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Epicurus

Welcome to our Online Community of Epicureans, the home of Classical Epicurean Philosophy, uncorrupted by Platonism and Stoicism. Here we study Epicurus, apply Epicurean philosophy to our own lives, and "strike a blow for Epicurus, that great man whose holiness and divinity of nature were not shams, who alone had and imparted true insight into the good, and who brought deliverance to all that consorted with him." (Lucian - "Alexander the Oracle-Monger")


Our website is both a discussion forum and a resource hub for the study of Epicurean philosophy. Here you will find help and guidance in the study of important ancient texts, as well as links and discussions on articles and documents crucial to the understanding of the teachings of Epicurus. Most pages are organized around specific topics, in addition to which we have an ever-increasing number of graphics, files, and other resources to assist you in your study. All are welcome to read the forums and apply for membership, but only friends of Epicurean Philosophy in accord with our Not Neo-Epicurean, But Epicurean and our Posting Policy statements are granted full posting privileges. You will find much helpful information in our Community Standards / Terms of Use as well as our brief video Major Characteristics of Epicurean Philosophy.


There are many places on the internet where other philosophies can be studied, but few if any which are dedicated exclusively to Epicurus. We work hard to keep the forum both friendly to all but also firmly Epicurean, so if you are looking for a truly supportive community of Epicurean Friends, you've come to the right place. For an audio sample of the friendly and supportive atmosphere we try to cultivate, check out one of our recent Lucretius Today podcasts.


Usage Tips: As you scroll down this page you will see a taste of each of our major sections: We have a TimeLine where people can post short Facebook-like comments, a Forum section where the deeper philosophic discussions take place, a Gallery of our recent graphics, an Articles section for our longer presentations, and a Documents section of our recommended files. The best way to keep track of new posts is to Register for an account, which will allow the site to notify you of new material and also allow you to subscribe to email updates. We also recommend our New User Page for a brief introduction to Epicurus and the purpose of our forum. For regular users we have optimized the Dashboard as the place to bookmark to be sure you see all the activity that happens site-wide. New and regular users alike may enjoy taking one of our Quizzes about Epicurean Philosophy. If you have any questions about how to use the site, just send a message to our administrator through our message system.


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    Please join us tomorrow night for our 20th Zoom - RE: Twentieth of September, 2022 - Online Gathering Planning and Agenda

  • Cassius

    Episode 140 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Forty - The Letter to Menoeceus 07 - Completion of the Letter

  • Cassius

    Episode 139 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty-Nine - The Letter to Menoeceus 06 - Pleasure Part Two

  • Cassius

    Episode 138 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty Eight - Letter to Menoeceus 5 - Pleasure Part One

  • Cassius

    Episode 137 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty-Seven - The Letter to Menoeceus 04 - On Death (Part Two)

  • Cassius

    Please join us if you can for our next Wednesday night Zoom discussion: August 31, 2022 - - Wednesday Night Zoom Meeting

  • Cassius

    Episode 136 of the Lucretius Today Podcast - On Death (Part One) is now available! RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty-Six - The Letter to Menoeceus 03 - On Death (Part One)

  • Cassius

    Another Reminder: Please remember our special 2:00 PM Eastern time 20th meeting tomorrow on Zoom. We're doing this at 2:00 PM to allow our European Friends to participate, so we hope to have a little out-of-the ordinary and particularly enjoyable session: August 20th 2022 Celebration - Special 2pm Eastern Time

  • Cassius

  • Cassius

    Episode 134 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. This week we begin the letter to Menoeceus! RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty-Four - The Letter to Menoeceus 01- Context and Opening of the Letter

  • Cassius

    Episode 134 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. This week we begin the letter to Menoeceus! RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty-Four - The Letter to Menoeceus 01- Context and Opening of the Letter

  • Cassius

    Episode 133 of the Lucretius Today Podcast Is Now Available: RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty-Three - Letter to Pythocles 07 - Conclusion Of The Letter

