Principal Doctrine Eight - Venn Diagrams

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  • I was linked to Epicureanfriends as Robert Palin but somehow got lost awhile ago. Where do I renew my profile with background information? Not sure I'm following the best way of communicating on this site. Open to counsel on how to connect more easily with others. Philknecht is my pseudonym for one who loves to serve or whose service is love broadly understood.

  • Okay also I need to say this:

    The point of Circle Two is that the Epicurean life is going to be spent as much as humanly possible on activities that bring more pleasure than pain. There should never be an excuse, other than mistake or things out of our control, for spending time on things that bring more pleasure than pain. As as for spending time on pain for the sake of pain, which brings no net pleasure, those activities would be eliminated totally.

    That's really the contrast between the two circles - one showing the life spent by most people, with counterproductive activities, and one showing the Epicurean model.

    In that sense, I am not sure there is a connection or overlap between the circles -- perhaps I should not even reference this as a Venn Diagram. I was thinking in terms of working with overlaps and no-overlaps when I started this diagram, but as it ended up they are two separate diagrams -- I suppose two separate Venn Diagrams. The first circle is the entire life of the non-Epicurean, with some of his experience spent in net pleasurable activity (green) and some spent in net painful activity (blue). For the Epicurean (right circle) all experience should be spent - not in activity that is always at each moment pleasurable, but in activity that is always - in the long view - net pleasurable.

  • So to restate, maybe the most important point is not necessarily to get caught up in definitions of good and bad, or worries about what it "good/bad in itself" means, but to challenge us to remember that ultimately there is no basis for "good" and "bad" other than pleasure and pain.

    That's the field where the philosophical war is really being fought, I think - the war to drive false religion and false "logic" off the field.

  • Yes Phil I think we are together. To restate, as I read Epicurus, he is saying flatly that when we drill down on the ultimate meaning of "good " and "bad" they derive only from pleasure and pain. Sometimes we TEMPORARILY choose pain over pleasure, but only for purposes of net pleasure in the end.

    So that means that in this terminology the only thing that is good "in itself" (as opposed to looking for the consequences of the experience) is pleasure. And the only thing bad "in itself" (as opposed to its consequences) is pain.

    I think it is important to keep this in context, however, and not get caught up in word games. I don't think Epicurus played word games -- he said we know pleasure and pain without any analysis - we FEEL it.

    But Epicurus had to deal with the opposing philosophical schools, which insisted on playing word games with "good" and "bad" and "the greatest good" and terms like that. Had it not been necessary to deal with those dialectical arguments about what is the "highest good" and "what is the good" and things like that, I am not sure that we would even be talking about this.

    Remember the quote from Epicurus:

    “That which produces a jubilation unsurpassed is the nature of good, if you apply your mind rightly and then stand firm and do not stroll about {a jibe at the Peripatetics}, prating meaninglessly about the good.”

    So in the end I think the point of this exercise is to reinforce that it is FEELING, the gift of Nature, that is the guide of life, and not divine revelation, and not ideal forms/dialectical logic.

  • I like the implication that a pleasurable activity which is bad in itself does not exist. To me this means that Pleasurable Activity using Epicurean principles is GOOD and not to be messed up with trying to make pleasurable activities which are bad in themselves seem good. Following the right principles for what is GOOD--pleasurable activities--is not to be pitted against something bad. The bad in itself simply has no place among followers of the Epicurean principles. Is this the clear message from this venn diagram? If so, I like it.

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