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  • Excellent questions Godfrey. I know it is commonly discussed that Epicurus diverged from Democritus on free will / the swerve, but this is a topic that I've read much less about. I agree with the drift of your direction, but I'll have to pull out Diogenes Laertius to scrutinize that passage. Is it possible that the part you quoted is intended to only apply to "painful" emotion, or does it mean ALL emotion?
  • Right -- and I suppose that another ambiguity is the "untroubled." It might not be possible to say that a pleasant emotion is "troubling." But regardless of that, it's not easy at all to square that with Diogenes Laertius saying that Epicurus held that "He [the wise man] will be more deeply moved by feelings, but this will not prove an obstacle to wisdom" so it does seem clear that Epicurus diverged significantly from Democritus on this. I'm not sure what Democritus held on whether the soul cou…
  • Yes exactly the same issue in play over the course of multiple philosophers, with the position opposite of Epicurus taken by Hieronymus: Are You Epicurean Or Hieronymian?
  • (Quote from Mike Anyayahan) I think he was someone who first and foremost knew that he had only one life to live, and that in a world in which there is no divine or ideal standard with which to comply, the best he or anyone else can do is to make the most out of life by experiencing as much pleasure, while at the same time experiencing as little "unnecessary" pain, as possible. The trick seems to be that some people want to say that pain is so bad that it must be eliminated at all costs, includ…
  • I don't think that's necessarily the case, but it often is. [Restated: It is not necessarily the case that all pleasure requires some pain, but it is often the case that achieving certain pleasures requires some amount of pain.] Should I anticipate that you are thinking that pleasures which cost nothing in pain are somehow superior than those which require pain? I don't think that there is any reason to say that at all. There is no objective ranking of pleasures by any outside factor -- and i t…
  • Also - if there WERE an "outside ranking" that would tell us how to rank pleasures, then the knowledge of that ranking system would supersede pleasure as the ultimate test. That is pretty much the trap that Plato set in "Philebus" -- because if you accept that premises that there is something outside of the generic term "pleasure" by which pleasure must be judged, then that outside standard becomes the rule of life.
  • (Quote from Mike Anyayahan) No, clearly from the individual subjective perspective some pleasures ARE greater than others. What is incorrect is to imply that the gradation from lesser to greater are the same for everyone - it clearly is not. I realize that my answers seem so flatly stated that I must come across like Moses handing down tablets from Mt. Sinai. But really, isn't all this very obvious? I think the problem is what Godfrey is referencing, but in more stark terms: "Pleasure" has been…
  • Godfrey and Mike, we three here in this conversation are wrestling with the same issue, I think. One thing I can add to the conversation as a result of having been involved in discussing this for close to ten years now is this: It never seems to get easier to confront this, but it does get HARDER. As time goes by, everyone who is initially drawn to the picture that Epicurus painted have to confront the issue of whether they are willing to charge forward under the real issue (the feeling of plea…
  • (Quote from Mike Anyayahan) I agree with what Elayne said, and would say this too: In order to avoid confusion I think it is necessary to back up to decide what it is we are talking about - which is "feeling" - which is an experience (on pleasure and pain as experiences I would refer to the Wentham article. We can discuss the question of how long a feeling continues to exist, but as for me, I do not think that the word "state" is particularly useful, because there is no bright line between a fe…