For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth the beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are of dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth (that) the spirit of man goeth upwards, and the spirit of the beast goeth downward to the earth?
Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Verses 19- 21
What is the difference between Gordon Brown* and Stalin?
One is absolutely ruthless and brooks no opposition. The other ran the USSR for years.
* new Prime Minister of Britain
"I think it is also worth noting that unlike some ancient communities, the Epicureans did not live in a commune or expect rich members to hand over all their possessions to the collective. Epicurus told the rich to be generous; Jesus told the rich to become poor."
Comment by Matt Cherry on the Yahoo site
And from Victor Kioulapiades:
Abraham Lincoln said that "you can’t enrich the poor by impoverishing the rich". With that simple principle, I believe, Lincoln mitigated the Christian mandate –more rhetorical than literal, I suspect– with a more practicable economic sensibility. Obviously, our great philanthropists have followed the "Epicurus model" of generosity, not the Christian one. That is not to say that either they or Christian dogma is "bad", but simply that they are/were real unrealistic.
"I am not charmed with the ideal of life held out by those who think that the normal state of human beings is that of struggling to get on; that the trampling, crushing , elbowing, and treading on each other’s heels are the most desirable lot of human kind."
John Stuart Mill, a passionate supporter of freedom and a true liberal.:
According to the Guardian newspaper, thousands of house-husbands are being dumped by their working wives because childcare isn’t seen as macho enough for them, just not sexy. They resent being the breadwinners and still subconsciously think it is the man who should be bringing in the money and pulling his weight financially. In the UK there are 200,000 men who are house-husbands, and half their marriages are failing.
Humans evolved on the savannah recognizing movement and potential threat. Our brains are primed to presume the presence of agents that determine potential pursuits, attacks and escapes. What cannot be explained physically has to be explained by the supernatural.
Secondly, our brains are primed to look for answers …….to unusual events. “Luck is too miss and miss – - (unusual events have to be ascribed to ) God or prayer.
Thirdly, folk psychology allows us to predict human responses. On the savannah it was important to be able to outwit others.… thus, we can to distinguish good fellows from bad, understand the minds of ordinary people and imagine what it is like to be them. What doesn’t fit must have something to do with the spirit world and the supernatural.
Children are born with a tendency to believe in omniscience, invisible minds and immaterial souls. ….. Thus people can believe in what is minimally counter-intuitive, as long as it is not preposterous.
Fourthly, religion helps us deal with the certainty of death. It is hard to imagine ourselves no longer existing or thinking, but it is easy to imagine ourselves existing after death.
Fifthly, religion might have helped primitive man form groups, become attached to and offer mutual help, attract mates, find and store food and become more cohesive as a tribe. Religious rituals help maintain communal structures in hard time and allows the tribe to imagine its superiority and exclusivity over others.
Lastly, God fills an emptiness that our big-brain mental architecture interprets as a yearning for the supernatural.
New York Times magazine, March 4th, 2007 Adaptation of “Why we believe – how evolutionary science explains belief in God” by Robin Marantz Henig
The variations concluding Op.109 embody two cycles of transformation: the first 5 variations recast the theme and develop its structures and character in a variety of expressive contexts, while the sixth variation initiates a new series of changes, compressed into a single continuous process that is guided by the logical unfolding of rhythmic development. In the final variation an urgent will to overcome the inevitable passing of time and sound seems to fill up the spaces of the slow theme with an unprecedented density of material. This idea was in turn to be expanded by Beethoven into the controlling framework of the variations on the Arietta that conclude Op. 111, the last movement of his sonata."
An unattributed commentary on Beethoven Sonata No. 30 in E major, attended on July13th
“America, it turns out , is not one nation under one God. We answer, in actuality, to four Gods. In an intriguing new survey by Gallop for Baylor University, Americans were asked how they conceived of the deity. The most popular God, backed by 31%, is an “authoritarian” father figure who takes a very hands-on approach to his domain. Like Yaweh in the Old Testament, he rewards the faithful with good fortune, and smites the sinful with tsunamis, terrorist attacks and dread diseases. Another 23% envision God as essentially “benevolent” – a loving spirit who provides help and guidance when asked. For 16% God presides over the universe like a taciturn judge, letting events unfold without interference, tallying up sins and virtues and rendering a verdict when people die. Finally 24% see God as a mysterious prime mover who engineered the Big Bang and evolution, wrote E=mc² and all those other nifty cosmic laws, then backed off to watch how it all would come out.”
William Falk goes on to point out the obvious fact that it is the supporters of the stern, unbending, vengeful god that support thrusting “Christian values “ upon everyone else, who want to outlaw abortion, gay marriage, execute criminals and wage war in Iraq. To them politics is a holy war.
Courtesy of William Falk, Editor of the US edition of The Week magazine
"…the truth was that Atticus, because of his philosophy, had made it a principle never to fall out with anyone. He was a devoted follower of the teachings of Epicurus – "that pleasure is the beginning and end of living happily" – although I hasten to add that he was an Epicurean not in the commonly misunderstood sense, as a seeker after luxury, but in the true meaning, as a pursuer of what the Greeks call ataraxia, or freedom from disturbance. He consequently avoided arguments and unpleasantness of any kind (needless to say, he was unmarried) and desired only to contemplate philosophy by day and dine by night with his cultured friends. He believed that all mankind should have similar aims, and was baffled when they did not…..he never for a moment contemplated undertaking anything as upsetting or dangerous as a political career, yet at the same time, as an insurance against future mishap, he had taken pains to cultivate every aristocrat who passed through Athens… there can never have been anyone quite so worldly in their pursuit of unworldliness as Titus Pomponius Atticus."
from the absolutely excellent book, "Imperium" by Robert Harris (page 400 in the British paperback version).
Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in Roman history, good writing and an exciting read
The regular use of Viagra is all about male ego. Women prefer closeness, tenderness and genuine affection, not some raging bull.. A true Epicurean should be ashamed to be addicted to the stuff. Happiness and ataraxia come with gentleness, thoughtfulness and the contentment of your partner; only a very few women like the constantly horny male, especially if it a chemically induced desire.