Talk:Letter to Menoeceus

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Epistolê pros Menoikea is called 'The Letter on Happiness'. Unfortunately Diogenes Laertius has handed down no Epicurus' sincere works but the shortest and at hand ones, and general perspective omits exceptions to doctrine. After two millennia we have had plenty of esoteric evidences (that is without formal dress) from Herculaneum, Oxyrhinchus, to a certain extent Oinoanda, and now reading in microscope the papyri and incunabula with Multispectral Imaging. It results the better Epicureanism (the one we know from biographies) was an association of skilled individual who wanted to live this own life, not others', as it is, and as it is possible, but at hand.
Further quotes show that: there is no description nor other titles on 'happiness' that should be a definable, not interrupted, not fading - better if growing – experience... Nor advertized happiness should come through philosophy as “prudence” (futurology), “ something even more valuable than philosophy”, is never once for all taken over; but, if it were, philosophy is not up to all persons' grasp [U226; D.L. 118]: but only "to those of them who are well-constituted” [eysygkritoi, Diog. of Oin. fr. 2]. “How many atoms, in fact, and of what type, had shed from Epicurus’ father to he himself, when Epicurus was seeded?" [U178]. For “happiness” [...] "... moderate emotionalism and d i s p o s i t i o n" are more crucial [U548; praotês patôn kai diathesis].
Eydaimonia (daimon was a sort of 'guardian angel') is a metaphysical traditional religious term linked with the goddess Fortune, privilege of gods (“perfect happiness” of Pyth. 97, “two sort of happiness of D.L. 121: what's imperfect happiness if not routine? ), imitation of god, paradise, nirvana, firmness of sage, last scene, dope-headed mindset. There is nothing cognitively significant to say about the causes and constituents of happiness, therefore no Epicurus' work about is there. If happiness is not definable one is to be glad without (since easy going can, by definition, be settled), and others to be unhappy for convincing oneself... (no object is perceptible without a background). Even experimental psychology measures people's happiness in very different ways, because the object is very elusive. "But according to [Epicureans] happiness (eydaimonia) was a divine (daimonia) and godly nature, and the word 'happy' (eydaimôn) was applied to someone who has his deity (daimôn) disposed well (ey)" [Sextus E., Against the Professors, Long-Sedlev 23 F] (eysygkritoi, cit.). So, by advertising, Epicurus ends up by making no difference between excellence and feeling well. Imitation of others' dispositions is alienation of one's own naturalness (atoms and environment of Gods are different), an emergence of hidden envy. What is it? It clashes with P.D. 18 (“pleasure cannot increase”), as says Lucretius praemia vitai [...] sunt eadem omnia semper [3.945- ff.], "rewards of life are all the same", neither can it be increased by length of mortal life, (V.S. 26, 60) – there is no proportion between wealth foods house subordinates' prestige and duration of pleasure experience, which is homeostatic; even perfect ataraxia (tranquillity, contentment, eystatheia), or philosophy don't work (why ever should happy persons go on thinking? “It's more profitable being delighted by the world than by the classification of it”, Saint-Evremond). An ideal happiness/perfect wisdom would be the end of any desire and mental life: it would remain nothing but altruism... There are some moments in which all clears up, one is in love … an hyperbole of chats for tête-à-tête; but hormones are fading, so today one calls happiness roughly the mind pleasure of a lucky period, but it's more easy to reach it without auscultating oneself, since the wants "of the soul are both great and difficult to obtain and, besides being of no benefit to our nature, actually involve dangers [Diog. Oin, Fr. 2].
There is no pragmatical, therapeutic rationale. No examples on what is “necessary to happiness” A prisoner tortured into an isolation cell but with a loyal friend can he be happy, cannot he? The very makariotês (beatitude, P.D. 27) from abiding not gay friendship is not easy in the common opinion and trials (a sage's talent), it's not in our power ta par' hemin (trouble of autarkeia, self-sufficiency compromise of beliefs), not intersubjective: how much friends, how long lasting and substitutable; almost “confidence of their help in need” of V.S. 34, even in absence of proven friends? how and who was required to enforce the late statutory Epicurean sectarian friendship? Quarrel among 'sages ' of the first generation are well known: Idomeneus abandoned the school for political life with Antigonus Monophthalmus; Pythocles and Leonteus inclined to open atheism [PHerc. 1471, fr. 6, 4-11 Olivieri], Timasagoras' anger against Basileides and Thespis, a dissident Diotimos contended for succession against Dionysios of Lamptrai, and so on. Cicero, Horace, Seneca report on discussions about friendship in pragmatic Rome. Cicero's in De Amicitia and into Torquatus' mouth in De Finibus (" Lucius (Torquatus) and Patron , who are sticking to selfish hedonism and denying altruism, and saying that man must be virtuous for fear of the consequences ..." [ Lett. to Atticus, VII.2.4: an Epicurean and friend]); Horace's quidve ad amicitias, usus rectumne, trahat nos “whether usefulness or rectitude do motivate us to friendship” [Serm. 2. 6. 75]; “Epicurus … Metrodorus remarks that only the wise man knows how to return a favor ” [Ad Lucil. 81, 11 (U589): ]; the late Diog. L. X.118: ”The sage alone will feel gratitude towards friends”. “Epicurus said... that except for himself and his pupils, no one had ever been a Sage” [Plutarch, Pleasant life imposs., 18, p. 1100A]. If friendship i.e. generous thankfulness (charis) is rare (he who is generous with friends rather than wife and children makes less alike descendants), so it isn't easily natural in our societies; we do need interest rate for money circulation... while at Epicurus time, they needed the custom of utilitarian upping thankfulness, viz under obligation which became unnatural (with mental struggle arising from opposing demands or impulses) if not available (dysporistos): teenaged 'incidents' (with all expenses paid) being up, we cannot live any longer in bands, but we continue to mull over.
