***THIS WEEK IN EPICUREANISM – 7/19/2014***

**This is the sixty-fourth 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.
**As of tonight, our participant total has grown to 199, and by the time this is posted we’ll probably cross 200. We seem to be growing by at least 30 or so each week. Welcome to all the new participants! As posted in a “sticky” notice at the top of the group, we’re planning to make a better effort in the future to make sure that new participants have a sincere interest in studying Epicurus. If you experience a delay in being approved please send a message to one of the admins.

**This week has been interesting to say the least. Last week we had a flareup in new interest, possibly as a result of the Epicureanism v Stoicism chart which is posted here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/691019920946971/ The chart was linked on Reddit, and created quite a stir, which continued into the present week. Reddit is nothing if not rough-and-tumble, and we no doubt have some new readers who found the group from Reddit. There is (sad to say) a much larger community of active Stoics on the web than Epicureans, and they were *not pleased* by some of my comparisons 😉 If you like you can review their retorts here: http://www.reddit.com/r/philosophy/comments/2a4r4u/epicureanism_v_stoicism_a_comparison_chart_with/ I intend to keep working on the chart to refine it, and I may even add a new column to include and respond to some of their retorts. In the meantime, I stand by the summaries as documented by the cites that are included at the bottom of the chart. And I still have 40% of Marcus Aurelius left to go to add to it! 😉

**As the week ended on my last update, I missed including Elli P’s “Why did the chicken cross the road?” post. Mea maxima culpa. Here it is with top billing this week, and take my word for it the discussion went in many different directions. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203864743002046&set=gm.693143874067909&type=1

** Before I turn to some of the more controversial postings this week, let me mention two entirely positive links, The first was a thread on words that have special meanings in Epicureanism. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/695423193839977/

** And in what may be one of the more enjoyable threads of the week, Elli has started a discussion on our favorite pieces of music (hopefully linkable on youtube)! https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/695972663785030/

**Our first hint of the sparks that were to fly was a post by Lopunis R. about the birthday of “John Dee” https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=515031591931396&set=gm.693488820700081&type=1 Apparently Mr. Dee was a big fan of mathematics, which Epicurus was not. So Mr. Dee was awarded a fake cake 😉

**In what was probably a response to some of the discussion that followed, Elli posted a graphic of Epicurus saying “I was never anxious to please the mob. For what pleased them, I did not know, and what I do know was far removed from their comprehension.” https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203871071800262&set=gm.693560854026211&type=1

** On July 12 Raajan S. posted about how it was high time for humanity to follow the teachings of Epicurus *and* Marcus Aurelius. As you might expect, that produced a resumption of the sparring between Epicureanism and Stoicism. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693090280739935/

**The next day I posted a link to John Adams agreeing with Thomas Jefferson that Plato was not to be admired. Adams said, upon reading Plato, “My disappointment was very great, my Astonishment was greater and my disgust was Shocking.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693675107348119/

**Later that day Elli posted an excerpt from a writing by Dimitris Altas, a member of the Epicurean group in Thessalonika, on Epicurus v. Aristotelian logic: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693572477358382/

**Christos T. posted a link regarding Lucretius and a theory of how life spreads in the universe (Panspermia): https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693615684020728/
**Hiram posted a link on the book “Buddha’s Brain” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693478617367768/
**Alexander R. posted a link on “God and the Atom,” a history of Atomism https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693929320656031/
** Elli posted to a link on an optical illusion, which gave us an opportunity to discuss the Epicurean view on those and the senses https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203874403163544&set=gm.693808380668125&type=1
** I posted a reference to an important section of Jefferson’s “head and heart” letter that has direct application to our discussion of the role of “reason” in life https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693657707349859/
** Tom Merle posted a link to a Sam Harris quote — and then forgot he posted it! 😉 https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693946717320958/
**Raajan S. posted a link about combining the best from many different philosophies, which generated an interesting discussion on eclecticism which I think was very good. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/693926677322962/
** A new member, Harald Z, posted a link about joining the group and his interest in philosophy. I hope all new members will consider posting something similar as it’s a great way to get to know new people and discuss new things. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/694313577284272/

