Happy 20th to Epicureans everywhere! This month Quartz published Hedonism holds the secret to a happier life, but not for the reasons you think. Unfortunately, rather than defending pleasure as an ethical ideal, the piece falls into the “absence of pain” narrative. This month, we also learned that goats prefer to interact with humans who look happy, IAI News published Alternative Hedonism: Environmentalism can aim for both a ‘simpler’ and more pleasurable post-consumerist life, and we also shared on our pages the UK’s Ludwig von Mises Center piece–which we hadn’t noticed before–titled Epicurus: Father of the Enlightenment, by Sean Gabb.
We celebrated Herculaneum Day by sharing sources and links to essays that help to deepen our studies of the scrolls on property management and on piety. We also shared a Lucretian portion on death, and Unitarian minister Andrew James Brown (@caute) shared a review of Ontology of Motion, the first three of five “reflections on the philosophy of Epicurus for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire” on losing fear of the gods and losing fear of the afterlife and of death, and cited Epicurus in his critique of compassion while arguing that people should share pleasure rather than merely share pain.
Speaking of Ontology of Motion–of which the glowing review by Andrew James Brown inspired the title of today’s Twentieth message, “Antiquity has never felt so alive“–expect to read more on this book from me in the future. For now, I will say that his review, and the initial chapters that I’ve read thus far, have re-ignited in me a love of Epicurean philosophy and physics. Who says that science and poetry can not dance together and create beautiful harmony? In the meantime, academia.edu has both the introductory chapter, as well as a defense of its ideas by the author, Thomas Nail. It’s worth reading if you’d like to decide whether to delve into the book.
Norman DeWitt is one of the most highly respected scholars among Epicureans, and one of the few who have championed the understanding of Epicurean philosophy on its own terms. His books have helped many people to gain a clearer understanding of Epicurean doctrines and why they matter, and to put them in historical context. There are several reviews of Epicurus & his Philosophy in goodreads and Presto Post, New Epicurean has a page dedicated to it, and the Epicurean Friends forum has a discussion plan, as well as regular live discussions via chat every few weeks on the chapters of the book. DeWitt’s books and tracts really have made a huge difference in our understanding of EP and, while the book is costly, we encourage every sincere student to find it in (or request it from) a public library.
We also highly recommend the youtube channel of Physics Girl, who creates engaging educational scientific content.