The likely interpretation is sociological: sectarian propaganda, precaution against censorship/inquisition, optimism of conformist.
“... it's not where the good may be found, if it isn't there a need” […] “ for Epicurus and Metrodorus … fundamentals and highest quality of the good are in avoiding the evils” [fr. about Metrod., Against Sophists (nine lost books) 7 1091a; 8 1091 e Koerte]; Epicurus weighted evolution saves more alert not more seraphic animals; same negativeness by Zeno's definition of blessedness, see 'Scholarchs'; and U423]; so Epicurus «“painlessness” and the “stable condition of the flesh” (eystathes sarkos katastêma), supposing that the pleasurable life is found in thinking [Epicurus said 'analogically calculate'] of this state as about to occur in people or as being achieved; for the “stable and settled condition of the flesh,” and the “trustworthy expectation” of this condition contain, they say, the highest and the most assured joy [' karà ' not eydaimonia] for men who are able to analogically calculate» [U68, tois epilogizesthai dynamenois, that is nothing more than soul's good health, but it's a solid past experience, if only, more perceptible in the body]. Buddhism too recognizes the root of suffering in consenting to desire]: that is realism. Without fear and discouragement one does not survive, nor memorize [“When we have suffered certain bodily pains, they teach us to prevent others like them” V.S. 73]; for survival we need both pleasurable Choices and [unpleasurable] Avoidances, not an Ethics of happiness: “one seeks after nothing which does not naturally remove pain” [Choices and Avoidances, IV; a seeking which often is mingled with a flight]: intermittent drives open some links (analogous, adjoining, emotional - among aspects of alternative choice) that are recollective, as million of links cannot show themselves all together, and there is not an homunculus into the brain with push-button board; discouragement is a sensible/memorizable form of avoidance of impossible or frustrating things. Emotional and analogical organization of brains is raw but undeniable and irreplaceable where it is there no deductive or statistical reasoning; for Epicurus sensibility (natural but non necessary desires) is a criterion of knowledge and philosophical way of life is an envisaged alternate life to everyday life of oi polloi:: thus nuptial bed, holidays, daydreams and romances, strong emotions (impulsiveness) are not the best time for deliberating; but philosophers are a minority of almost less sensitive (praxeis of U548, cit.) and more reflective (autophyês) (brain 'resonance' – echo checks the now , secondariness of R. Le Senne, introversion of Jung and Eysenck)* persons, not thank to inference (no set rules) for sure, at the most by analogical 'calculus' (connoting empiric tessera, abacus) of epilogismòs. That calculus entails conversion from the outside of part of spontaneous action, with major inner life and knowledge, but also with new mental strain. We are no stable animals (unlike since million of years sharks, for instance). It's a peculiarity of our species an “adaptation through maladjustment”. Rigorous definition of happiness would imply exclusion of evil which our moral good emerges from through prudence: "one seeks after nothing which does not naturally remove pain", mêthen diôkein d mê pephyken algêdona periaipein [On Choices and Avoidances, IV]. For molecular biology reestablish thermal and energetic homeostasis for chemical steadiness is the observable fact; Epicurus says 'causes explanation', but he claims rather feeling and words explanation [Epic., On Nature XXV, or final cause for idealists]: avoiding evils and their fear which gets pleasure (i.e. both objective/scientific and subjective/practical explanation). A completeness feeling will be willy-nilly fleeting. Since needs and damages are continuous, so negativeness is structural (logically too) and will be countered more with avoidances (prudence, see below) than with fanciful theories of getting rid of trouble; sole remedy is shorter emotional participation of mind, when it is kept busy by other needs (distraction), for things that are remote are not greatly feared. But that is to be content, positive thinking, which is really up to our control (eph hemin; see "the sum of happiness" in Diog. Oin., fr. 112; absolutum bonum corporis et animae pace contentum esse [Sen. Ep. 66.46: dabo apud Epicurum simillimam divisionem bonorum]) because an opinion is modifiable by another thought; whereas 'fortitude' of ancient times, apatheia practice vain hope, voluntary ataraxia are not so performable, because they are under control of neurovegetative system. Still better, an ironic false front of big words (Gods, their Happiness...) for actually living secluded at one's way until it go on. More prudence than racking of one's brains with perfect happiness. For happiness, commonly meant (the writing style E. stated), one should have wether many easily satisfiable necessities or more repeatable natural desires; and no frustration nor pain. Perhaps Epicurean happiness is a reductio ad absurdum, like Buddhist 'satori': while one realizes pleasure depends from needs, and therefore it cannot grow, one intuits that is the end of search, the peace of soul, an Epicurean completeness/contentment (telos) of living, that is up on our free assessment (of half full glass), a 'nirvana': traditional happiness word is left to fish for pupils. Instead of books on undefinable happiness we have pragmatic On Choices and Avoidances, reminded also by: “I encourage you, as always, to study and practice my teachings, for they are the basic ingredients of <pleasurable choices> and <bearable avoidances>” [Menoec. 123] is more with both feet on the ground.
