Epicurus and Happiness

Favorite quotations, etc.
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Dragline
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Dragline » Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:33 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:
``It matters little,'' she said, softly. ``To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.''

``What Idol has displaced you?'' he rejoined.

``A golden one.''

``This is the even-handed dealing of the world!'' he said. ``There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!''

``You fear the world too much,'' she answered, gently.
"And as your business prospered, Ebenezer Scrooge, a golden idol took possession of your heart, as Alice said it would."

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by jacob » Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:48 pm

@7wb5/GandK - I can't find the exact quote, but Goethe said something to the effect of how you can want to play the guitar (or whatever), but you can never want to want to play the guitar or anything. The same holds for meaning. One can not find something meaningful merely by wanting to find it so.

Most people have to find meaning in survival (catering to needs and wants) or die, so that meaning is almost inherent. However, when all needs and wants are automatically satisfied, there's not necessarily any immediate or easy replacement for meaning available. Hopefully you have one in storage, but if not, it might not be easily available.

The problem is that no matter how large the bucket list, one can not want to find meaning in any one entry. Without that meaning, the activity can easily feel like busywork. Something one does just to do something, e.g. #232) Learn to play the guitar. I don't really care to, nor do I find it meaningful or interesting, but I do it anyway because it keeps me busy.

This is also why we occasionally see hints of ennui around here.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:39 pm

@jacob: I agree. Since I am someone who is dorky enough to spreadsheet her happiness levels, my simple solution would be a combination of self-assigned work or activities or experiences that are simply pleasurable mixed with a number of others that are more grueling yet tending towards increasing feelings of fulfillment. For instance, teaching disadvantaged children is not pleasurable, but it is fulfilling. Half of the group I had today did not know the name of the planet that they live on. Now a few more of them do. Seemed like (literally!)meaningful work to me. And it's not even like I consider teaching to be one of my primary avocations or purposes. Maybe once you have provided for your own needs or wants, or at least rendered the process painless or pleasurable, the only to find meaning is to help someone or something else survive. For instance, one of my life's primary avocations has been the work of getting special books into the possession of the particular people who will appreciate them. Same as somebody else might focus on finding homes for abandoned puppies. Maybe, I am wrong, but it seems to me that eventually it becomes too easy just taking care of yourself (even extended into future) and you gotta have something or someone that is your baby.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:42 pm

that's Schopenhauer, whom brute has quoted above.
Arthur wrote:You can do what you want, but you can't want what you want.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by George the original one » Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:26 pm

> I don't know why you would ever have to resort to busywork.

Busywork is a perception. Sometimes the person doing it has no clue that they're doing busywork because they have a need to "do something" and their busywork makes them feel like they've accomplished something. Sometimes what outsiders believe is busywork, possibly because it is a menial task like garbage collection, laundry, or cooking, is actually very necessary.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:23 am

everything is busywork from the right perspective. saving dogs, performing CPR, raising children, going to work, taking the dog for a walk.

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Dragline
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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Dragline » Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:04 pm

But the Power of Arthur compels you:

“Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Wed Sep 14, 2016 1:26 pm

one has to be skeptical of a man who owned poodles.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 5:35 am

BRUTE said: everything is busywork from the right perspective. saving dogs, performing CPR, raising children, going to work, taking the dog for a walk.
True, but from the opposite perspective nothing is busywork. Whenever you do work, you are causing something to exist and something else not to exist. "I declare that the rocks shall no longer be buried within the soil, but will now be formed into a wall!" "No longer shall children with dirty faces roam freely about my domain!", "Ink will flow from pen and forever be transformed into paragraphs of my making!" You are nothing. You are a God. Your choice. You might experiment spending alternate days inhabiting either perspective.

In "The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life", George Kinder writes a good deal about money being perceived as flow. I am paraphrasing, but one meme that stuck with me when I read this book a number of years ago, was something like "Money will naturally flow towards you when you do the work that other people want you to do." So, I experimented with this a bit, and came to the conclusion that this is true if you amend to read more like "Money will naturally flow towards you when you do the work that other people who have money want you to do, and they are aware that you are doing this work." Therefore, it follows that when you have enough of an established flow from other people who have money, you are free to do the work that the other people who do not have money want you to do OR the work that only future you wants current you to do. Unless you are in a coma being fed through a tube, you are never free to not work at all. Even "This Dorito will no longer rest with the others of its kind safely within bag!" is a thought that could be associated with an act of destruction and construction, or transformation, known as work.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:15 am

Maybe this is too personal, but brute's form of nihilism is a common sign of depression. Is brute depressed?

