Welcome to This Week in Epicurean Philosophy!

ALL READERS PLEASE NOTE:  This week we are upgrading to a new format.  We will continue to post all updates to the Facebook groups and Twitter feed, but we are starting a new email subscription list for updates so you can receive copies of all newsletters (and at your option, each post at NewEpicurean.com) in your local email.  To ensure proper delivery please subscribe (for free of course) by clicking here.  There will no doubt be some glitches as we adopt the new system so please feel free to report all comments and suggestions.  We hope this new format will lend itself to greater substance and an increased “shareability” factor that will lead to continued growth of the worldwide Epicurean community.

THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 09/26/2015

– This is the one hundred and twenty-fifth in a series of weekly reports on news from the world of Epicurean Philosophy. Our home base for discussion is the Facebook Epicurean Philosophy Group.  Copies of these posts, and a current list of links to active Epicurean websites can be found at EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com. For even more choices in discussing Epicurean philosophy, check the list of sites included at the end of this newsletter.

– At the Facebook Epicurean Philosophy Group we welcome all participants and lurkers. If you apply to participate (through the normal Facebook process) and don’t receive a reply promptly, please send an email to an admin about your interest in the group. Our group is dedicated to the productive discussion of Epicurean Philosophy and its application to daily life, and in so doing we want to also, 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!

– Along with our format change this week there will be additional changes to the weekly newsletter.  We’ll continue to point to the best of the posting going on in the Facebook group, and we’ll also include links and commentary to items that might not have made it to a posting on the Facebook group.  Hopefully these changes will make the newsletter more useful in spreading the word about the true philosophy of Epicurus.

–  Here are the latest major posts at the Facebook Group this week:

– This past week contained the Twentieth of September, which (as Epicurean students know) was the date of the month which Epicurus requested that his students memorialize as a special date for the observation of Epicurean philosophy and recollection of the founders.  As usual we had several special posts commenorating the date, including one from Steve K. commenting on an Epicurus-related Existentialist comic and my own post with a summary of major points from the letter to Herodotus.  Also on the 20th, Elli P. posted a very interesting article on Asclepiades of Bithynia and his relationship to Hippocrates.

– On the 21st I posted a link to remind everyone of the unashamed Epicurean connection to the common pig (an extremely smart animal), as confirmed by several ancient references including the poet Horace.

– On the 21st I also posted a graphic listing a number of importantEpicurean quotations involving “time” and our attitude toward it.

– As an example of what I think is the high quality of our group’s posting and research into Epicurus, we had two posts this week that produced an important find for those interested in getting Epicurean theory as accurately as possible.  First I posted on Cicero’s attacks on Epicurus in On Ends, noting that we regularly cite the good comments and we need to be able to deal with the bad comments too.  That post led directly to an importand find, thanks to Pangiotis A.  We have located an posted a copy of an important research work from 1938:  Mary Porter Packer’s “Cicero’s Presentation of Epicurean Ethics.”  This is a well-documented and researched work which blows the lid off of the respect that many people accord to Cicero’s interpretations of Epicurean ethics.  Norman Dewitt mildly criticized the article for being too easy on Cicero’s motives, but the conclusion that Cicero cannot be relied on at face value is of importance regardless of Cicero’s motive.  Here is how Packer summarized her own opinion:  “”Cicero was himself a man of action whose personal standards and inclinations resulted in a life of high integrity and devotion to public service. A life of tranquil equilibrium, even if good and useful, would not have appealed to his nature. He was therefore temperamentally out of sympathy with the Epicurean ideal, and was confirmed in his attitude by the price which he had paid for his own devotion to public interests, and partly perhaps by contict with certain nominal Epicureans of his own day (see above pp. 64-65, 94-97, 115-116). It would seem that these influences worked in a circle, so that Cicero by his disinclination toward the ideals of Epicureanism is blinded toward much in the doctrine with which he must have agreed; and by his failure to realize much that he could have agreed with in theory, he is led to assume for the doctrine certain inconsistencies and vicious tendencies which were in no degree inherent in ‘the system. The respect which he admits for certain individual Epicureans, and even for certain tenets of their philosophy, might well have led him to re-examine his own conclusions concerning the system as a whole. In the light of the above study it is fair to say that Cicero’s treatment of Epicurean ethics is an untrustworthy source from which to seek a fundamental understanding of the philosophy.”  This is a very important work that would be helpful to anyone interested in learning more about Epicurean ethics.

