We often say as a kind of shorthand that pleasure is the only good. This isn't wrong, but like all shorthands, it may be open to misconstruction. What I think we mean by this is: "Pleasure is the only [intrinsic] good [in life]." This is merely a way of speaking about value; pleasure is good because it has intrinsic value. Pizza (like the slice of Sbarro I'm eating as I type this) seems to be good, but it's only good by virtue of utility; the value of pizza is extrinsic, deriving only from the net pleasure it can deliver. "But does it not have value as nourishment?" Yes, but the value of nourishment is likewise extrinsic. It provides the energy we need for life, and the end or goal of life is the only intrinsic good; pleasure.
Yeeesh...I've been away from here for awhile. I'm rusty!
It appears to me that Elli's suggestion of "occupied" as the final word of this doctrine is more accurate than Bailey's "...without allowing himself leisure."
However the "leisure" reference is the translation we see everywhere.
This is a thread to discuss which is more accurate.
Cassius, I'm unable to answer or start a conversation. The message "Error Message 403 Forbidden Access to this resource on the server is denied" keeps popping up. I've tried to answer on two Android devices and a Windows computer and get the same popup.
Regarding the Skype discussion, I was sorry to miss it and plan to join in in the future. I do have a lot going on for the next few weeks and so may be sporadic in attending, but not through lack of desire
Welcome ekyrian !
When you get a chance please introduce yourself and tell us about your background and interest in Epicurus. It would be helpful also if you could include how you found the EpicureanFriends forum, as that would help with our publicity efforts in the future.
Old Tullius was no friend of Epicurus, but in attacking him Cicero preserved important information which allows us to see the true nature of what
Epicurus meant by "pleasure" - and it wasn't just "absence of pain":
A post by Elayne... regarding this link: https://psywb.springeropen.com…HeDg5u-3ogyHZIg7Jm-rjNez4
One of the ways we interact with reality is through the evidence of our senses (and their instrumental extensions). I thought you might be interested in seeing some evidence regarding the relationship of freedom to happiness (pleasure).
Rather than getting caught up in politics or national comparisons, I think it's worth looking at some key points in the write-up. I was very pleased to see the researchers define happiness in terms of people liking their lives-- to me, that means they are understanding that happiness is made of pleasure, because "liking" is impossible to understand without the feeling of pleasure.
Notice that not just freedom but awareness of freedom was important for happiness.
I love that they ended their paper by saying we need to have "guts" to live freely and happily!
I think this relates to our philosophy in three key ways. First,…
Welcome Todd !
When you get a chance please introduce yourself and tell us about your background and interest in Epicurus. It would be helpful also if you could include how you found the EpicureanFriends forum, as that would help with our publicity efforts in the future.
Welcome Ataraxia ! When you get a chance please introduce yourself and tell us about your background and interest in Epicurus. It would be helpful also if you could include how you found the EpicureanFriends forum, as that would help with our publicity efforts in the future.
pasted-from-clipboard.pngJust for fun I thought it would be interesting to speculate as to the "high water mark" of the Epicurean movement in the ancient world. I have a nomination, even down to the day: October 3, 42 BC.
The reason I suggest that day is that this is the day that Gaius Cassius Longinus, a self-proclaimed Epicurean, was defeated at the Battle of Philippi.
Up until the moment of defeat, according to my understanding of the history, the world had advanced to the place where:
- There was continuing existence of the original school of Epicurus in Athens, and presumably all of Greece and much of the Greek-influenced East had significant Epicurean presence.
- According to Cicero, Epicurean philosophy had "taken Italy by storm."
- Epicurean Philosophy was so widely regarded that Cicero felt obliged to devote a large section of his work "On Ends" to describing and opposing it.
- Cicero's best friend (Titus Atticus Pomponius) and leading citizen of Rome was an Epicurean.
I know that one of our core members, Nate , is pretty much in the direct path of Dorian, but there could be others here who are also, without our knowledge. Nate, I hope you, and anyone else who lurks the group who might be from Florida or in the direct path, remain Safe. Maybe you will be forced to stay inside for a while and compose us some suitable Epicurean music or graphic artwork - it's been a while since we have seen any!
Here is my personal outline of my Epicurean Philosophy, a bit messy though, with some slight deviations.
The Nature of Things and of The Universe
- Nothing comes from nothing, and that nothing leads to nothing.
