Matteng Level 01
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Posts by Matteng

    Coming from the Stoic camp, I tried to practice this philosophy and searched for exercises and have found this:

    "A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control―52 Week-by-Week Lessons "

    Is there something similar there for Epicurean Philosophy ?

    The threads in this forum area are very helpful but I am searching for a more bigger "training plan" / framework or something in this direction.

    If not I am thinking about to do this lections from the book again but with the Epicurean worldview in mind.

    The good thing is, that the authors have a more naturalistic worldview than the Stoic physic and scientific reference.

    What would be a comprehensive Epicurean learning/training plan ?

    Maybe curriculum like from the Stoics (desire, action, judgment)

    Or the fields of philosophy:

    ( learn basics of canonics scientific epistemology/

    naturalistic worldview science /

    ethics ( desire, pleasure/pain, virtue, attention/meditation, hedonic calculus, friendship, value clarification,

    positiv psychology... )

    But maybe I should question the whole project and it makes more sense to be more attentive/prudent in the everyday life.

    But would be motivating to have something like the path to become an Epicurean Sage 8o :saint: 

    Hi everyone.

    Do you know how the Epicuean attitude is for a general Philantropy/compassion /sympathy or let´s say "social feelings". <3

    I see them in the subjects: "justice" and "friendship" or "live honorable".

    It seems to me that in "justice" it seems low, and the focus is more to be not disturbed by having done injustice to someone.

    A minimum expression.

    A maximum expression is in "friendship". But that regards only few people ( or is this a misunderstanding ? )

    Is there a middle ground or is "justice" seen broader or include such attitudes like the Stoic justice ?

    And many people have compassion towards animals.

    In Stoic philosophy or buddhism the compassion aspect and philantropy/altruism seems to have a stronger focus (cosmopolis, oikeiosis, loving kindness wishing to everyone...)

    and that such feelings contribute to the own happiness (a common argument that altruism is included in hedonism).

    For example a donation to beggars or general charity.

    But maybe there are good reasons to see this critical and limit kindness to everyone :/

    ( cosmopolis/war, blind kindness, natural xenophobia, avoiding hostile people, turn the other cheek...)


    I think it depends on the circumstances (pain/pleasure) how much if at all the emotions should be controlled/manipulated.

    The Stoics are there extreme to want to eliminate the "passions" as illness. (Which is not to say one cannot learn from them (like Seneca learned from both schools))

    The Epicureans see them more natural I hink.

    Better: Accept the emotions and control the behavior after the emotions prudently (when there is no disease of the soul)

    Found this here:

    Epicureanism: Philodemus on anger (first part) – Epicurus Today

    Philodemus on irrational anger (second part) – Epicurus Today

    Epicurean therapy for anger (last part) – see other two parts below – Epicurus Today

    It would be interesting to compare that with Stoic advice.

    For example, dealing with emotions. That was a core subject in Stoic ehtics/psychology (therapy of the passions).

    Stoics tend to see the happy life as erasing frustrations ((a)pathe).

    What would be the alternative in Epicurus' philosophy?

    What is the difference between the feelings of pleasure/pain and emotions?

    Emotions that cause suffering (pain ? )such as anxiety/obsessive-compulsive disorders should probably be countered as the Stoics or CBT envisage, but perhaps in a milder form?

    In the end, probably the advice would be to learn the most prudent /wise way to deal with emotions. But which one would that be?

    I think Philodemus once wrote about it, right?

    Thank you Cassius.

    I am reading it and it is very insightful.

    It is not the style of Emliy A Austin´s book, and the quality is similarly high

    At least in my opinion :) with good valid references.

    The book emphasizes the influence and pro-scientific nature of Epicurean philosophy and how it is at the core of a naturalistic worldview

    and how these discoveries advance medicine, chemistry, technology and human prosperity

    Some Ideas from my side ( I often change between the stoic / epicurean perspective)

    In Epicurean Philosphy virtue and pleasure are bound together.

    Is the opposite falsifiable ? Or is virtue alone distinct from pleasure a better goal for life ?

