Adrian Level 01
  • Member since Jan 30th 2023
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Posts by Adrian

    The garden as an Epicurean space is a reality and not an image or metaphor. We are centred when we are in contact with the soil and with life. The further we are away from nature the more deracinated we become. We need roots, and when we are deracinated we are uprooted from our natural geographical, social, or cultural environments. We need friendships – human, animal and vegetable. This is why gardens are so special. And our relationships with plants are special, and I have plants that I have had for decades (or have they had me), and one that I have had since I was a medical student and visited a hospital in South London.

    I was given a 'true myrtle' or common myrtle that is sacred to Aphrodite for my allotment. It was a present from my sister-in-law and is just about holding its own following the recent frost. Next to the myrtle is a Ugni molinae, known as Chilean guava berry, or strawberry myrtle. This shrub is native to Chile and southern Argentina. The local Spanish name is murta, and the Mapuche native American name is Uñiberry. It is in the same botanical family as the guava. Ugni fruit was introduced to Europe in 1844, but has been a staple in indigenous Araucano and Mapuche cuisine for centuries. It was a favourite of Queen Victoria and thrauco. The thrauco is known in Chilean folklore and mythology, and is a small creature, that always carries a stone axe and leans on a twisted walking cane. The thrauco loves climbing trees, and eating ugni berries. The thrauco loves nature., but hates people. The ugni berries are its main source of sustenance, and favourite delicacy. In rural Chile the children are cautioned about going into the ugni bushes to pick berries. The thrauco scares children away from his favourite food, and if he finds a young woman he might get her pregnant (pregnancies outside marriage are often blamed on the thrauco). It’s interesting to compare myths from different cultures.

    And our schools, universities and hospitals need gardens. Dare I say that our philosophy departments need gardens? The preservation of our green spaces and gardens should become almost an obsession. We need to have animal, plant and human friendships.

    I made the post above because the subjects of Gardening / Farming / Agriculture are so important and nothing was written under this heading in the forum.

    Farming and agriculture now seem industrial in nature, and the modern ‘factory’ farm seems far removed from the farming methods used before the Second World War. Much has been written about the diminishing mineral and vitamin content of vegetables since the introduction of these new agricultural techniques.

    I have read that Epicurus would have grown the Greek artichoke in the garden. The artichoke has been described as the 3,000-year-old Greek superfood. In the Greek myth, the first artichoke was a beautiful young mortal woman named Cynara who lived on the Aegean island of Zinari and was loved by Zeus. The artichoke has a spectacular spiky purple blossom, to match the beauty of Cynara.

    What else should I grow for an Epicurean allotment? Olives would grow better in Greece than in South London. I have a small olive in a pot in the patio in my back garden.


    both the universe and the space in which it exists are in accelerated expansion

    This is interesting. The universe has been defined as all existing matter and space considered as a whole, so is there anything outside the universe for it to expand into? If there is something outside the universe what is it?

    There is a great deal of discussion on what does the universe expand into? This is discussed by the physicist Sabine Hossenfelder in her interesting YouTube video “What does the universe expand into? Do we expand with it?”, and also in her 2022 book “Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions.”

    Are you possibly referring to the no-boundary proposal which avoids the Big Bang singularity by replacing time with space outside the early universe? Hossenfelder says outside because it makes little sense to use before if there was no time. In the no-boundary proposal, the universe is embedded into space. I find the concept of a space outside the universe for the universe to expand into difficulty to conceive since all space is surely within the universe? Cosmology is very interesting.

    The garden is a place of healing, health and friendship. There are many images of the Epicurean garden, and perhaps my favourite is that by JMW Turner. I imagine that other than simply sitting and conversing in the garden that the lovers of wisdom would have looked after the soil and tended the plants. Presumably the range of plants would be similar to those seen in a Greek garden today.

    The garden is a place of healing as the Victorians knew full well. The Victorians had gardens built as an essential part of both general and mental/psychiatric hospitals. There is healing in contact with nature which we have forgotten or neglected, and this is shown by even a cursory look at the contemporary hospital which has become a factory for healthcare. My local psychiatric hospital in a species of Orwellian newspeak is called ‘Greenparks House’ – it is not green and has no park.

    The Victorians built parks in the towns and created school playing fields. Many of these have now been built over and lost. They also constructed allotments in the towns for the use of the countryfolk who had moved there. My wife and I have an allotment and we feel very Epicurean working in the sunlight, tending our fruits and vegetables, and talking with our allotment neighbours. And so much of the sterility of our modern culture can be seen as being related to our alienation from the natural world.

    The best place to read and think is when surrounded by vegetables and birdsong.

    Pleasure and happiness are very different. Pleasure can be obtained by an action, however happiness is more like a gift that is passively received.

    And so I can do something that (I know) gives me pleasure – such as sitting in the sunshine drinking tea with my wife – and then after a time (and possibly after a particular action or an event has passed) I can realise that I was/am happy. Happiness cannot be forced. I cannot act so as to force happiness, yet I can do something which will certainly give pleasure. Certain actions may be difficult or stressful (and not necessarily pleasurable) and yet when looking back I can see that I was happy during that time. Certain acts may be difficult at the time and yet retrospectively I may realise that I was experiencing a deep kind of pleasure.

    So we want true pleasure and happiness will follow.

    The idea of the universe as infinite is an interesting one. What is the nature of the universe and what are its limits? If the universe has always existed what are its boundaries? If the universe has a beginning as a big bang what does it expand into? Both are good questions. I bought a copy of the Penguin Latham translation of Lucretius in the 1970s as a science student. I recently came across this chapter by Frederik Bakker on “The End of Epicurean Infinity: Critical Reflections on the Epicurean Infinite Universe”

    The End of Epicurean Infinity: Critical Reflections on the Epicurean Infinite Universe
    In contrast to other ancient philosophers, Epicurus and his followers famously maintained the infinity of matter, and consequently of worlds. This was inferred…

    However the models of classical physics are different to models post Einstein. So I suppose the idea of the universe as infinite has a different meaning depending on the model used? So we have the ideas of Albert Einstein of the relation of space to time. Special Relativity has time as a dimension and so we live in four dimensions. With his General Theory of Relativity the universe does not have an edge and does not expand into anything. Space may be curved. This is discussed well by the physicist Sabine Hossenfelder in her YouTube talk: “What does the universe expand into? Do we expand with it?” With Einstein and the models of modern physics the universe does not expand into anything. It would be interesting to have an imaginary conversation between Albert Einstein, Epicurus and Lucretius in the garden. What would they say?

    Thanks you - as I explained I am enjoying 'St Paul and Epicurus' by Norman DeWitt. I have ordered his 'Epicurus and his Philosophy' which I see is on your reading list. He has a way with words.

    Is there a recommended translation of the works of Epicurus? - I tend to use the 1964 Russel Geer version.

    Thank you

    Thank you for accepting me. I responded to the question as to the greatest Epicurean poet with 'Titus Lucretius Carus' which was rejected, so I replied with simply Lucretius which was accepted!

    I am currently reading 'St Paul and Epicurus' by Norman Wentworth DeWitt with great interest. I have downloaded the article that he wrote on Epicurean groups that you recommend.

    Very truly