reneliza Level 03
  • Member since May 2nd 2022
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Posts by reneliza

    Oooh it's from Cincy? I bet I could find it around here. Most of the reviews said that it tasted like a briny cucumber or the bottom of a pickle jar. They also seemed to mostly say that they liked it but they definitely didn't need a 4 pack 😂

    It looks like the "Epicurean" series is a line of more adventurous flavors so maybe they have something more palatable than a spicy pickle?

    I tend to think that all feelings (pathe) originate from physical stimulus at some time (to be redundant: “originally”) – but can subsequently be re-membered, re-examined, re-imagined by mental processes (conscious or subconscious). And then such brain/mind activities can neurologically produce stimuli in the rest of the body (think imagining a sexual experience, or recalling a past experience of terror in a nightmare).

    I'm not sure I entirely agree with the first part (I don't disagree either, it's just interesting and I need to think on it more), but the second part is so important.

    A lot of what I hear around the internet about Epicurus talking about remembering past pleasures is presented like a very calm quiet contemplation and as such it doesn't seem like a true pleasure in the way people usually mean the word, but a very whitewashed kind of pleasure that is basically just a neutral state that he's pretending is the same as pleasure. And sure some memories are like that, (and sometimes that tranquil state is more pleasurable than an activated state would be - often even, to me)

    But the mind can also produce quite strong sensations in the body and it's important to remember that. It seems like a pretty fundamental tool for Epicureanism - when certain pleasures are unavailable, we can still experience a strong pleasurable sensation by remembering them.

    To clarify, I don’t mean that Epicureanism isn’t a one size fits all philosophy (although it may not be, I think it has vast utility for the vast majority) but that the way to approach different kinds of people about the philosophy depends on their own background.

    I never needed to be told that pleasure is good. That was obvious to me. I needed to be told that just having calm undisturbed peace of mind was ALSO good. And I definitely define it the same as Don does. Having this kind of mindset actually helps me get more pleasure from my active pleasures because I’m not constantly looking to the next one. So it’s not only for moments of meditation in my dark cave (although I do like me a dark cave lol)

    Edit: essentially, I needed it explained to me how to make pleasure continuous, and Epicurus did that.

    I’m coming more and more to think that there can’t be a one size fits all approach. The Christians who think pleasure is immoral need a different approach from the stoics/buddhists/minimalists who are afraid of pleasure disturbing their peace of mind, and they both need a drastically different approach from the people on the hedonic treadmill chasing greater and greater highs.

    A) Absolutely yes. I’m autistic and very easily overstimulated by external factors. This is obviously different for different neurotypes and even just personalities. I try to keep this in mind when I post here, but I’m sure I often fail at that!

    B) I think it’s useful to draw a distinction between inner tranquility and outer tranquility. Some people need the latter for the former. Some people get bored to tears so fast in a tranquil environment that it actually disturbs their inner peace more than a busy, bustling environment.

    It also depends on how you’re defining “tranquility.” I’m (usually) the type who can sit still all day in silence reading a good book. I’m still getting plenty of mental stimulation, but not much in sensory stimulation and that’s no problem. I do tend to fidget but that’s all me. It’s not an external source of stimulation I need to seek out or that can be denied me (assuming I’m not being fully physically restrained which obviously has greater concerns for my ability to experience pleasure than just blocking my ability to fidget)

    C) I think this is still person to person. A lot of people like me are homebodies and so living in the city may not be that disturbing. Or living in the country might have too many sensory obligations like mowing sprawling fields of grass or driving long distances for groceries. I personally don’t like living too close to a city center, but I don’t think this can just be boiled down to the more stimulation/less stimulation types of people.


    Quote from OKeefe

    "Given this pair of distinctions, the Epicureans maintain that the main constituent of the pleasant life, and hence, of the happy life, is the static mental pleasure of ataraxia, or tranquility—the state of being free from mental disturbance."

    I wouldn't call ataraxia the "main constituent" but I may go so far as to call it a necessary condition but not a sufficient one.

