Charles Level 03
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Posts by Charles

    I love the contrast here, between Elayne's "Maximalism" & Wynn's Minimalism. Though you could easily see the two and want to find some median between them, I think that would be redundant as long as both are Epicurean. While VS 63 comes to mind, we should all embrace the pleasure that comes with finding, and living comfortably within our own style.

    Frankly, I'm more of the maximalist mindset that Elayne has, I indulge in the extreme pleasures, right up to that limit, often pushing the envelope until I realize I may need to take a step back and examine my choices through the hedonistic calculus as a fall-back method, but when that refrain has had its time, I quickly reciprocate to more pleasure.

    wynnho This was recently talked about, and yes, Epicurus did say that wise people will marry. It's more of a matter of the message of "don't rush into marriage" among other quotes & statements regarding love, that was lost in translation and quickly became one of the key criticisms of Epicureanism. (Selection is from Epicurus: The Extant Remains from a Cyril Bailey translation)

    Another book on my shelf that I haven't been able to sit down & finish even one of these mini papers.

    The backside reads:

    "The Philosophy of Epicurus (c. 341-271 B.C.E.), has been a quietly pervasive influence for more than two millennia. At present, when many long revered ideologies are proven empty, Epicureanism is powerfully and refreshingly relevant, offering a straightforward way of dealing with the issues of life and death.

    The chapters in this book provide a kaleidoscope of opinions about Epicurus's teachings through two thousand years. They tell us also about the archaeological discoveries in Oenoanda and Herculaneum that promise to augment the scant remains we have of Epicurus's own writing(1). The breadth of this new work will be welcomed by those who value Epicurean philosophy as a scholarly and personal resource for contemporary life.

    Epicurus: His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance, is the title of a conference on Epicurus held at Rochester Institute of Technology, April, 2002, when many of the ideas were first presented."

    (1) I think this is just an embellishment of the editor, The Wall at Oenoanda & the Villa de Papyri as we all know weren't from Epicurus himself.

    Anyways, this book is essentially just a collection of presentations, speeches, and writings/essays about Epicureanism and its modern merits as well as focusing on specific aspects of the philosophy.

    Since I haven't read it yet, and cannot summarize it, I'll just list each "chapter" with its title & author.

    (Page) 5 "The Philosophy of Epicurus: It It an Option for Today?" - Dane Gordon

    (Page) 17 "Philodemus, The Herculaneum Papyri" - David Armstrong

    (Page) 45 "The Angry God: Epicureans, Lactantius, and Warfare" - James L. Campbell

    (Page) 69 "Plotinus and Epicurean Epistemology" - Lloyd Gerson

    (Page) 81 "Atomism and Gassendi's Conception of the Human Soul" - Veronica Gventzadze

    (Page) 113 "Epicurus and Bishop Butler" - David E. White

    (Page) 127 "The Young Marx on Epicurus: Dialectical Atomism and Human Freedom" - Paul Schafer

    (Page) 139 "The Fixation of Satisfaction: Epicurus and Peirce on The Goal" - David Suits

    (Page) 157 "Theological Paradox in Epicurus" - Marianna Shakhnovich

    (Page) 167 "Epicurus on Friends and Goals" - Daniel Russell

    (Page) 183 "Epicurus on Friendship: The Emergence of Blessedness" - M. R. Wheeler

    (Page) 195 "Death as a Punishment: A Consequence of Epicurean Thanatology" - Stephen E. Rosenbaum

    (Page) 209 "Diogene's Inscription at Oenoanda" - Abdrew M. T. Moore

    Throughout the week I may sit down and read some of these and provide summaries in the responses.

    I'll have to see if I can get a comp. copy at work. I keep seeing Wilson showing up on my article feed & on fringe youtube searches.

    From my brief understanding, it seems this book is full of errors. But it's worth looking into, maybe I can pirate a mobi or epub/pdf of it.

