Charles Level 03
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  • Member since Sep 1st 2019
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Posts by Charles

    My only hesitation is that the picture has - to me - an almost Jesus vibe with the orientation of the face and the long hair. I didn't notice the pig until cassius pointed it out.

    To be fair, Che Guevara does have a loose resemblance to Jesus.

    Your reaction to "hero worship" is very common, but ultimately I think that the concern is unjustified. Epicurean philosophy teaches you to question authority and demand answers based on evidence, and it doesn't lead in the direction of general cultism for anyone who thinks about it.


    I think it's worth heeding some amount of caution over this. There's always been the trend of venerating past philosophers, and that is still true today. However, were it not for the insistence of the Epicurean school and of Epicurus himself on carrying his image, we would have a dearth of objects and depictions. It lends a much-needed certainty and confidence to an otherwise fragmented system.


    The issue instead, lies in our usage of his image. Carrying around copies of jewelry that once existed among the schools (different schools often had signifiers ala the cloak and staff of the cynics) is acceptable, and so are keeping busts of notable Epicureans, in my view. There are others too, such as the commissioned art of Epicurus breaking his chains on the front page of the site. It's when we get into objects such as clothing and votive candles when it starts to become cult-like.


    Pair this with our stringent need/belief to retain the classical elements of the philosophy and to not hoist eclectic principles on the same pedestal of Epicurus, and the issue becomes more apparent.

    The two figures on the left strike me as Plato & Socrates respectively. Although that's hardly based off of anything. It's too obscure to make any definitive judgement, whether it represents most of the schools much like the School of Athens, or perhaps it's not depicting any one specific philosopher at all.

    I don't see any references to babies or animals in either the PD or the Letter to Menoeceus. Of course that doesn't prove Epicurus didn't use the cradle argument. But the case remains open!

    The best source for this is actually from Diogenes Laertius.


    Quote

    A further difference from the Cyrenaics: they thought that bodily pains were worse than those of the soul, and pointed out that offenses are visited by bodily punishment. But Epicurus held that the pains of the soul are worse, for the flesh is only troubled for the moment, but the soul for past, present, and future. In the same way the pleasures of the soul are greater. As proof that pleasure is the end, he points out that all living creatures as soon as they are born take delight in pleasure, but resist pain by a natural impulse apart from reason. Therefore we avoid pain by instinct, just as Heracles, when he is being devoured by the shirt of Nessus, cries aloud,

    I'm approaching all of this from the perspective of proselytization. The issue is with the definition of pleasure itself, so, as to avoid a word-game, it makes more sense to ground it into something purely Epicurean to avoid a lot of the "baggage" the word will inevitably face. A similar example would be the word "indifference" in the context of Stoicism. It takes on its own meaning with its own contextual points and definitions tied to source material.


    I realize this may be going a bit off topic and is simultaneously opening a large can of worms, but it might be better to recuperate the idea of pleasure rather than building a theory of pleasure. By this, when we say "pleasure" we refer to choices and avoidances, prudence, the categorization of desires, the rose problem, etc. In doing so, our usage and treatment in such a different context might encourage others to reconsider their understanding of pleasure, leading to an easier comprehension. Consider it the wyrmwood before the honey, in this case, if you will.

    Perhaps it's less "happiness and contentment through my free will and contemplation" and more "pleasure is the active and passive sensation I experience from my study of nature and rejection of the supernatural on top of making choices and avoidances according to my desires."

    I'm reminded of a weekly zoom call we had where camotero spoke about a peer of his where his [camotero's] attempt to teach him about the limits and variety of pleasures was met with utter confusion. His peer inadvertently spoke like an Epicurean and presumably needed Epicurean advice but the gap could not be bridged because of their different understanding of pleasure.

    Do those pleasures I have listed lead to a life of secure pleasure [...]

    They would certainly believe so. Though in some respects, maybe they have a point, not in their rhetoric attached to such lifestyles, but acting in according to their desires in their own non-Epicurean way.


    I don't believe pleasure can be isolated as a sole concept in the philosophy without an extremely vague definition attached to it, let alone through comparison. Instead, it should be tied to ethics and the concepts in the PD's and such. Perhaps it's less "happiness and contentment through my free will and contemplation" and more "pleasure is the active and passive sensation I experience from my study of nature and rejection of the supernatural on top of making choices and avoidances according to my desires."

    Pleasure could be defined as what anyone chooses.

    The same could be said about desire. I find it to be extremely reductive and almost gimmicky to reduce a lot of other ways of life and decisions on the grounds of "Oh you were still pursuing pleasure or acting on your desires; you just didn't know it." Because if that were truly the case, then the affected person would simply keep to their ways and would stay unswayed.

    I've been searching for ways to strengthen the infant argument for some time now. I think you're correct in casting scrutiny upon its value in instructing others. One of the largest hurdles of speaking to others about the philosophy is trying to get someone to recognize the value of pleasure and why it shouldn't be shunned.


    We may very well take to pointing to nature as "proof" but to someone unconvinced or highly skeptical, we're pointing to infantile bodily reactions and processes, something not wholly convincing in itself.

    On a more serious note, and something I suspect that even the Epicureans of the Garden in Athens had to deal with was the balance of free and open admission and that of secure, closed circles of members. The problem with the Discord was that its population was majority Stoic by an overwhelming margin. Some were platonist, or Nietzscheans, or Christian, atheist, etc. yet the Stoics were by far the most populous, and it seems that they have flooded a good chunk of the public "intellectual avenues" online, to the point, that most of the server partnerships became inextricably linked with Stoic-aligned groups and servers.


    While their mere presence alone was not perfect, the issue came with random users speaking to others in the open general chat. Those random users claimed to represent or claimed to be able to speak with some matter of authority or clarity on the matter of the philosophy. As such, the ad nauseum dichotomy between gluttonous hedonist and ascetic was constantly repeated, there were too few Epicureans to rebuff the constant claims.


    Unlike the forums here there were no set tiers and no confidentiality beyond myself and my staff members, as everything would be sent via private messages on Discord itself. Meaning that, even if there were a significant number of Epicureans on the Epicurean Discord (a crazy idea it seems), there was hardly the infrastructure to maintain and keep them in close communication.


    So, my advice is to keep well protected safeguards around your community.