- When I die, my body and its elements will return to the earth and the universe, my soul and mind with it.
- Everything within the universe is comprised of physical materials called matter (Atoms<-Quarks), and the lack of matter or its specific properties acting as a catalyst: void.
- This matter exists within reality and of the void.
- The void allows matter to move across the universe, like a fabric supporting water droplets or bits of pollen moving end to end.
- The laws of nature, are predisposed to exist through some mechanism of the moving and properties of matter.
- Because of these two substances, we can do away with religious or supernatural explanations for understanding the laws of nature.
- Since we have done away with those two, we can rule out any credence in their
- The Nature of Things and of The Universe
Compare photos like this one below to downtown areas that were pulverized in Europe and Japan in World War II. Today those cities have been rebuilt to the point where the damage is barely visible.
But just like with the Parthenon in Athens, the ruins of the capitals of the cities that the Judeo-Christian conquerors demolished have been pretty much left out the open for all to see, as if they were buzzards leaving picked-over bones behind.
I suppose the religionists thought the ruins would be a good reminder to everyone of their power, and would serve as a warning that their power should never be challenged.
I hope there are a lot of people who see these ruins and think of how much better this world would have been if it had followed the lead of Epicurus rather than these religionists.
At 9:00 AM Tuesday we had an aborted upgrade which required a site restoral.
It appears that if you posted in the last 24 hours that your post may have been lost. I apologize to anyone whose post was lost. The only post I am aware of that may have been lost was a new thread I believe I started that mentioned Ayn Rand, so maybe losing that was for the best.
We'll take steps to be sure that this does not happen again, and I want to apologize to anyone who was affected.
Welcome Charles Edwins ! When you get a chance please let us know your background and interest in Epicurus. And thank you for joining us on the 9/1/19 conference call. We look forward to getting to know you better.
Cassius started a new event:Part 2 of Online Book Discussion - DeWitt's "Epicurus and His Philosophy" Chapter 12 - The New Hedonism - Skype Sun, Sep 8th 2019, 8:00 am - 8:00 pm EventQuote
Part 2 of Online Book Discussion - DeWitt's "Epicurus and His Philosophy" Chapter 12 - The New Hedonism - Skype
Starting with the subsection - "The Natural Ceilings of Pleasure"
If you met someone who asked you to explain to them what Epicurean Philosophy is about, how would you introduce them to it, and what are some examples of how it can be applied in everyday life?
As we in the USA start a long holiday weekend, please remember to join us if you can Sunday morning at 11 AM for a skype conference call to discuss Epicurean philosophy. Our topic will be chapter 12 of Norman DeWitt's "Epicurus and His Philosophy," but Julie has prepared a great outline so even if you have not read the book you'll easily be able to follow along. A link to the conference will be posted later this weekend but all you need is a working Skype connection on your desktop or phone. Don't worry about video - this will be audio only.
Here's the full outline: NewHedonism_v3.pdf
I’m working on digesting DeWitt, Gosling & Taylor (having some indigestion with this one) and Wenham regarding katastematic and kinetic pleasure. Trying to get beyond the academic and into the practical day to day. So I’m putting some thoughts down to help me in the process and putting them here to see if they hold up.
Wenham seems to be spot on in describing pleasure as “experiential” as opposed to “attitudinal”, and supporting this with the fact that pleasure is a Feeling and a part of the Canon.
Regarding katastematic and kinetic pleasures and whether or not Epicurus defined them in this way, I confess that I’m a bit lost. Since I’m not writing this for academia but for my own pleasure and it’s growth, now I’m just putting down ideas (hopefully coherently) that came up while reading DeWitt’s The New Hedonism.
What is definitely attributable to Epicurus seem to be the ideas of continuous pleasure and unity of pleasure. Thinking about my experience of continuous pleasure…
Here's a quick and dirty summary based on Lucretius. Everyone studying Epicurus should have a goal of producing a more accurate one for themselves:
1 - It's pleasure, not "gods," which serves as the guiding force and controls living things in the universe;
2 - Supernatural religion is the true source of most of the evil in the world;
3 - The universe operates naturally, with the ultimate proof being that nothing comes from nothing, nothing goes to nothing, and everything in between arises as the natural function of the movement of the atoms;
4 - The universe is infinite in size, eternal in time, and therefore was never created by any gods
5 - Life is not confined to this earth, but can arise anywhere the conditions are right, and there are innumerable places in the universe like Earth
where conditions are right. God(s) did not create the Earth as someplace special as their plaything.
