Refine & Enlarge
Posted in Refine & Enlarge by Peter W. Schramm
Do nation's have minds? Is that idea itself congruent with the principles of 1776? Or is that an example of how Jefferson thought in his older days, when he was a strong Epicurean, when he said all truths "we can have or need' are those derived from the senses, and when he spoke of "palpable" truths rather than "self-evident" truths?
But why would a strong Epicurean concern himself with the mind (let alone the national mind) - something unnecessary for, or at most merely instrumental to, the seeking of pleasure? (Although I'm not sure how far apart Epicurus and Locke are in many ways)
Ancient and modern Epicureans agree that pleasure is the highest good, but the former regard philosophy as the highest pleasure because it was unmixed with any pain. For modern Epicureans, all pleasures are equal, with the proviso that any sickness, injury and death that result from certain pleasures are an argment against them..
While I'm not up on my Epicurus, I have to wonder somewhat about philosophy as a purely pleasurable enterprise. It is true that Socrates says with regard to his interrogations that they are "not unpleasant," but don't both the modern virtue of probity (facing the terrible truth) and ancient philosophic courage entail pain?
I also think you are mostly right about our modern friends (Spinoza, Hobbes, etc.), but I do give them props insofar as I do think they genuinely hold philosophy in highest esteem, however elevated the status of vulgar pleasure may be (plus, I'd read the Hipparchus to see where Socrates stands on 'the love of gain' in *both* its low and lofty forms).
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