Actually he doesn't say that the highest good is happiness (such as in Aristotle) but pleasure is such, which is one and limited (no attraction is higher), without alternative but pain (among pleasures the letter emphasises - passing over happiness -: 'absence of pain and distress', 'sober reasoning', 'prudence' with tonic mood, i.e. neurohormonal 'pleasure'); and equivalence of happiness with pleasure is windy. It isn't continuous but probable (easy), as it can be gotten whether from desires or from end of pains (i.e. cautious kinetic pleasures or rebounding ataraxia). Too much thinking about one's happiness is an assured way to be unhappy, a vain desire (i.e. not easy), as pleasure comes from needs, that are not admirable … and consequent katastematic pleasure cannot be happiness (according to K. Lorenz and many psychologists it's a tested emotional/sensorial rebound) as it doesn't go on for afternoons ... "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; it's the old trap of future which makes present be forgotten; that tallies with Seneca's "The more pleased man is he who needs no happiness" [Ad Luc. 90,34]. No believing, after P.D. 18, in increasing of pleasure (that is common sense of happiness), disposed the Epicurean to be content with present. "Those who are in hottest pursuit of pleasure are furthest from catching it" [U460]
As in good health one is not prone to think about it, so in small pleasures one enjoys oneself without thinking about happiness. An annotator (the sole find) specifies something 'natural and n e c e s s a r y for happiness', but no one goes into details, so that unidentified good may become a cause of misery as necessity entails pain.
This undatable [see 'CrHerc' 2011] letter for gainings from a possible unidentified [a Menoeceus is mentioned in Ad Contubernales, but it's only a name] new recruit has been called a promotional exoteric protreptikos * [for visual 'advertising' in Epicurean recruitment, see Frischer (1982) The Sculpted Word ]. Symmetries, chiasmuses, paraenesis, sectarian values re-orientation are evident. “Many prose works, for instance protreptikos, commemorations, exhortations, have no heuristic function as such” [Phld. On Poems 5, col. I]. In Men 126 he says 'one chooses preferably tasty food' (Cyrenaic and popular impulsiveness) rather than 'not indigestible' - Epicurean stable and prudent choice being: no unstable pleasure leading to pain.
Competition among sects was keen. In the Eleusinian mysteries (that Epicurus kept an eye on), plenary happiness was offered, "life's principles" being revealed by the very Demeter. Plato recognized also the need of deception with multitude (Republic). Unlikely doctors say they don't know, or illness is incurable, thus people turn into guinea pigs. One talked big and got in a fuddle: “pares et socii, non supplices” [Sen. Ep. 31: men are evenly matched and friend of gods ... ]; but, after he thought of it, man got morally upper than god because this one don't practice fortitude and courage [Sen. De Provid. VI.6: quo deum antecedatis: ille extra patientiam malorum est, vos supra patientiam]. Others, who practised humbleness, contented oneself with 50 % of DNA. Epicurus could not be inferior, could he? “You shall live like a god among men ...”
Spiritualism/animism reasoned by big words: man is lesser than fatherland and than gods. Living after the gods and under sacred conformism (virtue) is the biggest good, that is happiness. For Epicurus no existing being is without obstacles, but in the vacuum of metakosmia. Each good/pleasure is limited by outside and by psychological functionality, i.e. no confusion of tasks (P.D. 9), afterlife is impossible (P.D. 2) and all in all boring (P.D. 3); everybody feels it but the magic word com up again, happiness.

