A somewhat long, but hopefully useful, philosophy crib list

Pre-Socratics (6th-5th cent BC)  Interested in the natural world           –Thales: 1st philosopher; “everything comes from water”             –Anaximander:  “Our world is one of many and what comes before and after all created things is boundless.”              –Parmenides:  “Everything that exists has always existed and nothing changes.”  He was the first …

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Epicureanism then and now

Brian Dougall, in The Hobo Test, his 2013 critique of Epicureanism, published in Philosophy Now, began by explaining what Epicurus meant  by pleasure and then went on to explain what Epicurus meant by a “good. life” . He wrote that easily- accessible pleasures in the era of Epicurus included water, fruit, a comfortable hammock, a simple …

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Labour exploitation

“Great abundance is heaped up as a result of brutalizing labour, but a miserable life is the result”.  (p.100, “The Essential Epicurus”, translated by Eugene O’Connor, Great Books in Philosophy series) The employment practices of Big Business, the outsourcing and the indifference of politicians have led the the highest suicide rate per thousand in the …

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Eton going Epicurean?

Eton College is adding gratitude, kindness and empathy coaching to its curriculum to build its pupils’ “character”. Following a review into what values Eton should be promoting, boys at the £40,700-a-year school are being taught to take a moment each day to acknowledge how others have helped them and what they have to be grateful …

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Five things you shouldn’t do

Don’t smoke The Hisayama Study, an ongoing investigation of a suburban Japanese community, has found that smoking in mid to late life not only raises the risk of lung cancer, but also ups the chance of developing dementia. Smokers who quit, even in their 40s or 50s, didn’t see the same rise in risk. Don’t …

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The pension thief: no pensions but plenty of parties

Private equity work has been sweet for Marc Leder, the numero uno at Sun Capital Partners. He’s parlayed his takeovers of troubled firms into a fortune big enough to make him a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers in basketball and the New Jersey Devils in hockey. New York’s tabloids, meanwhile, have come to dub the …

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A few thoughts on Epicureanism

Epicureanism stands for charity, friendship, foregiveness, and suspicion of ambition and politics. What Epicurus offered was not help in dying, but help in living. Liberated from superstition, he taught, you are free to pursue a pleasant life. Here are some further thoughts: “It is impossible to live pleasurably without living prudently, honorably snd justly, and …

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Is the internet destroying society?

I have to confess, I’m a big fan of technology. I own a MacBook Air, an iPad, a smartphone, a digital camera, a speaker system and much else besides. Every time Google or Apple announce the release of a new product, I’m always amongst the first to hear. But recently, I’ve come to the conclusion …

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Ave Epicurus ( a short run-down on Epicureanism)

Dear Editor: Brian Dougall’s article ‘Epicureanism: The Hobo Test’ in Issue 98 is more a caricature than accurately characterizing Epicurus and his philosophy. Dougall concludes that anyone trying to live a pain-free, pleasurable existence would end up a hobo, the implication being such an ambition is not realistic or even possible in today’s world. However, …

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Should Epicureans have children?

Awhile ago, I wrote piece on how Epicureans should raise children. Robert has made his own contributions on the subject, which can be read here. Today, I thought I would address something altogether more fundamental: whether Epicureans should be having children at all. From what I can gather from my research, Epicurus disapproved of marriage and …

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Epicureanism and death

At the beginning of his autobiography “Speak, Memory”, Vladimir Nabokov writes: “The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness ……Nature expects a full-grown man to accept the two black voids, fore and aft, as stolidly as he …

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The difference between being educated and being cultured.

“Culture is only really culture when it has diffused itself through every root and fibre of our endurance of life. Then it can become wisdom, a wisdom that can accept defeat, and turn defeat into victory. It can render us independent of our weakness, of our surroundings and of our age, a fortress for the …

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Argue with them, don’t just write them off as ignorant

Letter to The Guardian The flaw in the argument for denying far-right propagandists a platform is the failure to address how else the mass of us who oppose the unacceptable views can turn voters away from supporting them if we do not engage with their facile and untenable arguments. The strategy of ignoring them or …

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Epicurus and politics, a response

If you type in ‘Epicurus and politics’ into Google, the first result you get is an excellent post by Robert. Here, he explained Epicurus’ arguments against politics- the needless anxiety caused by a gullible public being fooled by charlatans only interested in their own gain. Charismatic figures will emerge, appealing to the public’s sense of …

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Are the super-rich uncaring?

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the richest part of Europe, recently held elections for the borough council. The elections were believed to be unpredictable because of a terrible tragedy that had occurred last year, where a public housing tower block called Grenfell Tower burnt down, killing 71 people. The tower burnt because it …

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Some thoughts from Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Epicurean

Here are some thoughts, called “The Decent Life”, from the philosopher Emperor, whose beliefs were Epicurean: Honour and revere the gods, treat human beings as they deserve, be tolerant with others and strict with yourself. Remember, nothing belongs to you but your flesh and blood – nothing else is under your control. 5.33 Make sure …

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