File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 24

Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 22:31:26 -0500
Subject: Re: You ain't nothing but a hound dog


I should have guessed you are too much of a nomimalist to ever own up to
being called a cynic, but I find it comforting to know that true cynics
like you are out there anyway.

I liked your comment that "Diogenes would be at home with the homeless."
I think this is true. Part of the reason I am evoking these images of
ancient philosophy is that these philosophers attempted to live and
practice their beliefs.  Back then philosophy wasn't merely academic.

It's too late tonight to rehash our ancient quarrel with history. And 
you right.  I certainly don't oppose local political control, greater
self-reliance and self-sufficiency....

In terms of religion, I would maintain there are two basic types
(simpifying to the extreme).  What I would call the supernatural and the
therapeutic.  Buddhist is perhaps the best known example of the latter.
It famously does not posit a god, but it has other elements which some
might find unacceptable today such as karma, reincarnations, lokas etc.

I call myself an Epicurean because I believe this therapeutic religion
goes much further than Buddha.  It's atomic theory is very compatible
with contemporary scientific epistemology and it would be unphazed by

Every religion posits a state of happiness as its outcome and
Epicureanism is no exception.  However, whereas Nirvana is seen only in
negative terms as the void or extinction, for Epicurus this state is
seen in more positive terms as a one of still and unabated pleasure.
Epicurus named this state ataraxia because within it there is no pain in
the body nor anxiety in the mind. The word means literally "without
disturbance" - like a still pond once the ripples end. 

I believe (although I won't argue for it tonight) that the mystical
traditions of the world are really talking about this state, but most of
them practice bad faith and are therefore unwilling to acknowledge the
state's intrinsic connection with pleasure.  

I believe in a future time, perhaps, the need for supernatural religion
will die out and epicureanism will triumph.  This is one of the
crossroads of our current history, that we are witnessing the death
throes of supernatural religion, perhaps. 

Epicureanism is not mysticism.  It recognizes the need for politics.
Society needs a certain order for pleasure to abound, but these politics
emanate from the self-interest of those whose instrinic pleasure is at
sake. It legitimizes the swerve of freedom. 

Don't forget either that the ethics of epicureanism has always revolved
around friendship and that is perhaps the basis of any true community.

Isn't nice to know at a time when religious fundamentalists are barking
like dogs in the night that there are sane, practical and more happy
alternatives out there.

don't you step on my blue suede shoes,



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