Then {Epicurus writes} a little lower [On the End-Goal]: “I have often,” he says, “asked men who were called wise what content could be left in a good, if they took away the advantages named (i.e. Diog. L. X.6: On the End-Goal, he writes in these terms: “I do not know how to conceive the good, apart from the pleasures of taste, sexual pleasures, the pleasures of sound, and the pleasures of beautiful form.”) , unless it were to be supposed that it was their wish to utter words void of meaning; I have been able to learn nothing form these men; if they choose to go on babbling about ‘virtues’ or ‘wisdoms’ they will mean nothing but the way in which the pleasures I have named are brought about.” [U69]

Let's not consider some professional pride of proving oneself happy. “they shout that “they have had a pleasant life,” “revel in it” and “hymn the praises” of their own “way of living.” [U605]. No pride for vying in getting status, when one is vying in declaring oneself happy. “... to know death is nothing to us makes a mortal life happy”, without somewhere else existing details, looks also sapiential philosophical promotion. Materialism (see DRN arguing) and unconsciousness relieve indeed fear of it; but he should say (and said elsewhere) that it makes be reconciled to lack of a longer life, because without death no needs, without needs and cleverness no life sound pleasures, as “Pleasure reaches its maximum limit at the removal of all sources of pain” [P.D. 3; Eraclitus (c540–c470 B.C) of Ephesus (hinterland of Samos ) had said: “Illness makes good health pleasurable, hunger satiety, exertion relaxation”;; Jeronimus Rhodiensis agreed, and Chwang-tse (Chuang Chow). fl. 4th century B.C: “What makes life [a starting variation, r.'s n.] a good is what makes death [an inevitable variation, r's n.] a good”]. “The man feels the need for difficulties, they are part of his good health. Just their excess makes them be felt unnatural” [Jung, The Transcendent Function]. Eternity is boring, but needs are no happiness hence, nor they need to be sought. “No young man of ours will crave for adding the farthest old age, or, even more ludicrously, an endless time.” [Phld. On Death; autarky ('a big good') is easiness of pleasures, farthest old age is poor autarky – without an instinctive mother … only a carer looking for bequest]. Life (extinct species and monsters too) are self-made matter. To get rid of changing is getting rid of life. materies opus est ut crescant postera saecla [Lucr. 3.937: “matter is needed for posterity growth”].
“Epicurus did not see this, nor anyone else, that if evils are taken away, wisdom is equally removed” - says Lactantius (U374), but … so all ways of life (and after-life) worthy of gods are unrealistic, just a protreptikos; actually Epicurus says it openly in P.D. 3; it's his theology that falters (pasteboard?). Not excluded Epicurus hinted a tending to mysticism occasional experience which happens after fast and extended meditation. Just within the Epicurean esoteric circle of Antiphanes the gods were hardly held to have virtues and to be imitated because the non-perfection condition, motivation of virtues, cannot be consistent with immortality; therefore men derive no benefit from imitating them and their happiness. The very Gassendi says a perfect knowledge, necessary for perfect happiness, would be deterministic, i.e. tedious [Lettre au chancelier Séguier May 7 1649; a concept carried on by Locke]. But Philodemus (together with Apollodorus, his source) replied “We don't agree with Antiphanes and followers, who deviate toward the Stoics […] we only have not to envy what we see, and to be content with what we have got” [Peri theôn: Pherc. 26]. He's right but, why calling it happiness? ataraxia/gratefulness (charis) seems more rightful one...“But even a happiness less perfect is worth great gratitude, and such things cannot annihilated by time ...” [On Death Kuiper/Armstrong 18.10; we all are grateful of reassuring reasoning of Epicurus even though our ataraxia is not unbroken]; what matters is: being content (not 'happy') with little. “Epicurus makes pleasure the highest good but defines it as sarkos eustathes katastema, or “a homeostatic condition of the body” [U68, Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, IX.5.2 & U68, Plutarch] for those who are “capable of analogical calculation”( tois epilogizesthai dynamenois [U68, Plutarch] not for they who imitate the gods.
"Men got into their head a blunder, by creating that fancy of happiness: all other animals, without these ghosts that are opinions, are no doubt more tranquil than men, who are from it out of their element" [Theophrastus Redivivus On model of the sage § 4; see Talk:Pierre Gassendi]. “Epicurus, in placing happiness in not being hungry, or thirsty, or cold, uttered that godlike word, saying impiously that he would thereby vie even with Father Jove; teaching, as it were, that the life of pigs devouring rubbish and not of rational philosophers, was supremely happy”. [U602, Clement of Alexandria]. Perhaps reading Ep.' original version would make it easy to guess that the hyperbolic challenge with Jove was an ironic dispute with Plato. “From Epicurus: I revel in the pleasure of my h u m b l e body, employing water and bread, and I spit upon the pleasures of extravagance, not for their own sake, but because of the difficulties which follow from them.” [Stobaeus, Anthology, XVII.24]. 'Difficulties' that, of course, Jove shouldn't have. Are men lifted, or gods humanized?

  • [See Erler M. in CrHerc. 2010: not specialized language, it addresses all persons young and old, figures of speech, reference to gods, primness , etc.].