6 - The soul is made of particles and just as natural as the body, from which it cannot be…
I don't have time right now for anything than just to mark this as a placeholder. If the first paragraph is representative, the author is going to eventually defend Epicurus on parental love, but only after starting out by accepting the representations of a gang of anti-Epicureans. How counterproductive and tiring it is to approach Epicurus in this manner!!
I've been going through Lucretius line by line in Latin. (Latin Per Diem on YouTube is an excellent resource for this if you're curious.) I noticed an interesting pattern in the early lines;Quote
Aeneadum genetrix, hominum divomque voluptas,
alma Venus, caeli subter labentia signa
quae mare navigerum, quae terras frugiferentis
The verb concelebras clearly acts on mare and terras as the objects. But the word also seems to echo aurally (to my ear at least) the earlier phrase, caeli subter labentia signa. (Under the sliding signs of heaven [i.e. the stars]). I spent four years studying poetry, and it's possible I'm reading too much into this; but it seems to me that the poet is attempting to draw a connection between these two elements in the text. Note the significant consonants.
Caeli subter LaBentia Signa
If there is a connection, it's a fascinating one. Concelebras means "cause to teem" or "cause to be…
I’m traveling and don’t have sources handy, but I have a quick question involving marriage. I’ve read that the passage in Diogenes Laertius is mistranslated and should read that the wise man will marry and have children. However, if we accept that, how do we explain the criticism of the schools that preceded Diogenes who criticized the supposed Epicurean teaching that the wise man will not marry and have children (except under special circumstances)?
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 21, 2019) — Dubbed "the man who can read the unreadable," the story of Brent Seales is one of patience and perseverance. With the computer science professor at the helm of the Digital Restoration Initiative, the University of Kentucky is poised to become a world-class leader in "unwrapping" cultural artifacts.
For more than two decades, Seales and his dedicated team — of staff and student researchers — have doggedly labored to do the impossible. With renowned expertise, they've non-invasively recovered fragile texts, such as Homer's "Iliad" and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Yet, there is one mystery the team still longs to solve — revealing the elusive texts within the carbonized Herculaneum scrolls.
These papyri are among the most iconic — and inaccessible — of the world’s vast collection of damaged manuscripts. Buried and burned in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, the scrolls offer a unique window to the ancient world. Unfortunately, they are too fragile…
Proxima-b, only 4.24 light years away, receives 250 times more X-ray radiation than Earth and could experience deadly levels of ultraviolet radiation on its surface. How could life survive such a bombardment? Cornell astronomers say that life already has survived this kind of fierce radiation, and they have proof: you.
Jack O’Malley-James/Cornell University
The intense radiation environments around nearby M stars could favor habitable worlds resembling younger versions of Earth.
Lisa Kaltenegger and Jack O’Malley-James make their case in a new paper, “Lessons From Early Earth: UV Surface Radiation Should Not Limit the Habitability of Active M Star Systems,” published April 9 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Kaltenegger is associate professor of astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute, at which O'Malley-James is a research associate.
Today is the day believed to mark the explosion of Mount Vesuvius. Many Epicureans in addition to the library of Julius Caesar's father in law were buried, but because of this disaster we know much more about Epicurus and his philosophy than we would otherwise! 1566652354.jpg
Today I changed the title of the home page from the "Here our highest good is pleasure..." to a generic "The Epicurus and Epicurean Philosophy Discussion Forum" in hopes that this will help make discovery of the forum easier on search engines.
I also will experiment further with a little google targeted advertising to see if we can increase our findability to those who might be looking for us.
I will probably create a graphic for the right sidebar to preserve the "Here our highest good..." phrase on the home page.
Suggestions on these kinds of things are always welcome.
So my neighbor Fran, who has for years considered himself an Epicurean after reading my book, now says he considers himself "agnostic"--that he is OK with "not knowing" (presumably, about God).
He has said this to me after having experienced with mushrooms, and having enjoyed subsequent ecstatic states of mind after his experience, which opened his mind to a whole new reality. I did not try to change his mind, simply have been listening, and he is a friend first and foremost regardless of his views.