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:06 pm

ThisDinosaur wrote:Maybe this is too personal, but brute's form of nihilism is a common sign of depression. Is brute depressed?
brute is never quite sure. he isn't unhappy. it feels more like brute has gained an insight that most individuals are prevented from gaining because of a combination of biological and societal glitches. maybe this is what depression feels like to "depressed" humans, too.

to say it another way: the nihilistic ideas that brute keeps thinking about are clearly facts, and true. humanity is a short sentence at the end of a short chapter of the Earth. brute will be dead in a few decades, and a few years after that, nobody will remember him. and even if anyone did remember brute, what good would that do him?

is brute depressed because the thinks about these (clearly factual) things, or are humans just too busy distracting themselves from them?

fun fact: brute is literally dancing in his chair as he's writing this, he gets way too much sun, works out almost every day.. so it's probably not that hormonal/biological depression thing. it's just a very strong case of ennui :)

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:10 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:True, but from the opposite perspective nothing is busywork. Whenever you do work, you are causing something to exist and something else not to exist.
of course true. if nothing matters, everything matters. but the very fact that it's that arbitrary makes it meaningless. if a plastic bag dancing in the wind is beautiful, what does the word even mean?

sure, brute can (and does) fill up his time with distracting activities to pass the time. but if anything and nothing is meaningful, then no activity brute chooses has any more meaning than an addict injecting heroin. and the addict is probably having a better time.
7Wannabe5 wrote:"No longer shall children with dirty faces roam freely about my domain!"
brute should get this tattooed onto his chest in bold letters.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:19 pm

I agree that the universe appears devoid of "meaning" in the sense humans tend to use it. A hedonistic optimist might say that your time between conception and death is a vacation from non-existence. Heroin is only a bad choice, then, because it won't be much fun for very long.

Happiness is a physiological phenomenon. If you are well-nourished, well rested, and get plenty of exercise, then you can speak philosophically about meaninglessness and not feel sad. If you are sleep-deprived, out of shape, and not content with your social standing, even devout faith in meaning won't protect you from despair.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Dragline » Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:38 pm

BRUTE wrote:
ThisDinosaur wrote:Maybe this is too personal, but brute's form of nihilism is a common sign of depression. Is brute depressed?
brute is never quite sure. he isn't unhappy. it feels more like brute has gained an insight that most individuals are prevented from gaining because of a combination of biological and societal glitches. maybe this is what depression feels like to "depressed" humans, too.

to say it another way: the nihilistic ideas that brute keeps thinking about are clearly facts, and true. humanity is a short sentence at the end of a short chapter of the Earth. brute will be dead in a few decades, and a few years after that, nobody will remember him. and even if anyone did remember brute, what good would that do him?

is brute depressed because the thinks about these (clearly factual) things, or are humans just too busy distracting themselves from them?

fun fact: brute is literally dancing in his chair as he's writing this, he gets way too much sun, works out almost every day.. so it's probably not that hormonal/biological depression thing. it's just a very strong case of ennui :)
I still think you need a dog. Maybe one that dances. Doesn't have to be a poodle, though. :D

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:05 pm

ThisDinosaur wrote:A hedonistic optimist might say that your time between conception and death is a vacation from non-existence.
a hedonistic pessimist like brute might say the same thing :)
ThisDinosaur wrote:Heroin is only a bad choice, then, because it won't be much fun for very long.
has ThisDinosaur tried it?
Wikipedia wrote:Like most opioids, unadulterated heroin does not cause many long-term complications other than dependence and constipation.
brute can deal with constipation.
ThisDinosaur wrote:Happiness is a physiological phenomenon. If you are well-nourished, well rested, and get plenty of exercise, then you can speak philosophically about meaninglessness and not feel sad. If you are sleep-deprived, out of shape, and not content with your social standing, even devout faith in meaning won't protect you from despair.
that's why brute thinks he isn't physiologically depressed, merely bored with existence. thanks for ThisDinosaur's concern.
Dragline wrote:some stuff about dogs
there's a friendly pitbull that came with brute's apartment, but brute doesn't really feel inclined to spend much time with it. it usually sits in its own feces and looks sad, barking from time to time.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:31 pm

Dependence is not as benign as brute is implying.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by sky » Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:56 pm