  • Cassius

    We are starting our podcast review of the Letter to Menoeceus this Sunday. Please consider whether you have comments or questions you would like to see us address and add them to the show thread: RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty-Four - The Letter to Menoeceus 01 - (Preproduction)

  • Cassius

    Don't forget our Zoom tonight at 8:30 PM EDT August 3rd, 2022 - Epicurean Philosphy Zoom Gathering

  • Cassius

    Episode 132 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty Two - More On The Weather

  • Cassius

    Episode 131 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty-One - Letter to Pythocles 05 - Weather Phenomena

  • Cassius

    Thanks to Don and Joshua for listening to podcast 130 and catching some significant editing errors. A new version of this episode has now been uploaded - RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty - Letter to Pythocles 04 - More on the Sun and Moon

  • Cassius

    Episode 130 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty - Letter to Pythocles 04 - More on the Sun and Moon

  • Cassius

    Remember to join us tonight for our Zoom discussion if you can. If you had any problem signing in last week, that should be resolved this week: RE: July 13th - Epicurean Philosophy Zoom Gathering

  • Cassius

    Episode One Hundred Twenty-Nine of the Lucretius Today Podcast on the implications of the Epicurean position on the Size of Sun is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Twenty-Nine - Letter to Pythocles 03 - The Implications Of the Epicurean Position On The Size of the Sun

  • Cassius

    Website note: We had a brief outage Friday morning due apparently to a hosting service error. We should be back online now with no loss of data, and we'll see what we can do to prevent that from happening again. In the meantime please check this post for where you can find information on outages and interim backup communications: Backup Communications for EpicureanFriends.com

  • Cassius

    Episode 128 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode 128 - The Twelve Fundamentals of Physics

  • Cassius

    Don't forget our weekly Zoom tonight at 8:30 PM EST - In addition to our regular discussion the focus will be on PD11 and PD12 - RE: June 29, 2022 Epicurean Zoom Gathering

  • Cassius

    Episode 127 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Twenty-Seven - Letter to Pythocles 02 - The Formation of "Worlds"

  • Cassius

    Happy Twentieth of June! If you can, please join us tonight at 8:30 PM. For link, check the calendar: Twentieth Celebration

  • Cassius

    Great link for next Wednesday's zoom. Feel free to spread it around:. June 22nd, 2022 Epicurean Zoom Gathering

  • Cassius

    Regulars here will want to take note of this post for a link to a free (Google) downloadable link to a Loeb edition of Lucretius with side-by-side Latin and English text: Downloadable Side-By-Side Latin-English Lucretius - The Loeb Edition By Rouse (First Edition)

  • Cassius

    Tonight's focus for our Wednesday Discussion is PD8 and PD9: June 15, 2022 Open Invitation Epicurean Zoom Meeting

  • Cassius

    Remember to join us tonight (Wednesday) at 8:30 PM if you can make it: Open Invitation Epicurean Zoom Meeting - Wednesday 8 :30 PM Eastern Time

  • Cassius

    Episode 126 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. In this episode, we begin the discussion of Epicurus' letter to Pythocles, and we discuss many aspects of the basic approach of Epicurus toward the study of nature. This is one of our longer - but probably also one of our more important - episodes, so we hope you enjoy it and we invite your comment. Of special note: Don rejoins us for several special episodes! RE: Episode One Hundred Twenty-Six - Letter to Pythocles 01 (Pre-Production)

  • Cassius

    Remember our Wednesday night gathering at 8:30 PM and join us if you can. Each week we've had a couple of visitors and it is very interesting to hear about new people interested in Epicurus: RE: June 15, 2022 Open Invitation Epicurean Zoom Meeting

  • Cassius

    Episode 125 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. This week we finish the letter to Herodotus, and next week we begin with the letter to Pythocles! RE: Episode One Hundred Twenty-Five - Letter to Herodotus 14 - Purpose and Method of Studying Nature - Completion of the Letter