– On the 23rd Yiannis T. posted a link to an article on David Hume, which has some very interesting commentary on Hume’s views that are helpful in evaluating Epicurean ideas.  Hume is often compared to Epicurus, but there are tremendously important differences of viewpoint as well, and this is a good article for bring out those differences and similarities.

–  On the 24th Elli posted a link to an interesting couch!  In a similar vein, Elli posted to an article on something that doesn’t sound like a good use of time.

–  Earlier today (the 26th) Hiram posted a challenge to all of us to see if we can get Google to honor Epicurus.  Please check it out and see if you can help.  Hiram also posted a link to an article discussing Sam Harris’ views on pleasure.

  Here are the major recent posts at NewEpicurean.com:

image “Quantity” Does Not Equal “Type”The diagram associated with this post is intended to dramatize the question:  Does any quantity of a thing ever change that thing into its opposite?  When Epicurus stated that there…
image Peace and Safety For Your Twentieth of September! – An Overview of the Letter to HerodotusPeace and Safety to the Epicureans of today, no matter where you might be!   This month for the Twentieth, I offer a quick outline of the major points of…
image Fundamentals of Epicurean Philosophy – An Outline(Click on the bullet to the left of each item to expand.) This outline represents my latest aid to discussing Epicurus with people who are new to the philosophy. I can’t…
image All Dressed Up But No Place To GoThanks to Alexander R. for linking to this video at the Science Channel, which alleges that the robot in this example is well on its way to learning emotional associations.…
image A Season Of The Year To Remember Fallen EpicureansChecking back over the last four years, it seems that late in August of odd-numbered years I have resubmitted the following post on “A Season of the Year To Remember Fallen…
Thanks to all who participated in the Facebook forum this week. As always, if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please add a comment or participate in the Epicurean Philosophy Facebook Group!
 – – – Live Well!

= = = = =  NOTES = = = = =

Resources for Epicurean Philosophy On The Internet


There are many find Epicurean websites on the internet, so be sure you are aware of the main ones.  This newsletter is brought to you by http://www.NewEpicurean.com. Two other very active and important websites are SocietyofEpicurus.com and Menoeceus.blogspot.com

There is also an active website in Greece (mostly in the Greek language) at Epicuros.net.  Please be sure to check the list at EpicurusCentral.wordpress.net for a full list, and let us know if other sites should be mentioned here.

Options for those who wish to discuss Epicurus on the internet include:1- If you are focused primarily on Epicurus, and you want to participate in a forum where people will defend Epicurus strongly from all challenges, then you have two Facebook options. Our open and main group, entitled simply “Epicurean Philosophy,” is the home base of this post. Anyone can read the posts there, and all you have to do is ask in order to join. (Note that there is an “About” and a “Sticky” post with our forum rules.)

2 – If you are someone whose views are fully formed, and you’ve combined several disparate viewpoints into your own personal mix, and you mainly want to talk casually to other people of the same eclectic type, there are several excellent facebook groups including EPISTOBUZEN and “Epicureanism for Modern Times.” 3 – If you prefer to post in a “private” group where your posts are not readable by outsiders, we have “Epicurean Private Garden.” Because it is a private group, you cannot find it by searching, and you have to email one of our admins in the open group if you wish to join. Please note that our About and Sticky Post rules in the private forum are the same as the open forum, and the private forum will be moderated to the same standards as the open forum (or perhaps slightly tighter!)

4 – If you are not only focused primarily on Epicurus, but you wish to assist with a forum platform where pro-Epicurean activists can build for the future, check out www.EpicureanFriends.com. Work is starting on a FAQ and other resources. Anyone can read the posts, but only approved members can create new posts or comment.