    Could you explain your questions? Why would duration be irrelevant to "unnecessary" desires?

    Maybe I should've rephrased, but duration is *only* relevant to these unnecessary desires.

    I'll be bookmarking this thread, I've spent too much time on the forums today while in my office (lol). In the meantime, I'll be thinking of replies. On the old Discord, Ethan and I used to discuss the 3 types of desires quite frequently, and while I do agree that many non-Epicureans tend to focus on them, I do think they are indispensable for getting rid of the idea that we are just "blanket hedonists" and a good teaching tool for those new looking to learn more.

    Of course what may be necessary to someone, may be unnecessary to someone else (insulin comes to mind). But that is the nature of desire regardless of any philosophy - we just choose to embrace it.

    Good points all around. However I think that duration as a variable would only be applicable if the desire you chose to fulfiil is natural, but unnecessary. Though we aren't ones for hypothetical situations, I can see this as a more useful tool for determining the priorities of your disposable income.

    For example: should you buy a nice down pillow thats better than the cushioned rock beside your headboard? Or should you buy a cheap box of wine at target after an excruciating week?



    I came across this article a few weeks ago, and thought little of it at the time. But now it has my attention, I'll keep this short as I don't have much time before I head out for the day, but take a quick look at the graphic presented in the article and the variables below it.

    What would be considered the Epicurean position on a more defined calculus such as this? While we may not endorse the formal logic & mathematics around Epicurus' time, this presents something different. As most of the variables are unitless, it still remains dependent for each individual according to his or her personal lives & dispositions.

    I've done keto before. Carnivore diet is unrealistic, there are certain vitamins and minerals you need that can't be found in only meat. But with a keto diet, you have a ton of energy with a good diet with tons of variety. However, once your body goes into ketosis, you oretty much will always get tired from eating carbs, regardless if you stick to the diet.

    The topic of Epicureanism & Music always seems to pop up periodically, and every source seems to always evoke some sense of spirit, but is never explicitly "Epicurean", then again it's hard to come across music devoted to a philosophy, but we can make do.

    Upon listening to Acis & Galatea by Handel, a Pastoral Opera with an English libretto, I noticed that some of the lyrics of the arias & choral pieces sounded very familiar to our philosophy.

    The story of the opera is a musical adaptation of the eponymous characters from Greek Mythology; Acis, a shepherd and Galatea, a sea-nymph who falls in love with the former, though their love is interrupted by the cyclops Polyphemus who kills Acis to have Galatea to himself. By the concept of deus ex machina, she uses her divine power to resurrect Acis' mangled corpse into a fountain, as a symbol of the natural pleasures they once enjoyed. However, it is not the second act that I'll be focusing on.

    We will be focusing on three characters:
    Acis (Mortal, Shepherd of the plains, and love interest of Galatea)
    Galatea (Sea-Nymph, or Nereid. She is among the nymphs that live in tranquility with the Shephards of the Plains, and falls in love with Acis)
    Damon (Mortal, Shepherd of the plains, close friend of Acis and provides counsel to both Acis & Galatea, like Benvolio to Romeo)

    The first choral piece starts off with the Shepherds & Nereids living harmoniously in the plains, enjoying the pleasures of nature & the plains, free from worry or pain. Below is the libretto and it is simply titled "2. Chorus" it can be found at the 3:20 minute mark in the video below.

    "Oh, the pleasure of the plains! (Pleasure found through nature)

    Happy nymphs and happy swains,

    Harmless, merry, free and gay, (Harmless, no pain upon them, free and happy, with no vain desires)

    Dance and sport the hours away.

    For us the zephyr blows,

    For us distills the dew,

    For us unfolds the rose,

    And flow'rs display their hue.