    I would even agree that it’s the “main constituent” - but I wouldn’t phrase it that way because I don’t think it’s very helpful to do so.

    Like if you have a glass filled to the very top with water, containing no air, (sticking with this metaphor haha) the “main constituent” is actually the empty space between the subatomic particles (okay this is an overly simplified and outdated understanding of atoms, but it’s the only metaphor I’ve got!)

    But speaking about it in those terms, as if the empty space matters more than the protons, neutrons, and electrons - as if the particles themselves are almost entirely irrelevant - is in no way useful for actually discussing the glass of water in front of us. Without the particles, it wouldn’t be a glass of water at all. (But note - the same would be true without the empty space - BOTH are needed. The void takes up more volume but it is not more important)

    Now I just need to come up with a different metaphor that isn’t scientifically inaccurate

    So I went and read the whole article, and I actually really like it. It's about an Epicurean approach to digital spaces, and unlike most minimalist arguments suggesting that social media is only ever bad for you (like crystal meth! not even once!), says that we can't cast absolute moral judgments on it. He also goes into materialism, the gods, and what happens after death, because those things are all connected with ethics - even though they're usually brushed over or left out entirely.


    The question is not "online or offline?" but "community or not-community?" In other words, are we using digital spaces to connect with one another in the shared project of diminishing pain, or vainly attempting to escape reality and disconnect from ourselves?

    Digital Epicureanism relieves us of the need to make moral judgments about whether virtual and augmented realities are "good" or "bad". It's not about moralising against the coming metaverse – which would be futile anyway. It's about recognising the material nature of all layers of reality, and connecting throughout them in a conscientious way – from the most "meta" layers of the virtual and digital, to the more fundamental layers of flesh, soil and matter itself.

    Even the digital world is fundamentally material and therefore "real" - not to mention that there are real flesh and blood people at the other end of every conversation. Not that these are arguments that have never been made before, but thinking of them through an Epicurean/materialist lens is one I've never really used on this exact topic before and it really does have me thinking about my own approaches.

    Yep, all this.

    I think the author does make one good point here, that pleasure isn't something that you add up by stacking pleasures atop one another cumulatively - that was the actual point that Epicurus was making with his limit of pleasure. Yes, THAT view of pleasure would be unlimited as you could keep stacking until you die, and how pleasurable your life is would only depend on how long it is.

    I really don't think this one seems all that bad. Mostly I see people speak of the virtue of "moderation" or "temperance" to mean "none ever under any circumstances or you'll ruin your life" (on the epicurean subreddit I had someone ask me if I'd suggest that he should use only "a little" crystal meth and I'm like "well I'm not here to run your life...." haha) and here he suggests that you should SHOULD satisfy your desires to the point that it brings you the most pleasure without causing you undue pain.

    If anything, it sounds like this might be one of us trying to blend in with the modern landscape of Epicureans by pointing to ataraxia as the goal, but then saying that doesn't actually mean you eschew all sensual pleasure.

    Oh, I'm definitely for it. I think that Csikszentmihalyi has made really great contributions, but that he's only scratched the surface and that flow isn't actually ONE state, but something that comes in different forms, and that tranquility and emotional resilience is one of the forms that is most often overlooked.

    I focus a lot on neurodivergence (mostly adhd and autism) and the state of hyperfocus is often compared and contrasted with the flow state. I see them as highly related, but not identical processes. Sometimes I find myself in a highly constructive flow state, making progress, reaching goals, etc... But sometimes I find myself staring at a graphic for four hours, switching between color palettes and moving text over pixel by pixel, becoming increasingly frustrated. And when I'm in the middle of it, I can't tell which one is which. It's only after the fact that I realize I wasted four hours on a graphic I decide not to even use.

    I do also have some problems with the way flow is approached in productivity advice (essentially, quadruple your productivity by tying yourself so tightly to your work that you can't even tell where you end and it begins AT ALL TIMES) instead of seeing it as one tool which has a place, but can't be relied on for everything and can't be maintained over a 40 hour work week even if you COULD always reach it because it will burn you out so fast if approached like that. Ideas like a 10 hour work week are great, but somehow we always turn it into "yes that, but all the time" not understanding that the high ratio of rest to work is the only thing that can make concentrated productivity viable.

