***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!