**This is the fifty-eighth in a series of weekly updates with news from the world of Epicureanism. Our home base for discussion of Epicurean philosophy is https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/ and copies of these posts are stored at http://www.epicurus.englishboards.com/t19-this-week-in-epicureanism and EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com. Please consider joining us on the Facebook forum so your facebook feed will be updated with the most recent postings.
** This has been a particularly good week on the forum, and I think we’ve ended the week on a high note with new participants and ideas for making things better. Let me recap where I think we are in the “online world of Epicureanism”:
** First let me say where I think we’re NOT. We’re *not* working on building a cult; we’re *not* trying to be creepy and obsessive about ancient history; we’re *not* trying to take the place of a professional academic study group where we show off our knowledge of trivia; we’re *not* looking to provide a home for everyone in the world who knows how to spell the word “philosophy.” As I see it we are ordinary people of good will who understand that happy living requires a framework of thinking. Although we’ve each started from any number of different perspectives, we’ve independently come to think that Epicurus had some particularly insightful things to say, and we’d like to learn more about his views as they might help us in living our own lives.
**There are a number of conversation lists in which one can discuss Epicurus on the internet. One that immediately comes to mind is here: http://www.epicurus.net/en/epl.html I don’t participate in that one as much as I would like, but it is available and contains some very good people. It is, however, built on the old model of a “list-serve,” so it is based on traditional email.
**Facebook is something of a brave new world. It provides amazing opportunities, along with a number of hazards and dangers. As we are a philosophy known to be identified with the phrase “live unknown,” we certainly want to be careful in how we go about spreading our names and faces across the world at large. I like to point out, however, that we don’t have the context for “live unknown” to evaluate its limitations, and it’s obvious that even Epicurus himself did not let the desire for privacy get in the way of conducting an outreach campaign to friends across the world.
** Our current “Epicurean Philosophy” facebook group is “open” – which means that anyone can see what we post. I need not remind most of you that there are controversial aspects to Epicureanism, so I suggest that people be circumspect in what they post and how they identify themselves in an open group like this. Perhaps in the future we can add a “closed/private” group as an adjunct to this one, but for now we need to keep in mind that there are few if any filters on who can choose to read what we write.
**I think we have a consensus that our present group is, and will always be, a place for light and happy discussion; a place to come into contact with others from across the world who share our similar interests; and not a place for bitterness or strife or unpleasantness of any kind. We have two good moderators here (three if you want to count me) and they’ve established a track record of good judgment and interest in our topic that we can count on to keep the group on an even keel.
**As we ended the week we had a new vistor from Italy, a location I’ve personally been keen to try to make contact with, given its role in ancient Epicureanism. From there the topic has arisen that perhaps we should introduce ourselves on the forum. Once the weekly update is out I will do that for myself and hopefully provide a template for how others can do the same in a way that will provoke conversation without jeopardizing privacy.
**As I wrote earlier today, I did a quick-and-dirty tally of the locations of our group members. There are some I can’t pinpoint, but for the ones I can, the list looks something like this: USA 22 Greece 9 Australia 4 Netherlands 3 Poland 2 Germany 2 and 1 each from Italy, Lithuania, Croatia, Finland, Puerto Rico, Nigeria, Canada, South Africa, Czech Republic, and Russia. That means we have more from *outside* the USA than inside, which really makes for an interesting mix. I know that clicking “join” in Facebook guarantees very little about one’s interest, agreement, or commitment to the topic of a group. But regardless of your level of interest, I encourage you to posti on just about any topic that interests you, even if it just to say hello for the first time. We have few if any guidelines, other than that the post have some *minimal* connection to our common interest in Epicurean ideas. **If you are smart enough to have an interest in Epicurus, you’re sharp enough to know where the line is on what people here would be interested to read.** We’re NOT just interested in the ancient texts, although those obviously play a large role in defining what it means to be a fan of Epicurus. Lots of our posts end up being links to articles written by outsiders from non-epicurean perspectives, or that butcher the real meaning of Epicureanism. Those are great for sharing information, but many of us would be *at least* as interested in any personal thoughts you have that in any way relate to why you clicked here in the first place. Many of us don’t end up personally “friending” each other for privacy reasons, and that means all we learn about each other is what we see here. I am sure I am not the only one fascinated about why every one of us, from so many widely various locations and walks of life, has an interest in Epicurus. It’s really great fun, not to mention inspiring, to hear the thoughts of those with similar interests.
