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  • Godfrey if you read any of my past commentary on this you probably will expect that I am someone who thinks that the Epicurean theory of divinity has important practical uses even today. My position is grounded on a number of different issues, some of which I will probably forget to list here, but mainly being (1) the desire to come up with a comprehensive theory of humanity's place in the universe (if we alone, then there is something special about us), (2) the desire to consistently apply our…
  • In fact I just re-scanned over Nate's post above and I agree with every word of it. We moderns are polluted in a sense with our upbringing (both academic and religious) and not only are we not the norm in human history, I am not sure at all that we are more advanced in our thinking, especially over the last hundred years or so.
  • One more comment for now: To me, I see a thread running through the Epicurean texts of a deeply-felt concern for ALL life - both animal and human, and I think that they would share what I gather to be Nietzsche's detest for "nihilism" and "stoicism" from that perspective. Life is tremendously short and an eternity of non-existence is a very long time, so I think there is a strain of reverence and awe for LIFE which is built in to the respect for pleasure and pain as Nature's stop and go signals…
  • Yes it is lots to digest and I hope you will continue the discussion. This reminds me of the current thread on "justice" that we are talking. We have strong preconceived notions of what we "should" be talking about in terms of both "justice" and "divinity." But at this point in studying Epicurus we ought to be cautioned that we need to re-examine virtually everything we have been told about Epicurus, and try to approach him from as unbiased view as possible, always starting back at the fundamen…
  • Ah you are right to focus on what is important!
  • Godfrey: Elayne and I were discussing anticipations in regard to justice and I think this part of that applies here: Of course there is a long section of DeWitt talking about anticipations of the gods, but I was focusing here solely on "justice", and to continue: Sometimes to me it seems that DeWitt shifts into talking as if we have an innate "idea" which I think goes to far. It seems to me his best argument is in the sentence highlighted. We have at birth no names for colors, no "concepts" of …
  • (Quote from Godfrey)Yes Godfrey you are right in seeing an issue here. As I read Lucretius, he is very firm that although there may be a numberless but not infinite number of shapes, and an infinite number of atoms of those different shapes, the possible combinations are NOT unlimited, as you will recall that Lucretius points out that certain things like Centaurs cannot exist. Also even at the very beginning of Lucretius, Epicurus is pointing out "whence he returns a conqueror to tell us what c…
  • As to the natural laws possibly they do arise from the qualities too, but to the extent that the qualities are the things observed by us, which are transient, I think we are primarily talking about arising from the properties of the atoms. As to the number of mortals vs immortals, we don't have much in the texts to go on, do we? I was presuming that Dewitt is inferring from the texts that they would be approximately equal, but on the other hand he does stress "equitable" doesn't he, and it is h…
  • My commentary on how the canon would apply would include this: (Quote) At the very "worst" I would say that the Epicurean theory of the existence of extraterrestrial gods "awaits" confirmation. But as far as I can tell the Epicureans stated their observational arguments on which they expected eventual confirmation, (boundless eternal universe, isonomia, nature never creates a single thing of a kind, anticipations) so my personal view is that it is clear error under the Epicurean canon to rule o…
  • Yes those are huge points Godfrey. That essay is one of my favorites for making what I think are some excellent arguments about things that seemed easy to understand on the surface, but on further reflection needed deeper thought. "Necessity" and "chance" need to be closely considered. With this HUGE Takeaway: (Quote) Sometimes I get the impression that people who throw the "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" around in beginner philosophy classes need to think about that too!
  • (Quote from Godfrey)Lots of these words have multiple meanings but to focus on "required" -- required for what? Epicurus and Lucretius are very specific as to the need to avoid "thinking unworthily of the gods" as a means to the most happy life - for example here in Book 6: Unless you purge your mind of such conceits, and banish them your breast, and forebear to think unworthily of the gods, by charging them with things that break their peace, those sacred deities you will believe are always an…
  • (Quote from Godfrey)You certainly have not! You're going to have to try pretty hard to be "offensive" with this group, as we should always take things in good humor whenever possible! (Quote from Godfrey)You don't need me to say this, but of course this isn't a belief in "gods" in the standard sense of that term at all - as you know. As I see it even if you apply everything that Epicurus said literally, you are still talking about nothing more than the kind of reasonable speculations about alie…
  • In fact, Godfrey, your discussion is really advancing my thought on this. Hopefully we will one day develop some kind of "course" or discussion on Epicurean "theology" and I just realized that the opening section of that should probably not be devoted to the statements of Epicurus on the gods or to the Epicurean section from on "On the Nature of the Gods" but probably to this On Methods of Inference. If we don't first fix people's minds on the issue that Epicurus was dealing with the issue of h…
  • So whenever it is suggested to me that we should top talking about "the gods" because it turns off people who might otherwise be interested in Epicurean philosophy, my response is to say that "Unless we DO talk about "the gods," and explain Epicurus' reasoning about them, then they will never understand the full depth of Epicurus' reasoning about proper reasoning (the canon) and humanity's place in the universe! And that bothers me. But of course it doesn't really bother those whose interest in…
  • (Quote from Godfrey) Dare I suggest it, but being willing to give serious consideration to "the Epicurean gods" may be analogous to being willing to give serious consideration to about "pleasure" as the goal of life. Are we brave enough to through off the chains of political and academic respectability, and explore whether Epicurus may have been onto something big, two thousand years ago, that we have fully and completely buried today, even in educated academic circles that are supposed to be E…
  • Fascinating: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_(tree)
  • (Quote from Hiram)"Never before seen" was never a sufficient argument against atoms, and is itself not a sufficient argument against anything that can be conceived to potentially exist through deductive reasoning. Just as observing that "no one had ever seen an iphone" before this century was not a good reason to believe that they were impossible. (Quote from Hiram)And yes this is good current physics which I accept too (and Epicurus did too, since he said all that comes together eventually com…
  • I think Joshua's summary is a very good description of where most of "US" are - and it helps provide background to why this is not really an issue for those of us who have found our way to a forum like this. But we are a very small minority of the human race, and it is my view at least (not sure if anyone wants to argue this or not) that the great majority of human beings in the world ARE concerned with the issues of "whether there are higher beings" and if so "what is their nature and power" a…
  • (Quote from Godfrey) I agree this is murky, but this is one of those areas where I think DeWitt's training as a classical language expert, rather than primarily a philosopher, may give him the edge over other expert/translators. But this ambiguity is definitely in the category of unclear, and as even DeWitt admits later Epicureans apparently did call them "immortal." i would really like to ask Epicurus, "So you are saying they are deathless. Does that mean on the other end that they were never …
  • I apologize to Godfrey for going off topic with mormonism.... The more interesting issue is set of questions posed by eternality / infinity, which I think implies that since life appears capable today of evolving from non-life, then presumably it has also done so for an eternity in the past, which means that certain life forms have had an innumerable time within which to evolve to deathlessness.... all of which poses questions that ... very difficult ... but presumably no more so than the alter…