    ADHDers especially get the "you accomplished all this in an hour - imagine if you applied yourself consistently" but although hyperfocus will lead to burnout even quicker, the flow state isn't sustainable in that way either.

    But that's not a complaint against flow, really, just against the way we often use these findings against ourselves and others.

    If "freedom from pain" amounts to the highest sensual pleasure, would you expect that "freedom from pain" or "freedom from disturbance" could just as easily have been listed among these (taste / sex / sound / dance) that Epicurus chose to list? If so, why? If not, why not?

    But I believe that this is important to think about because I believe that this could be at the source of something getting lost in translation. The goal isn't a kind of "boring existence" of neutral feeling in the body which doesn't have pain and therefore qualifies as a state of pleasantness. But the goal is maximizing the sweetest sensations of pleasure by seeing that we haven't yet reached the "purest" feeling of pleasure if we are also still feeling pain in the body (over-indulgences) or the mind (anxiety/fear).

    I love this, and want to add (or really just, state explicitly) that this INCLUDES anxiety/fear that over-indulging in pleasures we're experiencing may cause pain down the line. At some point you have to trust your judgment and enjoy the moment, trusting that even if you have one drink more than you maybe should have, that the pain from your hangover will be short-lived, and WORTH it as long as you get sufficient pleasure in the moment.

    If you spend all night worrying about how you'll feel if you accidentally have too much to eat or drink, or dance too long and leave your feet sore, then you're reducing your overall pleasure without reducing your overall pain.

    One more thought then I'll step off the soapbox:

    I was just listening to a podcast (specific one doesn't matter), and they were talking about flow:…psychology%29?wprov=sfla1

    I think there might be parallels or similarities or other connections between flow and katastematic pleasure, ie ataraxia/aponia. I'd be interested to read anything from anyone who knows more about Csíkszentmihályi's work in this area.

    Oh gods no don't get me started on flow, because I have THEORIES

    Seriously though, tying flow to katastematic pleasure (specifically, emotional regulation and thereby ataraxia/mental non-disturbance) is a really interesting concept I was thinking about yesterday (in slightly different wording) and will probably make it into an upcoming episode of my podcast

    To me that sets the whole philosophy up to be a kind of psychological math problem. Which is why I like it so much, the idea that there's a formula for happiness.

    Yes, I'd agree up to point but I don't think we need to go the whole Utilitarian way of adding hedons and dolors.

    I think the variables proposed by Bentham were mostly pretty spot on (the only one I'd take slight issue with is intensity), but that it's pretty obviously absurd to suggest that you can quantify these things to any reasonable degree. To do so would require the ability to see the future, but even quantifying an episode of pleasure after the fact doesn't really make sense, considering how much tiny details and difference in your mental or physical state can affect your experience.

    I do really like considering (some of) these variables though and just taking them to be kind of fuzzy in order to make an informed best guess for a course of action. It feels more practical than the way I see most people trying to chase happiness.

    It seems to me that a lot of Bentham's work starts with something really cool, then goes a step (or more) too far with it. (Which I personally find very familiar...)

    It is worth noting that my knowledge of Bentham's utilitarianism is very limited and a lot of my assessment is in reading his Wikipedia page and the one for the panopticon a few days ago.

    Dare I ask what "first pro-ana" means?

    pro-ana is a position in favor of anorexia (the word itself deriving from the greek word orexis which Epicurus used in some circumstances instead of epithymia - although exactly where he used each was what I was trying to determine)

    The poster said that reading the Letter to Menoeceus (which she described as being about "the absence of desire") in college helped her learn to suppress her desires including actual hunger. She respected Epicurus for living on a restrictive diet of only bread and water - missing the crucial point as Don has brought up before that this was meant to mean ordinary food and not an ascetic or lacking diet - and then binging when invited to a feast.

