Epicurus Assignments


For 5/1. Papers by Jenai Ranero and Laura Falley.
For 4/26. Papers by Danielle Hudson and Tyler Klang.
For 4/24. Look at papers by Blake Adams and Carra Childers. Please post thoughts on their papers before class.
For 4/19. Reading "gods," from the course packet. No reading response paper.
For 4/17. Readings: from The Epicurus Reader text 4, sections 124-127; text 5 doctrine 2, text 6 sayings 14, 31, 38. Lucretius, DRN book III lines 830-end. Nagel, "Death" (in the course packet).

paper, Tyler Klang:

  1. Explain and evaluate briedly one of the arguments against the fear of death given by Epicurus or Lucretius.
  2. Explain and evaluate one of the arguments given by Nagel.

For 4/12. No new reading. Paper: Danielle Hudson, same topics as for 4/10.
For Monday 4/10. Read the rest of Cicero's summary of Epicurean ethics in On Moral Ends book I (sections 65 until the end) plus the paper by Matt Evans, "Can Epicureans Be Friends?", and the summary of Torquatus' argument I sent you.

Paper topics (Laura Falley):

  1. Explain and evaluate one of the three Epicurean theories of friendship presented by Torquatus.
  2. Do any of the three theories give a reason for "loving your friend as much as yourself" that is both plausible and consistent with Epicureanism?
  3. Matt Evans claims that Epicureans can justify entering into a relational that can rightly be called 'friendship.' Explain why he thinks this, and evaluate what he says.
  4. Evans makes a number of other arguments and claims about Epicurean friendship in his paper. Explain and evaluate one of them.

For 4/5. Read (from the Epicurus Reader) text 5, #31-40, and texts 151 through 156, Lucretius DRN 5, 925-1027, from the course packet "the Epicureans on Justice and Animals" and O'Keefe, "Would a Community of Wise Epicureans Be Just?"

Possible paper topics (Childers):

  1. What is justice, according to the Epicureans, and why does it arise? Do do you think this account is plausible? Why, or why not?
  2. What reason does the wise person have to be just? What about the foolish person? Are the reasons the Epicureans give for the wise person to be just compelling?
  3. Why is there no justice with regard to non-human animals? Explain and evaluate the Epicurean arguments in favoe of this thesis.
  4. Explain and evaluate something else from the readings.

For Monday 4/3. Re-read the Nussbaum piece, plus look at (from the Epicurus Reader text 6, sayings 18, 27, 29, 32, 41, 45, 54, 55, 58, 74, 76,. Texts 8, 38, 41, 51, 117, 124, 126, 127, 151, Lucretius, book 4 lines 1037-1287.
  1. Nussbaum sets out a number of reservations/objections to the Epicurean model of philosophy as therapy in the course of her article. Explain and evaluate one of them.
  2. Explain and evaluate one or more of Lucretius' reasons for distrusting sexual passion.
  3. Explain and evaluate some of the Epicurean claims made about the nature of philosophy in the readings.

For Wed. 3/29. Reading: The rest of Cicero "On Moral Ends." Also, the Nussbaum article on Therapeutic arguments in Aristotle and Epicurus in the course packet.

Paper topics (Jeanai Ranero):

  1. Set out in your own words and briefly evaluate one the arguments the Epicurean spokesman Torqautus gives. This can be any of them, excluding the material on friendship and the material already covered, but here are some of the topics that are especially central:
  2. Nussbaum sets out a number of reservations/objections to the Epicurean model of philosophy as therapy in the course of her article. Explain and evaluate one of them.

For Wed. 3/22. Reading: Cicero, "On Moral Ends" (Exposition of Epicurean Ethics, in the course packet), through section 64, plus, from The Epicurus Reader text 4 (Letter to Menoeceus), text 5 (Principle Doctrines), sayings 3, 4, 8, 18, 20, 22, 25, text 6 (Vatican Sayings), sayings 33, 73, texts 20, 36, 37. Plus, from the course packet, Striker, "Epicurean Hedonism."

We'll concentrate on the Cicero material.

Paper (Tyler Klang): Set out in your own words and briefly evaluate one the arguments the Epicurean spokesman gives. These can be any of them, but here are some of the topics that are especially central:


For 3/20. Readings: Reading response papers for Wed. (Falley):
  1. Sextus raises and tries to answer several "self-refutation" objections against the skeptic. Are these arguments and Sextus' responses to them cogent?
  2. How can one consistently live as a skeptic, according to Sextus, and why is a person better off as a skeptic? Do you agree with him? Why, or why not?
  3. How does the skeptic try to induce suspension of judgement? Do the argument they give seem effective for accomplishing this?

For 3/15. Re-read (from The Epicurus Reader text 2 sections 37-8, text 7, DRN 4 469-521. "Epicurus on the truth of the senses." from the course packet.

Reading response paper (Hudson):

  1. Explain and evaluate one of the Epicurean anti-skeptical arguments discussed in the readings.
  2. Epicurus claims that 'all sensations are alethes (true or real). Discuss what he may mean by this claim and why he'd beliebe it's correct. Then give your thoughts regarding it.
  3. Explain and evaluate something esle from the readings (e.g., the claim that the senses cannot refute each other, the role of prolepses in Epicurean epsietnology, etc.)

For 3/13. Read (from The Epicurus Reader text 2 sections 37-8, text 7, DRN 4 469-521. "Epicurean Epistemology" from the course packet. No reading response paper for 4030.
For 2/22. No new readings.