5 – If your interest is primarily on the scientific research side, such as implications of quantum mechanics and related theories, be sure to check out “Epicurean Touchpoints” at Facebook.

Please be sure to check out the list of websites at www.EpicurusCentral.wordpress.net for the latest available sites. If you know of sites that should be mentioned here, please send me an email.

This email newsletter is brought to you by NewEpicurean.com.  Please check our page and also http://www.EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com for links to other Epicurean websites worldwide.

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★★ THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 09/19/2015 ★★

★★ This is the one hundred and twenty-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, and other discussion cites are referenced at the end of this post.

★★ 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!”

★★Today I’d like to highlight a new post by Alexander R. in the group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/889980677717560/ ) and explain why I think it’s significant. The topic is essentially how we should consider whether and how concepts of “condensed – rarified” and “kinetic – static” apply to pleasure. Alexander’s comments highlight the issue from the perspective that Alexander regularly posts on – physics issues, including the movement of particles.

Here’s the point that I want to emphasize: Alexander has a keen interest in Epicurean theory in part because he is oriented toward the physics, and he knows that the implications of physics go far beyond “dry” science. Many of our participants come to our group knowing a little about Epicurus’ ethics, but virtually nothing about Epicurus’ “physics” or his theories of knowledge. If this situation describes you, you owe it to yourself to spend some time understanding why Epicurus was concerned about these deeper issues. With just a little effort I think you’ll begin to see why they are so important.

I think we all can recognize that the question “can we know anything?” is closely related to the ethics questions that most of us find interesting. After all, if we can’t know anything with confidence, then how can we have any confidence in any decisions we make on how to live?

And how did Epicurus attack the question of how we know anything? He attacked it by looking for the *mechanism* by which we gather informations – the mechanism by which our senses operate. And the key to this mechanism is the topic of “images.” As dry as that might sound, the essential point of “images” is nothing more than to address the point of how we learn things. The point is that GODS do not plant ideas in our minds, and neither are we born with ideas fully-formed in our minds. We don’t learn things by looking for FORMS in heaven, as Plato taught, or for “essences” built into the objects around us, as Aristotle taught. Our job in learning isn’t dependent on revelation from gods, nor is it dependent on “logic” after we somehow tune our minds with the essences around us. The job of learning is wrapped up in understanding how our senses operate – how “images” travel from objects to us, and how we interpret those images even when they are not clear.

The work of unravelling how these “images” work relys on our understanding the nature of the images and how they move, and that is a matter of “physics.” In other words, we have to grasp a basic understanding of the concept of particles and how they move if we are to have any confidence that we can rely on this mechanism to gather knowledge. If those particles are at the mercy of gods, then WE are at the mercy of gods, and all hope of confidence in living without fear of the gods is essentially gone.

So Epicurus wants you to understand enough physics to see that our senses operate through the motion of particles. And he also wants you to know that not only your sight and hearing, but the entire universe as well, operates through the properties and the motion of those particles. That’s why you need to know enough about particles to realize that they aren’t “divine” and they are in fact “eternal” – that they therefore weren’t created by any god.

And only if you know the basics of this issue will you have enough confidence to laugh at St. Paul, in Galatians 4:9, when he says: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”

From this you ought to begin to see that the “physics” of Epicurus was hardly “dry” at all. Unlike our modern particle physicists, who often seem to live in a world of their own, Epicurus considered a series of basic observations about the nature of the elements to be essential for anyone’s understanding of how to live happily.

In order to make this review of basic principles of nature easier to grasp, I have continued to work this week on my latest “outline” which summarizes these issues and their implications. The latest version will always be here: http://newepicurean.com/major-observations-and-conclusions-in-epicurean-philosophy-an-outline/

So if you’re one of many who knows something about Epicurean ethics but little about the foundations of the Epicurean view of Nature or Knowledge, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to review the first two bullet points on Nature and Knowledge, and these should help you to think about the connection of “physics” to the Epicurean conclusions on how to live.