BRUTE wrote:
ThisDinosaur wrote:Maybe this is too personal, but brute's form of nihilism is a common sign of depression. Is brute depressed?
brute is never quite sure. he isn't unhappy. it feels more like brute has gained an insight that most individuals are prevented from gaining because of a combination of biological and societal glitches. maybe this is what depression feels like to "depressed" humans, too.

to say it another way: the nihilistic ideas that brute keeps thinking about are clearly facts, and true. humanity is a short sentence at the end of a short chapter of the Earth. brute will be dead in a few decades, and a few years after that, nobody will remember him. and even if anyone did remember brute, what good would that do him?

is brute depressed because the thinks about these (clearly factual) things, or are humans just too busy distracting themselves from them?

fun fact: brute is literally dancing in his chair as he's writing this, he gets way too much sun, works out almost every day.. so it's probably not that hormonal/biological depression thing. it's just a very strong case of ennui :)
You are right, we pass from nonexistence to a brief flash of awareness to nonexistence. We are surrounded by many humans and animals that may be more or less present in sentient awareness, but most are duped by things they are told and by fantasies of their imagination. So how does one respond to this knowledge? The virtues taught to us by society may be helpful if there is truth in them, but in the end, they are just part of the societal chaos of people trying to manipulate people.

Epicurus establishes tranquility as the goal, and plots a course by avoiding pain and seeking simple pleasures, using rational choice and hedonistic calculus. The criteria for maintaining a state of happiness and tranquility are within one's self and require rational discipline to achieve.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Ego » Thu Sep 15, 2016 5:56 pm


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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by enigmaT120 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:07 pm

Now I want to go home and pet my cat.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by sky » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:47 pm

From the flow system theory, in order to escape boredom, one must increase the challenges that one takes on.

Image

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE IN FLOW?

1. Completely involved in what we are doing - focused, concentrated.
2. A sense of ecstacy - of being outside everyday reality.
3. Great inner clarity - knowing what needs to be done and how well we are doing.
4. Knowing that the activity is doable - that our skills are adequate for the task.
5. A sense of serenity - no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of our ego.
6. Timelessness - thoroughly focused on the present, hours seem to pass by in minutes.
7. Intrinsic motivation - whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by BRUTE » Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:24 pm

ok, time for brute to finally get that "flow" rant out.

flow is bullshit.

it's not that it doesn't exist, and it's not that it doesn't feel good. but flow only works for certain things in certain circumstances.

heroin puts humans into flow like a motherfucker. doesn't mean it's great. leads to constipation.

some specific things are best done in flow. most are not. when humans point to m------------'s flow theory like others point to Marcus Aurelius or some other 3rd class "philosopher" for life guidance, brute loses his shit.

for reference, brute has used flow to overcome boredom in the past. turns out few things put brute into flow as quickly as riding a motorcycle at 3x the posted speed limit.

but that isn't a solution to life, it's not even a strategy. it's a very, very powerful distraction. spending the rest of brute's life on a motorcycle doing heroin is only insofar a great strategy as it would make the former end very quickly.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by Ego » Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:37 pm

Heroin deadens the feelings produced by challenges. Flow heightens them. Two different things entirely.

I've found that entering flow with others is (for me) 2-5X the dose response of flowing alone.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:49 pm

@Ego: Agree. I almost end up in flow when I am aroused and another person is in control.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by ThisDinosaur » Fri Sep 16, 2016 5:57 am

Its nice to finally see somebody badmouth Aurelius. I found Meditations a tough read, because I was expecting some kind of life-changing breakthrough. Lots of these old philosophers read like outdated self-help books. If I tell you Enchiridion is my favorite book, you might rub your chin and mumble "indeed." If I tell you my favorite book is by Tony Robbins, you'd fight the urge to roll your eyes. Its all the same shite.

I think people find something inspiring if they find it at a time when they are ready to feel inspired. My world view is heavily influenced by George Carlin. Maybe he's a better philosopher than Epictetus, or maybe he was just better than me at articulating things I kind of already believed.

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Re: Epicurus and Happiness

Post by GandK » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:12 am

@sky

I've seen a similar chart before, but I feel like that theory doesn't include me. My happiness isn't related to skill or challenges or tasks or activity in any way that I can see. I do enjoy those, but I also enjoy the absence of them, and frequently feel ecstasy and serenity when I'm not doing anything.

Maybe I'm just lazy. :lol:

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