Paper (Carra Childers):

Explain Cicero's (and Carneades') own positive solution to the oncompatibility of freedom and causal determinism, which involves positing a 'free movement of the mind.' Do you think it is suprior either to the Stoics' position, or to Epicurus' solution of posting the swerve? (Or evaluate some other part of the position/the arguments for it.) For 2/22. No new readings.

Paper (Blake Adams):

Explain why Chrysippus does not find causal determinism threatening to our freedom (as explained in the e-mailed reading about the 'lazy/idle/apraxia argument'). Do you find his arguments convincing? Why, or why not?


For 2/20. Readings: e-mailed selections, regarding bivalence, determinism, etc.

Papers (Jeanai Ranero, Lori Feig Sandoval):

  1. Explain why Aristotle and Epicurus think that 'logical determinism' has unacceptable determinist consequences. Do you agree? Why, or why not?
  2. Explain why Carneades (and Cicero) think that 'logicial determinism' is not threatening to our freedom, and evaluate their arguments.
  3. Are 'logical' and 'causal' determinism inter-entailing (as Epicurus and the Stoics think) or not (as Carneades thinks)?
  4. Explain why Chrysippus does not find causal determinism threatening to our freedom (as explained in the e-mailed reading about the 'lazy argument'). Do you find his arguments convincing? Why, or why not?

For 2/15. Onto 'logical determinism' and the swerve.

Readings: From the Epicurus Reader, text 15.

Aristotle, De Intrerpretatione chapter 9. A free translation to available here, then click on 'chapter 9.'

The readings, from me, I e-mailed to you.


For 2/10. Re-read DRN book IV, plus "Epicurean Psychology". Possible paper topis

  1. Explain and evaluate Lucretius' account of one of the particular sorts of mental functioning in book IV: e.g., vision, hearing, mental images, decisions, sexual desire, or an aspect of them, e.g., the relativity of perception.
  2. Discuss what sort of materialism/physicalism you think is going on in Epicurus' philosoph yof mind, making use of the sorts of vategories set out in "Epicureana psychology." (NB: we will discuss the material in section V in a future class, not Monday.)

For 2/1. Reading. "Epicurean Psychology," in the course packet, plus (from the Epicurus Reader) Text 2 (the Letter to Herodotus) sections 63-67, texts 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 104, 109.

Paper (Tyler Klang)

Briefly explain and evaluate one of Lucretius' arguments for why death is annihilation, or a closely related topic (e.g., why reincarnation is bunk, or there is no pre-birth existence for the soul).


For 1/30.

Lucretius Book III lines 1-829, Book IV lines 1-822.

paper topics (Danielle Hudson):

  1. Briefly explain and evaluate one of Lucretius' arguments either for why the soul is something corporeal or why why its not something incorporeal.
  2. Briefly explain and evaluate one of Lucretius' arguments for why death is annihilation.
  3. Briefly explain and evaluate one of Lucretius'other arguments in the reading for today.

For 1/25.

Lucretius Book II lines 600-660, book IV lines 823-857, Book V lines 772-1010.

Paper topics (Laura Falley):

  1. Lucretius gives an elaborate hymn to earth as our mother in DRN II 600-660. What feelings toward the earth do you think it expresses, adn do you think it is consistent with the overall Epicurean world-view?
  2. Why does Lucretius think that form precedes function when it comes to the limbs of animals? Explain and evaluate what he says.
  3. Explain some or all of Lucretius' account of the origin of species. Does it allow him to successfully give a non-teleological explanation for the organisms we presently see?

For 1/23. From The Epicurus Reader: text 2 (The Letter to Herodotus), sections 76 (start of 2nd paragraph)-82, 108, 109, 114, Lucretius book II lines 730-end, book V lines 1-508.

Paper topics (Carra Childers):

  1. Why do Epicurus and Lucretius think that what happens in the universe (i) is not due to the providential care or plan of any deities, and (ii) occurs because of mechanical, not teleological, processes? Evaluate their arguments for either of the above claims.
  2. Explain and evaluate one of the other arguments in the reeadings.

1/18. Readings, from The Epicurus Reader: text 2: 68-73, text 29, up to 1112e, text 89.

From the course packet: the first two selections "In what sense is Epicurus a reductionist" and "The Ontological Status of Sensible Qualities for Democritus and Epicurus".

Possible reading response paper topics (note that we may not get to the material on sensible qualities, so papers below not on that topic would be better--but feel free to write on those if you wish).

  1. Why does Epicurus think that there must be an infinity of matter and space, and that the universe has no beginning or end? Do you accept his arguments?
  2. Leaving aside what he says about human freedom, why does Lucretius think atoms must sometimes swerve to the side? What do you think of his arguments and the doctrine of the swerve, and why?
  3. Give and evaluate one of the arguments for the existence of spatial minima.
  4. Why does Epicurus think that bodies and void are the only things that exist, although (in a sense) things like colors, time, extension and like also exist? What is the relationship between 'things' like color, time etc., and bodies and void, according to Epicurus? Evaluate his position.
  5. How does Democritus get into skeptical difficulties on account of his views on sensible qualities like heat, sweetness, etc.? Do you agree that his views on sensible qualities should present him with skeptical difficulties? (Optional extra: how (if at all) do you think these difficulties, if there are some, should be overcome, if at all?)
  6. Plutarch argues that Epicurus runs into exactly the same skeptical difficulties as does Democritus. Explain and exaluate his arguments.

1/11. From The Epicurus Reader: text 1, text 2 (The Letter to Herodotus), sections 38-44, 55 (2nd paragraph)-62. Texts 77, 79, 80, 82, 83, 84 85, 86, 87, 90.

From Lucretius: Book I, lines 1-634 951-1117 Book 2, lines 62-729


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