    For us the winters rain, (Even the harsh winters do not bother them)

    For us the summers shine,

    Spring swells for us the grain,

    And autumn bleeds the wine. (They wait for the right time of the year to drink wine together, rather than over-consumption of this indulgence)

    Oh, the pleasure. . . da capo." (Again, pleasure found through friendship, nature, and indulging in natural desires)

    It is after here that Galatea falls in love with Acis, she proclaims that the pleasures of nature & indulgent tranquility are all vain compared to her passion for Acis. She sings the following "3. Accompagnato" found at the 9:20 minute mark in the video below.

    "Ye verdant plains and woody mountains,

    Purling streams and bubbling fountains,

    Ye painted glories of the field,

    Vain are the pleasures which ye yield; (She acknowledges that these are indeed pleasures, but they no longer suffice)

    Too thin the shadow of the grove,

    Too faint the gales, to cool my love."

    This is immediately followed by the warblers and songbirds singing to her, implying that she should not continue to pursue Acis, which brings her to sing "4. Air" which can be found at the 10:51 minute mark of the video found below.

    "Hush, ye pretty warbling quire!

    Your thrilling strains

    Awake my pains, (Her pain was null prior to this moment)

    And kindle fierce desire. (These desires would ultimately cause her more pain)

    Cease your song, and take your flight,

    Bring back my Acis to my sight!

    Hush. . . da capo"

    Now we catch up to Damon, close friend of Acis who notices and laments that the sheep have left, the air is melancholy, and they no longer hear the peaceful music of nature. He sings "6. Recitative" which can be found at the 19:25 minute mark of the video found below.

    Stay, shepherd, stay!

    See, how thy flocks in yonder valley stray!

    What means this melancholy air?

    No more thy tuneful pipe we hear. (The tranquility is gone, the animals have grown hungry and have gone astray)

    Note: This can also be interpreted as Damon noticing the change in Acis' demeanor.

    Directly after this, Damon counsels him & tells him not to pursue what would be his ruin, and sings "7. Air" which can be found at the 19:58 minute mark of the video found below.

    "Shepherd, what art thou pursuing?

    Heedless running to thy ruin; (He warns Acis of the dangers of falling headfirst into love)

    Share our joy, our pleasure share, (Instead, he should return to the joys and pleasures of nature ((see 2. chorus)) as they are at stake & Damon risks losing his friend)

    Leave thy passion till tomorrow,

    Let the day be free from sorrow, (Damon insists that this will only lead to sorrow, that they should instead focus on today)

    Free from love, and free from care! (Controversial lyrics, but its a summary of this air.

    Shepherd. . . da capo"

    Now I know I said I wouldn't talk about Act 2 (perhaps for another time), but the 21st movement is also from Damon and explains the entire thought process behind his concerns for Acis & Galatea falling in love. This Air can be found at the 1:06:30 mark.

    "Consider, fond shepherd,

    How fleeting's the pleasure,

    That flatters our hopes

    In pursuit of the fair!

    The joys that attend it,

    By moments we measure,

    But life is too little

    To measure our care.

    Consider. . . da capo"

    I'd love to hear what others think of this, as Baroque music is one of my favorite things in the world, and the lyrics found in many of the airs, arias, and chorus songs are also very similar to what we believe in.

    Here's the video of part 1 with each of the timestamps attached.

    2. Chorus (Pleasures of the Plains)
    3. Accompagnato (Vain are the pleasures which ye yield)
    4. Air (Awake my pains, and kindle fierce desire)
    6. Recitative (Stay Shepherd, Stay!)
    7. Air (Share our joy, our pleasure share)
    21. (Consider, Fond Shepherd)

    Here's the full opera.

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    But I didn't read deep enough, and I also get the impression that commentators tend to immediately jump from "he's a materialist" to "he's a hard determinist" and that may not necessarily be so (as Epicurus and Lucretius show by their example).

    Cassius This section from "Man a Machine" seems to indicate the type of determinism that Mattrie espoused, one that the article correctly identified, as opposed to the hard determinism as listed on wikipedia.

