The purpose of this Group is to explore the philosophy of Epicurus. Why would you want to do that? Here are several reasons:
(1) Epicurus was widely regarded by some of the world's greatest thinkers, including Thomas Jefferson and Frederick Nietzsche, as one of the world's most important philosophers.
(2) The reason Epicurus has always been held in great esteem by some, and has been hated by many others, is that he taught a way of looking at Nature and our place in it much different from that taught by the religions and philosophies most of us know today.
(3) Epicurus will teach you why your happiness, and not religious and philosophical abstractions, should be the goal of your life.
(4) Epicurus will teach you how to deal with the fear of death.
(5) Epicurus will teach you how to deal with the fear of gods and the threats of religions
(6) Epicurus will teach you that your emotions are not things to be feared, but important guidance on how you should live your life.
(7) Epicurus will teach you that you need not consider your world to be unknowable, and that confidence in your place in the world is possible.
(8) Epicurus will teach you that knowledge is based on the senses, and that calls to "logic" and "reason" must always be grounded in the evidence of the senses.
(9) Epicurus will teach you the true role of the "virtues" and their purpose in life.
(10) Epicurus will teach you why friendship is the most important tool in happy living.
(11) Epicurus will teach you how the nature of "justice" varies with time, place, and circumstance, but has a unifying purpose in human life that is the same for all.
If you are still reading, read on to see what Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1819:
"As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurean. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us. Epictetus indeed, has given us what was good of the stoics; all beyond, of their dogmas, being hypocrisy and grimace. Their great crime was in their calumnies of Epicurus and misrepresentations of his doctrines; in which we lament to see the candid character of Cicero engaging as an accomplice. Diffuse, vapid, rhetorical, but enchanting. His prototype Plato, eloquent as himself, dealing out mysticisms incomprehensible to the human mind, has been deified by certain sects usurping the name of Christians; because, in his foggy conceptions, they found a basis of impenetrable darkness whereon to rear fabrications as delirious, of their own invention."
"I take the liberty of observing that you are not a true disciple of our master Epicurus, in indulging the indolence to which you say you are yielding. One of his canons, you know, was that “that indulgence which prevents a greater pleasure, or produces a greater pain, is to be avoided.” Your love of repose will lead, in its progress, to a suspension of healthy exercise, a relaxation of mind, an indifference to everything around you, and finally to a debility of body, and hebetude of mind, the farthest of all things from the happiness which the well-regulated indulgences of Epicurus ensure; fortitude, you know is one of his four cardinal virtues. That teaches us to meet and surmount difficulties; not to fly from them, like cowards; and to fly, too, in vain, for they will meet and arrest us at every turn of our road. Weigh this matter well; brace yourself up..."
Jefferson summarized the main ideas of Epicurus as follows:
(1) Physical - The Universe eternal. - Its parts, great and small, interchangeable - Matter and Void alone. - Motion inherent in matter, which is weighty & declining - Eternal circulation of the elements of bodies. - Gods, an order of beings next superior to man, enjoying in their sphere their own felicities, but not meddling with the concerns of the scale of beings below them
(2) Moral - Happiness the aim of life - Virtue the foundation of happiness - Utility the test of virtue. - Pleasure active and in-dolent. - In-dolence is the absence of pain, the true felicity - Active, consists in agreeable motion - it is not happiness, but the means to produce it. - thus the absence of hunger is an article of felicity; eating the means to produce it. - The summum bonum is to be not pained in body, nor troubled in mind i.e. In-dolence of body, tranquility of mind. - to procure tranquility of mind we must avoid desire & fear, the two principal diseases of the mind. - Man is a free agent. - Virtue consists in: 1. Prudence 2. Temperance 3. Fortitude 4. Justice - to which are opposed: 1. Folly 2. Desire 3. Fear 4. Deceit
Join this Group if you are interested in learning about the Philosophy of Epicurus and applying such elements of his philosophy as appeal to you in your life to obtain happiness and contentment.
The aim is to come together on a regular basis in simple but convivial surroundings such as a garden setting to discuss, learn and enjoy.
As soon as we have enough people indicating interest in a meeting we will organize an evening meal at a suitable location and get started!