  • [Epicurus had a sensitive character (good mixer, less interests for abstractions and motor activities, more for sensations/affections, and soul's pleasures: (The sage) “will be more susceptible to emotion than other men” [D.L. X.117], but 'resonant'; 'more or less', flexibility by reflection, devotion to the one's own past): a way of feeling master. Sensitivity (modality varies individually) is a mammalian evolutionary behavior, bipolar, often cyclothymic: empathy – dominance – laughter – courtship; lowliness – smile – anxiety – impotence. Resonance makes emotion persist after the real situation; it analyzes and memorizes intimate feelings and is retroactive to some extent: more individualism/freedom strengthens. Compare a tortoise and a dog as a pet ...].
  • [For Eysenck too the introvert persons seek lower levels of stimulation, as they don't need the higher ones (snacks, smoking, tea, parties, drugs, fast driving, cheers, decibel music, rivalry, changes) as their stimulations go on for more time: the ataraxia of Epicurus, that enables more autarky and distance in life-style (but poor public opinion too ...). As for the body the best cook is hunger, so for soul's pleasures the best entertainers are fit sensibility and a sensation-tight/resonant mind (Horace's “If the container isn't pure”, of Ep., I.2.54: Sincerum est nisi vas, and parallel pertusum vas of Lucr. 3.936). A minor emotionalism or psychological lability are important for holding out on intelligent decision while vasoconstriction and catecholamines of instinctual emotions are going to be metabolized (and neurotics have longer emotion metabolism, often needing drugs, nicotine or alcohol beside philosophy). Certain 'philosophical' characters are successful for a more stable way of living, without interacting upon their social environment, as their inner satisfaction needs lesser stimulation than seeking ostentatious and anti-boredom social engagement: living 'hygienically' and contently on his own, often misunderstood as shyness. In spite of this exoteric letter, philosophy's usefulness (in order to awaken to one's natural desires in connection with cortical arousal) is not for all: we all observe it by daily experience. An historical character, Mademoiselle de Lenclos, an extrovert charming person's lost appeal made her fail, confiding to her Epicurean initiator (who nicknamed her Leontion): il vaut autant s’éloigner des réflexions, que d’en faire qui ne servent à rien [Letter to Saint-Évremond (1698), aged 78], "it may as well walk out of reflections as do them without any relief". Saint-Évremond recollects also that: [Ninon de l'Enclos] me disait un jour qu'elle rendoit grace à Dieu tous les soirs de son esprit, et le prioit de la préserver des sottises de son coeur [Sur l'Amitié (1676)], "she tanked God every night for her spirit, and begged him to safeguard herself from her hearth's foolishness"].

Another misleading aspect of this protreptikos is prudence (phronêsis, calculating what is in one's own best interest by analogical epilogismòs; no shyness, no fright emotions, that are no virtue, of course) 'more important than philosophy' (demonstrable knowledge), as says this Letter. So Epicurus' psychagogue (parrhêsia) role was stressed. Real life is something wider than philosophy that, as for ethic and system, fixes values that are not part of external world, but we, as for action, are. So, while we make decisions we set aside formal rigor. There are fine distinctions about early monolithic 'ethic' (for Epicurus rather 'ways of life'). “So we shall not achieve wisdom universally, since not all are capable of it “ [Diog.Oin. Fr. 56 ]. Here Epicurus did not clarify that it cannot be taught*; impliedly he distinguished it from his teaching of philosophy, but for the uninitiated (the novice Menoeceus) inference was not easy. While in On Choices and Avoidances, Col. XI, (easily esoteric) it's said that theory doesn't suffice. The very Epicurus belittled the rule of scholarship “on matters which cannot possibly lead to wisdom, alluding thereby to Arts and Sciences” [Epic. at Sext. Em. , on Nausiphanes U114; Apelle's and Pythocles' freedom from paideia U117; D.L. X.6; “philosophizing for oneself” of V.S. 76]; but the very philosophy was stated into service of practice and mind's health. Educational Philosophy is theoretic, while epilogismòs is self-teaching experience [Phld. Rhet. I 218, 4. PHerc. 1007 Sudh.], as it concerns occasions and eccentric or random variables of one's personal character and constitution (“sometimes we must regard the good as evil, and conversely: the evil as good”; Menoec.). “there is no praise or censure of things which do not possess <the attributes>, which one will say <they possess>; and many things do not generally admit of praise or censure” [Phld. Rhet. I PHerc. 1007, cols. 33a,10-34a, l. R.Gaines; see also Talk:Canon, 'value judgments']. "One wise man is not wiser than another" (D.L.121), not in order to win competitors to one's peace and quiet, but because each one may miscalculate and come back into play. All old sectarian knew it, and, failing self-teaching and self-analysis experience, somebody ended up analogizing/imitating Epicurus' life it-self … (i.e. a sort of lazy epilogismòs). But, how could a narrow simple follower have the same lavish friends like the brilliant Epicurus? “The lazy and mediocre man allows himself not to go any further, and gives the maxim a generality the author – unless he's mediocre as well (what he happens sometime to be) – has never claimed to credit it” [Chamfort, General Maximes 1]. “It is difficult to know in advance, even if something seems to have been done in the way the audience wanted, that they will not repent of it, because they cannot see the mistakes we make in our own affairs and what we fail to accomplish due to the intractability of the calculation of affairs” [Phld, Rhet. PHerc. 1669 Sudh.]. The very Epicurus was dropped by Antigonus Monophthalmus. That would have threatened moral ascendancy of public authorities and auxiliary philosophies : “all virtue, honor and true merit must be abandoned” [Cic. De Fin. II, 44]. A public moral must be collectively true or false, while opinionative (doxastikon) prudence calculates each time on particular circumstance (heuristics), never 'general' (statistics is true as law of large numbers, action is for once); a collective 'prudence' takes from some people for giving to other people, forces some people's will for pleasing some others; so Epicureans chose to abstain from governing for doing one's own prudent epilogismòs. Collective good is positively impossible to be calculated, also for H. Gardner and Dewey; moral is quite to be tested, as change is part of life. Menoeceus Letter ought to counsel the addressee for inciting to liberate himself from his particular troubles, not to be divulged as an outline of Ways of Living.
