Category talk:Ethics

From Epicurus Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

[edit] Epicurus' main lost works

On End-Goal and On Life courses are lost. Remain an incomplete anonymous On Choices an Avoidances PHerc 1251, the Menoeceus Epitome, the Principal Doctrines. No title like ethikos, 'derived from custom': extraneous to Epicurean apartness; that is, about necessary desires is there no 'custom' but 'nature'; about non necessary desires, customs are not felt but not avoided (for shyness and usefulness), whereas Epicurean apartness is lived as a joyful individualism. Therefore On Life Courses is not a religious nor civic customary dogma.
Cicero held Epicurean ataraxia, and katastematic (i.e.: quae fuit durum pati, meminisse dulce est, "What was hard to bear 'tis pleasant to recall" [Sen. Hercules Furens 656-657]) and kinetic (whims and 'let's go to adventure') pleasures to be different goals and therefore no end-goal: "Why do you call by a same name things so different?". He followed Platonic discrimination between pain-mixed body pleasures and pure spiritual pleasures, and that there is always a greater pleasure which makes us displeased. But so spiritual goods are not consistent either as they are mixed with spiritual evils … Democritus, Zeno and Pyrrho essentially claimed the only ataraxy; Aristyppus the only present pleasure.
For Epicurus pleasure (hêdonê) is always the same (for Speusippus and Protarchus too (Plato, Philebos 43d) end of trouble is pleasure). Boredom is avoidable if one doesn't believe pleasures can grow, so he welcomes the usual ones. Pleasures change adjective according to kind of sources and consequences of each distinguishable pleasurable experience ("tracks down the causes (aitia) of every choice and avoidance” [Menoec. Ep., 132]), and according to individual representations or behavioral reactions: "Many pores are assigned to v a r i e d things, they needs be endowed with a nature differing from one another, and have each their own nature and passages. For verily there are diverse senses in living creatures, each of which in its own way takes its own object within itself. For we see that sounds pass into one place and the taste from savors into another, and to another the scent of smells; of course compels it the ways' nature which v a r i e s in many schemes". [DRN VI 991]
"(natural pleasures) ... according to the different causes and not all taken together. And we called different causes those causes some of which, it seems, produce terrible storms while others do not" [PHerc 1251, cit., fr. 6].
An inferential diagram could be that some causes are foreseeable, others are changing, are moving after the passing of time (e.g. trips, love; "Among the Epicureans the great concern was realizing the boundary between the necessary and non-necessary." [Hermarchus at Porphyrius' De abstinentia, tome I ]): potential pain (algêdôn or lypê) viz necessary desires: not changeable> predictable> physiologia> choice
No potential pain - viz improvement - viz unnecessary desires : changeable/variable> replaceable> logismos> no avoidance but easiness;
if overvaluation > the better is a bar to the good.
All this 'avoiding evil' and 'not avoiding recreation/improvement' (double negative) would make it be defined 'negative' edonism, and 'melancholy', if it didn't be there esoteric concepts like katapyknôsis and katastêmatikê pleasure. Ethics will be achieved by prudence (phronêsis) (conjectural choice of target and path) but also by philosophy (values and self-awareness). Let us try to use the extant Epicurean fragments and find the leads.

  1. ) A prerequisite for avoiding pain and aversion is the free choice of variable desires. The swerve (internal cause imbalance, organizing effect) establish a bridge between Destiny (external cause, determined effect) and fortuitous Fortune (indeterminism, entropic effect): anticipation of necessity, the conjectural choice and avoidance of future pleasures among always uncertain events. Free choices are possible through phylogenetic condition, a livable environment and an acquired originating independence (apogegennêthen). Cybernetics also will bring causality back toward finality by means of feedback gear.
  2. ) Our life and nature are limited: contradiction (negative feedback) is there. Our desires and pleasures should be such too (even in drug addiction is there a disappointing inurement). Only if there is a limit (peras) it can be there a completeness/contentment (telos): the former is a spatial metaphor, the latter is the functional metaphor of same experiences of wellbeing, notwithstanding life finiteness: a new way – disappointing for the uninitiated - to grasp something like so-called 'happiness'. Infinite desire (epithymia) has no limit. "Both evaluation of the aim and the origin have causative leverage, but we have it too. What is up to us is our ability to learn from what ensues: if we won't understand which is the canon, that is the criterion [i.e. calculations with epilogismos by recollection that pleasure does not grow despite our desire growth] with which to assess all that is made through conjectures [... cutback of redactor] we shall flight against immoderacy" [Epic., On Nature Book XXV; Laursen 1997 pp. 43 ff.]. The way to establish what is out of nature is physiological, but also practical/individual: if a precise desire gets not calm, in fact is inciting: this is not natural [see: Sen. Ad Luc. 16.9; as to Epicurus quote and explanation]. Good in order to fatten, to write love poetry, or go up the ladder, not to live well. The unshakably well-fed whale now is under escort.

