**This is the sixty-third 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.
**This week we had approximately 40 new participants in the group, bringing the group total to 168. Welcome to all the new participants!
**Last week when I wrote the weekly update I had no idea we were about to have such an active week. Let me address the cause in general fashion:
** I see the purpose of this group as a place for fans of Epicurus to discuss his philosophy, have fun, and learn more about how we can apply Epicureanism to our lives. This is not a cult; not an indoctrination camp; but most of all a place to potentially make new friends and learn while we study and discuss the topic of Epicureanism.
It is inevitable, and in very much desirable, that those who come to an Epicurus page like this are going to have widely varying amounts of background in philosophy in general and Epicureanism in particular. I thinki it’s clear that we want that — there is no way to expand our circle if we limit it to those who are already experts in these issues.
One side-effect of that, however, is that we are going to see many people who combine accurate ideas with Epicurus with inaccurate ideas; people who know about Epicurus by reputation, but not by reading what he actually said. Again, that’s to be expected and is desirable.
It’s interesting to note that most people already have enough information to know that Epicurus was not in favor of “wine, women, and song” – most people know that his philosophy entailed and effort to life happily without suffering the consequences of irrational desires. But THERE’s the rub – most people also know that Stoicism taught something similar, and they have a vague idea that Stoics and Epicureans were essentially the same. They think that both focused on “holding in” or “suppressing” strong emotions, because that is what they understand the word “stoicism” to mean. And many people are familiar with one of the most famous emperors of Roman History, Marcus Aurelius, who was renowned as a good man – a philosopher-king, which all rulers should wish to emulate. And they understand Aurelius’ brand of “toughing it out under adverse circumstances” to be the meaning of Epicureanism.
For those who are simply seeking to escape the world of dogmatic religion, knowing that Aurelius was a “pagan” and held views that sound familiar from Mr. Spock is “good enough.” They think this is such a refreshing change from the mindless religions of today that this is all they need to know, and it makes no sense to dig any deeper into ancient arguments that nobody cares about and that can have no possible relevance to their lives today.
And that is where “most people” are wrong.
The great issues of life that confront us today hardly need repeating: (1) Is there a god who rules the universe? (2) What is the nature of our soul? (3) What happens to us at death? (4) Do we cease to exist or is there reward or punishment in heaven? (5) While we are alive, what should be our goal in life? (6) How should we think; what is the role of “reason”; can we live by emotion? What is “truth” anyway? (7) Is our world stable and knowable and can we reasonably plan to live happily, or is all the world a flux that is totally irrational and could pop out of existence at any moment? If so, what’s the use of living? (8) Do we really have any control over our lives, or are we “fated” or “determined” to suffer a destiny which we could not change if we tried?
Despite what you may think; despite all you may have read in commentaries and summaries – what you need to know is that Epicurus gave answers on these questions that are vitally and essentially DIFFERENT from the answers which Marcus Aurelius or the other ancient Stoics would have given.
And you will never know these differences unless you study these things for yourself.
I will not attempt to dig deeper into this here – that is what I did this past week in my “Epicureanism v. Stoicism” chart which was discussed here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/691019920946971/
It’s not necessary that you agree with the opinions listed under Epicurus; it’s not necessary that you disagree with those listed under Stoicism. But what I do urge you to do is to read the chart, then ** check the cites listed to support each one ** and judge for yourself where YOU stand on the issues.
It is quite possible that you will disagree with some of what I have included about Stoicism. There is a large community of modern-day Stoics who object strenuously every time anyone suggests that the Stoics advocated the suppression of emotion. But again, judge for yourself by reading the quotes from the Stoics themselves which I have listed in the notes.
In my view these issues are the heart of what people need to know about to live their lives better. And in my view the answers given by Epicurus were head-and-shoulders superior to the answers of the Stoics. I pledge that I will always approach these issues and discussions as charitably and agreeably as possible, but I also pledge this: These issues are at the heart of Epicureanism, and I will work as hard as I can so long as I am associated with this topic to make sure that a fair, accurate, and sympathetic presentation of Epicurus’ position is available to those who sign on to the group to discuss it.
END of Sermon! 😉
Before I turn to the other posts of the week, I want to also remind everyone that the new site dedicated to providing the full text of Lucretius “On The Nature of Things” is up and live here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/691528494229447/ This makes the first time I am aware of that good authoritative versions of Lucretius can be accessed and cut and pasted for easy use, and I hope you will take advantage of it. These texts have already been available in PDF form, and in EPUB in my Elemental Epicureanism ebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/ElementalEpicureanism/ but easy access via HTML webpage makes it universally more accessible.
This week’s update will be prohibitiively long if I try to address every post. Let me say in summary that we had a number of active new members this week who have contributed very much. Even when they post something which is not orthodox Epicureanism, the discussion gives us an opportunity to flesh out the whys and wherefores, and that is very valuable. Special thanks this week to new participants Raajan Soni, Natalie Samarcande, Lopunis Rajah, and Helen South, and Mitja Makuc. None of these were known to us only a short time ago, but I know I appreciate their participation.
And of course our regulars deserve thanks as well – Ilkka, Tom, Hiram, Brian, and many others. And of course Elli Pensa, who has single-handedly (with many others in the background of course) shown us that passionate appreciation for the philosophy of Epicurus remains strong in his homeland.
I do want to mention specially that there was particular discussion of the location of Epicurus’ house in Athens, and the pledge of the Athenian mayor to work on a memorial of some sort there https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/692116254170671/
Hiram posted on a book give-away: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/692579350791028/
Elli posted on a list of classic books https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/690531620995801/
Hiram set up a group for Spanish-speaking Epicureans: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/690591430989820/ Again a special word of thanks to Hiram here. Many of us will always be limited to the world of English-Speakers. Hiram can perform a critically important role for millions of people who would never otherwise hear an advocate of Epicureanism. And also in reference to Hiram, he set up an “Ask the Author” section at GoodReads https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/691361910912772/
Here is a link to my post that launched the “Epicureanism v Stoicism” comparison chart: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/691019920946971/
I am skipping over several general posts but one that generated a particularly strong discussion was Lopunis Rajah on Nietzsche: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=513364175431471&set=gm.691670944215202&type=1
Helen South, who makes particularly interesting posts and will be a great contributor if she can put up with Mr. Curmudgeon (which I hope by now Tom knows is an endearing name) posted on Julius Caesar https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/691617894220507/
Natalis Samarcande posted about plans for weekly meditations in Athens https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/692519574130339/
For those interested in political theory I posted what I considered a particularly strong contrast between the ideas of Cicero and those of Epicurus: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/692270137488616/
Given the rest of the background this week, my post about a passage from Martha Nussbaum probably got lost, but it was good to see it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/690929300956033/
Lopunis posted some pictures relevant to Athens https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693004357415194/
Hiram posted a thread on “transhumanism” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/692742464108050/
Elli posted a video on “Why Greece?” which is on my things-to-watch list https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/692995230749440/
And Hiram posted a link to an article on the French banning of burqas. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/692715524110744/ I won’t comment on that further here, but the issue of growing religious intolerance in the world (and I don’t mean by those who would *ban* the burqua!) is a matter of huge future concern. And for some of us in some parts of the world, the future is now.
OK That’s it for this week. Best wishes for a good week, and we hope to see you regularly in the Facebook Forum.
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!