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  • Welcome to Episode One Hundred Thirty-Eight of Lucretius Today. This is a podcast dedicated to the poet Lucretius, who wrote "On The Nature of Things," the only complete presentation of Epicurean philosophy left to us from the ancient world. I am your host Cassius, and together with our panelists from the EpicureanFriends.com forum, we'll walk you through the ancient Epicurean texts, and we'll discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. We encourage you to study Epicurus for yoursel…
  • Episode 138 - The Letter to Menoeceus 05 - On Pleasure (Part One) - is now available! spreaker.com/episode/51144270
  • Don that reminds me of the formulation of pleasure as related to "smooth motion." I think the last time I looked that up I didn't track it to Epicurus but to someone earlier. I wonder if that last part of the passage is related to that issue of of " smooth motion" (Crédit to Donald Robertson for tracing the smooth motion to the Cyreniacs here https://donaldrobertson.name/2…rus-versus-the-cyrenaics/ ) That Robertson article raises a number of topics about the Cyreniacs/ Epicurean relationship tha…
  • (Quote from Godfrey) This is a good discussion. For the moment at least I am still more where Martin was in the podcast, that desires are not inherently good or bad, pleasurable or painful, as a whole, but that they are a kind of mechanism or will or drive that can be immediately or can lead to pleasure or pain. One thing I am sure of is that the dead have no desires, and I cannot consider that to be a good thing, so that a general call to limit ALL desires cannot be correct. When Epicurus made …
  • It is also probably relevant to this conversation to note the opening "hymn to Venus" in Lucretius. It is the desire / drive for Pleasure which motivates all living things in the pursuit and continuance of life. Maybe we experience this as a "spur" to move forward, and maybe spurs can be analogized to a discomfort with existing circumstances, but I cannot imagine anything more destructive to the human race - or to life itself - than the demonizing of this drive. This is what I would condemn in r…
  • Don I think that's a very important direction to pursue. At various places I have read that the ancients did not seem to have an exact equivalent to what we talk about as "will" or "willpower" and I presume that what we are at least in part talking about is whatever it is that we consider our basic "motivational spark" to be. "Desire" seems closely related to "will/willpower" and we need to explore the differences. I have not had time to explore your links but I presume we need to trace the Lati…
  • (Quote from Don) And we probably don't want to forget "pathe" since that seems to be the blanket term for pleasure and pain. Is desire a "pathe" or a subset of that term? Lots of questions and few answers right now but this is how we eventually punch our way out of the paper bag of considering all desire to be actually or potentially "bad."
  • (Quote from Godfrey) If indeed desire is a guide, and it is part of the healthy functioning of the organism to experience it, would it not be equally or more proper to call it a pleasure? I think an argument can readily be made that these feelings of desire are not problems, but the healthy functioning we should wish to occur, and that we find these spurs to action pleasurable rather than painful. Wasting away from lack of food is certainly painful, but having an appetite for a good meal strikes…
  • (Quote from Joshua) Maybe that is a large part of the problem of terminology, and gets us into the "confident expectation" material. If I am happy and healthy now, I still want to "desire" that to continue. I am never satisfied to think "Ah, I am happy now, I need nothing more, time to die." I always want ("desire")the continuation of pleasure, even though I know that in the end I will die and I will experience no more. Even when i am closed to my experience being full of pleasure and all pain b…
  • I think Martin's observations in the podcast were particularly helpful when he referred to pleasure as a "drive for action" or something like that. I remember analogizing that to Nietzsche's "will to power" phrase. I've never understood Nietzsche well enough to be sure what he was talking about, and I can't parse his original German phrase. But with the understanding that the "power" being referenced is not "power over other people" but "the power to obtain one's desires," I think the phrase fit…
  • (Quote from Don) Yes I think we've got an interplay of issues here mainly arising from the word desire and how specifically to define in. Pleasure is the only word that Epicurus held to be always "good" -- Did he say that specifically, or is PD08 the closest to that? (PD08. No pleasure is a bad thing in itself; but the means which produce some pleasures bring with them disturbances many times greater than the pleasures.) So maybe the better question to ask in paraphrase would be - Would it be co…
  • (Quote from Godfrey) And Epicurus saying in the letter that sometimes we treat the good as bad and the bad as good is a very clear statement and stark reminder of how "relative" those terms (good and bad) really are. Nevertheless the world throws around those terms (good and bad) as if they were handed down on tablets from Mt. Sinai!
  • (Quote from Don) I almost hate to comment on this because my thought is not major and I don't want to interrupt the stream of the posts from Don. But this formulation prompts me to comment that while pleasure and pain are feelings that are presumably reported "involuntarily", I would think that many desires have a much larger component of voluntary choice in them. I realize the limits to this statement, but we can to some extent by willpower express or suppress our desires, while that is probabl…
  • (Quote from Joshua) Most all of the comments in this thread I agree with and they are very productive to help us challenge ideas that we think are wrong. I hope everyone will help us remember - however - that our goal should be to eventually emerge from these details with some high-level conclusions about what we think Epicurus was saying. We'll discuss as much of all this as we can on the podcast, but the goal eventually needs to be something in writing that summarizes the major distinctions be…
  • I agree with most everything in that last post. I would want to clarify this part however: (Quote from Don) You are listing there numbers of ways that desires arise (naturally from physical needs, living our life, things we are inculcated to desire by society and culture. Agreed. But per the letter to Menoeceus do we not also to some degree choose our own desires, consistent with our free will, and indeed to the events arising from those choices praise and blame do attach? (Quote) "They're not *…
  • (Quote from Don) As to the arising of desires (thoughts?) there is of course also the Epicurean theory of images: [15.16] Cicero to Cassius [Rome, January, 45 B.C.] I expect you must be just a little ashamed of yourself now that this is the third letter that has caught you before you have sent me a single leaf or even a line. But I am not pressing you, for I shall look forward to, or rather insist upon, a longer letter. As for myself, if I always had somebody to trust with them, I should send yo…
  • Just for clarity the correct link to post number 36 is: RE: Episode One Hundred Thirty Eight - Letter to Menoeceus 5 - Pleasure Part One It's not obvious how to do that.... to get the direct link click on the post number at the top right, and you get a popup box. One of the entries is "permalink" and you can click on the "copy" icon to copy the link directly into your clipboard, where it is then easy to paste.
  • (Quote from Don) I am less confident, and think that we may eventually find particles flows that we don't currently know about, but I don't intend to get distracted on trying to explore that. I have enough to do exploring for intelligent space "gods"
  • (Quote from reneliza) Reneliza would you say that your sentence there boils down to "all desire is painful?" Would that cause you any issue to embrace that as a sweeping general statement?
  • Maybe we ought to be considering the dictionary definitions of "desire" today, and also follow Don's lead and take a position on what we think the word meant exactly to Epicurus. Otherwise we are likely to never gain much clarity. https://dictionary.cambridge.o…dictionary/english/desire