• The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success
  1. The forum software will be upgraded on Sunday May 26th and may not look normal during the transition. Some functionality may be offline. This is TEMPORARY and is expected to last up to 8 hours.
  2. Join 50,000+ entrepreneurs
    who are kicking butt and
    winning their dream life.

    Unscripted™ Entrepreneurship:
    A Business That Pays More Than Money, It Pays Time.

    "Fastlane" is an entrepreneur discussion forum based on The Unscripted Entrepreneurial Framework (TUNEF) outlined in the two best-selling books by MJ DeMarco (The Millionaire Fastlane and UNSCRIPTED™). From multimillionaires to digital nomads, the forum features real entrepreneurs creating real businesses.

    Download (Unscripted) Download (Millionaire Fastlane)  Register
    Registering for the forum removes this block!

INTRO Author, Blogger and Epicurean philosopher

Discussion in 'Forum Introductions (Who are you!?)' started by Hiram, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. Hiram
    Offline

    Hiram New Contributor

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    16
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    Gender:
    Male
    Rep Bank:
    $82
    Hi. My name is Hiram Crespo and I'm currently about halfway through the book FL Millionaire and decided to join the forum. I'm the author of Tending the Epicurean Garden (Humanist Press, 2014), founder of societyofepicurus.com, and a bilingual (Spanish-English) blogger in various outlets. For the last six years, I've been promoting Epicurean philosophy, which includes an ethics of rational, calculated, refined pleasure.

    One aspect of EP is known as autarchy (self-sufficiency, self-governing, just as monarchy means government of one and oligarchy means government of a few). It's this aspect of the philosophy that has brought me to this forum, because it involves Epicurean economics, and this year I've decided that I will focus on exploring Epicurean economics more in depth.

    The main ancient source for Epicurean autarchy and economics is a scroll written by Philodemus of Gadara (who taught philosophy to wealthy Romans in the villa of Herculaneum in the first century) "On the Art of Property Management", which advises owning means of production, delegating tasks, having multiple streams of income, and includes real estate (living off the rent paid by others) and a few other ideas as ways to secure a life of leisure and pleasure. When I read the scroll, I came out with seven rough principles of autarchy that Philodemus discussed, and rather than bore you with the details I'll share them, as they serve as a summary of the scroll and you will see how much they resonate with FL Millionaire (this is + 2,000-year-old Epicurean wisdom):

    1. There is a natural measure of wealth (as opposed to the corrupt, cultural measure of wealth), which is tied to natural and necessary desires. Understanding this will provide us with serenity and indifference to profit and loss.

    2. There is social wealth in addition to the wealth of things and possessions. (One study showed that one happy friend adds as much happiness as $ 20,000)

    3. Philodemus plainly stated it: the philosopher does not toil. However, we must always remember that toil is evil, not productivity.

    4. Association is important in labor. We must choose our company prudently.

    5. Our revenue must more than meet our immediate needs: it must facilitate a dignified life of leisure.

    6. It’s always prudent to cultivate multiple streams of income, among which deriving fees from teaching philosophy, rental property income and business ownership have special priority.

    7. It’s also prudent to have fruitful possessions. The various forms of ownership of means of production is another way to independence that can potentially relieve us of toil.

    So I'm very interested in bringing this 2,300 year old wisdom tradition into a modern context, re-igniting the autarchy conversations with a modern audience, and will be focusing on creating content around Epicurean economics going forward.

    As for my own experiments in autarchy, I've begun to delve into angel investments, I'm monetizing my websites and have written and translated a few books, mostly related to Epicurean philosophy. I'm building a niche, and have found that publications are often willing to pay for your content if you become the expert in a particular field. I'm interested in writing a book re: Epicurean economics, but want to engage in various economic and business experiments before I do that. So I'm here to learn from others and to build on what I'm learning from De Marco's book. My immediate interest is in capitalizing the platform that I already have, but also will eventually expand my platform as I grow.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
    Daniel A, jon.a, Mutant and 7 others like this.
  2. MJ DeMarco
    Offline

    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

    Messages:
    28,044
    Likes Received:
    93,358
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Rep Bank:
    $404,786
    Admin Post
    Welcome my friend, interesting philosophies, I've hear the word Epicurean before but never really knew what it meant.
     
