I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Friday, January 25, 2013

636. Epicureanism Between Philosophy And Psychology

636.   Epicureanism Between Philosophy And Psychology

Epicurus lived about 2300 years ago, under very different social and cognitive circumstances.   He was a thinker interested in a variety of subjects.  As far as his then progressive concepts concerned natural science, they are of course so obsolete, that they are only interesting as a part of the history of science.  

His other teachings focus upon suggestions of how humans should live, and these suggestions until today are attractive to some people in spite of a drastically changed social and technological environment.  

This leads to the choice of an approach to those of his original writings still available, the choice between taking them literally or adapting them.

Ancient philosophies are the ancestors of both modern philosophy and modern psychology and as far as they are concerned with human nature, cognition and behavior they can be seen as equally precursors of both.  

There are three main approaches to the teaching of Epicurus:

1.  Theoretically philosophical
Philosophy has not changed drastically in its methods of developing and evaluating thoughts by thinking.  While changing reality has an impact on the topics and on scenarios of an ideal world, the methods are timeless.  The Epicurean philosophical task and interest is learning about, extracting, interpreting and debating Epicurus' original writings literally.   But taking his teachings literally precludes the successful application in the environment of modern society.

2.  Psychological

Psychology branched off from philosophy about 150 years ago, when it started to apply scientific methods of experimentation and observation attempting to get quantifiable results about human nature.  

One of the milestones in this development was 1879 the founding of his psychological laboratory by Wilhelm Wundt.  (

Since then, scientific psychology, evolutionary biology and psychology, neuroscience together with advanced computerized statistical tools have boosted and improved the knowledge about human nature.   
Any philosophy inconsistent with or even contradicting human nature is not suitable as a guide for how to live and such attempts are futile.  
Therefore psychologically, Epicurus' teaching needs to be synchronized with the results of psychological research, before it can be considered valid as a viable suggestion of how to live today.  
3.  Submissive and substituting religion

Some people attempt to cope with feelings of irritation, helplessness and confusion by the submission to some guru, teacher or leader, whom they humbly venerate, admire and revere with non-skeptical blind faith in every of his utterances.  
Depending on availability and circumstances and from a wide variety of disparate options, this guru is chosen as the most appealing to individual needs.   A guru can be a religious or cult leader, a philosopher, a political leader, a therapist, a quack, even a celebrity.   

Some people choose Epicurus as a guru.   They strive to be good disciples by studying and following his teachings literally.   
Without having first hand knowledge of how life was 2300 years ago, they have sometimes a difficult task when deciding how to behave by interpreting quotes from Epicurus' writings.
While I cannot know it, I doubt that Epicurus really wanted to be venerated by humble disciples, it seems more probable, that in his garden he was some kind of a 'primus inter pares'.      

Personally, I prefer the psychological approach.    I have never searched for guidance by any philosophy or belief system.    I have no wish or need to ever be a follower or disciple to any person or doctrine.   
Ever since having discovered my own innate inclinations like rationality, atheism, frugality, low instinctivity and more, I appreciate to find myself sharing my inclinations with someone else having put them already into words.  But the coincidence of having the same inclinations does not imply for me any reason to submit in awe and even less to adopt also thoughts and behaviors, which I do not share innately.
Epicurus is no exception.   When I discovered his teachings, I did not shrink in awe to become an admiring disciple.   I perceive him as a kindred mind and similar brain.