*This is the seventy-sixth in a series of weekly updates with news from the world of Epicurean Philosophy. Our home base for discussion is https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/ Copies of these posts, and links to active Epicurean websites, are stored at EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com.
**As of tonight, our total “membership” has grown to 689. Last week this time we were 640. We continue to grow steadily, and we welcome all participants and lurkers! We are here to discuss Epicurean Philosophy, have fun, and in the words of Lucian, “strike a blow for Epicurus – that great man whose holiness and divinity of nature were not shams, who alone had and imparted true insight into the good, and who brought deliverance to all that consorted with him!”
**We had a very active week in the group, and we’ve made significant strides to getting back on track with our mission of focusing on Epicurus and learning how we can better apply his way of thinking to our own lives.
Let me point out that an excellent example of how Epicurean ideas apply arose in the repeated discussion (three separate threads) of the story of Brittany Maynard. Ms. Maynard is the 29-year-old American woman who has decided to end her own life after being diagnosed with a rapidly expanding form of brain cancer which the doctors tell her is certain to cause her a very painful and unpleasant death. This issue implicates many aspects of Epicurean thought, from the central “death is nothing to us” to the repeated references to how there is no necessity for us to live under a painful necessity. The one I’d like to highlight in the weekly update is the issue that I posted on today in the latest of the three threads, the allegation by a religious writer that what Ms. Maynard is doing is wrong because “we do not own ourselves.” I won’t repeat my whole post, but one important observation is that in Epicurean philosophy we *do* “own ourselves” and self-reliance and independence and control over one’s life are key tools in living happily.
This is one reason why the “determinism” issue is so important – if we do not have the ability to act to change our circumstances in any way, then we do *not* in any real way “own ourselves” – we are playthings of the gods or or mechanistic fate. Here, the determinism of the physicists goes hand in hand with the determinism of religion in telling us to give up hope and give up trying to seek out happiness. If “we don’t own ourselves” enough to set our own goals, then who does own us and how are our goals to be set? Conveniently, the experts of determinist science and the experts of determinist religion will be happy to answer those questons. They’ll be happy to take ownership of your life if you let them, and they’ll be happy to tell you what to do and how to live so you can “fit in” with popular opinion – which is *their* opinion.
Epicurus told us not to give in to these voices: VS29. “To speak frankly as I study nature I would prefer to speak in oracles that which is of advantage to all men even though it be understood by none, rather than to conform to popular opinion and thus gain the constant praise that comes from the many.”
I know it sometimes seems repetitive to constantly discuss a single topic like determinism, but this is an issue that has so many practical applications that it is hard to over-study the issue. It’s sad to have to confront it in the prognosis for this young woman, but it is important that we study the Epicurean viewpoint so that we not missapply it. We know that in Epicurus’ own situation he did not commit suicide, even though he was in excruciating pain up to his last moment. But we don’t know whether he himself knew that his condition was terminal — for all we know, he thought he was suffering from a condition from which he might recover, as perhaps from which he had recovered in the past. We don’t know these things and we have no ability to create an iron rule for everyone at all places and all time — and THAT would be Stoic and anti-Epicurean even to attempt. But what we do know is that it is important to focus on Nature’s goal for our lives – living happily – and that we take responsibility for making the most of the time we have in our own circumstances.
Before we leave the topic, I’d like to highly recommend Hiram Crespo’s new article “Man is What He Makes of What Life Gives Him” which discusses this same issue. http://theautarkist.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/man-is-what-he-makes-of-what-life-gives-him/
(Links to our threads on this topic:
10/6 – https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728886043827025/
10/7 – https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/729370243778605/
10/11 – https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/731442640238032/ )
** OK on to the news of this week:
**Hiram posted a link to his new page at Patreon.com where those who appreciate his work can consider contributing to help support the production of more: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728106123905017/
**Leonard M. posted a link to an article “The Morality of Epicurus and its Relations to Contemporary Doctrines” from Marxists.org. Lots of good discussion about this one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/727992873916342/
**Ilkka posted a link to the Wikisource version of Diogenes Laertius, which is an excellent page to link to when quoting from the Life of Epicurus: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728528650529431/
**Panagiotis A. posted to a link regarding Sam Harris, which led to a length discussion of Harris’ perspective. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728600020522294/
**Christos T. just returned from a lengthy trip to Greece, and he posted several videos of the environs where the Epicurean school was probably located. These can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728187827230180/ and here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728262013889428/
**”Mulier Sapiens” introduced herself as a new member and a Spanish, Greek, and Latin teacher. We welcome her and we invite all new members to introduce themselves like she did. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728262013889428/
**Ilkka added a copy of the “Letter to Menoeceus” to the files section: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728253280556968/
**I posted a brief comment on the “Farmer and the Viper” fable from Aesop, comparing it o an Epicurean viewpoint: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/729084107140552/
**Alexander R posted a link to a podcast on Victor Stenger, whose views on physics are of interest to those studying the Epicurean viewpoint on this topic: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/729202110462085/
**Hiram posted a nice reminder that those new to Epicurean philosophy can find lots of basic reading on my “Elemental Epicureanism” page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/729212403794389/ Direct link: http://www.elementalepicureanism.com
**A.E. posted a question about whether Epicureans today believe in gods. Always a good topic for discussion and this generated a lengthy exchange: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/729085257140437/
**Amy J. posted a link to a Ted presentation on teenage life in ancient Rome. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/729283197120643/
**Several of our Greek readers answered my question about whether the widely-available internet translations of Lucian are faithful to the original (answer: pretty much so) https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728881133827516/
**Ilkka posted to a page on the topic – “Objective Knowledge is A Myth.” This generated some important discussion about the meaning of these terms. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/728881133827516/
**Elli posted a passage and a graphic regarding the logic of Epicurus vs. the logic of Aristotle which has been the subject of a number of recent posts. This is a very important topic which deserves much more study and development of materials. There are important similarities in the two, but equally if not more important differences, and those differences are very far-reaching. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204476150646855&set=gm.729233527125610&type=1
**Newcomer Chad C. posted several interesting posts this week about Stoicism, which lead to interesting discussions. The first was here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204476150646855&set=gm.729233527125610&type=1 The second was here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=671021063012156&set=gm.730727183642911&type=1 The third (is virtue its own reward?)was here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/730731340309162/ The fourth was here (healing visions from the gods?) https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/731602816888681/
**John C. posted on the Seikilos epitaph: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/729990233716606/
**Hiram posted to a very interesting article discussion the “Naturalist” aspects of Epicurean views: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/730510883664541/
**Yiannis T. posted to the “Perseus” edition of Diogenes Laertius: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/730193520362944/
**Chad C. also did us a great service by ordering one of the Epicurus medallions from Shapeways. Apparently there are quality issues with the first designed, which the artist is attempting to address. Follow the news here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/731071046941858/
**Chad C. also restarted one of our most enduring discussions, on the nature of the gods. Follow that well-commented post here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/731084610273835/
**Alan F. posted to a link on “Ten Questions for the Philosophy of Cosmology” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/731493400232956/
**Leonard M. posted on the book “The Swerve” which gave us a chance to recommend it again, with the caveat that much of the book is devoted to the history of the middle ages rather than to Lucretius or Epicurus (but with that caveat the book is excellent!) https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/731452050237091/
**OK that’s most of the news for the week. The Admins have been discussing a couple of new projects that we hope to launch soon, so stay tuned!
**OK that’s it for this week! 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 Epicurean Philosophy by checking the links here: EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com
PEACE AND SAFETY!