RT @NewYorker: In observance of the worldwide #ClimateStrike, revisit “Silent Spring,” Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking 1962 investigation into the harmful effects of DDT and other pesticides on the environment. https://t.co/snVgMDMddp

September 20, 2019

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RT @Greenpeace: Seriously this was special. We played “the 1975” by the 1975 which is a speech by Greta Thunberg with a backing track. Many people were crying. We’ve never seen anything like this in Glasgow before with so many people. #ClimateStrike https://t.co/ZyMUbHRugP

September 20, 2019

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“To keep American democracy healthy, people all across the country will have to do more than engage with different ideas online. They’ll need to find shared interests and goals despite their persistent, and often deep, differences.” https://t.co/hmEwz8ajEG

September 20, 2019

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Or two… https://t.co/3jBsDEaamp https://t.co/dFGMDXa37c

September 20, 2019

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Happy birthday Roger Angell, who says baseball’s “just the right pace. You can watch the game and keep score and look around and take notes. Now and then you even have time to have an idea, which in many sports you don’t have room for.” https://t.co/OG9oUTHOKY

September 20, 2019

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There’s more to Nashville than country music. Support your local independent bookseller! “Ann Patchett Will Eventually Discuss Her Book” https://t.co/fjeYBA8Tmm

September 19, 2019

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I’ve just posted on my Blog about: Urgency and the Epicure https://t.co/EvwQu2JAb8

September 19, 2019

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Urgency and the Epicure

September 19, 2019

It’s on to Catherine Wilson’s Epicureanism: A Very Short Introduction in Happiness today.

We’re catching up, since Tuesday’s class was pre-empted by the panel discussion on Suffrage and the Constitution. The Epicureans famously retreated to their Garden commune, in pursuit of life’s simpler and less mediated pleasures. Would they have been engaged at all in the sort of civic activism that brought women the vote in 1920, or that is attempting to bring young people out to vote in 2020, or that tomorrow will bring citizens (the younger the better) out to demand action on the climate crisis? Would they have acknowledged any “urgent need of acting now,” if that perturbed their garden delights? Where can we find the right balance between personal gratification and public commitment?

Those are some of our questions today. Others include

  • Is it in fact foolish to fear “complete and personal annihilation”? -“To fear death, then, is foolish, since death is the final and complete annihilation of personal identity, the ultimate release from anxiety and pain.” ― Titus Lucretius Carus, On the Nature of Things… Gutenberg etext
  • Do you think Epicurus was on the right track in thinking of atomic “swerve” as a “basis for free will”? 11 If they swerve randomly and unpredictably, how does that refute or challenge determinism? Or is his point that we can try to emulate their example and be random and unpredictable ourselves? Is random unpredictability really another name for freedom? (Remind me to tell my undergrad pub story…)
  • Does Epicurus’s analogy of atoms to “dust motes dancing in a sunbeam” remind you, as it does me, of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot (“a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam” 12)? Do you see any parallels between Sagan’s cosmic philosophy and Epicureanism? What about the “multiplicity of worlds” hypothesis vs. the view of Christian salvation as limited to “one small corner of the many world universe” etc. 16
  • Do you think it will ever be possible to discover how and why the structure and activity of atoms in the brain and nervous system give rise to consciousness and the subjective feeling of selfhood?
  • Do you agree that generation and dying are symmetrical processes? 51 In other words, do each of us owe the world a death? Do you find beauty and consolation in that perspective? Is death a peaceful sleep and a dispersal of spirit and soul atoms? 
Talking about these things is indeed an Epicurean delight, or can be. But gathering in the streets to demand social justice and climate sanity can too. A good Epicurean knows when to take a break in the conversation and go pound the pavements.

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Al Gore spoke with deep gratitide for his parents’ influence, & with impassioned urgency when asked what he wanted students in the audience to understand about the climate crisis. “We know what we have to do. What’s not to like about doing the right thing?!” #mtsu #AlGore https://t.co/aNMGVvFmKF

September 16, 2019

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I’ve just posted on my Blog about: Virtue, meaning, and a good life https://t.co/CLnSaPZOkZ

September 12, 2019

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