    Silver Silk likes this.
  3. rogue synthetic
    Offline

    rogue synthetic * Not actually Rutger Hauer Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

    Messages:
    345
    Likes Received:
    1,033
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2017
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Rep Bank:
    $6,517
    This is interesting to see. Welcome aboard!

    (As a fire-breathing Aristotelian I'm going to disagree with most of the Epicurean and Lucretian world-view, but it's still an interesting position to take, especially in entrepreneurship!)
     
    richRich likes this.
  4. Hiram
    Offline

    Hiram New Contributor

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    16
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    Gender:
    Male
    Rep Bank:
    $82
    Thank you.

    It’s an ethics of pleasure so the process in Epicurean philosophy is to carry out your choices and avoidances (via hedonic calculus) so as to maximize net pleasure over the long term. But (as explained in the middle portion of Epicurus’ Letter to Menoeceus - Epicurus - Letter to Menoeceus) is it NOT about instant gratification. So one needs to study that letter to be a successful Epicurean.
     
  5. richRich
    Offline

    richRich Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    57
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2019
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Berlin
    Rep Bank:
    $340
    ¡Óla Señor!
    Very interesting approach...
    How have you come to choose Epicureanism as your "favorite" philosophy?

    I've found that "Epicurean: Introduction to the Epicurean Way of Life" on Audible is a nice, short introduction to get a very good overview of the epicurean core concepts in a few hours.

    I'd really appreciate if you could share a few sentences about your understanding of the main Aristotelian core concepts and how they oppose to the Epicurean philosophy.
     
  6. Hiram
    Offline

    Hiram New Contributor

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    16
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    Gender:
    Male
    Rep Bank:
    $82
    I believe my initial encounter with Epicurus was either from reading Christopher Hitchens, or from Thomas Jefferson quotes, both of whom were Epicureans. I explain in more detail how I evolved into an Epicurean in my book and also in a chapter I wrote for an upcoming book titled "How to Live a Good Life", which comes out this fall from Vintage Books (it includes chapters on 15 different religions and philosophies from different authors).

    It just makes sense to me in a way that no other philosophy or religion could because it's based on the study of nature, not on supernatural whims or ascetic restrictions on happiness. So I feel that I can be authentic and I can philosophize with my feet on the ground.

    I can't speak for any Aristotelian (many modern Aristotelians are really objectivists / Randians, which raises many other issues and questions), but I think most hostility from the worshipers of reason towards Epicureans has to do with distrusting the instincts and the emotions for being irrational. Epicureans see the emotions, and the pleasure-aversion faculty, as crucial components of our moral compass that give insights that no other faculty can give.
     
    richRich likes this.
  7. rogue synthetic
    Offline

    rogue synthetic * Not actually Rutger Hauer Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

    Messages:
    345
    Likes Received:
    1,033
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2017
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Rep Bank:
    $6,517
    It wasn't an entirely serious comment. But these days if you don't flag it with a little emoji people seem not to get it. ;)

    I don't want to derail @Hiram 's thread with a tangent that might be silly, so I'll answer you briefly with two major points of difference.

    But first, two qualifiers. I think highly of all the ancient writers, so any criticisms are intended in good spirit. Taking the piss out of somebody's favorite is like friendly banter more than a serious challenge to the worthiness of the ideas (which is a given IMO).

    Second, this will necessarily be painting with a broad brush. You get the big strokes but miss the fine grain of nuance. This means something will inevitably be skated over or even flat wrong if given deeper shading.

    The meat of it for me comes down to two issues, one metaphysical and one psychological or ethical (in the 21st century these are different; in the 4th century BC they weren't).

