***THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 12/27/2014***

***THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 12/27/2014***

**This is the eighty-sixth 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 1293. Last week this time we were 1263. We continue to grow steadily, and we welcome all participants and lurkers. If you apply to participate and don’t receive a reply promptly, please send an email to an admin about your interest in the group. 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!”

**Holiday weeks can be stressful, but there’s no better way to keep the stress under control than reflect on the philosophy of Epicurus and discuss it with like-minded friends. Here’s a report on the last seven days:

** Most-Commented Post of the Week: The winner this week was a post by Dragan N. The graphic he posted is actually a mashup of several Epicurean ideas, rather than a precise quote from a single text. The general idea is much as was stated by Lucretius in his opening of Book Two, but perhaps due to the looseness of the graphic the post generated considerable debate. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=549918985143795&set=gm.762677500447879&type=1

**In other posts of the week, there were a couple I would like to stress as particularly important:

** First, it was good to see a post from a new contributor, Mitchell Connor W. asking for some commentary on the poetry of Lucretius. We strongly encourage posts from newcomers asking basic questions like this, especially from younger people. If you come across this group as a part of a class or writing assignment, don’t hesitate to ask for help. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203151387777627&set=gm.765329013516061&type=1

** Second, but related, were a couple of posts spurred by a very similar post – Alex C. asking about Howard Jones’ book “The Epicurean Tradition.” I don’t think many of us here had read it, but it spurred me to get an epub version and check it out, and in doing so I found some excellent information about a writer from the 1400’s I had not heard of – Cosma Raimondi. The original thread about the book was https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/763843373664625/ and the followup about Raimondi was https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/764261280289501/

The reason the Raimondi find was so significant to me derives from a point that can hardly be stressed enough: **The majority of the material that most people encounter about Epicurus was written by people who are hostile to his views.** Even wikipedia and the standard academic texts have to be scrutinized carefully, because regardless of how objective a writer tries to be, it is very difficult to avoid seeing Epicurean ideas through eyes conditioned by modern perspectives. If you want the truth about Epicurus, be sure to read about it not only through “commentators”, but in the words of those who were avowedly Epicureans themselves. The list of such writers advocating Epicurean philosophy is unfortunately short, and from the ancient world little is left to us other than Epicurus himself, Lucretius, Diogenes of Oinoanda, parts of Lucian. and parts of Cicero. After the true Epicurean period in the ancient world, there have been *very* few writers who were willing to embrace the full extent of Epicurean philosophy and present it without reservation. Most of the writers from England and France, even including Gassendi, found it desirable or necessary to water down Epicurean views to comply with the religious requirements of their day. The *only* significant writing I am aware of that presents a full and reliable defense of Epicurean philosophy is Frances Wright’s “A Few Days In Athens” (www.AFewDaysInAthens.com). I can now add to that list one much shorter document – the letter of Cosma Raimondi to Ambrogio Tignosi. The letter contains this paragraph which sets the tone:

“Because I have always followed and highly approved the doctrine of Epicurus, the wisest of men, I have decided to defend his dignity that you petulantly have attached and offended. …..[Epicurus] placed the highest good in pleasure because he had looked deeply into nature and understood that we have emerged from nature and are formed by her. Nothing is more appropriate than to maintain all members of our body healthy and whole, preserving them in their good condition, without being affected by any evil in either our spirit or our body. O most wise Epicurus! What else can we add to this sentence? What other happiness can there be? How could a lamenting spirit be happy? How could a body in pains be happy?”

There is much more good stuff where that comes from, which we can discuss in future posts. In the meantime, this points out the disadvantage under which those of us who know only English labor. Much of the Western-European world goes forth as if the only significant material on Epicurus was written in English or French. There is no doubt a tremendous amount of insightful material written in many other languages, and one benefit of our international Facebook group is that we can collaborate across languages. If you are aware of material similar to that of Raimondi about which we ought to know, please post it!