It seems to me now that he has equated Epicureanism as a form of atheism (although I think he knows it isn't), and I wonder if he sees Epicureanism as an "ism", a dogmatic and somewhat closed-minded philosophy insofar as it is separate from his recent experiences and he seems to have difficulty reconciling them with E-ism.
I wonder also if this association between philosophy and "sober reasoning" (as per the L Menoeceus) means (to some people, at least) that Epicureanism makes…
As long ago as 2012 I have been interested in the work of science writer Gary Taubes, especially in his efforts to investigate issue of low-carb diets and their effect on heart disease, diabetes, and the like. I read his "Good Calories / Bad Calories" shortly after it came out, and commented in a post at NewEpicurean that I thought the tactics he was using to popularize his theories in the face of "establishment" opposition might be applicable to our work with Epicurean Philosophy.
I have continued to follow his work and in part because of that (and because a friend was recently diagnosed with Cancer) I came across this video below by Dr. Thomas Seyfried and his continuation of work from mid-century Germany linking cancer to mitochondrial problems rather than exclusively to genetics. This is an issue that Taubes mentioned in his 2012 book developed to a much higher level.
I see that Seyfried has a number of videos over the last several years, but the one I am linking here…
"Our least deed, like the young of the land crab, wends its way to the sea of cause and effect as soon as born, and makes a drop there to eternity."
"We might try our lives by a thousand simple tests; as, for instance, that the same sun which ripens my beans illumines at once a system of earths like ours. If I had remembered this it would have prevented some mistakes. This was not the light in which I hoed them."
It's been a pleasure, Oscar! College is an incredible privilege, and one that I mostly squandered; be bold in friendship and daring in happiness, and keep your nose to the wind for every fresh prospect!
I'm certain I needn't tell you to keep studying philosophy.
I have had a private and enjoyable conversation with a member about Epicurean friendship, and I think it has been a while since we specifically discussed friendship here. The member had a question about how "agape", an ancient Greek term for love which has been used for a sort of general charity and well-wishing by Christians, might be able to blend with our philosophy.
Here is a good example of how, by sticking to the original 3 part philosophic structure of Canon, Physics, and Ethics, and by using original texts, we can take an Epicurean view of friendship. After doing so, it will (I hope) be clear to our members that trying to incorporate incompatible elements of friendship from Christianity would not have the same results.
The Canon contains the tools by which we interact with reality-- our senses (which we take to include instruments used to extend these), the prolepses, and our feelings of pain or pleasure. Applying the Canon to friendship, it is clear that we must have our…
The relationship between EP and utilitarianism is touched upon in this quote from John Stuart Mill's book "Utilitarianism", Chapter 2:
"The multiplication of happiness is, according to the utilitarian ethics, the object of virtue: the occasions on which any person (except one in a thousand) has it in his power to do this on an extended scale, in other words to be a public benefactor, are but exceptional; and on these occasions alone is he called on to consider public utility; in every other case, private utility, the interest or happiness of some few persons, is all he has to attend to."
This statement seems to indicate that it is fine if the vast majority of people sticks to Epicurus' philosophy, and that utilitarianism provides guidance primarily for those with power/influence/expendable wealth.
However, Mill's interpretation of EP seems to be quite different from the interpretation which we have worked out here and on the related FB pages. Unfortunately, Mill's writing style is…
Cassius started a new event:Online Book Discussion - DeWitt's "Epicurus and His Philosophy" Chapter 12 - The New Hedonism - Skype Sun, Sep 1st 2019, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EventQuote
Review of Chapter 12 -- The New Hedonism!
I'm am ex-Stoic, or rather close to being one, and I have a question regarding the Epicurean argument that all animals, including humans, naturally gravitate toward pleasure and avoid pain whenever possible. A Stoic argument I read attempted to counter this by providing examples of animals that would willing endure pain and death, by fighting lions, for example, in order to defend the herd. I'm curious to know what the Epicurean response to that line of argument would be?
What do we know about how and why Epicurean philosophy faded in the ancient world? The general and final answer no doubt has to do with the rise of Christianity and its suppression of competitors, but it seems likely that there were other events that contributed to its decline. For example the Emperor Julian is known to have commented that the works of Epicurus were hard to find in his day, and I believe I have also read that even as early as Caesar Augustus, steps were taken against private associations that might have hindered the spread of Epicurean philosophy.
There are also discrete events in history, such as the the remark of Pompeia Plotina, wife of Trajan in about 120 AD, as to her interest and concern for the welfare of the Epicurean school.
