***THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 04/11/2015***
** This is the one hundred and 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 1633. Last week this time we were 1619. 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!”
**Another good week – let’s take developments roughtly chronologically this time:
**Ilkka shared a post from the Epicurus page inviting questions. If you are reading this you ought to be a “liker” of the Epicurus page. If you aren’t, check it out at: https://www.facebook.com/epicureanphilosopher You could be of great help there by speaking up for Epicurean positions. The Epicurus “page” has over a hundred thousand lurkers, and there is lots of opportunity there to make educational comments. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/811999142182381/
**On the subject of education, original graphic artwork is always helpful. I created one this past week to focus on a passage from Diogenes of Oinoanda and the issue of virtue as the means to happy living. Epicurean-themed graphics are easy to share and we encourage new contributions. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/811913265524302/
**Alexander R posted a link to an article on babies using their faculties to experiment with the world around them. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/812516065464022/
**This week I shared several excerpts from the book “The Greeks on Pleasure” by Gosling and Taylor. The focus of the book is on the development of theories of pleasure in the Greek world through Plato, Aristotle, Eudoxus, and others up to Epicurus, and it provides excellent background. There are a number of very important issues that run through the schools, and this excerpt focused on how dividing up the pleasures (as the non-Epicurean schools do) leads to the conclusion that pleasure itself is not the guide to life, and that some other standard (you guessed it – virtue!) is required. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/812618945453734/
**Mark C. posted a question on what Epicurean-inspired music might sound like: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/813284225387206/
**This week I updated several pages on the NewEpicurean.com website. The first I posted about was updating my links on modern physics research that seems consistent with Epicurean theory. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/812956535419975/
**Hamid M. asked a question about the “moral value of using drugs or wine in Epicurean philosophy” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/813391702043125/ That, in turn, prompted a post from Jason Baker with good research into the background of the use of wine in ancient Greece. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/813480495367579/
**New participant Danyal Lodi introduced himself with some interesting comments. We encourage all new participants to do the same. We love to hear from new people and when you introduce yourselves virtually anything about yourself that explains how you came to be a fan of Epicurus would be of great interest to us. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/813534425362186/
**Several of the posts this week revolved around the role of pleasure in Epicurean philosophy, and I added a post to my blog entitled “Lucretius’ Hymn to Venus and the Defense of Pleasure” to discuss how the opening of Book I may relate to this issue. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/813484572033838/
**Hiram posted a link to an article entitled “Epicurean Ethics: The Role of the Virtues in the Life of Pleasure.” This article has some good points, and some points with which I very much disagree. But one of the points of our having a discussion forum is to discuss and learn and improve both our understanding and clarity in arguing the relevant issues. This article provided some excellent examples of one side of some key issues. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/814266185289010/
**Hiram also posted a link to a new blog post of his, “Ninth Taoist Contemplation: Control of Desires” https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/814277918621170/
**Gabriel B. posted a question about “do humans live or rather does their consciousness live?” Consciousness is always a tricky subject and there were some good comments. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/814251271957168/
**Another excerpt I posted from Gosling & Taylor focused again on the implications of dividing up pleasures and how Aristotle and Plato responded to their division of it – by looking for a standard of “the good” outside of pleasure itself. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/814380098610952/
**In what appears to be the most-commented post of the week, I posted a shorter clip from The Greeks on Pleasure to raise the issue that “It remains perfectly possible, first, that while intelligence is needed to bring about a good life, what gives it value is its pleasantness; and secondly that any pleasure is as good as any other for this purpose.” This excerpt brought up the issue that we have many and strongly divergent opinions on how to interpret the “necessary and natural” categorization. Does this mean that we should pursue *only* necessary pleasures, that we should simply give great preference to those, or that we should simply note that those pleasures which are the least necessary frequently require the most effort and entail the worst pain, and make our choices accordingly? I won’t recount the full extent of the debate but the issues were framed very well, and this is a good thread to read if you only read one for the week. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/812579405457688/
**After the thread I just mentioned, I decided to update my graphic which explains my own position on this issue, and so my “Full Cup / Fullness of Pleasure” graphic can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/814714515244177/ This post links to my updated page on the NewEpicurean blog where I am marshalling the authorities and the arguments in support of the position stated in the graphic.
**On the same topic, Elli P posted a new graphic on Philodemus and his poetry, providing another example of a leading Epicurean who did not limit himself to “necessary” desires. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/814810118567950/
**Those are most of the highlights for the week. Thanks to all who participated. We’ve had another very substantive week of discussion, and I thank everyone who participated. The study of Epicurean philosophy can at times seem like a Sherlock Holmes story. Given that we only have fragments from Epicurus himself, and a limited number of works from reliable supports (Lucretius and Diogenes of Oinoanda) we are confronted with the need to scrutinize the unfriendly commentators (Cicero, Plutarch) and those who simply were chroniclers or came much later than Epicurus (Diogenes Laertius) and whose opinions are therefore open to question. Perhaps one day new discoveries from Herculaneum will resolve these mysteries, but until then we each have to do our own research and make our own decisions, weighing the various texts and translators and commentators against each other like jurors in a trial. We can’t resolve questions on the facebook page or in our blog, but we can work to see that you get access to all sides of each question, and we’ll continue to do that so you can make your own decisions about which interpretations are right, and how you should apply them to your own life.
**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!