PD 39, Eumetry and the Art of Epicurean Diplomacy

The man who best knows how to meet external threats makes into one family all the creatures he can; and those he can not, he at any rate does not treat as aliens; and where he finds even this impossible, he avoids all dealings, and, so far as is advantageous, excludes them from his life. – Principal Doctrine 39

Distancing oneself from a “relational delinquent” (or worse, a sociopath) when we can’t avoid that person for the sake of mental serenity is called eumetry by Michel Onfray.

The term is not entirely an Onfrayan neologism. The innovation is its use in ethics. It comes from the Greek “eu-” (good) and “-metry” is related to measure, or distance, so that it implies keeping “a good distance”, or keeping “a safe distance”–“not too close, not too far”, as Onfray puts it: an Epicurean art of diplomacy meant to guarantee peace of mind.

The term was apparently coined by aesthetician Panayotis Michelis to denote a non-mathematical and non-symmetrical harmony that can at times even be superior to symmetry–which is often considered an important standard in aesthetics, or the study of beauty. So what Michelis was saying was that sometimes beauty can be measured in non-standard ways.

Onfray accepts the logic of concentric circles that we find in PD 39–according to which some are intimate friends, others not so intimate, and others fall outside the realm of friendship–and he applies the concept of eumetry to social ethics.

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About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' and founder of societyofepicurus.com. He's also written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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2 Responses to PD 39, Eumetry and the Art of Epicurean Diplomacy

  1. Pingback: Reasonings on Michel Onfray’s Hedonist Manifesto – Epicurean Database

  2. Pingback: Happy Twentieth: the Epicureans and the Original Jedi | The Autarkist

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