**THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 11/15/2014***
**This is the eight-first in a series of weekly reports on 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 group has grown to 991. Last week this time we were 956. Soon we will break 1,000, and we’ll try to do something to observe the milestone. As 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!”
**This week we had several important threads to recap:
**In probably the most lengthy thread of the week, Aaron F. asked a simple question “The end justifies the means. Thoughts?” which turned into a survey of “the ends of life” in great detail. This simple question is one of the continuing “big picture” issues that deserves a lot of thought, so I highly recommend the thread: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/744475142268115/
**Hiram posted to an article on Epicurean influences in Jewish history: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/744892142226415/ Hiram also posted about references to mentions of Epicurus in Josephus: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/745866392128990/
**In followup to that Alexander R. posted to Josephus’ comparison of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jewish history. This is a very illuminating topic and if you’re not familiar with what Josephus recorded, this is worth reviewing. The parallels between Epicurean philosophy and Sadduccee thought (which unfortunately died out) are too close to be coincidence. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/745898115459151/
**In followup to last week’s topic on the nature of Pleasure and how we should pursue it, I posted a link to an excellent article entitled “On Cicero’s Interpretation of Katastematic Pleasure in Epicurus.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/745613175487645/
**Yiannis T. linked to a book on Epicurean Ethics. It was published in Greece (in Greek) but we still managed to have a good conversation about it in English. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/745820292133600/
**Yiannis T. also linked for us to the live feed for the Rosetta comet landing. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/745249348857361/
**Based on a question from Christos T. we had a short conversation about ways to commemorate the 20th of each month, as Epicurus suggested. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/746243795424583/
**Elli P. posted a link to a video of the president of Uruguay, who gave a speech specifically citing Epicurus and arguing a number of points familiar to those of us who study Epicurean philosophy. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/746326185416344/
**We had several posts about the “Internet Philosophy Quiz” which a number of people have been taking on facebook. Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/746023265446636/ and here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/746573342058295/ In the event anyone is interested in discussing the questions or answers, I set up a list of them here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/746648318717464/
**The post of the week that I’d like to add a few comments on here is one I started which asked what Epicurus would have thought about “usury” (the charging of interest on loans). Many thinkers of many types in Western Civilization have condemned usury, but over the last two hundred years most of the laws that had been enacted to discourage it fell by the wayside. As a result, we now have a world economy with more debt than previous generations could ever have imagined, and central bankers have replaced elected political leaders and controllers of the direction of nations. Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics condemned usury, but I am not aware of there being a recorded direct statement on the subject from Epicurus. We know he did not wish his students to hold their money in common (as that is not indicative of friendship), but that’s about all the economic commentary we have from Epicurus himself. There is some surving material from Philodemus on property management, but if Philodemus comments on this I am not aware of it. Here’s the thread I started — https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/746468848735411/
One reason I raised the topic is that I personally believe that the world financial situation is well past a tipping point, and headed into disaster. Much of the rest of the world seems likely to follow the financial hardships now being experienced by our friends in Greece. Huge amounts of loans that *cannot* be repaid *will not* be repaid, and though Central Banks have all but assumed political control of some nations, at some point the ability of the central banks to manipulate the public is likely to end. There are an unlimited number of economic articles predicting gloom and doom, but one that came to my attention today about the depth of the crisis is here: http://www.safehaven.com/article/35803/financial-sphere-bubbles
Many of us live in parts of the world that continue to experience relatively “good times,” but the economic crisis seems likely to spread. Hard times in the future will make it more important than ever that we understand Epicurus’ teachings. It will be more pressing than ever to understand that unlimited time, and unlimited wealth and power, are not necessary for us to live full, complete, and happy lives. Epicurean philosophy is always needed, by everyone, and all the time, but when the full extent of the world financial crisis explodes into the world headlines (as I believe it will before much longer) the world will recognize the need for Epicurus as never before.
As far as we know, Epicurus did not endorse a particular form of government or particular financial system. As a philosopher, Epicurus was concerned about the deeper issues of life that transcend politics and money. What Epicurus knew and said was that “Vain is the word of a philosopher which does not heal any suffering of man.” The final thread I want to cite tonight expresses this in perhaps the most moving words I’ve ever read. This passage was penned by Seneca (a Stoic), but as he says, he was speaking “in the guise of an Epicurean,” and the sentiment and argument are pure Epicurean. If you’ve never read this and its fascinating “mouse and cheese syllogism” argument, do yourself a favor and follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/746573342058295/
Here’s the direct link to the passage at wikisource: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Moral_letters_to_Lucilius/Letter_48
Keep this one and read it whenever you run out of energy to study philosophy!
**OK that’s all 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 world of Epicurean Philosophy by checking the links here: EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com
PEACE AND SAFETY!