  • Cassius

    Remember our Wednesday Night Gathering at 8:30 PM Eastern time tonight and join us if you can: June 8, 2022 Epicurean Zoom Gathering

  • Cassius

    Check out Nate's Map of Epicurean Communities in the Ancient World Epicurean Communities of the Ancient World

  • Cassius

  • Cassius

    Please remember our Wednesday night gathering tonight at 8:30 PM Eastern time. Tonight we're taking open questions on any topic related to Epicurus, and in the rest of the time we'll look at PD05. Join us if you can!

  • Cassius

    We have now completed our series of Zoom meetings in the A Few Days In Athens Book Review. Today's edition - our Seventeenth Session - is a recap of the series with comments from the participants. We have the entire series on Youtube for your reference at any time, and we'll probably make them available in audio podcast form for easier access. Thanks to the participants and we hope these will be useful in the future. RE: AFDIA - Recap And General Comments After Reading Book / Completing the Chapter By Chapter Review

  • Don

    It was fun working through Epicurus's favorite "insults" from Diogenes Laertius: RE: Epicurus' Favorite Insults

  • Cassius

    Episode 123 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available: RE: Episode One Hundred Twenty-Three: Events and Time

  • Cassius

    REMINDER: Tonight is our Wednesday Open Invitation Zoom, and we will talk about PD03 and PD04, as well as issues and opportunities in talking about Epicurus in the world today.

  • Cassius

    Review of Chapter 16 of A Few Days In Athens is now live. One more episode to be recorded tonight at 8:00 PM - RE: AFDIA - Chapter Sixteen - Text and Discussion

  • Cassius

    Very Useful: Check out Reneliza's pink circles chart and the explanation and discussion that follows: RE: Can you seek happiness and be full of joy when there is a war in Europe? Wes Cecil podcast.

  • Cassius

    Very Noteworthy: Check out Nate's latest graphic and its accompanying text. Epicurus was almost the most potent opponent against false religion: Nate's Latest Graphic - "Epicurus Cannot Be Wrestled"

  • Cassius

    Reminder: All Zoom Events Are Moving to 8:30 PM EST rather than 8:00 PM, with the exception of the final session of the AFDIA Book Review Sunday Night May 22, which will remain at 8:00 PM as in the past.

  • Cassius

    Episode 122 of the Lucretius Today Podcast is now available. Today we continue in Epicurus' letter to Herodotus, and address some difficult material about the properties and qualities of atoms and bodies and what it means to exist. RE: Episode One Hundred Twenty-Two - What it Means to "Exist" - Properties and Qualities

  • Cassius

    Our discussion of Chapter 15 is now available. Only one more chapter to go! RE: AFDIA - Chapter Fifteen - Text and Discussion

  • Cassius

  • Cassius

    Reminder: First Epicurean Open Invitation Zoom tonight (Wednesday) at 8:30 PM): RE: Open Invitation Epicurean Zoom - Starting this Wednesday May 11th 8:30 EDT

  • Cassius

    Updated Calendar Entry for the upcoming new-format Wednesday Open Invitation Zoom meeting - Open Invitation Epicurean Zoom Meeting - Wednesday 8 :30 PM Eastern Time

  • Cassius

    Our Book Review Discussion of Chapters 13 and 14 of A Few Days In Athens is now online. Tonight (Sunday) at 8:00 PM we discuss Chapter 15.

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Welcome New Epicurean Friends!

Epicurus

Thank You For Visiting EpicureanFriends ...

This is the place to study and discuss Epicurus with people who support and promote classical Epicurean philosophy.


What Is Epicurean Philosophy All About?