What information do we have which a researcher looking into this topic could use as a place to start?
Note: One Place is the Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism, especially the first three essays, including this by David Sedley:
There are three key documents to follow in posting at EpicureanFriends.com:
(1) The "Our Posting Policy - No Partisan Politics And No Supernatural Religion" Graphic.
(2) The "Not Neo-Epicurean, but Epicurean," list.
(3) The Community Standards Post.
Alhough we have done a good job of keeping day to day politics out of our group discussions, this is a topic that should not be left to guesswork on where we stand. Failure to address this topic probably causes dissonance in the minds of many people who think that their own interpretation of Epicurus leads directly to a certain set of political positions.
And I agree with these people. I think Epicurean philosophy does have direct application to political issues. However - and this is a huge caveat - what I don't think is obvious to most people is that Epicurean philosophy won't lead everyone to the same political conclusion any more than it would lead everyone to choose apple pies over chocolate cake.
An interesting thought experiment;
1.) Arose out of eternal Nature. They did not give rise to the natural order; if they exist, the natural order gave rise to them.
2.) Are not immortal. They are supposed to survive for aeons because they preserve themselves incorruptibly.
3.) Are corporeal. They are or have physical bodies.
4.) Don't intervene in human affairs.
5.) Live in blessedness.
I've been amusing myself by imagining a being that actually satisfies these conditions, and has a chance of actually existing (past, present, or future). A supremely intelligent artificial consciousness would not be immortal, but could sustain itself incorruptibly and indefinitely by replacing and updating it's hardware. Such a being might exist even now, somewhere in the infinite and eternal void. Such a being would be best equipped to outlive it's creators, and would conceivably not trouble itself at all about organic life, any more than we trouble ourselves about dust mites. It would…
I often see allusions to deism in relation to the Epicurean perspective on the gods. The connection is superficially obvious, which I suppose is why it's often made--Deists believe in God, but one that is removed from human affairs. Epicureans accepted the existence of a higher order of conscious intelligence, but considered them/it to be removed from human affairs.
But there's really a critical mistake here; the chief feature of the deistic god is that it is always, always the first cause in their cosmology. The Aristotelian Prime Mover. Deism specifically developed in order to hand-wave two problems in the observable universe; first, that there is something when there might have been nothing. Second, that the order of nature is never anything other than ordered and natural. So deism invokes the providential watchmaker; a supreme and generative intelligence that designed a stable cosmos, and then left it ticking on the bench while he stepped out for a smoke.
Deism simply isn't…
Now that I'm home for two weeks (well, actually at a friend's house), I've made a few "School"-related purchases.
Added to my library;
-Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius, in two volumes, from the Loeb Classical Library. I don't believe I had ever read Book X on Epicurus (other than the letters themselves), so this fills a gap. The rest of the volume is just pleasure reading; particularly regarding the pre-Socratics.
-Tending the Epicurean Garden, by our own Hiram Crespo. Been interested in this one for a long time.
-I was hoping to pick up a copy of Michel Onfray's Hedonist Manifesto, as I've seen it cited here regularly. I'll likely go for the kindle version.
-A new microphone and pop filter
-Bose over-the-ear headphones
Yes, the podcast dream is still alive! I hope to have a Pilot episode up by the middle of next week. Additionally, if there are any specific text recordings you'd like to see soon-ish, please let me know!
The ring project
Thanks to D.G. for this quote and question:
I wonder what Epicurus would have thought had he been able to read the following passage in Hobbes' Leviathan:
"Continual success in obtaining those things which a man from time to time desireth, that is to say, continual prospering, is that men call Felicity; I mean the felicity of this life. For there is no such thing as perpetual tranquility of mind, while we live here, because life is but motion, and can never be without desire, nor without fear, no more than without sense."
Thanks to Martin Kalyniuk for forwarding a link to an article about the poet Horace's well known phrase, "carpe diem." Because we're trying to keep the group aware of controversies in Epicurean interpretation, we need to point out that this is a link that needs to be considered with a strong dose of caution. It's the point of the article to argue that "carpe diem" shouldn't be considered to mean "seize the day" in an active aggressive action, but rather that it evokes "the plucking and gathering of ripening fruits or flowers, enjoying a moment that is rooted in the sensory experience of nature." The author also cites the familiar “Gather ye rose-buds while ye may” phrase. In other words, according to the author, Horace allegedly doesn't call us to action, but to "a far gentler, more sensual image than the rather forceful and even violent concept of seizing the moment."