    I totally agree - and have no offense since I was raised atheist and materialist (fairly hedonistic, even). I have gone through my own crises of "faith" but was always taught that there's only one life, so the point of it is to live it.

    While it's possible that this is an artifact just from existing in America and absorbing certain ideas, I'm not sure that's it. Because I don't think of people with desires as morally bad or wrong any more than I think that of people dealing with any other kind of pain. I definitely don't think that desires should be suppressed, because that is generally going to end up with some other complications either psychological or physical.

    I think the path to "zero desire" (noting it's not a permanent state since you'll always need to eat again) is to meet all the desires you can and expunge the rest. Of course picking and choosing the ones that will actually bring more pleasure than pain to meet.

    I can conceive of motivators to action that aren't inherently painful (I think I can, anyway) but are only preferences. I suppose this is what the unnecessary desires are meant to be. I just can't conceive of using the word desire there. Maybe my understanding of the word is just too strong?

    In researching some things I also just found a forum where someone described Epicurus as "the first pro-ana" so... this is what we have to work with 😭😭

    There is an awful lot of discussion of "confidence" but not all of it would clearly be applicable. This one jumps out at me first as applicable - is this not a current thought of future pleasure?

    VS34. It is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as it is the confidence of their help.

    If I understand it properly (that it's not the actual help provided but just the certainty that help WILL BE provided that is helpful), then it's definitely related.

    But to go all Ciceronian, I think that technically since the CONFIDENCE is occurring in the present moment, and that it is the actual source of the pleasure, I'm not sure that it counts as a future pleasure.

    Seriously though, I do think it's the exact type of thing I was looking for - a pleasure gained from the thought of something happening in the future that isn't actually tied to whether it happens or not. It makes a possibility for disappointment, but as long as your confidence is founded, the risk is worth the pleasure to be gained from trusting in your friends' support.

    I can happily agree with all of this if I just swap out the word "desire" for "interest" or "motivation" (although technically motivation is WHY you want to do a thing, not just what you want to do - I think it still works here and is sometimes even more useful to know) but I still get hung up on the one word.

    Can you explain that a little further? We probably need to focus on using the word "desire" since that is the word with the explosive connotations that people are used to debating about, but I would like to be sure I understand your concern.

    Really just what I've been saying - that I have no conception of desire that is without any pain. I don't know if it's a difference in language, or experience, or even just personality or neurotype (ie me as a kid in misery waiting for xmas presents) but it's not something I can wrap my head around. Although as you reduce the distance (in time, effort, etc...) between the desire and fulfillment, the pain can certainly be negligible.

    Going to Godfrey's example (which I'm still thinking on!) - at the store yesterday I considered buying a pineapple, but didn't, and him bringing it up - that it's even already prepared! - made me wish I had some pineapple. It's not going to upset the balance of my night (or my dinner) to not have it, but it is a bit of a pain if I dwell on it. The grocery store doesn't close for an hour so I could pack up the kids in the car and go get it and then get home and peel it and core it and slice it, but that's a lot of distance between me and that pineapple, so the pain is minor, but noticeable (if I bother to notice it). If my circumstance was already prepared pineapple in the fridge, I wouldn't even notice the pain, I would just go eat the pineapple. Heck, I might not even eat it. I might just hoard it.

    You may have noticed I'm not very patient (again see: xmas presents), but I also delay gratification for myself so often that I've become known for treats going bad while I wait to enjoy them. This is probably something worth examining! Perhaps the pain of desire as I experience leads me to reduce that distance as much as I can for a variety of possible desires.

    Or possibly I'm a masochist.

    My argument would be that desire is inherently painful but that circumstance can make the pain negligible. But you could just as easily make the claim that desire is not inherently painful but that circumstance can make it so and I don't think there's necessarily a right or wrong. But I DO necessarily think that Epicurus did not mean to refer to something that was inherently painful, as he even specified.

    I can happily agree with all of this if I just swap out the word "desire" for "interest" or "motivation" (although technically motivation is WHY you want to do a thing, not just what you want to do - I think it still works here and is sometimes even more useful to know) but I still get hung up on the one word.