Todd Level 03
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Posts by Todd

    If anyone is interested, I found the Bignone text that Bailey refers to, but it's in Italian.

    Full text of "Epicuro, opere, framenti, testimonianze sulla sua vita"

    Search for "1095"

    Here's a very rough Google translation of the Italian:


    Whether they are public shows (including religious) is clear from PLuT., Contr. Epic. beat., 13, 1095 C, where it is said that according to Epicurus The sage more than any other enjoys the auditions and representations Dionylons- Siache; cf. also PHiLop., συ. ed., 76,1: Usener, p. 258.

    Kochalsky instead interprets ἐν θεωρίαις as being the wise, that would be too obvious a truth.

    — After these words there has been a shift in the text, of which there is clear evidence.

    The Usener fragment he references is U386.

    It continues on...but I can't tell if his discussion of the shift in the text is related or not.

    My take on the 2nd part of the Plutarch quote in U20:

    Epicurus' point was probably something like: most rulers would probably prefer to discuss military strategy and laugh at coarse humor. If that's the kind of dinner conversation that gives you pleasure, then that's the kind of conversation you should have.

    He's arguing for authenticity over pretense.

    That's pure speculation of course.

    Based on this from Usener, it seems like DL's source is probably Epicurus' Problems, which he does cite as a source for another saying (per Don's website).

    With this additional context, I'm now leaning toward "festivals".

    (I'm assuming this is what the Bailey footnote referencing Bignone was referring to.)


    Plutarch, That Epicurus actually makes a pleasant life impossible, 13, p. 1095C: The absurdity of what Epicurus says! On the one hand, he declares in his Problems that the Sage is a lover of spectacles and yields to none in the enjoyment of theatrical recitals and shows; but on the other, he allows no place, even over wine, for questions about music and the inquires of critics and scholars and actually advises a cultivated monarch to put up with recitals of stratagems and with vulgar buffooneries at his drinking parties sooner than with the discussion of problems in music and poetry. [cf. U5]

    Your analysis seems pretty thorough. You have my vote.

    Since either translation is plausible, and there is no other context to go on...I would say the presumption should be in favor of consistency with the other occurrences of the word in DL. Since he is drawing from disparate sources, that weakens the argument, but what else do we have?

    Have you checked if any of the "festival" translators offer a justification for their choice?

    Quote from Joshua, quoting Epictetus, quoting Epicurus (supposedly)

    "Be not deceived; be not seduced and mistaken. There is no natural tie between reasonable beings. Believe me. Those who say otherwise mislead and impose upon you."

    Speculating about this from another angle...

    A possible kernel of truth here could be that maybe Epicurus did say something about society not existing apart from the individuals that make it up, similar to how justice does not exist apart from agreements that serve the ends of real people.

    This supposed quotation could be taking out of context an argument Epicurus was making in support of that idea.

    I'm thinking it might be more advantages to *describe* the condition we want to be free of rather than use a single word (since that's my modus operandi when I translate from ancient Greek ^^ ). By "free from anxiety" I mean...

    Free from incessant, nagging doubt or worry of whether past actions were the right ones to take, whether present circumstances are the right course to take, and whether the future is to dreaded.

    That's just a first draft for conversation!

    The condition I've been focusing on is, I think, accurately described by "anxiety" or "worry". But if you want a more verbose description, I would call it "fears about the future that are not connected to any immediate threat"

    I'm not saying that is the ONLY condition we need to avoid. I was specifically focusing on anxiety because that was the term Austin and others in this thread were using.

    Rather than focusing on what we want to avoid, though, it is probably more useful to focus on the pleasant mental state we want to cultivate.

    What? "Rumination" is not generally a negative word, is it?

    LOL. I've never had a positive connotation associated with ruminate ^^

    To me, it's chewing over something in your mind over and over without getting anywhere.

    I'm with Cassius on this one.

    Ruminate was always more or less neutral to me. I could certainly imagine myself relaxing by a gentle stream, ruminating about some ideas I'd recently encountered.

