** This is the ninety-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 1407. Last week this time we were 1404. 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!”
**In parts of the world, today marked Valentine’s Day. I hope everyone’s romantic life is in good order – if not, this might be a good time to reread the end of Lucretius Book IV, starting with “This pleasure is Venus for us….” http://newepicurean.com/lucretius/iv/iv-bailey/ If Lucretius can’t take the edge off unrealistic romantic thoughts, nobody can! 😉
**Our posts this week were of extremely high quality, and virtually every one offered something of significant substance.
**Last weekend was the Fifth Epicurean symposium in Athens, and we had several posts with photos and reports from the gathering. They included:
It’s a great inspiration to see interest in Epicurus alive and well in Greece, and I hope soon we will be able to post photos from other gatherings around the world.
** We had two posts this week focusing on the issue of whether the universe is eternal, as Epicurus concluded, or was “born” at some point in time, as religions and some physicists seem to hold (although in the case of the physicists, they are rarely clear about the state of things before their singular events). The most commented post of the week was Alexander R’s https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/786343478081281/ followed closely by Hiram’s https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/786939841354978/ They both revolve around similar topics and are well worth reading if the subject of “where did the universe come from?” interests you. In other posts:
**Hiram posted on Epicurus’ description of three kinds of students: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/786310458084583/
**Hiram posted an update on progress with the Epicurean scrolls: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/786932454689050/
** Bill H. posted on how the concept “universe” can be confusing unless clearly defined: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/786930404689255/
** Hiram continues his survey of eastern religions and philosophies with a post on Confucius. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/787324514649844/
** Alexander R started an interesting conversation on one of the more obscure sayings of Epicurus – Vatican Saying 37. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/786032448112384/
**I posted a link to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education which contained much favorable comment on Lucretius https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/787416541307308/
**Hiram posted to an episode of Cosmos devoted in large part to Giordano Bruno https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/787654221283540/
**I posted an article which surveyed interest in Lucretius in 18th century Germany. Who knew that Frederick the Great carried around with him a copy of Lucretius “to which he resorted in moments of despondency.” This article refers to a German translation by a man named Knebel who appears to be a fan of Epicurus and probably had some things to say that would be of great interest – if we can get over the hurdle of the language barrier (he wrote in German). https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/787451577970471/
**Hiram memorialized Darwin Day with an interesting graphic that spurred conversation https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/787603351288627/
**Julian H. made a comment in Hiram’s thread that started a good conversation about Epicurean criticism of Socrates (and Plato as well). I uploaded to the group an interesting academic article by a man named Riley on this topic, which contains some very good commentary on why the ancient Epicureans did not have a high opinion of Socrates. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/788558787859750/
**Hiram posted a link to a video about the president of Uruguay, a fan of Epicurus, discussing the legalization of marijuana. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/787800097935619/
**Assya B. posted a graphic about not fearing death, which started a surprising amount of conversation. (Maybe not so surprising, given the importance of the topic.) https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/786045041444458/
**Elli posted an interesting photo that gives us a beautiful view of a part of the homeland of our favorite philosopher. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/788681251180837/
**I posted a link to my latest research article “Nietzsche, Epicurus, and the Most Successful Double Agent In History(?)” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/786851564697139/
**For those who happened to miss the link, but still want the key part, here was a list of six ways in which the article listed above indicated that ancient Epicureans criticized Socrates:
(1) “Their opposition was based on a fundamental difference of opinion concerning the role of the philosopher and his behavior towards his students.”
(2) “Socrates’ words were charlatans or imposters because what he said in the dialogues was one thing, but what he did was quite different”
(3) “Now the logical consequences of this refusal to attribute reality to the perceptible world around us should be the same as the consequences of refusing to take a position at all on what is reality. The latter position is xxx, suspension of judgement, and is attributed to the Sceptics, chiefly to Pyrrho of Elis. That Sceptics were expected in some circles to live up to their profession is shown by Diogenes Laertius (9.62) on Pyrrho: “He led a life consistent with this doctrine (i.e., agnosticism and suspension of judgement), going out of his way for nothing, taking no precautions, but facing all risks as they came, whether carts, precipices, dogs, or what not, and generally leaving nothing to the arbitrament of the senses.” This testimony from Antigonus of Carystus, roughly a contemporary of Colotes (both third century B.C.), indicates that Colotes could have felt justified in criticizing Socrates for not following the practical consequences of his doctrine. Socrates’ words are imposters; he himself is an imposter, because he lives as if the world around us were real; he follows the clues offered by sight, whereas to be consistent he should ignore this illusion and follow what is really real, whatever the consequences.
(4) Colotes’ second criticism of Socrates, that he flaunts the boast that he does not even know himself (Adv. Col. 1118c, referring to Phaedrus 230a), adds to the characterization of Socrates. Again he is charged with ignoring the obvious; for the Epicurean, man can be defined by pointing to a man and saying “man is this kind of shape here combined with animation” (Sextus Empiricus Math. 7.267; fr. 310 Usener). Socrates can see men all around, yet he insists he does not know what he is. More important is the attack implied in the word “flaunting;” not only is Socrates in error, but he boasts of his error and ignorance. This pride in his ignorance is a personal quality which puts Socrates outside the company of truly wise men, according to Epicurus, who states “the wise man will dogmatize, not suspend judgement”
(5) In short the Epicurean considers Socrates to have the undesirable traits of an eiron: he flatters others, conceals what he really thinks, does not practice what he preaches.
(6) The slyness which they thought characterized Socrates would put a distance between philosopher and student, a distance inimical to Epicurean friendship.
**All in all it was an 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!