While Epicurus was living, his frank-speech-therapy plus the suggestion of his non-verbal communication were effective for prudent personal decisions-making, with an aid for a friend who was not deceiving because he put himself at the top through a sage leader. The competence to cure, that does distinguish the Epicurean Sage; he determines how much and what sort of parrhêsia he uses not according to his inclination towards praise or blame, but according to his considered judgement about a given situation [Perì Parrhêsias IIb. 8-13, Tsouna, The Ethic of Philodemus]. At that time the master extemporized targeted esoteric therapies designed to treat a new weak (apalôn) 'friend' condition, stenographed by some kathêgemôn and written out in the form of customized monologues, that nowadays are difficult to understand in his On Nature, or in dozen of books or Letters with title of a person. Perhaps that art was not in some scholarchs' possession, so they began dogmatizing and deifying the Master Saviour.
But, Epicurus had said he had achieved phronêsis by himself, hadn't he? [“in his letter to Euridicus, Epicurus himself denies this, saying that he was self-taught”, Diog. L. X.13; Sen. Luc.. 52.3; Cleomedes, Lectures on Astronomy, II.1 [p. 112 Bak.]. Epicurean Virgil too made Aeneas declare to have learned virtue and hard work by himself, good luck by others ( Aeneid,12.435-436). Failing Epicurus' presence, we ought to learn better from our life, and from scientific Epicurean tenets– the anthropic constants he fixed, with the power 'to arrive, by himself, at the solutions to many of the problems concerning particulars' (Epic., Herod. 82: he exhort to prudence, don't teach it). “Inventive process and the self-individuation one are matters that happen into seclusion” [A. Storr, Solitude Ch. XII]. Philosophy instead is a transmissible good: “Epicurus long proclaimed himself a Democritean, as is attested among others by Leonteus” […] “Metrodorus in On Philosophy said Epicurus wouldn't have become wise without Democritus” [Plutarch, Against Colotes, col. 3, p. 1108 E].
From his professional therapeutic experience Epicurus was forced (privately..?) to admit that philosophy isn't almighty. “Not every bodily constitution makes it possible for one to become wise” [D.L. 10.117]. «We have to admit at least, without personalizing, that plausible conjectures do not come true as much as one hoped...» [Phld., Perì Parrhêsias]. As Plato said (Repub. book I), some persons are to much dyskolos (weighty, too much serious; Eysenck call it 'neuroticism'); their concerns (kathestôtôn) come from temperamental frame of mind. “Disposition from oneself (ten par êmas aitian) is stronger for happiness than outward actions (pragmatôn)” [Metrodorus, quoted by Clement of Alexandria, Miscellenies II, 21; "Democritus in the book On Ends, equates it with eythymia", Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis II, 130; good disposition of character]. “this fear is sometimes clear, sometimes not clear - clear when we avoid something manifestly harmful like fire through fear that we shall meet death by it, not clear when, while the mind is occupied with something else, it (fear) has insinuated itself into our nature and [lurks] ...” [Diog. Oin. fr. 35, Smith]. Their 'shutter time' grows longer in quiet dusk. For great or small concerns they are continuously concerned, sometime until defeatism delusion; they belittle themselves instead of being flexible. If they get hold of themselves in daytime, they 'recoup...' by night (save benzodiazepine). But if they are cyclothymic they may be temporarily not discouraged from anything. [Parisian Epicurean Gnomologion 115 U488: “The crude soul (tapeinê psychê) is puffed up by prosperity and cast down by misfortune”]*. For these person freedom is lesser, perhaps they are a majority, they are called oi polloi and pleiston anthropôn (V.S. 11: “Most men are in a coma [depression] when they rest, and mad [neurotic] when they act”). No optimism. But all men have a certain character necessity: “The wise man will also feel grief, according to Diogenes (of Tarsus) in the fifth book of his Selections” [D.L. 118-20; today is said «we are sorry because we cry»]; philosophy does promise the means to limit their effect; one becomes aware of odd persons' character drives, but the average man's ones seem due to the 'reality'; everyone demonstrates one's own gratifying life for helping people; the sage is aware of majority's irrationality too, but Menoeceus Letter doesn't find fault with his author; not critically hill, as he did be long-lived, he had somatizations and fixations too, for instance intolerance of cloak contact, after Suda ['feet of clay', like Freud's drug addiction and Jung's psychological sickness at his late age]. So, if pleasure is easy to be reached even though it is broken by pains that are easy to be removed (tetrapharmakos), happiness growers (friendship, wisdom, gratitude, temper) , by the very statement of Epicureans, are not widespread. <br Differently from Stoics Epicurus doesn't reject emotions, that are a fundamental form of cognition, the negative ones as well (V.S. 73, cit.). Emotions, hindrances, prudence are natural and human; what is too difficult [or by definition 'unknowable'; r.'s n.] is not natural (see Sen. Ad Luc. 16.9': “If a precise desire gets not calm, in fact is inciting: this is not natural”), i.e. metaphysical, like god imitation and their 'happiness; if it is unknowable we don't know whether it is there and all world is 'appearance', if later we know it it was not unknowable (... and skepticism was collapsing: pragmatical reversal of skeptical unjustifiable premise: "We must consider the ultimate completion to be real" [P.D. 22]): no real metaphysics in Epicurus but in cover protreptikos, that captivates because it shows all is clear and easy; unless for some fanatics: their Epicurus grew a 'metaphysical' great man, but: "At times [Epicurus] was remembering or catching an impression similar to blur; and looking into all what is fearful or involving utmost concerns" [...] [PHerc. 1056 [6] III Arr.; IV; [7] I. ].
It may be there some distorted emotionalism, but confuse intelligences are there too; beside, the sole reason cannot give aims. How much is it easy to change certain innate drives (syggenika telê)? However, for the inclined philosopher freedom lies in knowing the power and limits of his own 'retrospective action' and in avoiding other linked character weaknesses positions. The end of the letter spurs in order that practical results get transmitted through 'night and day' spiritual exercise (askêsis) not easy too. No issue of revelation nor of willpower, but a repeated diversions train; in todayish terms a new synaptic/axons path, which deepens by use, and makes the old – if it is not constitutional – reforest. Philosophy, as a contemplative knowledge, is a form of sublime diversion too: “The love of true philosophy (“learning and pleasure advance side by side” V.S. 27) dissolves every anxious and painful longing” [Porphyry, Letter to Marcella, 31 (Epicurean quotes)]. If the persons are many, perhaps the way widens, but everybody should observe one's acceleration lane.

  • [about contingency, prudence, teachability, see: Aristotle, Nicom. Eth. Ch. 6 (1140b 24-28); Cicéron, De Inv., II, 160; Phld. On Choices and Avoidances Col. XI : “understanding and the memorization of the cardinal tenets”, which derive standards of action from stable and necessary principles, are not enough: calm from tetrapharmakos – gods, death, pain, needs – doesn't resolve daily needs work for rent and job, it point out the ends not means (see. Talk: Ethic); Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, III.18.42: “(Epicurus exactly writes) to go on babbling (ebullire, also to expell) about ‘virtues’ or ‘wisdoms’" (idealistic virtues and normative sophia... not phronêsis, of course, which is not a science nor an art but an aptitude to be practiced; see Talk:Knowledge): “it's not possible to live pleasantly without phronêsis” (basis of virtues, Men. 132), “that allows autarkeia”, freedom from needs and pest. As 'all of the virtues are ultimately forms of prudence' (Men. 132; and: "without prudence virtues cannot exist," [Arist. Nicom. 1144b]) they also are untheoretical, that is non normative]. On Nature book XXVII Pap 1479/1417 (31,4 Arr.2) [see talk:Canon] tell us that they are 'intuitions', that is not under principle of not contradiction: like senses, ever-true in particular conditions and situations [Dem. Lac. Textual Aporias (frg. 57); and Aristotle, Metaphysic I, 5 1009b 7], but not the same for all persons. Dietary, comfort, prophylactic temperance is lowered by economic competition and by delicious meals inseparable from social relations. Security (from hate, scorn) is not given by social or group approbation but more easily by privacy and soul stability. Watchfulness and intelligence are not given by family, friends, social approbation or by a wise counsellor. On the contrary, for the Stoics, the virtues are normative, thus phronêsis is also theoretic and their freedom is to go after necessity ("he wants what necessity will compel" [Sen., Ep. 54.7]). A foggy route seen by a twenty-twenty driver is good to him, not to a short-sighted scholar who prefers to travel by subway with reading matter. Virtues are not 'per se' kath' eaytò [P.D. 33-34] but “we do not consider it empty opinions” [Polystr. On Irrational Contempt]; they are personally useful. A moralist is an engine driver, a good phronimos is a racing driver. The virtue of prudence is a combination of speedy flexibility after occasions (most of all in business relations), distance from assumed wisdom and strength of mind against common luck. Philosophy isn't able to teach stable character nor speedy flexibility, it is only to exhort to personal experience, that is prudence. Thus for Hobbes animals too have their kind of prudence [Léviathan, chap. 46]
