Happy Twentieth! – The Black Hole and Incidental Properties of Nature

Happy Twentieth to all Epicureans and our friends everywhere! Some literary updates:

This month, after a long hiatus, SoFE finally published a new educational video on its youtube page titled Epicurus: Against the Use of Empty Words. Please watch, like, share, and subscribe!

Astronomers finally were able to give us photographic evidence of black holes, confirming once again Einstein’s theory of relativity–according to which time-space is a folding/curvature created by bodies in nature. We are reminded that Epicurus, in his Epistle to Herodotus, expressed an early form of the theory of relativity, saying that time is an incidental (aka “relational”) quality of nature–which is to say, an emergent property of atoms as they flow in the void. “Time“, Epicurus said, does not “have a material existence“, neither does it exist “independently … from bodies“, and yet it is part of reality, existing as a materially-rooted, emergent property of bodies. The Epistle to Herodotus categorizes time as an incidental, or relational (relative), property of matter.

Although those qualities which are incidental are not eternal, or even essential, we must not banish incidental matters from our minds.  Incidental qualities do not have a material existence, nor do they exist independently in some reality that is beyond our comprehension. We must, instead, consider the incidental qualities of bodies as having exactly the character that our sensations reveal them to possess.

For example, it is important to grasp firmly that “time” neither has a material existence, nor does it exist independently, apart from bodies.  Nor must we think of “time” as a general conception, such as those conceptions which are formed by reasoning in our minds.

The book review of The Millionaire Fastlane was published this month. Here are some of the many things I’ve learned and observed thus far in my experiments, books and learning concerning autarchy this year:

  1. The marketplace is impersonal, and really is made up of INDIVIDUAL consumers whose quantifiable needs an aspiring entrepreneur must identify. Many speak of the “market” as a quasi-mystical Jedi Force that has an invisible hand and is supremely efficient, and they speak as if interfering with its mechanistic “will” is a sin. But there is no such market. In other words: the market is concrete, not Platonic/imagined. It only exists as individuals and groups with their own needs and interests: if we keep in mind a materialist, contextual understanding of the market, we will see that to attain wealth, one must walk the cement, hard-rock path of individuals’ needs and wants, rather than the sand of Platonic ideals.
  2. Our Epicurean sources link mutual advantage to “justice”, and that tends to be the focus when mutual advantage is addressed in academia–where philosophy is treated as a “fossilized” field and a study of a history of itself. But mutual advantage is also a hugely important concept in business. Mutual advantage provides an opportunity to easily find the point of least resistance between any two nodes in any social network, encouraging exchange of goods and services, lubricating relations and increasing peace, safety and and prosperity in that network. Mutual advantage encourages creative and sustainable approaches to problems in economics and in other fields. It really is, and deserves to be, a much more fundamental concept in Epicurean economics than people give it credit for, and it’s a shame that we have such meager sources on it.
  3. The author of Fastlane Millionaire had a similar “dark night of the soul” to the one I discuss in Tending the Epicurean Garden. It’s an anecdote concerning powerlessness, and how both of us developed a firm resolve to attain control over our financial lives after going through a period of great difficulties. The thing about this is that, for me, money making opportunities only came when I didn’t need them anymore: for instance, I applied to work in a book translation project while unemployed and got a call back about six months later, when I had a full time job. But I put in the extra hours and did the side hustle, anyway. This accentuates the importance of sowing seeds of wealth and waiting for their maturity, for being patient–or, as I say in my book “the season of failure is the best time to sow the seeds of success”. Sometimes things come when it’s their time, and we must be patient and always plan and sow seeds of our future success as favors to our future selves.
  4. My dad was a merchant. He sold t-shirts initially out of our back yard–which he converted into a t-shirt printing business. Then, he leased a store space in a mini-mall by the main road a block away from our home, which he upgraded once before he retired. While many struggle to make ends meet and live paycheck-to-paycheck working conventional jobs, his business provided for us during all my most crucial years of growing up. We never lacked anything, and now that I’m learning about the self-reliant entrepreneurial mindset, I’m frequently reminded of his long hours of work, as well as those of family members who have exhibited great pride and self-sufficiency as business owners. I’m re-discovering my deep-seated respect for self-starters and small business owners.

This month, the Narrative platform went live. Narrative is a smart content economy built on blockchain technology where content creators and participants can get rewarded with altcoins. This allows content creators to more easily monetize their work, and contributes to further decentralizing access to information. Another blockchain platform that hopes to revolutionize the content economy is Gilgamesh. As an author and blogger with only one patreon subscriber, I am excited for both initiatives and wish them success.

Further Reading:

On Holy Laughter

Twentieth Messages from April / previous years:

The Well-Walled Fortress of the Wise – 2016

In Defense of Pleasure – 2017

The Pleasure of Knowledge – 2018

About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' (Humanist Press, 2014), 'How to Live a Good Life' (Penguin Random House, 2020), and Epicurus of Samos – His Philosophy and Life: All the principal Classical texts Compiled and Introduced by Hiram Crespo (Ukemi Audiobooks, 2020). He's the founder of societyofepicurus.com, and has written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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