot of value in this, but without a grounding in reality it would very easily lead off into the rabbit hole of absolutes. Epicurus did quite a service in building on the reasonable parts and excising the ungrounded.

    Don 's posts here have inspired me to finally delve into the NE, and I'm finding it quite fascinating. I'm working my way through Book 1, where Aristotle at great length dissects various meanings of good in an attempt to determine the good. Even though I don't expect to come to the conclusion that he does, going through his process (which to my limited knowledge is considered the gold standard for this subject) is a good exercise to refine my own Epicurean ideas.

    Along the way, various phrases pop out which Epicurus must have latched onto either to agree with or to refute. For me, the most prominent so far is the idea early in Book 1 that the greatest good must relate to the polis (politics) as that encompasses so many other endeavors. Of course Epicurus is often said to counsel against getting caught up in politics: this then becomes fundamental to his critique of Aristotle’s analysis of the good. It would appear that rather than requiring his followers to avoid politics, he's telling them how to think about the good.

    I need to read this book. Only recently became aware of it. Does anyone else have a review?

    Definitely a good read with lots of good information, particularly concerning Epicurus' reworking of Aristotle as I recall. The major negative, for me, was that Farrington considers Epicurus to be a popularizer and an evangelist rather than an original thinker. Also, because of the title I was expecting the book to be about the Epicurean gods, but that's not the case.

    I highlighted a lot in the book, but haven't gotten around to digesting the ideas yet.

    Thanks Don , interesting reading!

    I really appreciate having your distillation of the material: I intend to read at least this much Aristotle someday, but somehow that someday keeps slipping further into the future. Obviously, the perfect time to read it will be at that time when the present is the mean between the past and the future, weighted toward the future because there is the potential for more people to live in the future than have lived in the past, and therefore the median in time of the combined intellect of the human race will likewise be weighted toward the future. Hmmm, some quick mental calculations indicate that that median point will be well after I'm dead! Maybe I shouldn't weight it! I'll have to find an Aristotelian to help me figure out what to do!