Epicurus advised the use of outlines to organize our thoughts on what is important in philosophy, because we frequently have need of the general principles, but only rarely do we need to recall every small detail. Here's a sample outline of several of the key principles in each section of Epicurean philosophy:

  1. Physics: The Universe Operates on Natural Principles, Neither Chaotically Nor At The Will Of Supernatural Gods, And There Is No Life After Death
    1. Nothing Is Ever Observed to Be Created From That Which Does Not Exist, Nor is Anything Destroyed to Total Nothingness, Either By The Gods Or By Any Other Cause.
    2. True Gods Are Self-Sufficient And Able to Sustain Their Happiness Without Interruption; Such Beings Do Not Interfere In The Affairs Of Humans
    3. The Universe Operates Through Natural Processes Involving Elemental Particles And Void, And Life Itself Arises Naturally
    4. Our World Is Constantly Changing, But The Universe As A Whole Is Eternal
    5. The Universe As A Whole Is Without Boundaries, And There Are No "Gods" Or Anything Else Outside Of it
    6. Nature Never Creates Only A Single Thing of A Kind, And So The Existence of Life On Earth Indicates Life Also Exists On Other Suitable Worlds Throughout the Universe
    7. All Things In Our World Which Come Together From Atoms and Void, Including Our Bodies And Souls, Eventually Break Apart
    8. The Soul Is Born With The Body And Cannot Survive Without It
    9. Death Is The End of All Sensation, And There Is No Experience of Pleasure and Pain Or Anything Else Without Sensation
  2. Canonics: The Three Faculties Which Constitute Our Standard of Truth Are the Senses, The Anticipations (Pre-Conceptions), and the Feelings
    1. It Is Absurd To Argue That Nothing Can Be Known, Because He Who Argues That Nothing Can Be Known Contradicts His Own Argument
    2. Proper Reasoning Must Be Based On Evidence From The Senses And Is Not Valid Without Such Evidence
    3. The Three Canonical Faculties Are Reliable Because They are Incapable of Memory, And They Report Honestly To Us Without Opinion
    4. "All Sensations Are True" in the sense that they are reported truly and honestly, not because every individual sensation reveals to us a complete picture of the matter under consideration.
    5. The Only Guarantee of Truth Is The Verification Of Reality Through Multiple Separate Sensations
    6. We Lose Not Only Reason, But Life Itself, If We Fail To Have the Courage To Trust The Senses
  3. Ethics: The Guide of Life is Pleasure
    1. All Good And Evil Consist In Sensation; The Feelings (Pleasure and Pain) Are Our Guides To Life
    2. Pleasure is To Be Pursued And Pain Is To Be Avoided, But At Times Pain Is To Be Chosen For The Sake of Greater Pleasure Or Lesser Pain
    3. Pleasure is The Beginning And End of A Happy Life; Therefore Happiness Is Grounded in Pleasure, And A Happy Life Is One In Which Pleasure Predominates Over Pain
    4. There Is No Absolute Standard Of Virtue, Piety, Reason, Justice, Or Single Way to Pursue Pleasure, Constituting A Single Way of Life For All People At All Times
    5. Pleasure is An Individual Feeling Which Can Be Said To Be Best Experienced Without Any Mixture Of Pain, But For Which There Is No Single Highest Means of Achievement
    6. Virtue, Piety, Reason and Justice Are Valuable Only Insofar As They Bring Pleasure And Thereby Happiness
    7. There Is No Heaven or Hell After Death In Which We Are Rewarded or Punished
    8. Life Is Short And We Should Pursue Pleasure While We Can And View Our Time As Too Precious To Waste

There's nothing magic about the precise formulations you see above, and over time we regularly revise them in ways we think make Epicurus' views more clear and understandable.


One of the most helpful ways that you can enhance your own understanding of Epicurus is to follow his advice to Herodotus and prepare your own outline of the philosophy. Don't be surprised to find yourself regularly revising it and shifting the items up and down in order of importance. That is to be expected as your comprehension of the importance of the various issues matures. It will take considerable time to realize the many implications of the fundamental principles. EpicureanFriends.com has an entire section of our forum devoted to helping you draw up your own outline. Check out those resources here.