**OK that’s the end of my speech for now. We can go lots of different directions in the future, from closed forums to private non-facebook forums, etc. There’s no hierarchy here and no ideas are bad ones; just have a good time and be sure to post any suggestions you have.
**From the forum this week:
**Tom Merle posted a series of links to “Epicurean Sentiments” from the modern world as food for thought. They included https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/673817306000566/, https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/673831729332457/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/673824142666549/. Most of them combined some ideas that struck me as consistent with Epicureanism along with other ideas that I would think Epicurus would reject. For a colorful example: “Never, never marry, my friend. Here’s my advice to you: don’t marry until you can tell yourself that you’ve done all you could, and until you’ve stopped loving the woman you’ve chosen, until you see her clearly, otherwise you’ll be cruelly and irremediably mistaken. Marry when you’re old and good for nothing…Otherwise all that’s good and lofty in you will be lost.” The part about not marrying until you see the other party clearly seems *highly* Epicurean. Some of the rest, however, maybe not so much!
**Also this week I posted a link to a new facebook forum, https://www.facebook.com/groups/ElementalEpicureanism/ which I have set up purely to post announcements and updates to the ebook I am currently working on to combine into a single resource as many of the core Epicurean texts (in public domain version) as possible. The ebook is in very usable form now, but it’s not nearly as polished as I would like. On the other hand, this is turning out to be a much longer task than I expected, so if I wait until it is perfect it will never be available. I have therefore posted it in the new group, and as I make changes I will post announcements there, rather than cluttering up the main facebook page. I am preparing this because I want both (1) a single collection of the texts I can have at hand at all times, and (2) an outline with hyperlinks where the central concepts can be found throughout the texts. I hope you’ll find the result somewhat helpful in your reading, as I am finding it in mind. The download is of course free.
** In what is proving to be a contentious topic (physics!), I posted a link to an article by Roger Penrose, emeritus professor at the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/674472272601736/ The article is entitled “Roger Penrose Says Physics Is Wrong, From String Theory to Quantum Mechanics.” I don’t think I need to rehash why this topic is of interest, and why it is controversial. Few minds are going to be changed; but gaining more information about both sides of the argument can only be a good thing. What passes as “science” today can be as divisive as religion, and it pays to keep an open mind at all times as to both!
**Then on June 4 we had an excellent post by Brian Z. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/674856929229937/ He wrote: Interesting piece in today’s BBC online that lends itself to corroboration of Vatican Sayings 17: “The young is not blessed, but the old having lived well; for the young at the height of power is bewildered by raving chance. But the old has anchored in old age as in a harbor and holds in secure and happy memories unexpected goods.” http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140603-why-nostalgia-is-good-for-you That led to some excellent discussion. This post was a good example of what I think the forum does best – allow us to discuss a clear, helpful, relevant issue that has lots of support in the Epicurean texts without crossing too far into side issues that lend to confusion with other philosophies.
**On June 5, I posted about Hadrian’s wall and Plotina https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/675452925837004/ That led to some discussion from members who were not previously familiar with Plotina and her Epicurean connections. Again, I think, a good result which achieved sharing interesting information that will be helpful in future discussions.
**On June 6, I posted two cites I have recently come across related to a “moral sense,” on in Frances Wright’s “A Few Days In Athens,” that she placed in the mouth of Epicurus, and one from a letter by Thomas Jefferson. I continue to find this to be an important topic, as explained here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/675819835800313/
**Then, earlier today we had a new participant enter the forum, this time Elisa from Italy. I want to thank her for already contributing a post, this one a comparison of the hymn to Venus by Lucretius with a composition by Giacomo Leopardi, an eighteen century Italian poet. Of course I admit I had never heard of Leopardi, but there is a very interesting bio of him at Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_Leopardi Ah, here is something I would love to read “Pompeo in Egitto (“Pompey in Egypt”, 1812), written at the age of fourteen, is an anti-Caesarean manifesto.” Leopardi appears to have been a *very* interesting character; perhaps Elisa will tell us more about his hymn to venus and his comments on Epicureanism!
**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!