To tell the truth 'end-goal' translation of télos is venerable but ambiguous and questionable. To live is to desire; each desire involve a further end; it's possible but a pause of natural desire, that is pleasure. Epicureanism doesn't believe in objective values (in that Hume follows him: "Morality is more properly felt than judged of”) - save pleasure, nor knows finalism neither physical nor organic; it's need, a cause/motivation, creating end; need/desired value (an unrest) is no last destination, cessation of need does (a rest). Cicero's, a statesman, 'carrot-and-stic' (i.e. soul nobility of others and laws for people) defined a professional misinterpretation of 'highest good' in De Finibus, because that increased his power, a soul's pleasure for him; pleasure, for Epicurus, is but only the one among sensations that is 'self-evidently' sought in itself, that doesn't grow further: pleasure is such good, agathon kat' eayto. But pleasures are multi-faceted in their causes, not logically contradictory ("Epicurus is opposed to Plato [...] It's false that truth and wrongness of a thing is parted whether by affirmation or by negation..." [Ioannes Siculus, Commentary on Hermogenes' Rhetoric, (U244a)]). 'Telos' means - in conformity of various contexts and interpretations - obligation... rank...: completion - of chain of motivations. 'Total completeness' is likewise to téleion. In this case, and in English too 'end' means also 'limit'. Pleasure is archê and télos (Men. L. 128): motivation and completeness/contentment (telos): the former is a spatial metaphor the latter the functional one of same experiences of wellbeing, notwithstanding, that is 'bounded (in itself) motivation'. Fears and pleasures cannot go any further of a homeostatically genetic limit, for being content with 'more or less' self-interest and pleasure, avoiding directly harming one's health and others' interests, and considering one's past identity and present circumstance so that things go as well as possible. "The one who is spurred by very personal self-interest is dependent on chance and cannot get ataraxia" [Epicurean Ethics PHerc 346 (Polystratus?)] "You aren't so sure that the hope of the greatest pleasure will be achieved, then from that hope's pleasure serious troubles are arising" [Hermar. in Porf. De Abstin., I, 54] "Those who are in hottest pursuit of pleasure are furthest from catching it" [U460].
The sense is given by path not by winning post. ”What we mean as completeness/contentment (telos) of goods, it's that whose presence makes him who owns it do need nothing else of different outcome, here it's why the completeness/limit of goods is the pleasure, and the biggest of evils is pain” [Dem. Lac. Textual Aporias PHerc. 1012, XV, 52, Delattre ed. 2011]. Slowing down the present in consciousness discipline (El katepyknoyto pasa edonê [P.D. IX]), sages would be like gods and atoms in their unending time, just called 'complete natures' (olas physeis) in Letter to Herod. 40. Pleasure doesn't grow beyond needs (homeostasis, negative feedback), past pleasure cannot be added up to present ones (otherwise it could grow), so “infinite and finite time afford equal pleasure”, P.D. 19: a complete thing (telos) requires no improvement over time and money (income grows, gladness keeps right but the same [Lucr. eadem sunt omnia semper III. 945]. And êdonê and aponia (sensory), chara and ataraxia (eudaemonic, i.e. neurohormonal), kinêtikos and katastêmatikos are not contradictory, they are practice (life as it is, not as one would wish it were). Practical limit is in homeostasis of neurohormones (e.g. the cyclic sleep). Claim that “pleasures of the mind [free and creative, r.'s n.] are greater than those of the body" [D.L. 137] with “If you do not reconcile your behavior with the goal of nature [necessity and variability/destruction, r.'s n.] then there will be a conflict between theory and practice.“ [P.D. 25], finally “The belly, Timocrates, my man of wisdom, is the region that contains the highest completeness/contentment” [Metrodorus, Letter to his Brother Timocrates, fr. 13 (p. 51 Duen.), by way of Plutarch, U409] is not viciously circular: biological nature must be only a chief guide in perception way for not craving for an imaginary immortal life [see Talk: Principal Doctrine 20]; pleasure of mind is more ongoing, because more creative of linked ends from past to present, and future but therefore psychically unstable. As well as appease one's hunger whether from small or big granary [Hor., Serm. I. 1. 52; and his metaphor of jar, brimming or polluted], to live among many diversions does not increase each of them. One does survive through “Choices and Avoidances”; a spot without harms nor satiableness is only out of the worlds metakosmia...

  1. ) Living is not only thinking, ethic is not theoretical (today also, only meta-ethic may be): it's pragmatical, phronêsis.
  2. ) Single physical and mental desire "(a good) is not only limited in magnitude but also has to be easy to attain" ( PHerc 1251, fr 2). Boundless desires (desire plus ascendancy' s opinion) are therefore self-defeating desires and not pleasure (a bad).
  3. ) Sometime the virtues give the impression to attract like pleasures because one is: "unaware that the virtues have a place among the causes that coincide with their effect, for they are borne along with pleasure" [Oinoanda Inscription. Smith 1992 fr. 33]. DL, X, 138: "Epicurus describes virtue as inseparable from pleasure" may be interpreted in a similar way, in chronological or perceptive sense: some spontaneous pleasures may be without virtues, but when we are going to reach a pleasure with ease/style (Epicurean virtue) we are already pleased.. "The happy life is inseparable from virtues" [Menoec 132] insofar as it is something more extensive than a sum of all past pleasures. Neurosciences uphold that our brain is motivated by limbic system (pleasure zone, our end-goal system , put to the test since million years); adults must found compact synapses with neocortex (choice freedom, virtue), but the latter don't come off (necessity) to pilot limbic system, as Stoics had hoped-for the virtue of apatheia, in order to wipe out emotions. Freedom and necessity are not unlimited, neither is set as an absolute.
  4. ) Epicurean virtue has a meaning decidedly not normative, and the very word "arete" covered a much wider spectrum than moral virtue, in fact serving as a means for what gives long-lasting pleasure: "They do not even understand what the word 'virtue' means, unless indeed we choose to give the name 'moral' to what looks well with the mob" [Diogenes of Oinoanda. Smith 1992 fr. 33]. Pleasure is opposite to pain as motivation to survival. Third way isn't there. This statement, which raised many disputes, passed undisturbed by Aristoteles [Gr. Eth. 1206 a 15-20]. Katastematic pleasure is negative only in the sense that a boundary mark is fixed in contrast with the background. It is applied only to what gives long-lasting pleasure.