A Preliminary Word On The Nature Of Pleasure:

Most people who come our way have a correct understanding that Epicurus held the experience of mental pleasure to be as much or more important to us than purely bodily pleasure. Unfortunately, many such people also get the impression that this means that Epicurus advocated a withdrawn or ascetic or passive lifestyle.


Metrodorus Despite Epicurus' emphatic focus on Pleasure as the goal of life, the argument that Epicurus was essentially an ascetic asserts that Epicurus held a counterintuitive definition of pleasure by elevating absence of disturbance (ataraxia) or absence of pain (aponia) as something separate from and more desirable than Pleasure (hedone) itself. Those who maintain this generally argue that Epicurus taught that "resting" (katastematic) pleasures are far more important than the normal "active" (kinetic) pleasures, such as joy and delight, that most people normally cherish.


This argument tends to demoralize and turn off healthy people of active disposition, so if the suggestion that Epicurus was passive, shy, and retiring bothers you (and it should, because it's not true!) EpicureanFriends.com can help show you the error of the ascetic interpretation of Epicurus.


For a grounding on the history of the dispute, start with Boris Nikolsky's article "Epicurus on Pleasure." As Nikolsky explains, the distinction between katastematic and kinetic pleasure was very likely not taught by Epicurus at all, but instead derives from a later Stoic-influenced overlay on Epicurus' teachings. For more detail on what Epicurus really taught about pleasure, consult the chapters on Epicurus in Gosling and Taylor's "The Greeks on Pleasure," especially chapter 19 "Katastematic and Kinetic Pleasure," which shows how Epicurus embraced a normal and regular definition of pleasure as most of us commonly understand it. For further evidence that the ascetic interpretation of Epicurean philosophy contradicts core premises of the philosophy (and therefore cannot be correct!) see the Wentham article "Cicero's Interpretation of Katastematic Pleasure."


If you are concerned that you've heard that Epicurus was passive and retiring, and you know that attitude is not right for you, these articles should dispel any lingering concerns.


When you are ready for more, the best way to reboot your understanding of the philosophy is to consult the most thorough general book on Epicurus, Norman DeWitt's "Epicurus and His Philosophy." DeWitt provides the sweeping overview of Epicurean philosophy that every new student of Epicurus needs to read. In the process of starting from scratch, you'll see that DeWitt presents a comprehensive and coherent overview in which the katastematic - kinetic distinction rates little more than a brief mention. You'll then see why the best record we have of Epicurus' philosophy - the biography by Diogenes Laertius - raises the issue only by stating explicitly that Epicurus endorsed both types of pleasure.


For additional assistance in these and other issues, please check out our table of Major Issues In Understanding Epicurean Philosophy. And of course, ask questions in the Forum! There's much more to explain and discuss, but for now, thank you for dropping by, and please let us hear from you! Start now by reading and posting in our General Forum, or in any of the sections devoted to special topics.

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For one of the best and quickest ways to orient yourself to Epicurean Ethics, especially as to the central role of "Pleasure" (and not "tranquility") as the goal and guide of life, be sure to check out our recording of the longest and most detailed presentation of Epicurean Ethics left to us from the ancient world: the "Torquatus" presentation from Book One of Cicero's "On Ends." One of our regular participants here (Joshua) has graciously recorded this for us, and we think you'll see why this is a great introduction to the big picture of Epicurean Ethics. See the following thread for the latest version and discussion:

Foundations of Epicurean Philosophy

For a detailed summary of Epicurean Philosophy assembled from the passages of the ancient texts, see the video below. The text of this narrative is available at the wiki here.


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Nate's Allegory of the Oasis

Read about Nate's "Allegory of the Oasis" graphic and make suggestions or comments here.

The Full Cup / Fullness of Pleasure Non-Ascetic Model of Epicurean Pleasure