    1. The metaphysical issue is whether there are higher forms, purposes, or meanings beyond the sensible order that we perceive with the senses. Aristotle thought there was, though in a way that is interestingly different from Plato. The form of things was in the things, not in a remote heaven of pure Ideas. This is what happens when you take a biologist and have him deduce the structure of all existence. (Thomas Aquinas would -- much -- later synthesize these ideas with Christian theology to some interesting effect.)

    For Epicurus existence is all atoms whirling around in the void. There is no reason or form behind it, certainly nothing divine. Lucretius is generally credited with innovating on this idea, and both he and Epicurus are considered precursors to folks like Hobbes, Locke, and granddaddy Hume who took nominalism as a serious starting point.

    2. The ethical/psychological issue concerns two sub questions, one about value, the other about human action.

    The question of value is about what matters most, what is highest, what is most worthwhile, what is best in a life. Aristotle argues that happiness is more than a transient state of pleasure, that it requires not only virtue of character but a sense of what is truly excellent in a human life. Epicurus holds that pleasure is the highest and ultimate value.

    This is different from the question of what actually motivates people to act. Aristotle wouldn't disagree that many people do in fact act for pleasure. He just didn't think that pleasure, understood as transient sensations, was or could be the highest end. There is more to flourishing than merely feeling good. Virtue is a part of this, aiming to live and act in moderation between extremes of desire and feeling as discerned by one's powers of reason.

    Hiram added an important clarification about Epicurus' concept of pleasure. He wouldn't have condoned a life of licentious revelry. There is an element of judgment and consideration which is an essential component of pleasure. Nor could we easy call this a "bodily" pleasure, given that it involves a certain tranquility of the soul.

    Those are the two main differences in a nutshell.

    If that's all you wanted to know, stop here. If you're interested in more, then...

    Why go for one over the other?

    I wrote a lot about that but it ended up breaking my promise about brevity, so I'll leave it at these four things for now.

    1. Ethical hedonism (the issue of value) feels intuitively plausible because psychological hedonism (the issue of motive and action) is such a widespread belief these days. The belief that humans act for pleasure and pleasure alone pervades everything from economics to evolutionary biology to popular business books.

    This makes it very easy to jump to the ethical claim that only pleasure has value.

    But humans often do (which is not to say always or even mostly) act for motives which are not themselves pleasurable or reducible to pleasure.

    Epicurus has a more sophisticated account of pleasure than "mere sensation of feelin' good". This means that something of that intuition can be explained. But once we introduce a cognitive element of judgment or contemplation, it isn't clear that we're all that far from Aristotle.

    Happiness, in either case, requires something more than mere sensation. There are conditions on living well and doing well. And if that's so, why stop at inner tranquility?

    2. It's hard (maybe logically impossible) to assert both (i) that value is ultimately nothing but experiences of pleasure and (ii) that one should find ultimate value in pleasure.

    The second thing is an ethical claim which supports the (first) metaphysical claim about what value is. But if that's so, then the metaphysical claim that value is pleasure is neither self-evident truth nor observable fact.

    The claim that ultimate value is pleasure requires that at least one value not amount to pleasure.

    This circle need not be vicious -- we can imagine ways out of it -- but left to itself, its an ugly contradiction.

    3. Aristotle and Epicurus are much closer to each other than either of them is to any modern moral philosopher.

    Aristotle is not a stuffy moral rationalist who disdains the bodily appetites and emotions. His discussion of the rational will/desiring intellect in Book II of the Ethics should put an end to this, but many readers fail to be careful readers. (A point which is worth remembering in most parts of life.)

    Epicurus, as Hiram clarified, is not a vulgar hedonist who encourages licentious revelry. There is an element which seeks to blend judgment and experience, in both writers, in a way which is foreign to modern intuitions.

