Epicurus and the swerve

If you haven’t read it Stephen Greenblatt’s book, “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern”, do try to find time to do so.  It a very readable.  It introduces the modern reader to the most famous of Epicurean books, de rerum natura of Lucretius.  Greenblatt’s book, which won several prestigious awards, is contentious because it pictures a medieval Christianity mired in reaction and recounts how atomism and the swerve marked the end of feudalism.

The atom as described by Epicurus is obviously very different in fact from what we now know as an atom.  What would you expect?  Times, and technical knowledge, have moved on.  But despite the protests of modern christians, who panned the book as misleading, I maintain that the efforts of the early Epicureans to explain the universe in a rational manner laid the foundation for a modern society free of obscurantism and the deadening hand of centuries of medieval religious dogmatism.  We haven’t quite got there yet, or abandoned outdated things like celibate priests (with some accompanying disgusting behavior) but young people are voting with their feet, and good for them.

Now we have to ensure that those youngsters are brought up with a humanist , Epicurean regard, care and consideration for others.

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