Charles Level 03
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Posts by Charles

    Great find! I wonder why they are sure this one is Epicurus:

    I'm going off on a limb but the hair is essentially identical, the major difference is that the bust does not depict Epicurus in his typical serious and stern expression. Other details seem to match too; from the length of the classical beard to his rectangular face and nose. It's interesting since I've never seen it before and its missing from Frischer's book about the various statues and sculptures tied to the school.

    Written in circa 1136-1139 by Peter Abelard, an extremely influential and pioneering theologian and Christian philosopher in the Middle Ages. His work lead to the adoption of Aristotelian principles into the many aspects of Christian metaphysics and theology, to the extent that he paved the way for Aquinas. Nevertheless, his popularity ensured that some of his written works have survived to this day. While on the forums here the first mention of Abelard and his student John of Salisbury were first mentioned in this thread, there's been little mentioned about them. A couple of notes and citations are in Joshua's thread about obscure references to EP in art and literature throughout history.

    Dialogue Between a Philosopher, a Jew, and a Christian. Which centers around Abelard recalling the conversation within a dream, has the three nameless eponymous characters engage in a high level intellectual discussion about the various natures of philosophy, ethics, religion, law's and Natural Law, and philosophical history. The three go back and forth with Abelard as the spectator and (nearly) an interlocutor by speaking to the trio and to the reader.

    The significance of this dialogue is that it appears to be the oldest yet reference to Epicurean Philosophy within the Middle ages, preceding the glimpses of Epicureanism surrounding the life of Dante Alighieri in Florence by a century. In addition to being the first proposed reconciliation between the two philosophies. Abelard, within his dialogue through the character of the Philosopher in debate with the Christian, posits the exact nature of blessedness and so mistakes Epicurus' thoughts on the soul to then liken the Kingdom of Heaven to pleasure as the end of life as detailed by Epicurus.

    I'll input the sections below and include a pdf attachment for the rest of the dialogue.

    (178) THE PHILOSOPHER: “As a great many of your own people

    have remarked, they have defined the ultimate good or final good —

    that is, its summation or completion — as ‘what makes anyone who

    has arrived at it blessed,’ just as conversely the ultimate evil is that

    the attaining of which makes one wretched. We earn either one of

    these by our morals. Now it is certain that virtues or the vices contrary to them are called ‘morals.’ But as Augustine remarks in Book

    Eight of On the City of God, some of our own people have said that

    virtue itself is the ultimate good, others that pleasure is.”

    (179) THE CHRISTIAN: “So what, please, did they understand by


    (180) THE PHILOSOPHER: “Not the dishonorable and shameful delight of carnal allurements, as many people suppose, but rather a kind

    of inner tranquillity of the soul whereby it remains calm and content

    with its own goods in disasters and good fortune alike, while no sense

    of sin consumes it. Far be it from philosophers, those greatest despisers of earthly happiness, those distinguished flesh-tamers, to set up

    the ultimate good in this life’s shamefulnesses! Many people attribute

    this to Epicurus and his followers (that is, the Epicureans) out of ignorance, not really understanding, as we said, what the latter would

    call pleasure. Otherwise, as we said, if Epicurus had departed as far

    as is said from the path of soberness and respectability, then Seneca,

    that greatest morals-builder, who lived a most self-restrained life as

    you yourselves acknowledge, would hardly have brought in Epicurus’

    views so often for moral instruction, as if they were his own master’s.”

    (181) THE CHRISTIAN: “Be it as you suppose. But please answer

    this: Do those who understand pleasure in this way disagree in meaning too, as they do in words, with those who call the ultimate good


    (182) THE PHILOSOPHER: “There’s little or no distance between

    them, as far as their overall view is concerned. Indeed, to be strong in

    virtues is itself to have this tranquillity of the soul, and conversely.”

    (183) THE CHRISTIAN: “So there is one view for both of them about

    the ultimate good, but the nomenclature is different. And so the two

    apparent views about the ultimate good are reduced to one.”

    (184) THE PHILOSOPHER: “So I think.”


    (207) THE PHILOSOPHER: “To tell the truth, I’m learning now that

    you’re a first-class philosopher, and it’s wrong to resist shamelessly

    such a plain argument. But according to the argument you’ve set out,

    a human being’s ultimate good is to be looked for there rather than

    here. Perhaps this was Epicurus’ view when he said the ultimate good

    is pleasure. For the soul’s tranquillity is so great that bodily affliction

    doesn’t disturb it from outside, and neither does any sense of sin disturb the mind nor vice get in its way from inside. Thus its best will

    is entirely fulfilled.