    It has only been in the last few months/years that I've seen it used in this kind of clinical way to refer to negative thoughts. Maybe it has always been used that way...just saying I was not aware of it until relatively recently.

    Maybe for our purposes here in what we understand as Epicurean teachings, instead of anxiety we could use the word "worry"?

    I think of worry and anxiety as basically synonyms. Anxiety is more precise, clinical; worry is more natural, vernacular. But I think they refer to the same mental state.

    But then I wonder, should everyone try to live a worry-free life? Is it even possible? Would a worry-free life be worth living? What would you have to sacrifice to live completely worry-free?

    This is exactly why we pursue pleasure, not ataraxia!

    Should everyone try to live a worry-free life? All else being equal, of course; but everything else is never equal. Everyone should try to live a life with as much pleasure as possible. But no one can expect to live a life completely free of pain (or worry/anxiety). Sometimes we will make choices that we expect to lead to more worry or anxiety, but we do so for the sake of an even greater pleasure. (I'm thinking particularly about having children here.)

    I couldn't read the article - it seems to be behind a paywall. But here are my initial thoughts.

    My gut reaction: Fear/anxiety is an extremely powerful emotion, and is a very effective tool for manipulating people. If I see someone telling me it's good to feel anxiety, I'm immediately suspicious.

    I agree with that but I am not sure something does not need clarifying. "Anxiety" seems to be used by some people to cover a very wide range of things, including "anger."

    I would not consider anger a form of anxiety. If you want a definition, I'd say anxiety is fear about the future. It suggests chronic fear about the more distant and uncertain future, but since all fear is ultimately about the future, that seems like merely a matter of degree.

    I think we can say confidently that there are times when "anger," at least of a type, is indeed appropriate in response to certain circumstances. We've had a recent thread I think with some material from Philodemus on that.

    I agree, but I think some clarification is needed. Anger (or sadness, or even fear) can certainly be an appropriate feeling in a given situation. Those are non-rational reactions - we can't choose to feel or not feel them. My point is that actions based solely on those emotions are unlikely to maximize our future pleasure. We need to choose our actions prudently, and consider what will be the result if I do this thing, and what if I do not. Actions are most effective when chosen rationally, and a state of ataraxia is best for doing that.

    “The emotion of anxiety and the underlying physiological stress response evolved to protect us,” Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist and the author of “Good Anxiety,” said."

    True, but I feel like this is leaving out some important context.

    Fear and the associated stress response evolved in animals prior to humans, and prior to the development of the pre-frontal cortex.

    When animals experience fear, they are reacting to an immediate, present danger. Animals can't imagine hypothetical future states to worry about. Humans can, and do.

    Animals don't imagine what other animals might be thinking about them, and worry about that. Humans can, and do.

    Animals (including humans) evolved to default to fear when encountering something new. This makes sense for self-preservation in a largely hostile environment. It doesn't work as well in the mostly safe environment that humans have been able to create for ourselves.

    Epicurus taught that ataraxia was vitally important for the both the pleasure that a calm, anxiety-free mind brings itself BUT ALSO that it allows the enjoyment of other pleasures - both necessary and extravagant - in our lives more fully.

    AND ALSO ataraxia helps us prudently prepare for or react to painful circumstances, rather than allowing fear or anger to dictate our actions.

    There is basically no situation in which anxiety is more useful than a calm presence of mind.

    I think it's a great video to understand what Epicurus was opposing.

    Part of what makes it valuable is that Carl Sagan has (I think) a pretty good popular reputation as a scientist. To hear his scathing criticism of Plato lends credence to our strong anti-Platonic views...makes it seem a bit less crazy, maybe, to be railing against Plato all the time.

    The video itself is a bit dated. Might be cool if we could use the audio with our own images...but I assume there would be copyright issues with that.

    40:44 - Pythagorus and Plato "provided an intellectually respectable justification for a corrupt social order."" - led to a slave economy -

    The part about leading to a slave economy is not historically correct, and it's not what Carl Sagan says in the video either.

    The slave economy existed long before Plato. I'm not sure about the situation at the time of Pythagoras. Slavery may not have been as widespread then, but was likely still considered the normal way of things.