  5. ) Sources of pleasure are instead diversified, because organs are in different places and operate in different times.
  6. ) Each "bodily pleasure cannot increase – it merely varies" (P.D.18); experienced time in this respect isn't cumulative, because if "when pain arising from need has been removed" (ibid.) and bodily pleasure cannot increase, it means that varied ensuing pleasures are all equivalent (therefore replaceable, and not frustrating nor painful apart from fools), and one can improve, in a sense, almost pleasure in the long run. But underlying nervous system and neurohormones are homeostatic, not eudaemonic, they would be, if durable (with an exception of seasonal oxitocin of falling in love). A continue so-called 'happiness' would be - alas - unadaptive (see talk:Principal Doctrine 9), more dangerous than a brief orgasm making the most fearful animal completely inattentive. Following to moralistic psychology a high-school pass satisfaction should be greater than a primary-school one, nevertheless both are emotionally equivalent, and go on for a bash. Deeds may be progressing , greatest emotional experience may not: only temporal stability matters. Luckily many limited pleasures of different sources and times can be called back and lined up to make a broader or longer lasting pleasure. This is a business of choices and avoidances.
  7. ) These variations (poikilma) are natural only if mental and physical stability is reached (ataraxia), and targets are limited.
  8. ) The stable pleasure eystathés is caught day after day with limited targets in superfluous desires (moderation and differentiation) and with prudence about necessities and self-assurance (recollection and calculation), thanks to which each evening one can say 'I have lived happily (bebiôtai), and this cannot be seized to me!" [V.S. 47, Democritus, Horace Carm. III. 40; Sen. Ben 5.17. 5]. "In pleasure the form is perfect in every time' s moment" [To Nicomachus Ethics B, X, 3]. Targets become daily, because the next pleasure cannot be qualitatively very dissimilar to the moving pleasure of today and as such it turns stable in one's mind («static», no progress) thanks to philosophy *; whereas the unphilosophical person is all outstretched toward enormous pleasures and infinity of duration (with the other side of fear of death), ungrateful to one's past. In order to reach the same stability of sound body, the soul has to think time is not a per se thing, It must not confine to bodily sensations (soul's pleasures are more important), but make flesh (for example the belly: when it's filled it come back empty, not growing) a behavioral model (homeostasis, that is eternal present) - unaware/unworried of flowing of pleasure and of collation between differently located pleasures, and convince itself by analogical experience that “Infinite and finite time afford equal pleasure” [P.D. 19: not growing, “not craving what is not present and scorning what is”, DRN 3.957] as kinetic pleasures are equivalent. No stable pleasure without virtue. In spite of deceptive appetizers and drinking aperitif: disgust does arrive. Let's follow the cycle, or shorten it through a walk.
  9. ) Mind's pleasures, selection/pasting of bodily ones and of external senses' activity, are less repeatable under identical conditions. Soul is spurred to variation and sometime to advance [Vat. S. 48, see below].

The pleasure should be ataraxic (if is there further weighty desire there is boredom: uncompleted absence of pain); complete (backwards as regards the time, because nothing in the future can do more/less authentic the present pleasure); quiet (based on equilibrium, eustatheia and lack of 'more or less', kata to pleon ê elatton); n e v e r d i f f e r i n g from one another (P.D. IX; gods' pleasure). That says consistency, but the practice needs training and flexibility, that is 'virtue'. By men only unnecessary pleasures can 'never differ'. Autarky is good, but above all for Cynics. "Those who least yearn for luxury enjoy it most" said Epicurus, against Cyrenaics [Menoeceus 131], in the sense that it has not to be a desire which involves pain, nor far attainment. The kinetic pleasures have provoked suspicion to Neoplatonic and Christian critics because the (Epicurean?) glossator spoke of gluttonies, a body's business, but spiritualists are to live for soul's immortality. But soul's kinetic pleasures? [see: D.L. 136: Ep. On Choices and Avoidances] Would it be there a pleasurable life without kinetic joy? Obviously one has to think before to hunger, chilliness, ataraxia, but next?

According to Carlo Diano variety and kinetic pleasure are the same thing*, but first are limited katastematic pleasures, which are born by necessaries desires and bear equilibrium: " For which reason these have been placed also at the head of the Principal Doctrines" [Philodemus, PHerc 1251, see below] . About these the sole imagination is frustrating. Next come kinetic pleasures which are born by not necessaries desires, and bear sensory growth and determinate expansion; each of these has no priorities, they v a r y in location to the patches concerned: from internal organs to mind, to external senses and to social interactions. Iocundum nil est, nisi quod reficit varietas, “Nothing entertains if stage does refrain” [P. Syrus, 406]. They are pure (natural) only if urgent needs are before satisfied (ataraxia). For instance the pleasure of sounds must wait the healing of otitis, said Horace. If one is untroubled, the sole imagination is also enjoyable (e.g. sexual fancies or mental explorations: body and soul). If the fool believes in conventional priorities, status symbols, the kinetic pleasure exceeds natural bounds and has no definite goal (P.D.30). As also says Diogenes of Oinoanda, frag. 34 Smith: "how life made pleasant for us both in mental states and action. About mental states let us note that when the emotions that disturb the soul are removed [with necessary knowledge, choices and avoidances], things that give it pleasure come in to take their place. Now what are these disturbing emotions? They are fears, of gods, of death, and of pain; and, in addition, desire which far exceeds its natural bounds". Interpreting katastematic and kinetic adjectives as reporting to sources of pleasure, theory turn upside down: kinetic pleasure could allude to the activity preceding the full satisfaction : but it would be concurrent with a pain in a same sector, that is contradicting the P.D. 3: "When such pleasure is present, for as long as it lasts, there is no cause of physical nor mental pain present".