    (208) “On the other hand, as long as something opposes our will or is

    lacking to it, there’s no true blessedness at all. Surely this is always

    occurring as long as one is alive here, and the soul, weighed down by

    its earthly body’s mass and confined in it as though in a jail, doesn’t

    enjoy true freedom. For who doesn’t sometimes want heat when it’s

    too cold, or conversely, good weather when he’s tired of rain, or often

    want more food or clothes than he has? And unless we resist the plain

    truth, there are countless other things that are pressed upon us against

    our will or are denied when we want them. Now if as the argument

    stands the future life’s good is to be regarded as ultimate for us, then

    I think the virtues we are furnished with here are the way to get there.

    We’ll have to discuss them more carefully later on [(253)-(295)].”

    (209) THE CHRISTIAN: “See, our disputation has brought us to the

    point of maintaining that a human being’s ultimate good, or ‘final

    good’ as it was called [(178)], is the future life’s blessedness, and virtues

    are the way to get there.


    (213) THE PHILOSOPHER: “It certainly did seem that way to our

    forebears, as Cicero describes rather fully in his Rhetoric. But surely

    when it is said that virtue is to be aspired after for its own sake,

    not for the sake of something else, reward for merits isn’t being ruled

    out entirely; rather the inclination to earthly advantages is taken away.

    Otherwise we wouldn’t have correctly set up blessedness as the virtues’

    goal — that is, their final cause — as your Boethius remarks in Book

    Two of his Topics, following Themistius. In fact, while giving an example there of the topic ‘from the goal,’ he says ‘If to be blessed is

    good, justice is good too.’ For here, he says, justice’s goal is such that

    if someone lives in accordance with justice, he is led to blessedness.

    Look, he plainly shows here that blessedness is awarded as payment

    for a just life, and that our purpose in living justly is that we might

    reach it. Epicurus I think calls this blessedness ‘pleasure’; your Christ

    calls it ‘the kingdom of heaven.’

    (214) “But what difference does it make what name it is called by, provided that the thing stays the same, the blessedness is different, and

    no other purpose for living justly is proposed for philosophers than for

    Christians? For we, like you, arrange to live justly here that we may

    be glorified there. We fight against vices here that we may be crowned

    there with virtues’ merits, receiving the ultimate good as our reward.”

    (215) THE CHRISTIAN: “On the contrary. As far as I can tell, our

    purpose and merits are quite different from yours, and we disagree

    quite a bit too about the ultimate good itself.”

    (216) THE PHILOSOPHER: “Please explain that, if you can.”

    (217) THE CHRISTIAN: “No one correctly calls that than which

    something greater is found the ‘ultimate good.’ For what is below

    or less than something cannot by any means be called ‘supreme’ or

    ‘ultimate.’ But it is agreed that every human blessedness or glory is

    far and inexpressibly exceeded by the divine one. Therefore, none besides it is to be called ‘ultimate.’ Nothing besides it is justly said to

    be the ‘ultimate good.’”

    (218) THE PHILOSOPHER: “In this context we do not mean the ultimate good absolutely, but the ultimate human good.”

    (219) THE CHRISTIAN: “But neither do we correctly call ‘ultimate

    human good’ that than which some greater human good is found.”

    (220) THE PHILOSOPHER: “That’s plain, certainly.”


    John of Salisbury; "Policraticus" c. 1159. The first work of political theory in the Middle Ages, a mirror book for Princes. He advocates for divine right and necessary tyrannicide from the will of the people

    [In reference to the four rivers of Eden] 'four rivers which spring for Epicureans from the fount of lustfulness'.

    My impression in the past has been that Discord is largely devoted to "gamers." Are you suggesting that that type of community is a good target for an Epicurean community, or is there another reason?

    While that was most certainly true around its launch and also remains true to this day, Discord has become mainstream enough to the point where there are tens of thousands (possibly hundreds) of servers dedicated to any topic. I would say it's become much closer to Reddit, and I agree with A_Gardner about the potential.

    At least in my personal experience, using Reddit & Discord, the Epicurean communities I started there largely ended up as failed experiments with the latter having limited success. I've raised the question for months now about whether or not I should re-do it, and I've spent those months figuring out exactly what went wrong aside from my own quietness time to time within in.

    I still consider it an option, but more restrictions and a better system or organizing role perms would have to be instituted, especially with partnerships and self-plugs on other servers.

    As for Gab and Minds: I agree with Elayne.

    I've had my eyes on this book for a few months now thanks to working in the book industry for a bit ;) but I've paid little attention to it since but decided that it should be at least archived on here. It's another fictional book regarding Epicurus, and perhaps I'm being too harsh but it wasn't my cup of tea, far too dramatic and focused on Timocrates as opposed to other philosophies, something you could expect given references from Laertius and how well-versed his students. Though too its credit it was far better than the dialogue in Imaginary Conversations but its no A Few Days in Athens.

    Not bad for a school that St. Augustine wrote off 16 centuries ago; "Its ashes are so cold that not a single spark can be struck from them."