★★ Moving on, here are the rest of the highlights of this week’s posts:

★★On Sep 15, Elli posted a cute video illustrating an Epicurean and Platonist at the Agora. 😉 https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/887462297969398/

★★On Sep 16, I posted a link to a news article on a court ruling allowing the religious ceremony of “Kaparos” to continue in New York over the objections of animal rights advocates. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/888556217860006/

★★ On Sep 17, Alexander linked to an article on how quantum theory may relate to human decisionmaking. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/888955844486710/

★★ On Sep 15 I linked to my blog post announcing the “outline” as discussed above. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/887735334608761/
★★Thanks to all who participated in the Facebook forum this week. 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

Live Well!
Cassius Amicus

★★Options for those who wish to discuss Epicurus on the internet include:

1- If you are someone whose views are fully formed, and you’ve combined several disparate viewpoints into your own personal mix, and you mainly want to talk casually to other people of the same eclectic type, there are several excellent facebook groups including EPISTOBUZEN and “Epicureanism for Modern Times” that you can find by searching facebook.

2- If you are focused primarily on Epicurus, and you want to participate in a forum where people will defend Epicurus strongly from all challenges, then you have two Facebook options. Our open and main group, entitled simply “Epicurean Philosophy,” is the home base of this post. Anyone can read the posts there, and all you have to do is ask in order to join. (Note that there is an “About” and a “Sticky” post with our forum rules.)

3 – If you prefer to post in a “private” group where your posts are not readable by outsiders, we have “Epicurean Private Garden.” Because it is a private group, you cannot find it by searching, and you have to email one of our admins in the open group if you wish to join. Please note that our About and Sticky Post rules in the private forum are the same as the open forum, and the private forum will be moderated to the same standards as the open forum (or perhaps slightly tighter!)

4 – If you are not only focused primarily on Epicurus, but you wish to assist with a forum platform where pro-Epicurean activists can build for the future, check out http://www.EpicureanFriends.com. Work is starting on a FAQ and other resources. Anyone can read the posts, but only approved members can create new posts or comment.

**THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 09/12/2015***

**THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 09/12/2015***

** This is the one hundred and twenty-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, and other discussion cites are referenced at the end of this post.

** 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!”
**Today before jumping into the rest of the week’s posts, I’d like to highlight the new outline of “Major Observations and Conclusions of Epicurean Philosophy” I just posted to the group. I hope this is useful to all, especially to the newcomers to the group who don’t know a full list of the important principles and how they fit together. Feel free to comment in the thread if you have comments or suggestions on making the outline better. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/885738701475091/

** Here are the highlights of this week’s posts:

**On Sep 6, Elli posted an interesting video of a “catfight” and linked to my “Catius’ Cat” poem. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/881782188537409/

**Also on Sep 6, Hiram started a thread welcoming new members: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/881873705194924/

**On Sep 7, Elli, posted a graphic with Vatican Saying 54 – that we must not pretend to study philosophy, but study it in reality, for it is not the appearance of health that we need, but real health. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/882303475151947/

**On Sep 7, Uwe F. posted a link to an article on Epicurus in Italian. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006796486247

**Also on Sep 7, Dragan posted a link to Aesop’s fable of “the Flies and the Honey-Pot” which provided some good discussion. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/882303055151989/

**On Sep 12, Hiram posted a link to an article on Philodemus. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/885361041512857/

**Thanks to all who participated in the Facebook forum this week. 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
*
Live Well!
Cassius Amicus
**Options for those who wish to discuss Epicurus on the internet include:
1- If you are someone whose views are fully formed, and you’ve combined several disparate viewpoints into your own personal mix, and you mainly want to talk casually to other people of the same eclectic type, there are several excellent facebook groups including EPISTOBUZEN and “Epicureanism for Modern Times” that you can find by searching facebook.