By lack of complete texts the issue is debated but challenging/conjectural; in ed.'s view katastematic pleasure may also relate: internal senses, automatisms, swinging repetition (sages blame pleasures which entail second thoughts, praise goods which are always giving satisfaction [Lucil. 90,34]), omeostasis, satisfied predictability: stability of innate pulsions, energy saving - they are always useful and almost always pleasurable, "(the representation) [understood by itself] which does not derive from surrounding environment" [On Nature XXXIV, PHerc. 1451. Col. XXI, G.Leone]; kinetic [in motion, variable] pleasures may relate: external senses (i.e.: the basis of thinking, for E.: ”... to be called 'kinetic'; we'll say not to be few these (representations) rising into us mostly from the circumstantial environment ...” [ibid., Col. XIX, G.Leone]). If we discover that the cost of attaining something prized is too high and has other consequences, we also prize it less, or the other way around: the 'more or less', cognitive but not logical/deductive content); and also conditioned reflex , variation and movement for novelty, conjectural evolution (multistasis), perhaps obsolete instincts, enjoyable chance , energy investment: instability - they are always pleasurable but only probably useful. Variable desires are personally arranged along value judgments, that are no science but present contingency. Nature plans both of them: men had to get down from trees to become migrant predator. But the bigger difference, concerning the one who must decide, is that katastematic/ necessary desires are easy/fixed/few because pleasure is certain – genetic (syggenikas kai physikas) reflex - and always strongly felt about in his limits (satiety, anaesthesia), limbic system predominates; the not-necessary/ kinetic v a r i e s much more, it is more animated in novelty, more sluggish in routine, therefore it is more problematic, it's 'on the move' - a conditioned stimulus - , it's prone to press against the limits, neocortex must watch over , but chiefly Epicurean wisdom, which backs both sources of pleasures (against Plato). Horace said that in crisis period he "wrapped up himself in fit simplicity" [Carm. III, 29]. But here is the issue of wisdom: not to be a vegetative man...
Very pregnant is the Principal Doctrine 9: "If every pleasure c o u l d condense in extension and in duration for both body and mind, pleasures would never differ from one another". This would change totally our identity in a hypothetical Heaven..., but would be potentially dangerous on Earth, suppressing necessary desires' precedence: «A sage man doesn't pursue what's pleasurable, but lack of pain» [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethic, VII, 12, 1152 b 5-16]; when we have eaten enough, but we are thirsty, both pleasures aren't equal*, but luckily we feel it now, in the present. In the natural automatic reaction a long lasting sequence of diversified kinetic pleasures can get computable and intersubjective if we consider each diversified pleasure - and perhaps the necessary to happiness ones too - an equivalent pleasure *. If they were not equivalent the fainter would turn into no-pleasure ('the grimy jar' of Horace), and it would be useless "a perpetual continuation of pleasures, as the expectation of pleasures hoped for is combined with the recollection of pleasures already realized" (U439). If a pleasure was lesser, then it shouldn't be chosen and that would prevent variety and duration of pleasures chain; therefore all non necessary pleasures must be appraised reasonably identical, that is analogically (not as to mental/sentimental unreflected associations, nor as to felt present impulse) and, although variable by nature and depletable by immediate insistence, they become repeatable as a whole, that is they offer answer for their being at hand (eyporistos; Lat. parabilis) , and they progress toward static pleasure thank to philosophy, or much better to prudence, denying Buddhism, Plato's Philêbos, Cynicism and Capuchinism. Lastingness is done by quantity, not by quality. Unluckily we don't feel it now, in the present. So, 'natural' and 'obtainable' have blurred (almost natural", Torquatus in De fin. 1,31) boundaries in technological ways of life, where 'usefulness' is 'natural' (see Demetrius the Lacon) as an 'open' instinct'. Unlike the Gods kinetic pleasures vary and need analogy, not science nor innate instinct/prolêpsis, but conjectural virtue, phronêsis, epilogismòs, as our environment and we ourself falter: life is to be lived in the present, thereby we need more freedom than the Gods, whom philosophy is sufficient. The sage uses them without addiction.
Philosophical wisdom denies common sense, holding that lack of pain in necessary desires and avoidances is overriding, for instance, an orgasm, but after all one seeks refuge in more lasting entertainments, that, otherwise, wouldn't be without any fidgetiness. Katastematic, i.e. 'stable' or 'static', cannot mean absence of pain/need's breakdowns, but a possible guidance by wisdom and prudence on ensuingcyclotymic spontaneity. According to Bailey the Epicureans calculated the choice of pleasures always under quantity. [The Greek atomists and Epicurus, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1928, p. 490]. The very Bentham got arithmetic of pleasure. «Prejudice apart, the game of push-pin is of equal value with the arts and sciences of music and poetry». [The Works of J. Bentham. 1962, II, 254]. According to Aristocles too: "both (Epicurean pleasure and pain) can be measured according to quantity [i.e. as a set of uniform things; ed.'s n.] not to quality. It is obvious that only reason can compute quantity" [Arrighetti 188, U442 (shortened...): clearly computing quality would be somewhat quarrelsome...]. They are proportional to spatial temporal extent of one or more participating senses. Contemplative soul pleasures are longer for the sages because they roam freely into present and past memorized sensations during the ataraxia; he waits the future ones too which is not clung to however, in fact they're giving present security feeling: “the assurance that he would have enjoyment either throughout life or for a great part of life” [Zeno, U445; given the philosophical simpleness of his pleasure]. Therefore Epicurus names choice deliberation 'epilogismòs', i.e. analogic edonic calculus (2:3 = x:y) in view of certain steadfastness of the sage. Why is the pleasure of a dinner in an expensive and fashionable place felt more agreeable than household feeding? Because of the added (quantitative) associated pleasures of rank, of music, friends, alcohol... Among the Epicureans self-esteem comes from philosophy and added diversified pleasures are always possible by clearing the mind up, and by making it attentive and joyful to physical sensations and to present deeds. "The limit [patch of action] of mental pleasure is reached after we reflect upon these bodily pleasures and the related mental distress prior to fulfillment" (P.D. 18). Epicurus named it katapyknôsis and the verb El katepyknoyto pasa edonê [P.D. IX; in Aristotles too], and uses classic example of clouds that condense (pyknoumenôn) into rain [PHerc. 1148, 16 Arr.].