    Carl Sagan says the mercantile tradition of the Ionians led to a slave economy (an unsubstantiated claim, IMO), and that Athens had a vast slave population at the time of Plato and Aristotle (true).

    By 600 BC, chattel slavery had spread in Greece. By the 5th century BC, slaves made up one-third of the total population in some city-states. Between 40-80% of the population of Classical Athens were slaves.

    I know things are much more complicated than that, but what is your viewpoint as to that line of argument, and that it is almost as important "what you eat" as it is "how much you eat?"

    I've not read Taubes specifically, but I've heard other people make this argument. So assuming they all mean the same thing...

    I would say I agree, but I think you are somewhat mischaracterizing their argument.

    You have to look at what they're saying in the context of arguing against the conventional advice to simply "eat less and/or exercise more".

    I don't think they are saying that is factually wrong; they're saying it is not actually very helpful advice.

    I think this thread was supposed to be about personal experience, but I want to say some more about it. Feel free to move this to another thread if that would be more appropriate.

    Let's start with some facts.

    Weight loss requires a caloric deficit (aside from surgery). All the rest is just about ways of making a caloric deficit easier to sustain.

    All carbohydrates are converted into glucose.*

    The human body prefers to use glucose for energy rather than fat. This is because...

    Too much glucose in the bloodstream is harmful.**

    I believe those are all generally accepted facts. Now, I will speculate a bit...

    The body's fat burning mechanisms are not just sitting around waiting to be used whenever they are needed. Like muscle tissue, they have to be maintained, and maintaining them requires resources. The body doesn't like to waste resources. Like muscle tissue, when the fat-burning mechanisms are not utilized, the body will not devote resources to maintaining them.

    If that is true...

    Naive calorie restriction is difficult because when carbohydrates are consumed every few hours, the fat-burning mechanisms are not utilized to a sufficient degree to signal the body to develop them. When glucose runs out, even though there may be stored body fat available, the fat-burning mechanisms aren't capable of meeting the body's demands, and the body demands more glucose, like an addict.

    The various forms of carbohydrate restriction make glucose unavailable for sufficiently long periods of time for the body to engage the fat-burning mechanisms. This burns fat, obviously, but it also signals to the body that these processes are going to be used, and that resources should be devoted to building and maintaining them.

    To evaluate the poll options in light of the above:

    Definitely effective, but difficult to practice:***

    General Calorie Restriction

    Likely to be effective:

    Carbohydrate Restriction

    Intermittent Fasting (temporary carb-restriction)

    Carnivore Diet

    Multi-day Fasting

    Likely to be ineffective unless combined with an effective method:

    Mediterranean Diet

    Primarily Exercise


    Out of scope:

    Weight loss medication or supplement

    Weight loss surgery

    Finally, to be clear, all of the above is looking at this strictly from a weight loss perspective. I am not commenting on other health effects, positive or negative.


    *This is not quite accurate (there are non-digestible carbohydrates), but it's close enough for this discussion.

    **This is why diabetes is bad. It is also why the body will burn alcohol for energy in preference to both glucose and fat: because alcohol in the bloodstream is even worse than glucose.

    ***I think of this like a natural but unnecessary desire. If you find yourself in a situation where calorie restriction is easy, like famine, shipwreck, imprisonment...go for it. Otherwise, there are probably less painful approaches to weight loss.

    I wasn't sure the best place to post this...

    In the New Member Meet & Greet last night, Cassius asked what triggered me to abandon Catholicism, and then later asked if I had any book recommendations. I didn't have good answers at the time, but I remembered something later.

    Probably the book that pushed me over the edge from Catholic-by-inertia was Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason.

    After that, I also spent some time reading textual criticism of the Bible, I particularly recall Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus. But also more recent works in that area since the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.

    Those aren't Epicurean (obviously). And Paine is pushing Deism.

    And I wouldn't recommend them to committed Christians (to avoid making enemies!).

    But for people who are fed up with Christianity but just can't bring themselves to reject it completely, maybe those would be useful.