As the world sadly witnessed the distress, powerlessness, and suffering of thousands of souls due to the recent hurricanes in North America, many men and women of God on social media encouraged others to “pray” for the victims. We have yet to see evidence of how prayer has any effect on hurricanes, but keen-minded Lucretius encouraged us, instead, to learn about the nature of things, including the nature of hurricanes. In De Rerum Natura, while artfully using Bible-like beautiful and poetic language, Lucretius observed how the sun dries our clothes, how water seeps through soil back to Earth, and how our streets dry up within a day after it rains, in order to account for the cycles of rain and condensation, which he accurately described in detail 2,000 years ago. You can read the relevant portion towards the end of the essay “Lucretius Against the Creationists”.
We recently remembered Herculaneum Day, and encouraged students of Epicurean philosophy to delve into the Philodeman Scrolls. Speaking of great literature, I’m currently reading The Moral Animal by Robert Wright, and will be reading more works by this highly-acclaimed author, and perhaps writing a few blogs inspired in his brilliant work. The book reminds me so far of The Bonobo and the Atheist, and at times reads like De Rerum Natura for its insistence on demystifying and finding various natural explanations for phenomena and behavior seen in nature, in this case for morality. It is a very successful and research-based series of theories concerning naturalist morality that relies on Darwinian theory, genetics, and studies by sociologists and anthropologists.
Wright’s most recent work is Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment. I anticipate I’ll have similar disagreements with this book as I did with Sam Harris’ Waking Up, but I’ll read the book first with an open mind and then opine. In the meantime, as a result of recent conversations in the Epicurean Philosophy facebook group as well as a long-standing interest in the intersections between Buddhism and Epicurean philosophy among many people, the facebook group Epicurus in the Lotus was created as “a welcoming group for those exploring the similarities and differences between the dharma and Epicurean philosophy”.
I’ve explored similar intersections, similarities, and differences between Epicurus and Nietzsche in the past, and with Michel Onfray. Wright’s intellectually stimulating literature will likely add to my ongoing similar exploration of Buddhist traditions, particularly with the growing secular-humanist Buddhist trend, and also with anthropology and other fields of scientific research and speculation.
Last Year’s 20th Message: On Passing By