On katapyknôsis toy edonénoy we have a Liddel dict.'s definition: "densification; solidification of pleasure by filling in unoccupied gaps in time and completing the penetration of organism"; but the word has a musical ethymology: partition (tuning, harmonisation) of tetrachord. Psychology defines it as an experiential mode, the aptitude to lose oneself in vital flow, the interval of time in which one has no consciousness of its passing (Bergson identified it as 'duration', parallel to Epicurus' eustathes katastema and free will). Epicurus argues against the confutation of Plato in Phaedo. If harmonisation of all body's components is an aim of the Epicurean soul - that cannot live without them , it is but absolutely no nature of soul:. In Nature Book 14 (see fragm. of PHerc. 1148, Arr. 29): soul atoms meet together but collide too and are always on the go; ta te syncriseis men poiein eydialytous de ("other do give rise to aggregates, but are easily dissolvable"). The attention applies to the good equilibrium of the moment and expands (or suspends) subjectively the time (as perceived time is an accident, i.e. variable, destroying stability and subjective). With an image we can define it: 'to ruminate' the present or the past pleasure. For this is more needed a deep-rooted affections' memory (mnêmê) rather than a sole deeds' one (anamnêsis). The past 'is' rather than 'was'. It is alive, it exists as a property of imagination. It seems introvert tempers are more disposed to affection memory through a lower threshold of cortical excitability (brain predisposition commonly called introversion, after Eysenck [(1982) Mindwatching, ch. 10: amphetamines make persons precisely more introverted and self-controlled]). But all philosophies as a way of living [for instance Marcus Aurelius] can propose a proper attitude through 'spiritual exercises' [see Pierre Hadot.], meditation, autogenic training. “... the state in which the soul proceeds always in a measured and untroubled course, and is well disposed to itself, and looks on its own affairs happily and never interrupts this joy. It remains in this peaceful state, never raising nor depressing itself.” [Seneca, On Soul's Quiet 2.4; see P.D. 9]. For Aristotles and Epicurus that was a sign of divine mind ('the thought of the thought). We find also a misuse of katapyknoô by a simple-minded cook's character of (Epicurean) comedic author Damoxenosin The Foster Brothers, quoted by Athenaeus, III, 103b. He interprets to the letter the common metaphor like "to assimilate" (reflection/meditation) in sole digestive meaning (to chew/digest carefully). As reports vaguely Plutarch : "(Epicureans) using the soul as a decanter of the body, [...] decanting pleasure" [U429].

Expansion of consecutive diversified pleasures is calculable if we don’t overestimate their quality. "Pleasure reaches its maximum limit at the removal of all sources of pain" (P.D. 3). Basic rule is Horace's non fugienda petendis immiscere , not to mix avoidances with choices. This "reflection" is a consequence of a free philosophical decision, which is not limitless.
Less repeatable varied pleasures would require a renewing pursuit, not easy to satisfy; e.g. refined aesthetic astonishment: excellent things and emotions are sporadic, possession or happenings are expensive and not so revealing. We shall slow our desires up, and lead the intervals without boring or anxious waiting, and be satisfied with the present and grateful to the past (positive thinking), that is we ought to be able to substitute one pleasurable object for another, and to eliminate such desires altogether if their objects are not readily available or socially obscene. We must be warned against craving and fearing for them when we are unable to have them (Ep. Men. 131). Thus Epicurus came over Aristyppus' absolute skepticism on relative qualities (that is all pleasures are equivalent) and Platonic infinity and unreliability of the desire, and he led to measure the personal hedonic value of each choice. Aristotle had almost entirely banished the gods from ethics and the intellect from rationale of values (ethic is a practice). Epicurus reached the cohesiveness of his decision-making's theory, without duties, and without splitting between moral philosophy and natural sciences, which last from Socrates up until today. The moralists do not still realize that the upgrade and downhill road is the same road...
To synthesize: pleasure is stable and personally estimable when it is impossible to add anything to the urgent needs' satisfaction, and when one does not overvalue a variable pleasure in comparison with another (Horace: nihil admirari, one should admire nothing), and the one of tomorrow in comparison with the today's one.
