**This is the fifty-seventh in a series of weekly updates with news from the world of Epicureanism. Copies of these posts are stored at http://www.epicurus.englishboards.com/t19-this-week-in-epicureanism and EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com . Our home base for discussion of Epicurean philosophy is https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/ Please consider joining us there so your facebook feed will be updated with the most recent postings.
** Let me start out the week by encouraging you to follow along and participate in the Facebook page discussions. Most of us who have “liked” one of the various Epicurus pages would profit from increasing our knowledge about the history of Epicureanism and how it applies today. I know that I still feel like I have only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg of what is out there. One of the best ways I have found to learn more has been to see the comments that others make in their own studies. In fact that is largely what my own blog (www.NewEpicurean.com) is all about. Since 2010 I have been recording my observations about Epicureanism as I have come across new resources. In doing so I think I have much improved my own understanding of the philosophical issues. I hope the posts have been of benefit to others as well, but it is very much as Epicurus said – that the study of philosophy is one activity where the pleasure comes along with the doing, rather than long afterwards.
**On a personal note, lately I have gone through a period where the pressures of day-to-day work life have prevented me from studying as much as I would have liked. Rather than lead me away, however, these pressures have shown me how essential it is to keep in touch with the core principles. It’s been of great benefit for me to continue to do these weekly updates, and to check into Facebook and see that others are also working to apply Epicureanism to their own lives. And here I will repeat an analogy that has stuck with me over the years: By no means would I ever assert that Epicurus was uniquely talented, or deserving of blind faith in his teachings, or the guru of the ages. Many fine thinkers have existed before and after Epicurus, and the circumstances of our individual lives are very important in determining which of those are most relevant to us. But I think often of the analogy of being a fan of a sports team. All of us have our favorite sports teams (or similar interests) where we identify with a common, limited, and well-defined group of people. Obviously I believe Epicureanism to be much more important than any sports team. I believe the truth today is that many people are rightly alienated from the cultural institutions that gave them some sense of community in the past. Wherever one looks, to big religion, to big media, to government, to the academy, to health care — in whatever direction you care to look — all our institutions are failing us at an increasing rate. Epicureanism is certainly not able to fill in the gap where these have failed, but for me at least it is comforting and helpful to know that in the great wasteland that civilization often seems to be, we can grasp a remnant of a worthwhile movement that once existed in reality and could exist again. Epicureanism was not just a figment of someone’s imagination, not just a book of fairy tales, but a very real phenomena composed of very real people who prospered in the real world despite the oppression of both religion and politicians. At least for me, identifying with the very real heroes of the ancient Epicurean school provides a point of mental reference that is far more important to me than the fate of a local soccer team. I am not so bold as to predict the possibility that a new Epicurean age will arise again, but what I do know is that I while I am alive I need a point of reference – a steady example that inspires me with with knowledge that happy living is possible. I know that I know no better example to follow than that set by Epicurus, Metrodorus, Lucretius, and so many others, and I am happy to share that interest with anyone of good will.
**From the forum this week:
**Hiram started the week by posting a link to a Youtube rant by a young man who flailed away at attempting to explain Epicureanism as hedonism. The title of his talk was “Relativism Refuted – Epicureanism of Hedonism.” The producer of the video seems to come from a Christian perspective, and I gather the real target of his talk was to condemn Epicureanism as an extreme Relativistic philosophy. It was far too much to hope that he would find references to explain how this is very far from the mark, and the result was that his talk combined some truth with much misunderstanding. We had a good discussion about it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/669221053126858/
**Tom M. posted several links this week of statements which had at least a neo-Epicurean slant. The first one was an article entitled “To be happy in old age give up your ambition” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/669899699725660/ The subtitle was “The former older people’s tsar says the elderly must ‘give up winning’ to be satisfied” It’s important to drill down to be sure exactly what she is saying, as one of her initial quotes is “Everybody can have a sense of purpose until they die. You do lose, but you gain many things.” Maintaining a sense of purpose is surely important for *everyone*. Epicurus observed in the letter to Menoeceus that “[n]o age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both old and young alike ought to seek wisdom, the former in order that, as age comes over him, he may be young in good things because of the grace of what has been, and the latter in order that, while he is young, he may at the same time be old, because he has no fear of the things which are to come.”
**Hiram posted a link to a Youtube video on one of our most regular topics of discussion: “Determinism” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/670069906375306/ This video was entitled “Experimental Philosophy: Free Will” and it served as a good set-up for asking the right questions – without proposing any answers ;-).
*The last post of the week by Tom M. touches on the topic with which I started out this update. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/672250376157259/ The article title was “Cohesion, PTSD, and War” http://www.jonahlehrer.com/blog/2014/5/21/cohesion-and-war Just as Tom observed, ” Close relationships, in this sense, are the ultimate coping mechanism, allowing us to survive the worst parts of life.” This is in my view so very true, and one of the benefits of associating with others who share our views and become our friends. This is a thread that is so core to Epicureanism that it hardly needs repeating, but to cite just one reference: “PD28. The same conviction which inspires confidence that nothing we have to fear is eternal or even of long duration, also enables us to see that in the limited evils of this life nothing enhances our security so much as friendship.” And here I am sure he means not just physical security, but also mental security.
**That’s it for the week! I apologize if I missed anyone or anything. As always, if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please add a comment or participate in the Epicurean Philosophy Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/
PEACE AND SAFETY!