    "We are veritable moles in the field of nature; we achieve little more than the mole's journey and it si our pride which prescribes limits to the limitless. We are in the position of a watch that should say (a writer of fables would make the watch a hero in a silly tale): ``I was never made by that fool of a workman, I who divide time, who mark so exactly the course of the sun, who repeat aloud the hours which I mark! No! that is impossible!'' In the same way, we disdain, ungrateful wretches that we are, this common mother of all kingdoms, as the chemists say. We imagine, or rather we infer, a cause superior to that which we owe all, and which truly has wrought all things in an inconceivable fashion. No; matter contains nothing base, except to the vulgar eyes which do not recognize her in her most splendid works; and nature is no stupid workman. She creates millions of men, with a facility and a pleasure more intense than the effort of a watchmaker in making the most complicated watch. Her power shines forth equally in creating the lowliest insect and in creating the most highly developed man; the animal kingdom costs her no more than the vegetable, and the most splendid genius no more than a blade of wheat. Let us then judge by what we see of that which is hidden from the curiosity of our eyes and of our investigations, and let us not imagine anything beyond. Let us observe the ape, the beaver, the elephant, etc., in their operations. If it is clear that these activities cannot be performed without intelligence, why refuse intelligence to these animals? And if you grant them a soul our are lost, you fanatics! You will in vain say that you assert nothing about the nature of the animal soul and that you deny its immortality. Who does not see that this is a gratuitous assertion; who does not see that the soul of an animal must be either mortal or immortal, whichever ours is, and that it must therefore undergo the same fate as ours, whatever that may be, and that thus in admitting that animals have souls, you fall into Scylla in an effort to avoid Charybdis?"

    As well as this much shorter paragraph.

    "Let us not say that every machine or every animal perishes altogether or assumes another form after death, for we know absolutely nothing about the subject. On the other hand, to assert that an immortal machine is a chimera or a logical fiction, is to reason as absurdly as caterpillars would reason if, seeing the cast-off skins of their fellow caterpillars, they should bitterly deplore the fate of their species, which to them would seem to come to nothing. The soul of these insects (for each animal has its own) is too limited to comprehend the metamorphoses of nature. Never one of the most skillful among them could have imagined that it was destined to become a butterfly. It is the same way with us. What more do we know of our destiny than of our origin? Let us then submit to an invincible ignorance on which our happiness depends."

    This indicates that he did believe in a casual form of determinism, one that is dependent on physics, physiology, and even social & environmental factors, but yet we still have limited agency. Then again, while this is his most famous work, he considers "Discours sur le bonheur" (Discourses on Happiness) to be his masterpiece and expands upon the ethics found in "Machine A Man", which was reported to be hastily written & based off of the teachings of a physician he studied under, who was Epicurean.

    1 - How did you hear of him?

    I found out about him while studying French Philosophy from the 1700s alongside The Marquis de Sade. He's not well known unfortunately. But I have a tendency to find and locate lesser-known people from history who were Epicurean.

    2 - Have you come across any essays on him you can recommend?

    No, not yet. Only these two books, though I'm sure you could find "Machine Man" by him as a pdf somewhere, maybe on Project Gutenberg.

    Has anyone read this book?

    It's been on my shelf for a little bit as I concerned myself more with Lucretius & Greenblatt/Klein. For context, its author is a forgotten French Materialist & Hedonist thinker from the Enlightenment, its noted as he was more of a physician than philosopher. He was continually chased out of cities in Europe for his hedonistic & Epicurean beliefs, but was allowed by Frederick The Great to practice in Prussia & was appointed a court reader, indeed it was even Frederick The Great who was the orator at Mettrie's funeral.

    Right away it invokes Epicurus, Lucretius, and Horace, and makes the point that not all bodily pleasures are sufficient for happiness. It looks promising, but throughout the middle ages up until the later enlightenment there was a gross misinterpretation of Epicurus & Epicurean Philosophy (though it seems like that's still true today!).

    Front Cover
    Back Cover