On interchangeable not necessary pleasures Menoeceus' Letter is somewhat buttoned-up. Of course in End-Goal spoke E. of taste, sexuality, music and art's pleasures [Aten. Deipn. XII 546 e; Cic. Tusc III 18, 41-42]. PHerc. 1251 is less 'carthusian': "It is necessary to bear in mind also that a further factor which contributes to success [in the calculation of pleasures] is a thorough understanding of individual sources of external goods and how they stand in relation to us - for example, luxury and beauty and wealth, generally speaking, and marriage and the like -, but its contribution is small in comparison with the cardinal tenets which we mentioned. For which reason these have been placed also at the head of the Principal Doctrines. [...] Having closely examined the things which yield fruit in return for his labors, (the wise man) works with more equanimity. [...] He is industrious because of the consequent doctrine based on the concept of the preservation of one's goods." In the work On Household Management Philodemus quotes Metrodorus' On Wealth, and his wealth' standard which should avoid social scorn: "If somebody will reproach us because we teach on management, among us is sufficient Metrodorus, who, together with Epicurus, arrange, advise, run with a lot of carefulness, just in minute detail and executes it in person, even though the financial situation doesn't press him [XXVII 20-29]"; "In humans are there natural requirements due the superfluity" [ibid]. Diversion isn't blameworthy, as nature makes everything without objective aims. Epicureans are not Cynics... For DRN see V, 1446 & foll.. According to Seneca not necessary desires' range is some more extensive: "Of necessary things, the first class consists of things which we cannot live without; the second, of things without which we ought not to live; and the third, of things which we should care not to live without. [...] After these come useful things, which form a very wide and v a r i e d class; among these will be money, not in excess, but enough for living in a plain style. [...] After these is what we have come to hold dear by connection and relationship and long use and custom, such as our wives and children, our household goods, and so on, to which the mind so firmly attaches itself that separation from them seems worse than death. [...] or things in such a manner, that though not naturally valuable, they become so by the time and place [...] and they shall be used with propriety, without vulgarity". [extrapolation from On Benefit I.11]. "Somebody merges into pleasures, which he gets from habit addicted by [...], so it happens that what was superfluous gets necessary. They're enslaved, not users." [Ad Luc. 39, 6]. If it isn't Epicurean, it is very nearly (or cribbed).
Finally we might append friendship, as human beings are “not sociable and helping by univocal instinct” [U551] - they are hierarchized too, like all group of mammalians - and as absence of it does not bring pain on wise men, who "do not mourn a friend who dies before they do" [P.D. 40], because the Sages are self-sufficient: "We do not so much need the help of our friends" (Vat. S. 34), but only of the hope ('confidence') of a possible utility”. But an 'hope' is no necessary desire, because it may be replaced by another choice (e.g. 'I can be helped by payed staff'; and today by insurances, by social services). This hope - the other side of fear of loneliness - allows the pleasure of cordiality, experienced without ambivalence only by the Sage , who has got inner trust (or by the young credulous people...); a necessary need would have no more or less than others, only variable/in motion ones have. This pleasure appears even though no present danger or need is there, therefore it isn't necessary either. Unselfish and trustworthy friendship is not among the things that are in the power of the men in the street: “Epicurus … Metrodorus remarks that only the wise man knows how to return a favor ” [Ad Lucil. 81, 11 (U589): ]; Diog. L. X.118: ”The sage alone will feel gratitude towards friends”, whereas necessaries pleasures are always useful and easy to get: «Natural and necessary desires are for their own nature easily attainable for fair plain men, not only for they who are akin of Pericles, Kallistratos, Demosthenes, so much better than rhetoric is (physiology) - teaching the bonds of desires...» [Phld. Rhetor.]. That in complex societies.
For most of primordial savannah hunting-gathering groups (gift economies: no 'fridges'/ no salt, with inequalities and polygamy for the leader about not perishable goods ) friendship (of henchmen: a kind of union) and share-out was no doubt necessary (external, environmental: anagkaiôs; see Dem. Lac.), but in mountains forest (trappers - shepherds, permafrost 'fridges' for tuber and sauerkraut, bramble-bush concealable cave-castle on top of a rock), in deserts (nomadic goatherd), in marshlands (pile cabin, sprouts), in lagoons (shellfish and seaweeds gatherers, salting), in glaciations ('fridges'), familiar hierarchical smaller group was evolutionary; hence the man's troglodyte den, the secluded farmstead with well.
An introvert/privacy genetic switch (perhaps by 'imprinting': a 'dog-man' who gets 'felid-man' perhaps at seven or teenage; or later out of habit), got predominant later in monetary industrial economies, with their reinforced concrete, steel-clad door apartments, where altruistic group friendship lacks any environmental foundation and is a form of 'call of the wild' among teenagers, of get-together among adults, a conventicle of gays, a philosophers/religious utopia, an obligation at Christmas, a claiming of person with no property, of illegal immigrants buddy system; it was replaced by good manners of dear-enemy or rival-friend. Antropologist Polly Wiessner of University of Utah assert that a society without gossip would simply dissolve. "People wouldn't have any common interest to stay together". In today's apartments media voices 'virtualize' the clearing of hamlet. One may hope for giving advice or becoming a grown-up leader, when the group is composed of twenty people; but if it's six billion? For boasting to command the others, one must deceive oneself. Certain internal desires/instincts are always been bipolar/ambivalent/cyclothymic, i.e. non-necessary/in motion: love-hate, belonging-dominance, parental cares-aloofness from stubborn adolescents. Lucretius set out an individualist phase of a stronger man "able to survive and to be all right by oneself" [V. 960]. An autarky normal instinct is established by psychology - e.g. by Freud, K.G. Jung, H.J. Eysenck, Anthony Storr, Maslow, W.W. Dyer; but perhaps for somebody else the kind of conformist people, directed by expectations from outside the person are more politically correct (Storr claims that modern psychology idealizes human relationships to the point of misleading people); introversion has bad press. The most extrovert persons have several junctures of introversion and the other way around. Against Aristotle's opinion Epicurus debated “whether the social instinct [not a convention, r.n.] is a necessary element in the nature of adult man” [Arrian, Diatr. of Epict. III.7.19], or a flexible and originally parental one [Lucr. “Then neighbors began to form friendship”, V, 1019]; Epicurus wrote no works on friendship, but only Perì thôrôn kai charistos, about presents and thankfulness (reciprocation, near barter, utilitarian friendship) of beneficiaries; all sentences are extrapolations of comments told by the way.
