**This is the fifty-ninth 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 EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com. Please consider joining us on the Facebook forum so your facebook feed will be updated with the most recent postings.
** Lots of good discussion on the forum this week. First, however, let me call your attention to Hiram Crespo’s new book “Tending the Epicurean Garden” which he announced here https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/678588392190124/ . The book is available on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Tending-Epicurean-Garden-Hiram-Crespo/dp/0931779537/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402512719&sr=8-1&keywords=tending+epicurean+garden+hiram+crespo From the “More about the Author” section: ” Hiram Crespo was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents and currently resides in Chicago. He recently graduated with high honors from a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Northeastern Illinois University, with concentrations in Mass Media and French. He’s a philosopher, multilingual author, and the founder of the Society of Friends of Epicurus. His book Tending the Epicurean Garden is an introduction to Epicurean philosophy for a contemporary audience. In his goodreads profile, he cites among the reasons why this work is needed the lack of introductions to Epicureanism “on its own terms” rather than from direct or hostile sources, as well as the huge body of interdisciplinary research that vindicates the teachings of Epicurus, which calls for an update to how they’re presented. Hiram is currently working on the Spanish translation of his book.” I have not yet had an opportunity to read Hiram’s book, but I am very much looking forward to it, and I will certainly post commentary in the future. Hiram has become a dynamo of Epicureanism in the time since he founded the Society of Epicurus, and his efforts are really an inspiration to show what someone who is interested in ideas can do.
**This week we welcomed to the forum someone I am particularly pleased to have with us – Evan Der Millner https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/677361272312836/ He’s a world traveler so I’m not sure what to list as his home country, but one thing I do know from personal experience about Evan is that he is the host of some of the best and most comprehensive “self-taught” courses on learning Latin on the internet. I used to listen to his podcasts some ten years ago, so I am very pleased to have someone so familiar with the Latin language with us. Evan posted on the Thomas Creech version of Lucretius, and I collected at that same link a number of links to Evan’s pages. I hope you’ll choose to visit them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/677361272312836/
**Evan’s appearance put me in a Latin mood, so I posted a link to a “punk rock version” of a poem by Catullus. Not sure why this tune has stuck with me but after first hearing it I’ve never really gotten it out of mind. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/677530658962564/
**Evan also posted an interesting link on the possibility that “brain noise” might be the root of free will in a way similar to that which Epicurus predicted. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/677526945629602/
**In another post by Evan, I was particularly pleased to learn of an author/book which I had never come across: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/677744675607829/ Evan’s mention was the first I had ever heard of “Isaac Cardozo’s Philosophia Libera (1673), [which] apparently [did] for Judaism what Pierre Gassendi attempted to do for Christianity [as] an attempt to reconcile Jewish theology with Democritean atomism.”
**Agamemnon Koftis posted a link about Anton LaVey’s ” Church of Satan.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/677745402274423/ This is also something I learned about for the first time over the last year or so through members of the forum. I point that out not to highlight my ignorance but to reinforce what a great asset Facebook is for networking information that may be new to many of us.
**My “geography survey” from last week continued to get new comments, so I will link to that one more time: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/676457975736499/ Ah that reminds me that I promised to start off an example round of “My Life and Why I am Here” posts. I failed to do that this week and I have no excuse, other than to say that this time I have only good distractions to cite – the week was busy both in life and on the forum. I will get back that project this week!
**Once again Elli P. showed why she is one of our most inspirational participants. I’ve never seen this very simple graphic but it’s excellent, and a reminder of so many important (if melancholy) things: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203649606903778&set=gm.679182945464002&type=1
**Then finally to end the week, Mikha’el O. started a discussion I thought was particularly good. With the few words “Contemporary Epicureans, what say you about the soul and its end” Mikha’el started an excellent thread on a crucially important topic. I apologize if I got carried away in response 😉 I ended up citing the letter to Herodotus in my reply, and one thing I will add here that I did not state in the thread was this: As you study Epicurus be sure not to slight the letter to Herodotus and the letter to Pythocles. I know we all like to read the letter to Menoeceus, and we have a tendency when we start the letter to Herodotus to think “Oh this is about atoms and void and I really don’t need to know this.” There, my friends, you would be wrong. Remember that the letter to Herodotus (and also the letter to Pythocles) were not intended as advanced material for advanced students. These were written as summaries of BASIC doctrine that all Epicureans were expected to know and to remember, even as they studied more deeply into the details. And although it is true that physics and astronomy are the major topics, for Epicurus there was no split between mind and body or theory and practice. All theory was presented as the practical means of pursuing happiness, and you can bet that Epicurus would not have included a topic in these letters if he did not think it was important. I urge you to put aside your detailed modern physics and realize what he was writing here: Epicurus never saw a molecule or atom through an electron microscope; he never saw the sun through a telescope; instead what we have here in these letters is a logical process that addesses at “procedure” level how we should approach not only physics but life itself. Epicurus was writing in a philosophical context where he was combatting not only the idealism of Plato, but also the rationalism of Aristotle and the skepticism of Pyrrho. It was not enough for Epicurus; it was not his style; to say something as if you were expected to take it on authority. If you will read closely you will see that Epicurus is not only teaching about atoms and void; he is attacking Platonic idealism by showing that only atoms and void exist, and not ideal forms. Epicurus is not only teaching you how to analyze reality and how to think by comparing those things you don’t understand to those you do, all the while never confusing what is certain from what is uncertain. He isn’t telling you *just* these things, he is showing you how attempts to “reason” through things without constant reference to reality leads to Aristotelian rationalism and fatal error. And when Epicurus tells you the nature of the elemental properties, but also describes their appearances and qualities that arise from combinations, he is not talking to you solely about “images,” but he is giving you the foundation for understanding that it IS possible to attain truth in areas where the evidence allows it, in contrast to total Pyrrhonian skepticism. It is true that you must read between the lines, and think about the context in which Epicurus was writing, but the rewards are great!
**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/ or hop around the internet word of Epicureanism by checking the links here: EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com
PEACE AND SAFETY!