Welcome to This Week in Epicurean Philosophy for the week of 10/3/15! To subscribe click here.
This is the one hundred and twenty-sixth in a series of weekly reports on news from the world of Epicurean Philosophy. At the Epicurean Philosophy Group we are dedicated to the productive discussion of Epicurean Philosophy and its application to daily life. Our goal is also, in the words of Lucian, to “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!“
This week we mark the death of Erik Anderson, founder of the Epicurus.info website:
Although the event happened in July, most of us have just learned about the death of Erik Anderson this past week, after a group member found this obituary. Many of us, definitely including me, learned a lot about Epicurus from the material that Erik edited and collected at his websites Epicurus.info and the associated Epicurus.wiki. I never had the pleasure of knowing Erik myself except in a very few cordial emails, but this selection from his obituary classically describes the kind of upbeat, searching personality who is attracted to the study of Nature and to Epicurean ideas:
“From an early age, Erik was fascinated by the stars. (He built his first telescope at age 14.) He co-authored (with Charles Francis Ph.D.) a number of papers that appeared in academic journals, including the Royal Astronomical Society, most focused on their alternative theory of the motions of spiral galaxies. An article on his work appeared in the Ashland Tidings. He ran a successful business, , from which he produced best-selling moon calendars and stellar images calendars. His book Vistas of Many Worlds featured Erik’s beautiful computer-generated images. A past president of Southern Oregon Skywatchers, Erik could often be seen helping star-gazers to find the twin stars and the moons of Jupiter.
Unfortunately the obituary is all I know about the circumstances of Erik’s death, but we do know a little more about the aftermath. The main reason that most of us learned about Erik’s death is that for the last few weeks Epicurus.info and the Epicurus wiki shortly thereafter have become unavailable. Several of us are working to see what can be done to change that, but in the meantime you may want to bookmark these links at the “Wayback Machine” on archive.org. For the present, you can find copies of Epicurus.info here and the Epicurus wiki here.
One avenue that may open to get those sites back on line seems to be taking shape with another of the leading students of Epicurus on the internet, Peter St Andre. Peter is working to see if the sites can be brought back, and he would make a great curator of Erik’s sites given his own expertise Epicurus. If you’re not familiar with Peter’s work, you might want to check out his page.
The impact of Erik’s death has taken on additional significance to me personally, as this weekend a close personal friend of many years passed away unexpectedly. Both these events emphasize to me that it is among the most important insights of Epicurean philosophy that we must live while we live, and that life comes to an end all too quickly. Regardless of any other of the many factors that support Epicurean conclusions, we should consider it of the greatest urgency to live our lives fully while we can. To paraphrase Lucretius, divine pleasure is the guide of the living. Those who are now dead need no guides or anything else, because they have ceased to exist. Erik has left us a sterling example of someone who has lived fully by engaging life at the deepest philosophical level.
As we think about this event, we should remember PD40: “As many as possess the power to procure complete immunity from their neighbours, these also live most pleasantly with one another, since they have the most certain pledge of security, and after they have enjoyed the fullest intimacy, they do not lament the previous departure of a dead friend, as though he were to be pitied.”
All of us will eventually meet the same end as Erik, so he is no more to be pitied than are we ourselves. Our goal should be as was recorded in VS. 47: “I have anticipated thee, Fortune, and entrenched myself against all thy secret attacks. And I will not give myself up as captive to thee or to any other circumstance; but when it is time for me to go, spitting contempt on life and on those who vainly cling to it, I will leave life crying aloud a glorious triumph-song that I have lived well.”
From the Facebook Group this week:
This past week Hiram has suggested a campaign to have Epicurus honored by Google with one of their “doodles.” Considering the number of people who see that graphic the benefit would be immense, so please check Hiram’s suggestion here.
Also this week Ilkka posted a major new article on his Menoeceus blog. The article addresses an early blog post by a writer who wanted to discusses “problems with Epicureanism and Naturalism.” Ilkka cuts through a lot of confusion in the earlier article – here’s an example: The LavalSubjects author writes: “Epicureanism teaches that by “good” we mean pleasure and “bad” we mean pain. In other words, pleasure, for the epicurean is the ethical principle.” Of course this requires that the reader immediately understand that Epicurus clearly advised that sometimes we choose pain and avoid pleasure, and writers who are not versed in Epicurus have a very difficult time understanding that Epicurean advice to pure pleasure wisely does not elevate wisdom to a status that it can never hope to carry – that of being an abstraction higher than pleasure to which pleasure herself must bow. The writer assumes that there must be a “THE ethical principle” above all others, and only if you study Epicurus for yourself are you likely to understand that Epicurus calls you to separate from the crowd and reject that frame of reference. Ilkka does a very good job of unwinding these and other confusions in the original article. Be sure to check out Ilkka’s article for the full commentary.
Recent significant posts at NewEpicurean.com:
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!
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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.
This email newsletter is brought to you by NewEpicurean.com. Copies of these posts, and a current list of links to active Epicurean websites can also be found at EpicurusCentral.wordpress.com.
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