Friendship - built on philosophical relations (dialogismos, ) - is a sage's business; a person who doesn't ask you for a loan, nor outstays your welcome: "he who exploit one's friends" is blamed by Philodemus [P. Parrhêsias; he is said akaristos: liberality of both evens out and spiritualizes their relation...] and "never grab the property of those who are their friends" [On Gratitude, PHerc. 1414 IX. 2-6]. Exchange of informations isn't impoverishing (if I give information, I still have it), in fact it enriches, sometimes in common meaning. Only among autarkic individuals a pleasurable coexistence gets possible without blurring reality. “It is only when we no longer compulsively need someone that we can have a real relationship with them" [Anthony Storr, psychiatrist]. For Epicurus the skill of getting a few friends together and staying alone are both complementary things. Given the lack of printing and really public library, friendship – through syzêtêsis, common search of wisdom - could be called as much necessary as prudence, for one's ataraxia
Bollack translates D.L.120b: 'Friendship is prompted by experience (chreia)'; not 'Friendship is prompted by our needs' [Acte du VIII Congrès Budé Paris 1969]. In this case it's just a virtue (a means: philìa), no emotional need (erôs) [cf. Cic. De Fin. 70: contractual friendship]; a means is not necessary, but useful according to contingencies. Therefore "Prudence ( is s o m e t h i n g even more valuable than philosophy" [Men. 132]: because there are some not-necessary and far-reaching desires which belong to the Possible and cannot be guided by science, therefore all virtues are linked to phronêsis, as managed by non previously demonstrable reasoning but only by probable analogy with one's past, thus both acknowledge a common way of considering. Similarly Aristotle: 'Prudence is prompted by experiences: it may not predict in detail the strategies which it will follow'. [Nicom 7.11.1152b]. If friendship were necessary it would be predictable, such as among ants. If all these inferences from fragments (esoteric against exoteric, perhaps to much recopied) are consistent, friendship - in democratic affluent classes - may be welcomed if it's at hand (it should be practiced by “like minded individuals” Men. 135; “Stranger (hospes), here you will do well to tarry (manebis); here our highest good is pleasure” [Sen. Ep. XXI, in the Garden's door: a warning rather than a welcome, 'hospes, not 'amice']), without nuisance (as all kinetic desires), compatible with one's free time (“using all his time sparingly”, Choices XXI); not craved for, replaceable (as all kinetic desire: “he does not avoid” [Choices IV]; “ Epicurus [...] sage can be without a friend […] but he doesn't want to live without [...] he'll replace him” [Sen. Luc. 9. 5]).
Let's consider eventually that pleasure of liberality is sure when sacrifice is relatively little and induced joy is predictable, e.g. elderly people with children, needy people, if occasionally. But opinions cannot be given as a present: a healthy person under conventional poverty line, lives materially better and longer than a rich of old days: his discomfort is mostly sense of inferiority. Even more difficult is liberal friendship between both affluent sage friends: gift is a farce/swap in two acts (V.S. 34: “We do not so much need the help of our friends”), but moral satisfaction, notoriety and conventionality considered it as a sign of trust, and they did agreeably one's duty.

The sole katastematic pleasure of fulfilled needs has actually his own psychological problem, it's repeatable but transient: "Most men are in a coma when they rest, and mad when they act" (Vat. S. 11). "We must try to make what is before us better than what is past" (Vat.S. 48: a facet of freedom). "Those who do not aim at a constantly changing standard" [have to write] "to ward off the charge of extreme sloth and stupidity" (U230). Precisely, the lack of pain (necessary desires' result, but also in regard to boredom) is a pleasure only if there is no slightest desire, that is an hope/agitation (Horace called it "long hope"): one avoids desires through concentrating on variable and available active/quiet pleasure, present either in oneself or in the outside (see above Oinoanda frg. 28). This is spontaneous among babies, acquired by the sage. An ambitious and busy man, like Cicero, cannot understand it, as he had never felt it, apart for good sleep.

For "calculations concerning choices and avoidances" one shall follow this rule (the elaborate syntax is important): "seek after nothing which does not naturally remove pain - and such are most of the matters which people take a serious interest in - and one does not avoid what does not prevent one from having pleasure - such as we should consider most matters of improvement to be." [Philodemus (?), On Choices and Avoidances (PHerc. 1251) 1995 Naples: fragment XIII and IV *]. Many variable pleasures have to be received and chosen, not sought, as the highest pleasure is a matter of being in a condition in which we no longer need pleasure. "Those who are in hottest pursuit of pleasure are furthest from catching it" [U460]. Seeking could involve exertion, useful if hardship would get worse; instead present' s meditation with harmless pleasure purifies and extends our sensations towards a more durable pleasure. Unlikely Cynicism and Buddhism, Epicureanism reappropriates desires and pleasure. Passive pleasure becomes a background of all varying pleasures. “While I enjoy a pleasure I'm captured, and surprised to have sought it with such an unconcern” [Montesquieu].