  • But for the human being, without a certain stable temper ('intemperance'), quickness of mind makes no phronimos nor philosopher: “because of their natural dispositions, they are more likely to be disturbed and harmed by inactivity” [U555]. “Although the man is free, it is not to believe he is able to do all that he will; sure enough he turns slave when he allows a drive to act and rule himself. […] I was always joyful and ever prone to yoke an enjoyment to another […] my disposition to meet new people and thoughtlessness to split up […] faults of temper are beyond correction […] the one who suspends until quiet is the real sage; but those individuals are rare”. [Casanova, Histoire de ma vie (1789-92), Préface; in spite of that, according Branko Aleksic, he knew very well Epicurus' doctrine through Laertius, Lucretius, Gassendi, Batteux]. The personally experienced 'reformed', who had dissipated huge hazardous (duels, prison, escapes) wealth, was seventy, gouty, lacking of earning and falling of testosterone; after the age of 49 his cycle of depression was listing: “after fifty I'm not able to relate but sadness, and that makes me sad”; autobiography end at this age. But as a young man he thought already suicide and monastery. His last words have been “I have lived as a philosopher and I die as a Christian”...
  • “I see them all so excellently fair, / I see, not feel, how beautiful they are!” Coleridge, Dejection. An ode].
  • [According to ethologist K. Lorenz [The So-called Evil, 1963; Lorenz K. & Leyhausen P., Motivation of human & animal Behaviour. New York 1973], our reptilian emotions turn like a flush ... (psycho-hydraulic theory of drives); they aren't effects but causes. Sometime a due shower, but, for some species or individuals (e. g. fear for gazelles, anger for bulls, hyperfunction of the adrenal cortex), a continuous preventive spilling out arouses whatever more or less founded motive is on hand, and inhibits recollection of the conflicting feelings (wish of ataraxy or joy). Therefore psychiatrists call 'emotions without object' the ones of character protesters and doomsters. "There are actually nothing but existing danger that does cure fear" [Alain]. Jamison, K. R. points out social benefit but also troubles of Exuberance. Sometime a rabble-rouser or a fussy parent are rather calamitous. All persons are more alert in the morning, then level of cortisol lowers. If fear/anger, as almost unappealing, but useful in due time, were not somewhat independent causes, nobody would accept these troublesome emotions – just as it happens to reckless characters: vigilantibus non dormientibus iura succurrunt]. “They hoard therefore into their heads other evils, as a consequence of their refractoriness to find which aim the same personal nature pursues […]” [Polystr. On irrational contempt. Paris, Pléyade 2011. § 9, 32; red.'s Fr. - Engl. tr.]. An esoteric find [Oxyrhynchus Papiri II (London 1899 p. 30)], held to be Epicurean, says: “The entire earth lives in suffering, for suffering it has the mayor endurance. No record about every living being is needed, as the fate of superior beings doesn't contradict this sense”. Lucretius was on the same wavelength and Demetrius of Laconia: “Man is prone [...] to bear pain because it happens by necessity [PHerc. 1012 coll. LXVII & PHerc 1786; unavoidable pain, of course].

Is this letter a real universal announcement or just an advertisement? It succeeded and succeeds with peculiar characters, soon forgotten by psychically unstable people, with poor emotional memory, and by socially unstable ones, captured by climbing dizziness challenge. They never will reach autarcheia and therefore a bios asphalês, what is up to one's mastery, a “disposition, of which we are master (eph hemin)" [Diog. Oin., fr. 112] that is the easy pleasure, the keystone of Epicurean 'positive' hedonism, a finally realistic judgment of 'happiness' on one's life as a whole about one's past - in one's own small way, overlooking setbacks. A limited happiness, because we are not always free, that is some not eph hemin things are set us by necessity and chance (avoiding 'negative' hedonism); the final "You shall live like a god among men", Men. L. 135, is an occupational distorsion ...

The function of wise master/gurus remained actually to infulence/counsel (provisionally?) the simple souls, and to teach the skilled ones by the Canon and Physiology of atom soul that to live does not be learned in the desks, but in one's own particular and particular circle: that is inner progress and outer changeableness. This art of particular is 'prudence', better than philosophy, which Epicurus just declared ('what bragging' ...? ) not to have learned by any master [De Nat.Deorum I. 73].

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