**Teddy M., another new member, posted a link to a youtube recording of a classroom presentation on Epicureanism. There is some good stuff here and the professor is an entertaining speaker. I think he does a particularly good job in pointing out differences between Epicurus and Aristotle and Plato. I would warn you, however, against relying too heavily on this brief presentation, just like I would warn you about ANYONE’s commentaries. It is always best to go right to the texts for the greatest accuracy. In this case, I have a particular problem with the fact that the professor skipped right over much of the critical points on the nature of knowledge. He also dismisses out of hand Epicurus’ physics, and thereby almost guarantees that his students will not find out the critical methods of reasoning that underlay the philosophy. He also makes several cheap jokes at Epicurus’ expense (“He’s not the kind of guy who actually *does* anything); in general he often sacrifices accuracy in favor of making a joke. He also leads his students into thinking Epicurus was much more of an ascetic than he actually was. In general and as a quick introduction, this presentation is not bad. Just understand that what you about to hear is the conventional viewpoint on Epicureanism, and it incorporates the standard academic criticisms without giving the response Epicurus would have given. Be prepared to verify the details for yourself, and don’t rely on this presentation for an accurate view of the big picture either. For a more serious and more accurate introduction, be sure to check out Norman DeWitt’s “Epicurus and His Philosophy.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/694691653913131/
** Teddy M. also started discussion on whether there were any novels with Epicurean themes. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/694444600604503/

** As discussion about the role of reason and Epicureanism got warmer, I posted several key quotes from Lucretius on the topic: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/694766327238997/
** Harald Z also started a discussion about some eastern views and whether they were relevant to Epicureanism https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/694664310582532/

** Elli posted to a graphic of an Epicurean saying: “The study of nature does not make men who are fond of boastering and chattering, or who show off their education that impresses the many, but rather men who are strong and self-sufficient, and who take pride in their own personal qualities, not in those that depend on extraneous things.” This was NOT randomly selected! 😉 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203894565347586&set=gm.695021340546829&type=1

**And then on July 16, Alexander R. posted a link on Epicureanism and naturalistic traditions, and the sparks started to fly. If you’ld like to observe a debate about Epicurean views on nature of the gods, this is your thread: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/694695913912705/

**Later that day Tom M. posted a comment about a politician talking about “the tranquility of the global community” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/694583967257233/

**Helen S. posted an interesting thread about getting into reading classical Greek or Latin. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/694122310636732/

**On July 17 also a discussion was started on how a member first was introduced to Epicurus – https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/695131123869184/

**Discussion continued on the nature of the gods with a post about Dirk Obbirk’s book “Philodemus On Piety” on the fragments of that work that are left. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/695089100540053/

**Hiram posted a link to the “Becoming Minimalist Newsletter” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/695143173867979/

** Tom posted a link on the “Town of Greece” in the united states and its decision to start a board meeting with an “invocation” by an atheist. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/695134720535491/

**Another new member, Will Osborne, introduced himself and his current reading. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/695094803872816/

**Raajan S. posted a link to an article on “An Epicurean Guide to Happiness” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/695549037160726/

**Yiannis T. posted a link to the Epicurus entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/695409470508016/

** Elli posted to a quote from Menander comparing Epicurus to Themistocles, saying one had saved Greece from slavery and the other from stupidity. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203908440774463&set=gm.695809143801382&type=1

** Long-time member Brian posted a document which is color-coded as a method of assisting in reading Lucretius’ poem. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/694429283939368/
** Elli posted to a Greek reading of the Hypocratic oath as an example of what the language of Epicurus sounded like in the ancient world. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203882805613600&set=gm.694309053951391&type=1

**OK that’s it for the week. Activity in the group is really picking up, but I am going to do my best to stay on top of it. Feel free to post any comments in this thread.

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!
Cassius Amicus

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