    That could be if a Stoic can proof me this thesis:

    "Is there virtue or a virtuous act which brings in the short and long run no pleasure and no reduction of any pain ?"

    Another question: Is there anywhere a table/summary for defense of pleasure as a goal of life ?

    ( I know for Epicurus this statement was obvious but even that is a statement and it seems for not clear / obvious for some other philosophies ).

    So where go these philosophy wrong and why ( especially the Stoics ? In the naturalist philosophies they are the closest competitor I think ).

    Here are some summarized attacks on this goal (pleasure):

    Stoic Arguments Against Hedonism
    Some notes on hedonism and the ancient criticisms made of it by Stoics and others.

    Virtue is its own Reward
    The Stoic doctrine that “virtue is its own reward”.

    What Seneca Really Said about Epicureanism
    Survey of Seneca’s remarks about Epicurus in the Letters to Lucilius, and elsewhere.

    Epictetus: Stoicism versus Epicureanism
    Article outlining the criticisms of Epicureanism made by the Stoic Epictetus.

    By the way does this book from Chrysippus still exist or does anyone know the content or the arguments made there ?


    The Stoics defined the goal of life as the attainment of wisdom and virtue. They frequently contrasted this with the common notion that pleasure (hedone) is the most important thing in life. Indeed, Chrysippus wrote one book entitled Proofs that Pleasure is not the End-in-chief of Action and another on Proofs that Pleasure is not a Good, i.e., pleasure is not intrinsically good at all let alone the supreme goal of life.


    Stoic Arguments Against Hedonism
    Some notes on hedonism and the ancient criticisms made of it by Stoics and others.

    Stoics advocate more "joy" instead of pleasure" ( only for the wise attainable according to the Stoics), what was there the greek term ? For pleasure it is "hedone".

    Hi, Welcome Kungi :) ,

    I also come from the Stoic camp ;)

    I think the Stoics get a problem when defining "Virtue". Between the lines you can read from them, that virtue is good because (tranquility, eudaimonia, harmony ..... (other things like virtue itself).

    But if you ask a Stoic directly, this response will come ( virtue for virtue ).

    So I tried to find out what there is the core for them.

    I´ve got: "Virtue is the rational and social thing which we should do."

    Ok but what exactly is it ?

    In a book from Donald Robertson ("Stoicism and Art of Happiness" )there it goes a little bit deeper, the answer is: "The beneficial and honourable".

    And there it ends.

    And for their "indifferents" (preferred/dispreferred): Choosing according the natural value.

    By the way pleasure & pain is for Stoics complete indifferent. (In the past I thought pleasure preferred and pain would be dispreferred).

    So here is the danger, that someone else will teach you what is "natural" (and the Stoics were often wrong about that, like the church ).

    And so these Stoic teachers could use the abstraction and tell their students what is "natural, rational and social".

    Like priest who define right/wrong and sin for their people.

    And there is no natural limit in abstract objects.

    Stoics & Epicureans could only come near each other when the "Beneficial&Honourable" would be equaled with "Pleasure".

    (Pleasurable could also be fulfilling activities, character traits, personal values )

    This would make sense, for example for health. The self-preservation is beneficial and pleasurable and threats to that are painful.

    So I would ask a Stoic: Is there really a "virtue" which involves short and longterm pain and no pleasure. ? And is still a virtue ?

    Maybe they would answer: Fulfilling your duty is important but brings maybe no pleasure.

    ->Response( If the duty isn´t abstract but really important): So not fulfilling the duty would bring pain, so must be avoided. Fulfilling this duty is there a Pleasure, it removes disturbance in the soul.

    Conclusion: The virtuous life = pleasant life and vice versa. If Pleasure and real value is bound with these virtues.

    Thanks for the response.

    So all levels could be compatiple with Epicurean Philosophy (EP), it depends on the content.

    And not just only "things/objects" could be desired but also " fullfilling activities".

    So values as "self-sufficiency" and even character traits and virtue or virtuous action can be desired when it brings pleasure.

    This I thought in the past would be rejected in EP.

    But when I include such things and broaden my horizon of pleasure, than many objections against EP fall apart.