**I have written too much for a holiday week already, but let me cover quickly other major posts of the past week:

**Andy F linked to a radio show on Cyrenaic hedonists (somehow I missed that and will try to go back to it) https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/763362440379385/

**Hiram posted an important review of his “Tending the Epicurean Garden” carried at “TheHumanist.com https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/763073653741597/ Hiram also posted to another book review by Michael Fontaine – https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/765221240193505/

**In an followup to Hiram’s post last week about dealing with the perils of religious persecution, I posted about “Uriel da Costa” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/762606370454992/

**Bryan H. posted another of his excellent audio readings in Lucretius in the original Latin – https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=365974273582387

**Jose Carlos G J posted a link to some interesting material on mathematics, which is an ongoing issue of interest in Epicurean philosophy https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/765603586821937/

**Just before press time I added a link to a post found by Geoffrey P. which compares Epicurus to a psychiatrist by the name of Szazs https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/765861936796102/

**All in all it was another excellent week; thanks to one and all for your participation. 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!
Cassius Amicus

***THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 12/20/2014***

**This is the eighty-fifth 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 1263. Last week this time we were 1223. 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 are approaching a holiday week in much of the world, and we hope you’ll find time to continue to touch base with us during the holiday season. Here’s a report on the last seven days – I have it somewhat out of order, since Hiram just posted it, but I particularly recommend Hiram’s post from today, which I discuss near the end below:

** Most-Commented Post of the Week: This week we had a lot of discussion on older posts, and it looks like the most-discussed *new* post was that of Omel R., who asked about “Prevention” in Epicurean philosophy: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/759367750778854/

**In other posts of the week –

**We were happy to learn that the regular monthly meeting of the Sydney Garden of Epicurus Meetup Group was not affected by the terrorist activity in Sydney. No doubt this was a traumatic experience for all involved, but it is good to know that those who attend the Garden meetup are safe. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/759601094088853/

**That post led me to post a followup, in which I summarized a number of the most relevant Epicurean texts which refer to maintaining personal safety. Those are collected here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/760366730678956/

** Hiram posted a quote from Giordano Bruno – https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/762120000503629/

**This week contained the Twentieth (today!) and we had a couple of specific Twentieth Posts:
— The Epicurus page (be sure to “like” if you’re not already a follower) posted here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/762140957168200/

**In my own Twentieth post, I quoted Frances Wright’s summary of the Epicurean way of thinking as contained in her Chapter Sixteen: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/762144187167877/ Here’s one of the key passages, which Hiram also emphasized: “We have exhorted you to use your eyes, and your judgments, never your imagination; to abstain from theory, and rest with facts; and to understand that in the accumulation of facts, as regards the nature and properties of substances, the order of occurrences, and the consequences of actions, lies the whole science of philosophy, physical and moral.”

**Hiram posted a Twentieth post in which he discussed te problem of “Solving the Tension Between Atheist Politics and Ataraxia.” This is an excellent article, and although it was posted today I hope to be able to report on much discussion of it by the time next week’s “Weekly Update” rolls around. You’ll want to read all of Hiram’s reasoning, but here is an important concluding passage:

“Some argue that a true Epicurean must never be militant; they say “lathe biosas”, live unknown. Our compromise with our tranquility must always come first. But I do not agree with this. I do see the point that many firebrand atheists are making: that by coming out and assuming the label atheist, we do make a change in society, we do challenge religious privilege and misconceptions about atheists. And, most importantly, that any and all personal choice must involve hedonic calculus, and that in many instances the long-term profit that emerges from coming out is much greater than the losses. THAT is how it may be appropriate for a true Epicurean to be, at times, militant. Epicurus NEVER told anyone to be a hermit and always challenged people to not base their lives on fear. We must never misinterpret lathe biosas as a call to escape society, reality and life: that is the exact opposite of the realism of our predecessors. (A happy life is neither like a roaring torrent, nor a stagnant pool, but like a placid and crystal stream that flows gently and silently along. – A Few Days in Athens)”

**There was much other discussion this week, but much of it in older posts. The one additional post I’d like to mention is by Steven V, who took the time to say hello in a post noting that he was now a new member. We encourage **Everyone** to post similar things to introduce themselves. Even if you have been part of the group for a while, feel free to say hello at any time! https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/761420913906871/

**All in all it was another excellent week; thanks to one and all for your participation. 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!
Cassius Amicus

***THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 12/13/2014***

**This is the eighty-fourth 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 1223. Last week this time we were 1149. 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’ve had another active week of discussion so let’s check the highlights:

** Most-Commented Post of the Week: It looks like this award this week goes to Jilia Ohl, who I hope will forgive me for highlighting her, since the topic of her post was related to privacy. 😉 Julia announce that she was starting a new “closed group” entitled “EpiStoics,” which is “for those interested in combining and modernizing the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies.” Although readers of my posts know that I think this combination has as much chance of success as blending oil and water, I know there are many people who are still studying the issues and maintain that some kind of blend is possible. Julia’s posts have always been constructive and I wish her well with the new group. One of her key reasons for starting it is to make it “closed,” which means people can post there without their comments showing up in the main Facebook feed. Although it has major drawbacks, that feature has important pluses, so if you have the desire to comment on controversial philosophical matters without appalling your mother and your aunt, give Julia’s group a try. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/756296391085990/

It is a fact of life in 2014 that Stoicism is probably much better known as a philosophy than that of Epicurus. All students of Latin are introduced to Cicero at an early age, and many come into contact with Cicero’s “On Duties” as an example of high classical morality. I myself was deeply interested in Stoicism for years, and I retain a great appreciation (at least in some respects) for many ancient Stoics.

So as I have been down that path myself, I mean no disrespect to anyone (other than to the ancient Stoics 😉 ) when I say that I think that interest in Stoicism tends to dissipate once people begin to look past the “therapeutic techniques” for which Stoicism is renowned (in my mind, again very questionably). The more one begins to to learn the details of Epicurean philosophy, and begins to see why the two schools were so hostile to each other in antiquity, the differences between the two become stark and in my mind irreconcilable. I am sure that the Stoics would say the same about Epicurus, but this is why I have no fear or concern about people studying Stoicism — if they are rigorous students and really begin the study the texts, they will see these differences for themselves.

Stoicism has prospered for thousands of years by perfecting the art of high-sound talk and aspirations, while remaining very difficult to pin down about exactly what those aspirations mean, or why we should seek to achieve them. The issues involved that are behind the Stoic ambiguity are well explained in Frances Wright’s “A Few Days In Athens,” and, ironically enough, also by Cicero’s Epicurean speaker in “On Ends.” The sooner those who are interested in Stoicism read these two works, the sooner they will begin to see and understand the profound differences between the two philosophies.

Enough for now about Stoicism! Julia’s post was one influence that prompted me to post the other item I would like to highlight this week, my post of earlier today entitled “A Refresher on Epicurean Basics.” It is helpful to talk about other philosophies, and contrast them with Epicurus, especially when they serve as a necessary frame of reference, given that the modern world is familiar more with the competing philosophies. On the other hand, we owe it here in the Epicurean Philosophy group to help out our new participants by being sure that we also post a steady stream of basic material that focuses on Epicurus exclusively. That was the purpose of this post, and I encourage everyone else in our group as well to post their own comments, and ask questions about, core Epicurean viewpoints. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/758959927486303/

**In other posts of the week –

**Hiram posted about a psychological study of people “who seem nice all the time.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/756407901074839/

**Yiannis T. posted a link to a series of videos on major Greek philosophies. I didn’t have time to go through these so I can’t vouch for them, but here they are: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/756609907721305/

**Hiram posted a link to where comments can be left on his “Tending the Epicurean Garden” ebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/756916934357269/

**Omel R. started a discussion on the practices of the ancient Epicureans: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/756078207774475/

**Omel also asked (and this one got many more comments) about Epicurus’ advice to people who are in ill health. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/755962171119412/

**Mohamad Q. posted to an article with potential relevance to the eternal universe theorem: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/757397320975897/

**Alexander R posted about his hard-won “Tea of Olympus”: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204197050698714&set=gm.756950701020559&type=1

**Hiram posted to a video on the ancient “Sophists”: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/757674214281541/

**Alexander R. posted to an article exploring the brain’s processing of “reality” and “imagination” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/757297604319202/

**Alexander also posted to an interesting physics article exploring how fluid dynamics may help unravel issues in standard quantum physics theories. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/757809900934639/