2- If you are focused primarily on Epicurus, and you want to participate in a forum where people will defend Epicurus strongly from all challenges, then you have two Facebook options. Our open and main group, entitled simply “Epicurean Philosophy,” is the home base of this post. Anyone can read the posts there, and all you have to do is ask in order to join. (Note that there is an “About” and a “Sticky” post with our forum rules.)

3 – If you prefer to post in a “private” group where your posts are not readable by outsiders, we have “Epicurean Private Garden.” Because it is a private group, you cannot find it by searching, and you have to email one of our admins in the open group if you wish to join. Please note that our About and Sticky Post rules in the private forum are the same as the open forum, and the private forum will be moderated to the same standards as the open forum (or perhaps slightly tighter!)

4 – If you are not only focused primarily on Epicurus, but you wish to assist with a forum platform where pro-Epicurean activists can build for the future, check out http://www.EpicureanFriends.com. Work is starting on a FAQ and other resources. Anyone can read the posts, but only approved members can create new posts or comment.

**THIS WEEK IN EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY – 09/05/2015***

** This is the one hundred and twenty-second 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, and other discussion cites are referenced at the end of this post.

** 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!”

** Here are the highlights of this week’s posts:

**On Aug 30, Alexander R. forwarded a link about “Robots Learning Like Humans” which served as the basis for a post on “All Dressed Up But No Place to Go” discussing the crucial role of pleasure and pain as Nature’s stop and go signals. Robot inventors can instruct robots to consider some events as “pleasurable” and some events as “painful,” but can the robots really “experience” pleasure and pain? The question serves as a great introduction to the pre-eminent role which Epicurus assigned to them in the Epicurean canon. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/878889212160040/

** On August 31 I posted a link to an article in which the phrase “seeing is believing” is discussed by philosopher Leonard Peikoff. Peikoff’s comments on this limited point seem largely sound despite his grounding in a non-Epicurean philosopy. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/permalink/879365322112429/

** On Sep 30 I posted a copy of an article entitled “Paralysis In A Risk-Free Society” which contains interesting discussion of the issues involved in weighing pleasure vs. pain. Most choices to pursue any pleasure involve some amount of pain as the price of pursuing it, and it is an important question to consider the amount of “risk” we are willing to take in order to experience greater pleasure. When the price is clear, the calculus can be relatively clear, but what happens in those many situations when the full price of a pleasure is not clear, and may vary? https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpicureanPhilosophy/880252088690419/

** It’s been another relatively slow week, but things should pick up soon as we all begin to settle into the fall season (at least in the northern hemisphere). Keep in mind that the coming seven days includes September 11, a time of year particularly frought with danger in some locales. Be Safe!

**Thanks to all who participated in the Facebook forum this week. 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
*
Live Well!
Cassius Amicus
**Options for those who wish to discuss Epicurus on the internet include:

1- If you are someone whose views are fully formed, and you’ve combined several disparate viewpoints into your own personal mix, and you mainly want to talk casually to other people of the same eclectic type, there are several excellent facebook groups including EPISTOBUZEN and “Epicureanism for Modern Times” that you can find by searching facebook.

2- If you are focused primarily on Epicurus, and you want to participate in a forum where people will defend Epicurus strongly from all challenges, then you have two Facebook options. Our open and main group, entitled simply “Epicurean Philosophy,” is the home base of this post. Anyone can read the posts there, and all you have to do is ask in order to join. (Note that there is an “About” and a “Sticky” post with our forum rules.)

3 – If you prefer to post in a “private” group where your posts are not readable by outsiders, we have “Epicurean Private Garden.” Because it is a private group, you cannot find it by searching, and you have to email one of our admins in the open group if you wish to join. Please note that our About and Sticky Post rules in the private forum are the same as the open forum, and the private forum will be moderated to the same standards as the open forum (or perhaps slightly tighter!)

4 – If you are not only focused primarily on Epicurus, but you wish to assist with a forum platform where pro-Epicurean activists can build for the future, check out http://www.EpicureanFriends.com. Work is starting on a FAQ and other resources. Anyone can read the posts, but only approved members can create new posts or comment.