Friday, November 8, 2019

Striker succeeds...

"Striker succeeds in using Cicero against himself to show that he has misunderstood the nature of Epicurus' distinction between kinetic and katastematic pleasures. Epicurus did not, she argues, distinguish two different pleasures, but rather extended the meaning of pleasure to cover not only active movement away from pain and toward pleasure, but also states of body and mind characterized by aponia and atraxia. As he himself observes (Letter to Menoeceus 128 = Long and Sedley 21B,2), pleasure is what we want when we are in pain, and what we don't want (presumably because we have it) when we are not in pain. If, therefore, we are by nature creatures of appetite, as Epicurus believed, pleasure is both the arkhê (because all appetites can be referred to it) and the telos of human life. This move, Striker argues, "allowed Epicurus to identify the greatest pleasure with the good life" (p. 17). Striker's persuasive argument has the additional merit of illuminating Cicero's philosophical and doxographical technique and rehabilitating De Finibusas a source for Epicurean ethics."

Jacques Brunschwig and Martha C. Nussbaum (edd.) Passions and Perceptions: Studies in Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge: The University Press, 1993.

It doesn't require further evidence than this!  The "good life" has never been more convincingly asserted! As an amateur philosopher in my own right (being a university graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree specializing in the learned subject) I derive immeasurable delight to rediscover the ancient seat of this lingering advocacy. Furthermore the narrow scope of the matter broadens my formerly suppressed inclination to dwell upon this obviously elemental topic - and in a way peculiar to my own modest observations.  Although I may not characterize the ethic in quite the esoteric manner of the Cambridge authors, it is manifestly clear that the elucidation of pleasure is never beyond succinct.

Equally apparent to me in my advancing years is the undisputed attraction of plain thinking and commentary.  Though some may continue to practice obfuscation when opining on this or that - and I grant there may be occasions when the deceit is by design and with foreseeable objective - the preponderance of cases invoke rather vacuity than intelligence. It is tarsome to listen to such empty-headedness. It exhausts one's interest and strength to an Olympic degree!

Reasoning what best constitutes a narrative is at times as taxing as deciding upon where to go or what to do. The prospects are on the one hand limitless; but on another highly restrictive.  The broadest description is the polar extremes of personal and abstract. I cannot but believe that the lack in my veins of Irish Catholic blood prohibits me to dwell upon the intimate details of my life.  The spectacle is far too visceral and risks contaminating the elevation of Protestantism and the refinement of sherry. My religious upbringing fortunately trained me in the habits of society instead of the dismal reflections upon sin and the hereafter. From the outset the scope of my exploration was community and a dedication to the "good life". The clergy - while invariably dedicated and stimulating - were but classical renditions of the larger instrument. My faith is admittedly sorely tainted.

Moving onto the more pertinent subject of the good life, my success (if any) is to embrace pleasure at every opportunity.  It is old hat to observe that pleasure does not mean the equivalent of drunken or lascivious exercise. My preferred model is simplicity, convenience and honesty.  The simplicity involves a reduction of complication and a preference for what is comfortable.  The convenience is the option of choosing what is at hand or within reach.  The honesty - and this perhaps is the more significant feature of the good life for me - is the dedication to the expression of one's heartfelt sentiments and the avoidance of what is not.  If I were to be permitted the indulgence of personal insight I have to add that the alliance with a close and valued friend is the icing on the cake! This may indeed be the nurturing stream which runs quietly beneath all else. A companion in this voyage upon the glassy sea is the sustaining vessel.

No comments:

Post a Comment