    And yet, as a whole, barring Lucretius and Laertius, it amounts to a collection of fragments and its lack of popular support and frankly, accessibility means we must make do searching high on end for any small reference and discuss at length many of its obscure elements. It takes a certain willingness to dwell in the garden with the drive to delve into these numerous sources and form a comprehension of the philosophy, oh but for those that do, they'll have an ardent companion to deal with any mysticism and superstition and the means to enjoy life like no other.

    Last week I brought up an instance of 10 religious devotees “witnessing” a miracle and using that as a source of certainty for their faith, according to their perception, however, miracles by their very nature are miraculous and defy standards of nature, and are by definition exceptional, therefore in keeping with the materialist position, miracles cannot be considered as definitive proof or stand on legitimate grounds for defending faith, as they do not hold up to materialist scrutiny, by being unable to be repeated and observed with sensory experience.

    Crossposting from FB:

    Generally my friends would agree with that, though theres often the sense of belonging to a higher power or trusting some baseline of reason for them. Most of them know of my preference and belonging with Epicurean Philosophy, and so I trust them to assume that its a matter of belief and epistemology.

    Almost anyone can agree or thinks that using reason over emotion is preferable, and so when one says "don't use logic or reason" it could be squeamish or uncomfortable, and someone unfamiliar with the canon would be turned off. On the other hand, if someone did know about the canon, but was not Epicurean, there is a chance they could view the anticipations/preconceptions as a priori knowledge and thus is a form of logic and becomes a process of reasoning when feelings and sensory experience are brought in.

    Quote from The Principle Doctrines & The Inscription

    "Pain does not last continuously in the flesh, but the acutest pain is there for a very short time, and even that which just exceeds the pleasure in the flesh does not continue for many days at once. But chronic illnesses permit a predominance of pleasure over pain in the flesh." - PD 4

    "The extremes pains cannot last long: either they quickly take life and are themselves also taken away with it, or they acuteness is diminished." - Epicurean Maxims, Fr. 107 Diogenes O. Epicurean Inscription

    The meaning of this Principle Doctrine is clear enough yet some might struggle to reconcile the end of the first sentence, in that debilitating diseases can very often cause pain to someone for years. Furthermore, I'd imagine that finding such clear examples of this to be rare, especially considering the small number of Epicureans or hedonists out there to share this outlook.

    However, in my case, something that I've certainly brought up before elsewhere such as the podcast or on these forums, are the chronic migraines I deal with, and have dealt with for almost as long as I can remember. Calling them a disease may be a stretch to some extent and over the years I've been appointed to a few personal physicians and discussed with various peoples who have a medical background - to no avail on "curing" them beyond extreme solutions.

    They have been, since my early teenage years, become manageable due to my increased understanding surrounding them and through keeping a few pill bottles of migraine relief on hand. It wasn't until around I was late 17 to early 18 that I became more "hedonist-centric", understanding the benefits of pleasure that so greatly complimented my atheism and materialism. In turn my attitude towards these often sudden, extremely painful moments had shifted significantly.

    No longer did I worry or fear over them to such an extent that I avoided my one known trigger like the plague, and no longer had I thought of it as something that would ruin or put whatever activity I was enjoying in peril. They became a brief lapse of pain between my pleasures, something to be driven out and overcome, the bodily equivalent of casting ones inner demons out one could say.

    This mindset has not changed upon becoming Epicurean, and this personal example has resonated this specific Principle Doctrine within me the moment I first read them online, and would be further reinforced when I would later purchase physical books filled with Epicurus' writings (Penguin Classics Ed.) and a small personal booklet containing the Doctrines.

    So to conclude: I would finalize my point that, even if my situation is unique to myself, and that the migraines and pain are still present, this quote by Epicurus is absolutely true and sometimes it could take a love of life and pleasure to truly "feel" that.

    Other translations, specifically Yonge and Thayer also use the word dialectic instead of logic. I would say that using the former is much more appropriate, as not only does it make more sense when we compare it to the sophists and Socrates/Plato, in that the Socratic Method is itself a form of dialectic. Not only that, but as often as we dismiss formal logic, using the word "Logic" itself is very challenging and difficult given how many definitions and interpretations of what it exactly means and is defined, something we know well from the PD 10 Discussion and the most recent podcast episode.

    This reminds me of a poem I came across just the other night.

    It's titled: "The Temple of Nature: Or, The Origin of Society: A Poem, with Philosophical Notes" by Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of *that* Darwin).

    It opens up with a few lines from Vergil's Aenid.

    Unde hominum pecudumque genus, vitæque volantum,

    Et quæ marmoreo fert monstra sub æquore pontus?

    Igneus est illis vigor, & cælestis origo.

    Its primarily Darwin's own thoughts and ideas, presented as his version or creative equivalent of On the Nature of Things, given its wide scope and invocations of Venus at times and many references to Lucretius. Have yet to read the full thing, but perhaps this can serve as Higgon's foil.