    For example the often discussed pleasure machine/pill idea:

    I would reject it because living a real life with self-sufficiency, agency, freedom, possibility to use virtue, real friends, real experiences and fulfilling activities gives real, sustainable, more and reliable pleasure.


    I am interested in the subject of desire and pleasure especially in light of modern science / psychology and the Epicurean Philosophy.

    I know Maslow´s pyramide, which considers not only basic desires but goes on till self improvement and personal values, transcendence/knowledge.

    In the past I used to associate the lower levels with Epicurean philosophy and the higher with Stoic philosophy, the classical prejudice I think (Yes sorry I am a Convert from the Stoic camp and have to disentangle me from this system :S ).

    But I think Epicurus maybe would embrace them but warn for the higher levels.

    Maybe the lower levels (Deficiency Needs ) would be the "natural & necessary" desires

    The higher levels (Growth Needs) "natural & unnecessary" ?

    But if my survival is saved I could go through self-improvement (if that´s pleasure for me )?

    But for example for self-improvement, learning new languages could be a desire without a limit, so -> unnecessary, but natural to have such desires ?

    Or is this a complete wrong take ? Because there are the virtues.

    In what category is the desire to become more virtuous ?

    Or do I make here a category error ? For all desire´s we need virtue. And here lurks the mistake to confuse the goal (pleasure) with the means (virtue).

    Virtue is the greatest -> means <- for a happy life 8o

    What are your opinions about this subject ?

    Thanks for the responses.

    2 things come now to my mind.

    1. There are still wrong prejudices about Epicurean Philosophy floating around (especially in stoic groups)

    2. Modern Stoicism tries to become more natural and borrows parts of Epicurean ideas.

    For example, that "non-wise" Stoics can feel joy or between the lines you can read that virtue brings good things like tranquility or improves the common good but very fast there comes the statement "virtue is its own reward".

    I thought that pleasure was at least a "preferred indifferent" and pain "dispreferred" for them. But now I read that pleasure/pain is complete indifferent for Stoics.

    And in their "physics" most modern Stoics give up pantheism, the Stoic god or teleology.

    But ok, it´s good to find more truthful beliefs, so congratulations ;)


    In the last time I am interested in the subject of Feeling and Emotions and the differences between the practical philosophies and the Epicurean approach.

    What do you think of this article explaining and comparing the Cynics, Stoics and Epicurean attitude to that ?

    The Dispassionate Life by Margaret Graver
    This talk was given at Stoicon in Toronto on October 14, 2017. The topic of the conference was  “Stoicism in the Workplace.” I would like to thank Don…

    It sounds that Epicureans don´t look Pain in the face, like a form of positiv thinking.

    My points: First you should do something to change painfull situations (and question the underlying belief and the hedonic calculus). If that is not possible than cognitive methods could help, like memorizing pleasure or to change the attention.

    The Stoics method sounds good in the first place to change the belief or value of external things / detachment.

    But is devalueing really good ?

    The information about value is necessary in life I think and in the end it is like with the Cynics, I feel no affection for example for friends, family, society or to my body (ills) or helpful things (necessary and natural externals) and so feel no pain when loosing it.

    But that´s manipulating the signals from nature (and coginitive intuition). So the Stoic Justice is a contradiction or ? To love humanity, friends and so on but don´t value it and get detached.

    And that not for pleasure, ataraxia or eudaimonia or a better society (because than virtue would be instrumental for them) but only to value virtue in itself :/

    So they only value their habit and virtue and values ; in which they value only their virtue ?

    So they value nothing ? :/

    It´s like the buddhist saying: "What distinguishes a dead from an enlightened one ? The enlightened one is warm...."

    (I was on a buddhist path, but it´s not my goal in life to become a warm corpse ;) )

    Thank you for your responses.

    It´s a pleasure to find a active forum like this :)

    I think this point of values in Epicurean philosophy should be emphasized.

    Because the prejudice in stoic communities goes like this:

    Stoic: Hero who embraces every problem / challenge.

    Epicurean: avoiding pain like a weak coward.

    In reality the Epicurean decides what engagement is worth it and takes the emotions as short/fast information and the stoics often devalue and detach from thinks that they have no impact on them.