There are many facets to translation issues, and it may very well be that Horace would say that his phrase had
Last year we held a series of discussions on the DISCORD chat service where we went through the Norman Dewitt book on Epicurus by chapter. Planning for Upcoming Voice Chats on DeWitt's Epicurus and His Philosophy
We reached Chapter 12 and though we didn't finish the full book, I thought the chats were pretty successful and worth finishing and doing again. In fact, they are worth doing over and over as a general introduction to the philosophy.
This weekend it also occurred to me that even many of our most regular people have not completely gone through Lucretius' On The Nature of Things poem. We therefore need to set up a series of online to discussions to organize our reading of that.
Let's talk about setting these up. Here are some questions to consider:
1 - Do we pick up where we left off on the Dewitt book, or do we start over? We were going chapter by chapter. Does that method still make sense?
2 - Let's set up an entirely separate discussion program for Lucretius. We…
I was reminded to set up this sub-forum by a little accident we had this past weekend. I was concerned that this little kitten had been incinerated in my car's engine on Sunday, but yesterday I found him and that he had escaped with just some significant damage to a front leg. He's feral but accepted the treatment well enough. In a future post I will post pictures of my #1 pet, a Great Pyrenees.
I have traditionally not been interested in exploring fasting, in significant part because I associate it with asceticism and/or mystical eastern religious practices. I've been a reader and fan of low-carb diet theory, but I've not expanded that to fasting.
In recent years however I've become interested in the work of Dr. Jason Fung, especially with intermittent fasting such as here. Anyone here have any experience with that? Here's their main Facebook group, which I hate to recommend but which has good info.
This is a placeholder for discussion of vegetarianism, which some assert was practised by Epicureans, but for which there is little if any textual support for that conclusion.
Here is a post by Hiram on the topic. This is the only reference I've seen to vegetarianism being discussed, and it is far from clear that it supports the conclusion that most or even a significant number of Epicureans were vegetarian. I recall nothing in Diogenes Laertius, Diogenes of Oinoanda, or Lucretius which supports vegetarianism.
A few quick sketches of an Epicurean ring. I've been curious about lost-wax cold-casting metal for a long time (and I used to cast hot metal at a foundry as my job), so I'm thinking I might get a chunk of wax and see if I can't carve one that looks ok. Or possibly not...I'm pretty lazy when it comes down to it. I'll let you know though.
I've been listening to Isaac Asimov's Second Foundation, and am nearly at the end of the trilogy. I came across an interesting idea;Quote
So he created his Foundations according to the laws of psychohistory, but who knew better than he that even those laws were relative? He never created a finished product. Finished products are for decadent minds. His was an evolving mechanism, and the Second Foundation was the instrument of that evolution.
This got me thinking about something that has bothered me since high school; if ideology is nearly always a problem in societies (and the ideology could be nearly anything; religion, nationalism, fascism, communism, scientism, etc.), then is it any good to select ideology as the antidote?
I suspect that it was this paradox that drove me initially to Thoreau (who positively delights in paradox), and through him to the East, where men like Lao Tzu have been speaking in ironic contradictions for…
Hello. I have bought Norman DeWitt's 'Epicurus and His Philosophy' and am reading the first chapter. One sentence has caught my attention: "both (Epicurus and Comte) stressed altruism as opposed to self-love..." My question is, to what degree? As an ex-Christian, the problem I had with Christian ethics was that it demanded so much of what Iris Murdoch called 'unselfing' as to undermine both my individuality and my own pleasure. Could a more senior Epicurean spell out what DeWitt means by this sentence? What is Epicurean altruism? Thank you in advance.
Also, does that mean he was opposed to self-love? I thought that's what hedonism, even Epicurus's prudent hedonism, was all about.
Hi Jordan! I am sure some of the long time Epicureans can pitch in here. IMO DeWitt doesn't get this right.
Pleasure is always the way to untangle these questions!
When sharing leads to net pleasure, it is wise.
Because the pleasure of friendship is so great, most of us feel strong…
Here is a reminder of what someone who had full access to Epicurean texts, teachers, and friends, stressed as important about Epicurean philosophy: The key to Happiness is in understanding how Nature works, and it is this knowledge which allows us to drive away all fears, including fear of "fate" and of punishment after death.
