Welcome to This Week in Epicurean Philosophy for the week of 10/31/15! To subscribe (at no cost) click here.
This is the one hundred and thirtieth in a series of weekly reports on news from the world of Epicurean Philosophy. At the Epicurean Philosophy Group we are dedicated to the study and 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!”
Dawn of A New Age of Epicurus
If you follow the world of politics, the last ten days in the USA have provided an important reminder: where passions run high, truth is often the first casualty. If you are of a liberal political persuasion, you have been outraged by the treatment of Hillary Clinton by the Republican Congress. If you are of conservative persuasion, you have been outraged by hostile reporters at the Republican presidential debate.
No matter how badly you feel about the distortions and misrepresentations you have witnessed, stop for a moment and think. How would you feel about a similar campaign of deliberate distortion and misrepresentation that lasted, not ten days, but two thousand years? What if the target of those lies was not an ordinary politician, but the leading philosopher of Western Civilization, who had stood up heroically, and almost alone, against the forces of false religion and false philosophy which had kept the world before his time in darkness?
If you can imagine the anger you you would feel, but if you also think that this obstacle would not intimidate you, but would spur you on to search out the truth with even more strength, then you are ready for the world of Epicurean philosophy.
Almost all that is truly known about the philosophy of Epicurus is contained in Book X of the “Lives and Opinions of the Philosophers” written by Diogenes Laertius in ancient Greece, in the poem “On the Nature of Things” written by Lucretius in ancient Rome, and in the fragmented inscription dug up from the wallstones erected by Diogenes of Oinoanda in ancient Asia Minor. None of these works are so lengthy, or so difficult, that you cannot master them for yourself. With very few exceptions, these sources are the only documents left to us by the men who understood Epicurean philosophy, who supported it, and who intended to convey it with accuracy and fairness.
But contrary to these reliable texts, a torrent of intentional misrepresentation and negligent error has been delivered for two thousand years. In every direction you look, whether in the ancient world by Cicero or Plutarch, or in the modern world by Wikipedia or the slickest websites, you will find commentary prepared by people who were (or are) avowed enemies of core Epicurean doctrines. These anti-Epicurean commentaries have had one purpose: to tear down, disrupt, and confuse those who would look to Epicurus for philosophic guidance.
But the world is changing. Modern technology is allowing the scattered few who sense the truth about Epicurus to communicate easily with one another. Modern technology is allowing those who wish to learn the truth for themselves to find and share the hidden gems of analysis that still exist, rediscovered through digital scanning, and recovered from centuries of dormancy on the dusty shelves of libraries from around the world.
In recent years the NewEpicurean.com has had a small role to play in encouraging the rediscovery of Epicurus, but the work has hardly begun. With the help of modern technology and internet collaboration, we’ve only begun to reconstitute a body of work that accurately conveys the true teachings of Epicurus for themselves. In other corners of the internet, such as the Facebook Epicurean Philosophy Group and Facebook Epicurus Page, the Society of Epicurus, and the active Epicurean groups in Greece, other activists are advancing the work of bringing back true Epicurean doctrine and practices.
But these activists need your help.
The great majority of commentary which young people come across in their studies fails to convey the core insights of Epicurean philosophy. Traditional denunciations of Epicurus abound, and even those commentators who commend Epicurus do so for reasons of their own that Epicurus would find abhorrent. Modern students need access to the small number of sources and commentaries that present Epicurean ideas accurately, professionally, and persuasively. Such resources do exist, both in the ancient texts and with modern commentators such as Frances Wright and Norman DeWitt, but it will take time and effort to compile these materials and present them for modern use on the internet.
So here’s the challenge: Please consider volunteering in our efforts. Hiram Crespo has put much work into the Society of Epicurus, and we have active discussions going on daily on the Epicurus Page and the Epicurean Philosophy Group on Facebook. Let us know, either by private email or by public posting, how we can help you help us in advancing the message of Epicurean philosophy.
With your help, we can all profit from the study of Nature as guided by Epicurus, and with work and persistence, we can all be a part of the dawn of a new age of Epicurus.
Note: The photo above come with permission and our appreciation from Noel Daemen, located in Maastricht in The Netherlands, where he works with Daemen3dprojecten.nl.
Also From the Facebook Group this week:
There were several excellent posts this week on the Facebook group, including those by Jason B. discussing the meaning of the existence of life and on evolution to see things “as they really are”, and by Georges M. on Lucretius.
Also, Christos Yapijakis, leader of the Garden of Epicurus group in Athens, Greece, penned a tribute to the recently deceased Erik Anderson, former proprietor of the Epicurus.info web page.
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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.