We have to be sure of what is not science, that is prudence (phronesis) : "This is said because of what has been stated about the four cardinal principles, for the thesis that the understanding and the memorization of the cardinal tenets contribute greatly to actual choices and avoidances are traced back to the states of tranquillity concerning them [sc. the cardinal tenets] - as some have clumsily interpreted it -, but to claiming that they [sc. the choices and avoidances] are accomplished successfully when we measure them by the ends laid down by nature" [Pherc 1251, fr. XI, Indelli- Tsouna' s tr.]. Epicurus said "practice these teachings", "train to think": he meant feeling's education: "gentleness of feeling and a state of mind that sets limits that are in accordance with nature" [cit. by Plut. How to study Poetry, 14]. That marks out Epicureanism from general character of Hellenistic ethics, which continued to be Socratic (intellectualistic): 'not all men can become sage', even the unpretentious materialistic ones, if they aren't able to do with pleasure what they count well [Men. 132] and to love the natural constraint (necessity): question of art but of genes too. Philosophy of necessity seems to be theoretic because it accepts foreseeable (necessary) contrasts; then occurs individual practice/freedom. "Thus, we should pay attention to those feelings and sensations which are present within us (both those we have in common with humankind at large, and the p a r t i c u l a r ones we have in each of ourselves) [noncognitive component; everyone should find one's own outcome; ed.'s comm. *] according to each of the criteria of truth [epilogismos: localistic knowledge; ed.'s comm.]. Only then shall we pin down the sources of disturbance and fear." [Herod. 082]
Happiness is of course almost a judgement, an attribute of one's life as a whole, evidently about one's past, when one overlooks setbacks - purified by the very survival - and is perceiving the epibolê of one's ready wellbeing.

  • “Live today for today is life, the very life of life; for tomorrow is a dream, yesterday but a memory; but today well lived will make tomorrow a dream of hope, yesterday a memory of joy”. [Robert Browning].
  • DIANO (C.), Scritti epicurei, Firenze 1974 pp. 38; 40-41; 46. The contention of Carlo Diano has a basic evidence in Cicero' s De Fin. II 23 75: ... me non modo quid sit voluptas scire - est enim iucundus motus in sensu -, sed etiam quid eam tu velis esse? tum enim eam ipsam vis, quam modo ego dixi, et nomen imponis, in motu ut sit et faciat aliquam v a r i e t a t e m, tum aliam quandam summam voluptatem, quo addi nihil possit; eam tum adesse, cum dolor omnis absit; eam stabilem appellas. ...[De fin. II.10]; "I now what you claim to be the pleasure - an agreeable performance of senses - but sometime you call it and want it be 'in motion' (kinetic) - as I said - so that it bring a certain v a r i e t y about, and sometime a different "greatest" pleasure, to which it' s impossible to add anything, when each pain is removed; and you call it stable (katastematic)". Most of all: Varietas + motus come after: (cum):... cum omnis dolor detractus esset, variari, non augeri voluptatem"... "(you say) after each pain is removed, pleasure to be varied not increased"[De fin. II.10].
    As a consequence of his many Epicurean friends Cicero might neglect what he don't catch, but he didn't modify Epicurean texts. «It is a question of transcribing, and it cost me less difficulty. I join them words, and with these I abound» [Ad Att. 12.52 (5/21/45). He shows many time that he had read the Ethic Pherc 1251, e.g. fragment XIII and IV (see above), about hedonistic calculus, by his corresponding convolute syntax (rhetorical interrogative negative sentence = double negation= assertion) in De Fin I, 32: “Quis autem vel eum (an Epicurean) iure 'reprehenderit', qui in ea voluptate velit esse, quam 'nihil' molestiae consequatur, vel illum, qui dolorem eum 'fugiat', quo voluptate 'nulla' pariatur?” But he had not understood the why, that is a katastêmatikos nihil admirari... (see Talk:Horace)].
  • "Epicurus [...] when the state of painlessness is reached, admits of certain unnecessary v a r i a t i o n s). [U417. Plutarch]: another confirmation that 'kinetic' follows, doesn't go ahead of 'katastematic': in order to fill the gap.
  • See: H.J.Campbell, (1973) The Pleasure Areas; [monkeys and epileptics electrode self-stimulation' state]).
  • (Note to P.D. 10) in Epicuro. Scritti morali (with gr. text). Tr. and comm. C. Diano. Milano 1978, p. 134: "all pleasures are pleasures and their graduation can be made only in connection to associated damages or advantages" to happiness.
  • Philodemus allegiance' statement: "We shall admonish others (dissidents) with great confidence, both once and now when we have become eminent, grown up in the founders' footstep, as if born of their womb. And the encompassing and most important thing is, we shall obey Epicurus, according to whom we have chosen to live" [Phil. On Frankness, (PHerc 146) fr. 45] . It' s unlikely PHerc 1251, On Choices and Avoidances to stray from Epicurus .
  • "We place a high value on our characters as if they were our own possessions whether or not we are virtuous and praised by other men. So, too, we must regard the characters of those around us if they are our friends "(Vat. S. 15). If ,"nature itself judges what is in accordance with or contrary to nature. What does it perceive or what does it judge except pleasure and pain as a basis for its pursuit or avoidance of anything?"[Cic., Fin. 1.30], natural health, character, age, gender, variable pleasures are private matter , they vary for each person: Epicurus is not dogmatic. He don't talk of 'ethic' but of 'ways of living'

Unanimity of Epicurean school (save hard esoteric dissidence about proselytism and theology...) was and is interpreted often as dogmatism and brainwashing; but it was due rather to his indictable esoteric (see esoteric Philodemus) open-mindedness, that needed an unequivocal cover; everyone, inside ataraxy boundary, was free to shape one's kinetic pleasure to one's character: about arts, sexual orientation, politics, wealth (Epicurean axiology* is based on individualistic 'epigenesis'*), but they were linked to one's mates by confidence from group self-criticism as a new recruit and more.

  • [The branch of philosophy dealing with values, as those of ethics, aesthetics, or religion. // The approximately stepwise process by which genetic information, as modified by environmental influences, is translated into the substance and behavior of an organism: an accommodation between past and circumstances.]
Personal tools