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Lecture 9

Lecture 9

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University of Toronto St. George

Epicurus’Teachings - pleasure is the goal, and the drive that pushes all organism - Pleasure = absence of pain - His ideal state = ataraxia (“lack of disturbance”) - Chief obstacles to this ideal state: irrational fear of gods and death, propagated by mythology - These obstacles prevent finding out how the universe works - universe is made of atoms and empty space (void), nothing else - The soil is material and dies with the body, so no need to fear a gloomy afterlife - They are NOT atheists, gods have a role to play, but they are surreal tranquil beings and exist in perfect self-contained world and they don’t care about us so don’t need to pay them mind - Contrasts muthos vs. Rational inquiry into nature - Poetry and false misleading myths lead one to unnecessary fears - Epicurus was prolific author, but he didn’t care much for the form and prose of his work, so he doesn’t survive as much as those authors who did care about things like that, such as Plato Lucretius - writing in a time of intense philosophical interest - Also a time of violent civil strife - He uses myth to channel Epicureanism - Epicureanism to lucretius = correct and useful - Natural philosophy - Lucretuius feels the need to justify his choice of medium - how would Epicurus feel about the choice of poetry - Poetry is a “spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down” - Epic poetry is tangled with myth in the ancient imagination and when luctretius says we need to use “muse-inspired poetry” its clear that he’s also thinking about myth, the kind which you see in epic poetry - Such as Plato justified edifying myths - lucretius begins with a powerful invocation of mythic venus - which seems sort of unepicruean - Seems like he is divieded between being a strict epicruean, and a religious individiaul. But the instructor thinks he harnesses myth to his philopsohy and these sides are not opposed - aphrodite is often presented as love/desire, a universal force - But the Homeric Humn places consideerable limits onAphrodites power (no control over the virgin oddesses who are immune to aphrodite) - Why does Lucretius import this ‘empedoclean’civsio into such a ke place (first few lines) of his expolistion of Epicurean philopsh (which precisely demies the existence of all creation- deities) - AnswerA:Admiration of Empedocles - Bestows praise on him, so clealry fond - But this does not answer why he has empodclean touch - Answer B: Countering the Stoics - At this time there is a strong opposition to stoicism , of which Epicureanims is th ephilopshical adversary (espec. In Roman period) - Early founder of Stocisim: Cleanthes, has Hymn to Zeus, similar to the opening of Lucretius poerm - Different because it fcusses on law and justice, the heart of stoic view - Power of zeus in his thunderbolt, by which he bestows judgement and guiding hand, and virtuous wisdom, of whch is all is made except things evil do - Cleanthese tapes into the emotional and imaginitive resonance - Aphrodites power is irrational, unlike Zeus who is a rational ruler - So pleasruee vs virtue - Venus in lucretys establishes continuity between the world - It is important to establish uman-animal continuity - The stoic view is that the sould is pure and will rise to ahigher plain and has to be freed from constraints of animal life around us - Lucretius has compassion for animals and their needless suffering shuman inflict on them - Empedocles had a spiritual reason to deplore animal sacrifices (believed in reincarnation) - Liucretius does not necessarily share empedocles groudns for this attitude, namley reincarnation - Lucretius adovocates morality of the soul - Uincread lcretiues believes we share heritage with animals - Lucretius just thinks it unne
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