**Hassnain A. posted to a graphic of the “riddle of Epicurus” – https://www.facebook.com/hassnain.abdurrehman?fref=nf

**Christian Nunez posted about political implications of Epicurean theory. We generally try to stay away from politics and the unresolvable controversies it generates, but there are special cases, especially where men such as Thomas Jefferson (or in this case, Marx) specifically mentioned Epicurus in their own writings. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/758283030887326/

**Hiram posted to one of the many excellent passages from “A Few Days In Athens” – this one on how knowledge relates to the goal of living happily. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/758608014188161/

**We have seen an influx of people from eastern Europe and even Russia, and I commented on that here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/758188000896829/ We welcome the participation of all and we hope that regardless of your geography you will will free to comment on your own applications of Epicurean philosophy. No matter where we live, distant lands often seem “exotic” to us, and it is fascinating to see how people from very different backgrounds approach the same material.

**Omel R. posted on the Mazlow hierarchy of needs and its relationship to Epicurean approaches. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10205563274349154&set=gm.758471367535159&type=1

**And then last but far from least, Amy J. posted on an article about “Epicurus and the Philosophy of Cooking.” This was an excellent chance to discuss the details of what Epicurus really said, vs. what people tend to *think* he said. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/759051024143860/

**All in all it was another excellent week, and on behalf of the admins we thank each and all for your participation. 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!
Cassius Amicus

***THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 12/6/2014***

**This is the eighty-third 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 1149. Last week this time we were 1102. 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’ve had another active week of discussion so let’s check the highlights:

** Most-Commented Post of the Week: The clear winner this week was Yiannis T’s post to a Daniel Dennett speech on our well-worn topic of free will and determinism. We have covered this so thoroughly in the Update that I’ll pass on further comment here, other than to remind new readers that Epicurus was firmly in the “free will” camp, with a very realistic view of both free will and its limitations. If you are in need of a refresher, this is a good thread: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/753575274691435/

Runner up in “most-commented” category, and therefore deserving highlight this week, as Maniang G’s “Is it possible to be an Epicurean in this modern world?” This is an important question and a good thread: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/753369864711976/

**In other posts of the week –

**Some of our newer readers may not be familiar with Thomas Jefferson’s “Head and Heart” letter where he discusses the competition that sometimes occurs between the two, and resolves it in a very Epicurean fashion. An excellent graphic on a new member’s page prompted the discussion: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=865646526800821&set=gm.753007691414860&type=1

**Yiannis T posted a link to an essay on thoughts on pleasure and joy. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/753372048045091/

**This week brought new reminders of the hazards of using Facebook, and Facebook’s claims to our personal information. If you’ve not seen the details of what is supposed to happen at the first of the year, check out this thread. This is another reminder that it is a very good idea to refrain from posting too much personal information. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/753341981381431/

**Yiannis T also posted a wikipedia link on “free will” which does not even mention Epicurus – https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/753186394730323/

**As a late memoriam of “Stoic Week” (which you can find elsewhere on the internet) I posted Nietzsche’s statement about Stoicicm from “Beyond Good and Evil.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/754660104582952/

**Hiram started a very good thread on “abiding pleasure” and how we might get wider attention for the concept using on-line dictionaries. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/754942061221423/

**Mohamad Q posted a question about the life of Lucretius: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/754047611310868/

**Hiram also posted a link to a video by George Kateb which contained high praise for Epicurus. I noted in the comments that the end of the interview did not seem to do Epicurus justice, but the clip is well worth watching.https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/755307031184926/

**It is common to note certain similarities between Epicurus and eastern thought, and Julius v M launched a good thread on that: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/753409421374687/

**Alexander R stated a thread on Bill Nye and how religious fears drive people to strange conclusions. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/755465401169089/

**Aurelius E started a thread about the extent to which we should think about death. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/755496017832694/

**Hiram posted an excellent graphic from George Carlin on the importance of individual thinking and integrity. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152504911975267&set=gm.755808071134822&type=1

**Last for the week, but one that could turn into a very popular thread, Omel R. asked “What is Epicurus’ advice to someone who is of ill health?” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/755962171119412/

That one is particularly appropriate for me tonight, as I am significantly “under the weather.” Look for more next week!

**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!
Cassius Amicus