** This is the ninety-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 1456. Last week this time we were 1447. 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!”
If there is a must-see post of the week, it is this one – a recent video presentation made by the Getty Villa of Stephen Greenlatt discussing the history of Epicurean philosophy. You can find it https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/796914467024182/ or here https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/798584946857134/ I thought Greenblatt’s book was very good, but I always say that with the caveat that the book spends a lot more time on the history of church politics in the middle ages than on Epicurean philosophy itself. This video reverses that proportion – it focuses on almost exactly what fans of Epicurus would like to hear about in a discussion of the survival of the philosophy. Highlighting news such as this for people who might have missed it is the most important reason I do these weekly summaries. Don’t miss this video!
**In other news this week:
** Hiram posted a good essay on “Strong Wind Does Not Last All Morning” on his study of Taoism. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/796168270432135/
**Continuing last week’s discussions on Philebus, I posted a graphic that compared Socrates and Epicurus on pleasure as the good and the role of virtue. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/796541477061481/
**Here’s a video which sets the “hymn to Venus” in Lucretius to music. It is extremely well done and will be especially entertaining to those who can recognize the Latin wording.
**Tommy H. asked about whether Epicurus had spoken directly on Plato’s analogy of the cave. I bet he did, but I don’t know that it still survives. The best I could find was to put together a graphic featuring a quote from Lucretius that is pretty closely on point. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/796661710382791/
**More Philebus: I posted my reactions on completing my reading of Philebus in full. For those of you who now or later want to compare what Epicurus said about pleasure to what Plato had said, Philebus is your prime source material. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/796193017096327/
** Elli posted a poem from the excellent Greek poet C.P. Cavafy: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/796686350380327/ For those who don’t know Cavafy, “Ithaca” is one of his most famous poems and can be found in several notable renditions on youtube. This poem was new too me, but is good too.
**It’s been very satisfying recently to see a number of people getting copies of DeWitt’s book to aid in their study of Epicurus. Tommy H did this week, and posted about it here https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/797086470340315/
**One of the many reasons to read DeWitt is that he challenges the orthodox beliefs about what Epicurus really taught. One of his most important challenges was to the view that Epicurus held a superficial version of pleasure as the greatest good. This is a topic DeWitt covered years before his book was released, in an article entitled: “The Summum Bonum Fallacy.” Check out that article here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/797448813637414/
**Dragan posted a Mark Twain graphic making an argument that Lucretius stated as well. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/797966973585598/
**Francisco Martinez posted an excellent video about a sense of justice in monkeys that is very likely related to Epicurean views of anticipations. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/797046850344277/
**Tommy H posted an excerpt from the famous Edith Hamilton praising Plato’s dismissal of pleasure as the guide of life: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/796761103706185/
**If you speak Spanish, be sure to check out Victor H’s post to “#epicurusf friends.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/798307663551529/
**Alexander R. started an excellent discussion on the meaning of a selection from “On Ends” regarding whether fears of future pain not grounded in bodily pains are ever warranted. This is very creative thinking and an excellent way to approach difficult subjects. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/797936646921964/
**Dragan posted a link to an article entitled “the biology of happiness” which prompted some discussion about the extent to which it was accurately reflecting Epicurean views. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/798427616872867/
**Elli posted to an excerpt of material that has been prepared by Dimitris Altas for the Greek Garden of Epicurus on the topic of “Multivalued Logic, or the Manifold Way of Epicurus.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/796178923764403/ This is a subject that deserves a lot more attention. It is important to see how Epicurus challenged Platonic/Aristotelian ethics, but even more revealing is his attack on their method of reason and logic. In order to focus more attention on the topic, I followed up with a post on a music video that playfully addresses this broad issue, in the narrow form it arises in the “analog/digital” distinction. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/798762533506042/ Both of these posts received good comments, and you’ll hopefully see us developing more about this in the future.
**And that leads me to a post that I’ll deal with last. Franciso Martinez lit a fire under me this morning by posting to a passage from philosopher Alasdair McIntyre. This passage contains a dense a serie of statements about Epicurus as I think are very misleading. Francisco’s post does us the great service of reminding us that the legacy of Epicurus is hotly contested. If you read DeWitt’s book, you will know that he starts off at the very beginning telling us that Epicurus was (among different populations, of course) both the most loved and most reviled of ancient Greek philosophers. Unfortunately, in the end the revilers came out on top, and as a result most modern commentators alternate in either disparaging or ignoring Epicurean philosophy. McIntyre does both in this passage, disparaging Epicurus and then dismissing him as relevant. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/798652796850349/
I know some readers get tired of hearing philosophical controversy, and they would rather that we could devote every post to uplifting positive self-help tips. We go with the positive as much as we can, but the most important self-help tip everyone needs to realize is that we live in a world that is actively working to suppress the Epicurean viewpoint. If you think you are going to find all your friends and family and co-workers endorsing the views you read in Epicurus, you will be bitterly disappointed. It’s better to understand this up front so you’ll be prepared for that. Francisco’s post and others like it help us do for ourselves what the the students in the ancient Garden must have done under the guidance of Epicurus himnself: learning about the errors in other philosophies. Check out the list of books written by Epicurus and the other leaders of the Garden, and you will see book after book written *against* other philosophies. Thanks to Francisco and to all who assist us in this department. We encourage posts like this, and ask only that you do just as Francisco did: Post negative material with comment about why it is relevant, so that new readers will not make the mistake of thinking that such material accurately reflects Epicurus. Laying out the contrasts is among the best ways to learn what Epicurus was all about.
**Thanks to all participants for another great 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!