    4. Both of them appreciated the value of friendship (philia being one word that is translated into English as "love") as an essential part of human life.
    Probably the key difference is that Aristotle appreciated the importance of the polis -- the community -- to a life well lived. Community shapes virtue and community is shaped by virtue.

    This element, as we would expect, is missing in Epicurus so far as I know.

    I hope it's clear that my motivation is about as far from Rand's Objectivism (oh lawedy...) as you can get. I don't think she was an Aristotelian in any plausible way, except as one of those careless and anachronistic readers...
     
    richRich likes this.
  8. Hiram
    Offline

    Hiram New Contributor

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    16
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    Gender:
    Male
    Rep Bank:
    $82
    Thank you for your careful presentation of some of the philosophical issues. Pleasure is an important subject for me so I have to add to this, and I'm glad that you didn't resort to over-simplification like many others have.

    So most Epicureans will take issue with "pleasure, understood as transient sensations". If you read Epicurus' Principal Doctrine 20, and its elaboration by later Epicureans like Diogenes of Oenoanda, you'll see that mental pleasures (and pain) are considered to last longer than bodily ones.

    You'll also find that Epicurus refused to use syllogisms or logical formulas to justify the choice of pleasure-aversion faculty as an essential component of our moral compass. Instead, he argued that pleasure-aversion is the only faculty that our own nature gave us to help us determine what is choice-worthy and avoidance-worthy for its own sake. Like Aristippus, he simply referred us to our own nature, and said that pleasure is an unmediated, clear experience. Pleasure and aversion (like the five senses) is understood as a faculty in Epicurean philosophy, not as a whim.

    And with virtue, the problem with it is that if you don't define it according to nature, different people with faulty ideas will give bad and useless definitions. To a Muslim who believes that the Quran 4:34 orders him to beat his wife for disobedience, domestic violence is virtuous. Is virtue obedience to God or to nationalist ideals, or other isms? To an Epicurean, virtue is whatever acts as a means to net PLEASURE over the long term. Even anger can be virtuous, says Philodemus, if it's made productive (channeled into a cause) so that it raises grievances, and so that it changes social relations and produces happier ones over the long term. So in all things, context is always needed and we must refer to the evidence that nature presents to our faculties. To set objective, unchanging ideals or isms is to divorce morality from nature.

    The Epicurean novel "A Few Days in Athens" explains it by saying that many worship at the foot of virtue but few stop to inspect the pedestal on which it stands.

    Virtue also lends itself to pretensions of moral superiority and other problems of inauthenticity, whereas Epicurus teaches people how to be both authentic and happy.

    Another short correction. The polis (the political community, or the state) is considered a Platonic, or imagined community by the Epicureans. The REAL community is our circles of friends with whom we have real, face to face relations, and this is called NATURAL community.

    Anthropologist Robin Dunbar actually did some research on how many REAL, face to face, interpersonal relations the human brain is able to process on average and came up with the "Dunbar number": which I think is 147.8 if I remember correctly, so it's roughly 150 REAL people that comprise our natural communities.

    On the other hand, the "polis" for us might be Chicago, Illinois, or the USA, but we will never have REAL community with the 315 million people who call themselves American, or the millions who live in our state. The same with other "political" identities like Black, White, LGBT, Hispanic, etc. So the "polis" is an imagined-Platonic community, as far as Epicureans are concerned, and one that monopolizes identity narratives that properly belong to us and to our circles of friends, which is why the Epicureans believed strongly in celebrating the 20th of every month in community and birthdays of friends, etc--to honor true community.

    In our natural community / circles of friends and family we may have people of different "polis" or nationalities or groups, but the PHILOS (love, friendship) is still experienced and is real.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
    richRich likes this.

Join 1000s of entrepreneurs who are rewriting life's script and winning financial freedom.

---- ----

You must be a member to join the conversation.

Create Account

Join the community fast and easy!

REGISTER

Log In

Already have an account? Login here.

LOG IN

Share This Page