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  • In recent discussions the question has been raised as to whether there is a relationship between the Epicurean theory of Anticipations (especially as described by Velleius in his "etching" reference in "On The Nature of the Gods") and the view that is generally described as "instinct," especially as we (presumably) see examples in animals. Over time I expect this question to recur so let's use this thread as a discussion starter. What is "instinct"? Does the common conception that certain anima…
  • (Quote from Godfrey) I think I am with your completely on the first paragraph, but on this one I think you're making a distinction that may be in Barrett but may not be in Epicurus as to "degree of arousal." Also the word "affect" would appear to be Barrett (?) the term in Epicurus as to the feelings would appear to be "pathe" sometimes translated "passions" and includes both pleasure and pain (Don?) but does NOT include "degree of arousal" as part of the term pathe / passions. Obviously degree…
  • (Quote from Don) I agree it is important as to "ideas" - which I think all of us agree (even me, despite Dewitt's comments that might seem to differ) would be fully formed concepts, and these are NOT present at birth. But I am not so sure about "behaviors." Behaviors may be and probably are different from "ideas" (fully formed concepts), and I can see the possibility that those dams and migrations patterns or whatever are "behaviors."
  • Just let me be clear on this point: I'm still very much in the evaluation phase myself on some of these issues. Plus you can add to that the point that I fully expect to be still in the evaluation phase on many of them on the day they haul me off to the funeral home! I especially think that "instincts" needs further research that is far beyond our (certainly my) ability to really come up with hard data on, so that's probably going to have to be one of those long-term issues that we talk about f…
  • I believe those Beaver dams are going to prove critical to this question!
  • Ha that article seems to imply they just want peace and quiet! The pig may have to yield some of its place as an Epicurean symbol if this keeps up. Pig as symbol of pleasure and beaver as symbol of canonic anticipations Maybe if they has had more beavers in Athens we'd already have the dual symbolism! (For some reason I am questioning whether they have beavers in Greece. I know we have plenty in the USA.) (Note 2 if we have a patron animal for ethics and canonics that leaves us needing one for …
  • My first thought is that this would be similar to developing sharper use of eyes or hearing through use. The faculty exists at birth but can be sharpened / tuned with use. So I would not draw a sharp distinction - I would see all results from the faculty as separatr from the faculty , along the lines of separating the faculty of sight from things that we see.
  • Also Godfrey in terms of subsequent learned behavior, almost surely there would be types of behavior too which do not arise from anticipations. I dont see why the existence of the dispositions would rule out the invention of new activities as we grow older, in part or whole unrelated to the original dispositions
  • (Since I am suggesting we always ought to be planning our seminar presentations) (Quote from Cassius) On the symbolism of pigs/hogs I think there is some material which help explain the reference. We surely know it it existed from the Boscoreale cup and the Horace reference. I think there is a church father comment also referencing it in which hogs are cited as pursuing pleasure singlemindedly. Numerous animals would work for the others but any that are known for their instinctive behavior, bea…
  • Just to restate a couple of points that are (or should be) obvious: The suggestion before the house, based on the Velleius material as highlighted by DeWitt, is that there might be "inborn" / "present at birth" dispositions toward certain activities. Not fully formed ideas, not fully formed concepts, nothing with "information" or "opinion" in it, but "dispositions" that are "etched" as it were on the brain even at birth. Or in maybe more modern term, genetic encoding that disposes animals to ac…
  • (Quote from elli) That is a key sentence. You do agree that instincts do exist within humans too? So that both instincts at birth do exist, but also experience comes into play after birth? No one seems to argue that instincts alone exist, but many seem to want to argue that experience after birth is the ONLY mechanism that exists. Would your Greek beavers build dams even if separated from their parents and other beavers at birth?
  • Ok Godfrey you started this. What would you say to Elli's Greek beavers who need training in building dams?
  • And now we add to the list of fact issues: "is the brain triune like the godhead?". Developing a method for dealing with fact disputes apparently is something we'll need to figure out!
  • i suspect it will be easier to produce a consensus on beaver-dam-building than it will on a triune brain division.
  • I am not exactly a farm boy but I have some experience now and my gut tells me that the beavers don't need to be taught. However that is not a persuasive argument. I think it would be the wrong approach to turn every question of Epicurean philosophy into a course in reviewing science journals, but we do need a method that appears satisfactory for some of the basic points. I actually think this one ("instinct") is more fundamental then the eternal or infinite universe issue because it affects us …
  • Another way of asking the method question is "Suppose Martin does some reading and on the podcast Sunday he says "I am now convinced that beavers do (or do not) need to be taught dambuilding." What is our proper approach for communicating something like that? Do we need to say who it is we are trusting, or explain our reason why we are sure? I think in our philosophy discussions it would be desirable to find a way to state opinions on issues like that in a firm but still friendly way, suggesting…
  • I think keeping good humor as with deal with factual debates like this is essential. I don't need to even get close to an allusion to the political world for us to recall how even today some science debates get caught up with a fervor that it would take a Galileo to appreciate! But at risk of getting a slight bit more serious, I think we're about to open Pandora's box with Elli's references to Christos Y.'s position on the brain issues, given his status as a medical professional, and I have thi…
  • (Quote from Don) Almost certainly they work together hand in hand as you say, and I suspect no one in their right mind who thinks "nature" is an influence would deny nurture also is at work. But the reverse is not true. Those who push "nurture" are heavily invested in a total "blank slate" and I think we are seeing that as we observe the surprising lack of research on instinct the results of that attitude. There is no way in 2021 we should be lacking a conclusion on beaver-dam-building or many …
  • Here's an example that might appeal to some. If (hopefully when) we are one day able to reconstruct Jurassic-Park style a new generation of ancient dinosaurs, would we not expect to see them exhibit behaviorisms that were typical of their ancestors eons ago, even though by the terms of their resurrection none of them ever met their parents?
  • (Quote from Don) Yes, we remain at the very starting point of debate because that is the Bailey/Laertius position. The process of "asessing, identifying, and categorizing" is certainly (I think everyone would agree) a process of individual reasoning involving the use of opinion. The trademark characteristic of the five senses, and of pain and pleasure, is that they operate automatically and WITHOUT the use of opinion. If anticipations are viewed as concepts formed through the use of opinion, th…