    Yes when I value nothing in life, then I have no fear/grief to lose something and desire nothing, but then I've already lost everything and am like a dead machine.

    I know that this could even be an prejudice against the stoic philosophy because with "indifferent" they mean moral indifference but it´s a probability/tendency for devaluation.

    See Epictetus doctrine of "no grief for a lost son".

    But ok this doctrine was a summary from one of his pupil and has maybe another meaning like (giving back to fate/nature).

    Or like in Christianity when someone was lost, he/she is in "heaven" or a "better place". But that would imply other things (why then not going direct to the "better place".)


    For the context: I ´ve moved from the stoic camp to the epicurean and I am learning the Epicurean principles.

    In metaphysics and epistemology the Epicurean have in my opionion the better and more realistic approach.

    Now I dive more into the ethics.

    In ethics I wonder if Pleasure involves personal values besides the "pure bodily" pleasures.

    (There is a citation which says: Beside the pleasures of seeing, hearing, tasting, touching... .I would not know any pleasure)

    But I think I get it wrong.

    Where are personal values in the Epicurean pleasure concept if they are there ?

    Because I see virtue as a means to fulfill these values which give me pleasure (maybe thats the answer, a wide interpratation of pleasure ? )

    Beside the pure sense-pleasures, I value for example that:

    -I am not addicted to something/someone

    -value friends/familiy, progress in society,

    -have compassiong for humans and animals

    -love to learn new things and philosophy (like Epicurus), learning about nature, value/ like to improve abilities.

    Are that "pleasures of the soul" ?

    Or are these values part of "virtue" ? That virtue gives pleasure ?


    I come from the stoic camp and cross over not as an scout but as an deserter ;) ( based on a Senece quote )

    I think these are the main points for the popularity:

    - There is a divine rest in nature (like in the deep respect of Einstein (see Einsteins God, natural forces/laws, string theory, M theory .....)

    - Success of modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    - Rationality science friendly

    - Social, Connection of all humans, nature, political responsibility ....

    But I think 1. all these aspects are even in Epicurean philosophy but more realistic/naturalistic/scientific.

    For example

    - a deep respect for nature but without divinity/God/fate/plan;

    - taking reason to question thoughts/actions/judgments and using psychologic techniques when useful for pleasure etc. not everything is an opinion (like in CBT );

    - Rational (+ importance of empirism/sense data) and social (friendly, justice is important, but not metaphysical, so more realistic )

    And 2. It is so good that Epicurus binds pleasure and virtue together, with pleasure as the end:



    Say there is a competion between a Stoic and Epicurean in staying out in the cold in winter.

    Why does the Stoic this ? -> For the sake of virtue ( courage, moderation)

    Why does the Epicurean do this ? -> Maybe for better health, sustain pleasure and choose a little pain for it.

    So let´s say after 2 hours a medical practitioner would come and says, that a longer stay would risk your health, you should stop that.

    => The Epicurean uses his prudence/wisdom to choose that it´s enough for the pleasure of health and stops it.

    => The Stoic: Health ? It´s a preferred indifferent, to train virtue like (courage/endurance/moderation ) is the highest value (Stoic wisdom). But when to stop ?

    Only when virtue can´t be trained any further, maybe by fainting, loosing consciousness .... ?

    Or dying because of freezing ? But ok life/death is even an indifferent...... Virtue is the highest goal.

    So the Stoic would be irrational ?

    Stoic: "But not so fast : Even the Epicurean has to use prudence/wisdom/virtue for his decision to stop because it is in complete control, pain / pleasure / health are not... And pain will not say you when it is enough freezing, so why concentrate on any other in life as virtue ?."

    Epicurean: "Yes, but my prudence values life/pleasure/health as goods, not virtue, because virtue as an instrument has no limit to calculate on, it is never enough it is abstract. I have trained endurance, the virtues and my health, you can loose everything if you freeze to death for virtue, on pleasure/pain and related goods you can calculate your optimum and limits".

    = > So to live pleasantly you need to live virtuously and vice versa.


    What to you think ? Have I understand it right ?