(from Virgil's "Georgics" 2.490)
Excerpt from Wikipedia on
The two predominant philosophical schools in Rome during Virgil's lifetime were Stoicism and Epicureanism. Of these two, the Epicurean strain is predominant not only in the Georgics but also in Virgil's social and intellectual milieu. Varius Rufus, a close friend of Virgil and the man who published the Aeneid after Virgil's death, had Epicurean tastes, as did Horace and his patron Maecenas.
From the look of this excellent graphic, this article describes the position taken by Epicurus on the issue of Math vs Reality. It ends with something that sounds consistent with Epicurus to me: "For Abbott, these points and many others that he makes in his paper show that mathematics is not a miraculous discovery that fits reality with incomprehensible regularity. In the end, mathematics is a human invention that is useful, limited, and works about as well as expected."
I am posting this not only for discussion of this article but to ask that if you know of other well-stated articles which take a similar position, that you drop us a link so we can compile a list of reference cites. So if you are aware of others, please post here, and we'll work on more material about this issue in the future.
With time to spare on a load to South Portland, I caught a ride to the seaside. What a delight it was to see the Atlantic again! I haven't stepped in it's waters since I was a boy. I started the day at Two Lights, and strode into the surf still wearing socks and shoes. This I later regretted, but was completely enchanted with.
People were scattered on the rocks, watching the spray and the sailboats on a cloudless day; one man was fishing, and pulled in a striped sea bass while I watched.
The driver had directed me to the lobster shack for lunch, and there I soon bent my sloshing steps. I am lately a lover of Lobster Rolls, having tried them for the first time in Salt Lake City. Homemade blueberry pie to accompany, and all of it seasoned with a view of the sea. After this I walked the 6 miles up to Fort William's Park, the home of Portland Head Light.
This view inspired the following ditty (an emblem of our school?), and I was fascinated to learn of all the hands that go…
Below are two clips sent to me by a friend. I personally believe questions about whether reality really exists rank in importance with gods, pleasure, and death. And if we remember that the twelve principles of physics come before the "ethical" conclusions, it is physics is more important.
Does reality exist? What should we think about it? It's not a topic that is omitted from the principal doctrines- it precedes the principal doctrines in development of Epicurean theory, just as the letters to Herodotus and Pythocles precede the letter to Menoeceus. If in fact the universe was created supernaturally, then none of the rest of Epicurean theory makes any sense at all.
And in response to "well maybe reality doesn't really exist - we can't be confident of it because the math and the physics point in all sorts of directions" ---
I think Epicurus confronted exactly the same type of question and fought against it hard -- which we also need to do today.
Here are some key references on this subject:
1. Lucian, Hermotimus.
The selection ends with an attack on Platonic mathematics, and the point it makes is a great companion to Torquatus’ defense of Epicurus in Cicero’s De Finibus:
Perhaps an illustration will make my meaning clearer: when one of those audacious poets affirms that there was once a three-headed and six-handed man, if you accept that quietly without questioning its possibility, he will proceed to fill in the picture consistently—six eyes and ears, three voices talking at once, three mouths eating, and thirty fingers instead of our poor ten all told; if he has to fight, three of his hands will have a buckler, wicker targe, or shield apiece, while of the other three one swings an axe, another hurls a spear, and the third wields a sword. It is too late to carp at these details, when they come; they are consistent with the beginning; it was about that that the question ought to have been raised whether it was to be…
Good to hear from you Oscar and I hope you are doing well!
Here is a summary of the "being" vs" becoming" issue from this link: http://metaphysicist.com/problems/being/
pasted-from-clipboard.pngPresuming this is an accurate summary, then a threshold problem for an Epicurean would be this:
"Being is part of the essential nature of some abstract entities. They are ideas that exist in the immaterial realm of pure information and do not change."
This would appear to be pure Platonism and totally contrary to Epicurean physics and understanding of the nature of the universe.
The entire issue of talking about "becoming" vs "being" is bogus because there is no such thing as "being" -- ideas in an immaterial realm.
Every discussion of this, once entered by accepting the validity of "being," is a disaster, because "being" in these terms is a fantasy that does not exist.
I tend to think that this is a common method of anti-Epicurean philosophers - using terminology that appears to mean something but really refers to nothing that exists.
What kind of podcasting / audio-visual material should we target to produce first? Let me know if I miss a major category that I should include here - I am sure others could be added.
