Hellenistic Greeks

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
Epicurus is a distinctly spiritual philosophy, and does not rely on the same logic that the Socratic method does, but rather the same trust in divine revelation that Christianity later would.
I wouldn't say Epicureanism was "distinctly spiritual" and it certainly wasn't a philosophy built on "divine revelation" - its epistomology did not include any such concept, but was built squarely on empirical 'sensations' (aesthesis), and universal concepts called prolepsis, what we today might call 'common sense'. Generally speaking, it was a very empirical philosophy. There certainly wasn't any 'divine revelation', in fact, that runs counter to Epicurean notions about the gods, who do not communicate or interfere with the mortals whatsoever.

Furthermore, Epicurus follows in the traditions of Democritus and says that all phenomena have a natural cause and man can achieve freedom through knowledge and understanding of the natural processes that cause all phenomena.

One of Epicureanisms main tenets is that the gods do not reward or punish mortals. The gods - material creatures, made up of atoms and existing in deep space - were too remote to have any interest in mankind, and activities like prayer or the offering of sacrifices were described as wholly futile. Their role, in Epircureanism, is nothing more than as a remote and theoretical concept or placeholder for a state of perfect happiness, to which man is supposed to strive through achieving pleasure (which has a special definition under Epicureanism - it is moderate pleasure and the avoidance of the painful consequences of immoderation).
 
Last edited:
Jan 2009
3
I certainly didn't intend to say that Epicureanism had anything to do with divine revelation, and as you say, it didn't. What I meant by calling it distinctly spiritual is that in the way that it demands or assumes an order to the universe it, despite initially seeming against the concept, requires a level of faith. In many ways it went further than traditional religions, who simply attempted to explain simple natural phenomena, and tried to find a unifying concept to the universe which Epicurus ultimately had no rational reason to assume existed.


It's certainly a debatable point, and my interpretation of Epicurus will differ from most. If you want you can strike it from the record, and simply look at the various other developments in Classical and mid-Antiquity Greece that suggest it was not as cold-bloodedly scientific as this question supposes it was.
 

Rosi

Historum Emeritas
Jul 2008
6,242
I certainly didn't intend to say that Epicureanism had anything to do with divine revelation, and as you say, it didn't. What I meant by calling it distinctly spiritual is that in the way that it demands or assumes an order to the universe it, despite initially seeming against the concept, requires a level of faith. In many ways it went further than traditional religions, who simply attempted to explain simple natural phenomena, and tried to find a unifying concept to the universe which Epicurus ultimately had no rational reason to assume existed.
How does that make it spiritual? Epicurus primarily only held that all things are made of atoms and ultimately disintegrate into atoms. That would be the fate of everything. Doesn't sound very spiritual to me.

If you want you can strike it from the record, and simply look at the various other developments in Classical and mid-Antiquity Greece that suggest it was not as cold-bloodedly scientific as this question supposes it was.
Cold-bloodedly scientific? Definitely not. I was referring to rational thinking, which doesnt necessarily mean "cold-bloodedly scientific". Why, to me the supposition of the existence of a medium called ether itself was pretty irrational. And that was supposed to be pure science.

What is cold-bloodedly scientific anyway? Science too often requires a degree of supposition (which isn't necessarily faith) to take theories forward. Does that make it spiritual too?
 

falcon

Ad Honorem
May 2008
2,728
The question originally asked from Rosicrucian is quite interesting and some of the answers given are very close to the truth.
I on the other hand will try to answer another question related to the subject that has puzzled a lot of people around the world and also many members of this forum. A little history background though is appropriate.
Even after saint Paul came to Greece and taught about Christianity a lot of people didn't convert. The philosophical schools in Athens and elsewhere did remain and flourished as did the ancient religion.
A lot of emperors on the other hand in the Eastern Roman empire (Byzantine empire) who happened to be strong christians persecuted those pagans as they called them, they closed their philosophical schools, temples etc.
The majority though of the inhabitants in the empire, especially in the Asiatic provinces were strong Christians and although they all spoke the Greek language, they were refusing to be called Greeks because they were associating Greece with paganism, they prefered to be called Romans. It was only towards the last dynasties of the Byzantines that they started to call themselves Hellenes (Greeks) and be proud of it and exploring the ancient Greek civilization.
 
Dec 2008
251
you have to take into account how new ideas come about. very little start with the common people, you start with the current power base. take egypt for an example, arkenaten he changed to the one sun god and the country grudgingly went along until his death. hat is how democracy works the few elected people in power make the rules the masses have to follow.