Several weeks ago the admins mentioned that we were hoping to put together a voice-only conference call on Skype that we could open to our online-regulars. We plan to do that tomorrow, Sunday, June 28th, at 10:30 AM Eastern Time on Skype. The purpose of this is just to say hello, and we'll probably go around the "table" and let everyone tell us how they became interested in Epicurus and whether they have any particular areas of focus which we can make sure we cover in the future. Please check back here tomorrow for a link to the Skype Group. We know that we have readers from all over the world so we can't accommodate everyone's timetable, but we're picking a time when we hope to have the most availability in the USA and Europe. We hope you can join us!
Epicurus' Letter to Herodotus:
Furthermore, there are infinite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours. For the atoms being infinite in number, as was proved already, are borne on far out into space. For those atoms, which are of such nature that a world could be created out of them or made by them, have not been used up either on one world or on a limited number of worlds, nor again on all the worlds which are alike, or on those which are different from these. So that there nowhere exists an obstacle to the infinite number of the worlds.
Lucretius Book 2:
(Munro) In no wise then can it be deemed probable, when space yawns illimitable towards all points and seeds in number numberless and sum unfathomable fly about in manifold ways driven on in ceaseless motion, that this single earth and heaven have been brought into being, that those bodies of matter so many in number do nothing outside them; the more so that this world has been made by nature, just as the seeds of…
Looks like this is probably the primary organization, but I've only just started looking: https://seti.org/
Pursuing this subject in connection with Epicurus just occurred to me today. Is anyone aware of any good up-to-date summary material on the current state of findings in this area?
"We either must entice our own interpretation from the extant texts, or rely on others to do that work for us." << And relying on others to do that for us is extremely dangerous. Most modern and ancient commentators are personally hostile to Epicurean ideas. While there are some limited exceptions I know of no modern commentator I have confidence in other than DeWitt. Even there, the only reason I have confidence in DeWitt that his interpretations line up with common sense interpretation of the texts that are available, rather than with a nonsensical harping on "absence of pain" that has been used to confuse since Cicero's time.…
Either pleasure is the goal or it is not, despite the commentators' efforts to make Epicurus incoherent on that score. But any normal person of common sense has the capacity to cut through the word games of the Ciceros and the Plutarchs and their modern ascetic descendants.
Combine the capacity for feeling with an understanding that there is no life after
Cicero, in writing against Epicurus, preserves for us (1) confirmation of Epicurus' focus on pleasure as the goal, with virtue being value only as an instrument of pleasure, as the heart of his doctrine, and (2) a statement of Metrodorus emphasizing the importance of a "strong constitution of body" and a "reasonable expectation of continuing" the same. From De Officiis, Peabody translation.
This poem is written in the form of a sestina, with repeating end-words. The first stanza sets the pattern; each subsequent stanza recycles the words according to the one before, in this formula: 5, 2, 4, 3, 6, 1. Because the second-line word goes second in the next stanza as well, its position never changes. That word is "garden"--stable, reliable, unaltered.
The scene of the poem is the city written about by Lucian.
Abonoteichus - a dialogue
By winds and waves that storm our coast for ages!
By sighing Aphrodite in her garden,
Where hast thou been my son, for there is fire
Deep in thine eyes, and strife upon thy temple?
What trial shakes thy soul with trembling atoms,
Sieging thy mind like a beleaguered city?
I strain my limbs for use of all their atoms
And refuge take in this the soothing garden,
For multitudes are gathered at the temple
Where piled scrolls are ravaged in the fire!
A sickness lies upon this seething city,
And men disgrace the memory of…
I do not encourage anyone to use Facebook, and I fully expect there will come a day when I no longer use it at all myself. In my view there are huge issues with its privacy, its intrusiveness, its censorship, and even its ability to manipulate and cause mental and emotional disorders in people.
However for the moment the reality is that Facebook commands huge numbers of users, and it is an important opportunity to locate new people who are also interested in Epicurus. For that reason you will see here on this forum regular references to postings over at Facebook. I try to make sure that any significant developments over there are reported here too.
So the latest update is this: A series of changes are being made by the admins over there which I think will eventually prove useful here as well. One of the most important is a document entitled "Not Neo-Epicurean, But Epicurean" which contains a list summarizing some important points in interpreting Epicurean philosophy. It is…